Here I am once again back in my happy place. Remember in the last post I mentioned a girl who gave me my first taste of 70’s Zappa? Well, she was also the one who exposed me to today’s artist as well, the glorious Joni Mitchell. It was Joni’s Court And Spark album that she played for me and from the opening moments of the title track I was entranced. Joni’s voice and lyrics had a profound affect on me and I knew I needed more if this music in my life. I bought all the Joni albums/tapes as I could (in between the Rush/Zappa/Dylan/metal albums I was buying too!) but I never did venture into the two live albums she did, for reasons that escape me. Not for the first time on this blog, I realise what a fool I was!
This was Mitchell’s first tour with backing musicians; prior to this she had generally performed solo, and had never organized a tour with a band. She hired an already existing group, the jazz fusion band L.A. Express, members of which had appeared on her previous studio album, Court and Spark, the biggest commercial success of her career.
The album contains many of her best-known songs up to that time, but only one track derived from her recent album and neither of its two hit singles, “Help Me” and “Free Man in Paris”. It also includes two brand new songs “Love Or Money” and “Jericho” – the latter of which she would record a studio version of for her 1977 album Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter.
I love this album! I love the contemporary band arrangements of her earlier ‘folky’ songs, on sides 1 and 4, in particular ‘Rainy Night House’ which has a slow jazzy vibe, helped by a deeper-voiced Joni than the piano-led song on Ladies of the Canon. Even her more ‘popular’ songs, Big Yellow Taxi and Woodstock, sound fresh and alive here. And when she goes acoustic on sides 2 and 3 it’s just as thrilling to hear Joni and her guitar enthrall the audience.
Is it excessive? No, of the 18 tracks there’s nothing longer than 6 and a half minutes. Would I listen to it again? Most definitely. It’s a fantastic live album that I really should have listened to a lot sooner. Would I recommend it? That’s another yes. Is there a drum solo? Don’t be silly.
So it’s a 9/10 for Joni, a pretty high score for a pretty great album. I’m off for another listen to be transported to my happy place before I get swamped down with more album reviews. TTFN!