Joni Mitchell – Blue (1971)

FrontCover1Blue is the fourth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Exploring the various facets of relationships from infatuation on “A Case of You” to insecurity on “This Flight Tonight”, the songs feature simple accompaniments on piano, guitar and Appalachian dulcimer. The album peaked at number 3 on the UK Albums Chart and number 15 on the Blllboard 200.Blue is the fourth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Exploring the various facets of relationships from infatuation on “A Case of You” to insecurity on “This Flight Tonight”, the songs feature simple accompaniments on piano, guitar and Appalachian dulcimer. The album peaked at number 3 on the UK Albums Chart and number 15 on the Blllboard 200.
Today, Blue is generally regarded by music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time; Mitchell’s songwriting and compositions are frequent areas of praise. In January 2000, The New York Times chose Blue as one of the 25 albums that represented “turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music”. In 2012, Blue was rated the 30th best album ever made in Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”, the highest entry by a female artist. In July 2017, Blue was chosen by NPR as the greatest album of all time made by a woman.

Despite the success of her first three albums and songs like “Woodstock”, January 1970 saw Mitchell make a decision to break from performing. In early spring 1970, she set off on a vacation around Europe. While on the island of Formentera, she wrote some of the songs that appear on Blue. This journey was the backdrop for the songs “Carey” and “California.” Some of the songs on Blue were inspired by Mitchell’s 1968-1970 relationship with Graham Nash. Their relationship was already troubled when she left for Europe, and it was while she was on Formentera that she sent Nash the telegram that let him know that their relationship was over.[ The songs “My Old Man” and “River” are thought to be inspired by their relationship.

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Another pivotal experience in Mitchell’s life that drove the emergence of the album was her relationship with James Taylor. She had begun an intense relationship with Taylor by the summer of 1970, visiting him on the set of the movie Two-Lane Blacktop, the aura of which is referred to in “This Flight Tonight”. The songs “Blue” and “All I Want” have specific references to her relationship with Taylor, such as a sweater that she knitted for him at the time, and his heroin addiction. During the making of Blue in January 1971, they were still very much in love and involved. Despite his difficulties, Mitchell evidently felt that she had found the person with whom she could pair-bond in Taylor. By March, his fame exploded, causing friction. She was reportedly devastated when he broke off the relationship.

The album was almost released in a somewhat different form. In March 1971, completed masters for the album were ready for production. Originally, there were three old songs that had not found their way onto any of her previous albums. At the last minute, Mitchell decided to remove two of the three so that she could add the new songs “All I Want” and “The Last Time I Saw Richard”. The two songs removed were:
“Urge for Going” – her first song to achieve commercial success when recorded by country singer George Hamilton IV. It was later released as the B-side of “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” and again on her 1996 compilation album, Hits.)    “Hunter (The Good Samaritan)”, which has never appeared on any of Mitchell’s albums.

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However, her live performance is now available on the Amchitka CD,[19] together with three other songs that later appeared on Blue, “A Case Of You”, “My Old Man” and “Carey”, which she morphs into Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” in a duet with her boyfriend at the time, James Taylor.    “Little Green”, composed in 1967, was the only old song that remained.

In 1979 Mitchell reflected, “The Blue album, there’s hardly a dishonest note in the vocals. At that period of my life, I had no personal defenses. I felt like a cellophane wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. I felt like I had absolutely no secrets from the world and I couldn’t pretend in my life to be strong. Or to be happy. But the advantage of it in the music was that there were no defenses there either.”

Mitchell continued to use alternate tunings on her guitar to allow easier access to augmented chords and notes in unexpected combinations. Due to the stark and bare revelations in the album, when it was first played for Kris Kristofferson he is reported to have commented, “Joni! Keep something of yourself!”

Today, Blue is generally regarded by music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time; Mitchell’s songwriting and compositions are frequent areas of praise. In January 2000, the New York Times chose Blue as one of the 25 albums that represented “turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music”.

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The album was a commercial success. In Canada, the album peaked at number nine on the Canadian RPM Albums Chart. It the United Kingdom the album peaked at number three on the UK Albums Chart and was certified double platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales over of 600,000 copies in the UK. In the US the album peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album was later certified platinum for sales over a million copies. The single “Carey” reached #93 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. (by wikipedia)

Joni Mitchell

Sad, spare, and beautiful, Blue is the quintessential confessional singer/songwriter album. Forthright and poetic, Joni Mitchell’s songs are raw nerves, tales of love and loss (two words with relative meaning here) etched with stunning complexity; even tracks like “All I Want,” “My Old Man,” and “Carey” — the brightest, most hopeful moments on the record — are darkened by bittersweet moments of sorrow and loneliness. At the same time that songs like “Little Green” (about a child given up for adoption) and the title cut (a hymn to salvation supposedly penned for James Taylor) raise the stakes of confessional folk-pop to new levels of honesty and openness, Mitchell’s music moves beyond the constraints of acoustic folk into more intricate and diverse territory, setting the stage for the experimentation of her later work. Unrivaled in its intensity and insight, Blue remains a watershed. (by Jason Ankeny)

