By David Hiltbrand
Updated November 27, 1995 12:00 PM


TWO OF POP MUSIC’S MOST TALENTED women get by with a little help from their friends on a pair of outstanding specials this week. First, Melissa Etheridge launches a promising new performance series, VH1 Duets (Wed., Nov. 22, 8 p.m. ET). In the rococo setting of L.A.’s Doheny Mansion, the rocker with the leather pants and the leather lungs joins forces with a variety of female vocal partners. The showstoppers are Etheridge with Joan Osborne doing “Bring Me Some Water” and with a barefoot Sophie B. Hawkins in a duet of “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover.” Later in the week, PBS presents Bonnie Raitt: Road Tested (Tues., Nov. 28,10 p.m. ET). The vibrant video companion to Raitt’s new album of the same name, this film captures the incomparable juke-and-jive queen in peak concert form last July, singing hits like “Have a Heart.”

Among the guests stopping by onstage at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre are Jackson Browne, Bryan Adams and Bruce Hornsby. Raitt returns the favor next month (Dec. 13) when Hornsby gets his own installment of VH1 Duets and she stops by to sing along.