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Personnel:
Joni Mitchell (appalachian dulcimer, guitar, piano, vocals)
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Sneaky Pete Kleinow – pedal steel guitar on 06. + 07.)
Russ Kunkel (drums on 04., 06. + 09.)
Stephen Stills (bass, guitar on 04.)
James Taylor (guitar on 01., 06. + 09.)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. All I Want 3.37
02. My Old Man 3.38
03. Little Green 3.31
04. Carey 3.07
05. Blue 3.09
06. California 3.56
07. This Flight Tonight 2.54
08. River 4.07
09. A Case Of You 4.27
10. The Last Time I Saw Richard 4.17

All songs written by Joni Mitchell

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Joni Mitchell – Night Ride Home (1991)

FrontCover1Night Ride Home is the fourteenth album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, released in 1991. It was the last of four albums she recorded for Geffen Records.

Songs on the album include “Cherokee Louise” about a childhood friend who suffered sexual abuse, “The Windfall (Everything For Nothing)” about a maid who tried to sue Mitchell, and the retrospective single release “Come in from the Cold” about childhood and middle age. The title song “Night Ride Home” (originally titled “Fourth of July” and first performed during promotion for her previous album in 1988) was inspired by a moonlit night in Hawaii.  Though the album contained no charting singles, the track “Come in From the Cold” received airplay on AOR stations.

This was Mitchell’s first album not to be distributed by the WEA family of labels. She had been signed to WEA’s Asylum and Reprise labels in the past, and Warner Bros. Records had been the distributor for Geffen Records from 1980 to 1990. That year, Geffen was sold to MCA Music (now Universal Music Group), as a result, the album was distributed by Uni Distribution Corp. (the distribution arm of MCA Music), which also took over the rest of the Geffen catalogue.

A home video release, Come In From The Cold, was released the same year and features promo videos for five tracks from the album along with an interview with Mitchell discussing the inspiration behind them.

As of December 2007, the album has sold 238,000 copies in the US to date. (by wikipedia)

Cutting back on the guest musicians of her previous effort and paring down to a basic small group of musicians helps add immediacy to Night Ride Home. While this release features several of Joni Mitchell’s favorites, nothing here would become a hit, as Joni tended to buck trends and follow her own beat. Very involved and a rather tough listen, but well worth the attention, this would be her last for Geffen, where she languished unnoticed while the label went heavy metal crazy. (by James Chrispell)

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Personnel:
Alex Acuña – percussion on 01., 02., 05. 06 – 08.)
David Baerwald (background vocals on 07.)
Vinnie Colaiuta (drums on 03. – 06.+ 10.)
Bill Dillon -(guitar on 02. + 07,  pedal steel guitar on 01,)
Larry Klein (bass, percussion on 01 – 03., 05. – 06., keyboards on 07., guitar on 06.)
Michael Landau (guitar on 10.)
Joni Mitchell (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, billatron on 06.,  oboe on 08., omnichord on 08.)
Karen Peris (background vocals on 03.)
Brenda Russell (background vocals on 09.)
Wayne Shorter (saxophone on 03. + 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Night Ride Home (Mitchell) 3.22
02. Passion Play (When All The Slaves Are Free) (Mitchell) 5.25
03. Cherokee Louise (Mitchell) 4.32
04. The Windfall (Everything for Nothing) (Mitchell) 4.16
05. Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Mitchell/Yeats) 6.55
06. Come In from The Cold (Mitchell) 7.31
07. Nothing Can Be Done (Mitchell/Klein)  4.55
08. The Only Joy In Town (Mitchell) 5.12
09. Ray’s Dad’s Cadillac (Mitchell)  4.34
10. Two Grey Rooms (Mitchell) 3.59

 

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Joni Mitchell – Court And Spark (1974)

FrontCover1Court and Spark is a 1974 album by Canadian-born singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. It was an immediate commercial and critical success—and remains her most successful album. Released in January 1974, it was Mitchell’s sixth studio album; it infuses her folk-rock style, which she developed throughout her previous five albums, with jazz inflections.

It reached No. 2 in the United States and No. 1 in Canada and eventually received a Double Platinum certification by the RIAA, the highest of Mitchell’s career. It also reached the Top 20 on the UK album chart and was voted the best album of the year for 1974 in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics Poll. In 2003 it was listed at 113 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

1973 was the first year since she began recording that Mitchell did not release a new album. Her previous offering, For the Roses, was released in November 1972 to critical and commercial success, and Mitchell decided to spend the whole of the next year writing and recording a new album that revealed her growing interest in new sounds—particularly jazz. During 1973, her stage appearances were fewer than in previous years. She performed in April in a benefit concert at the Sir George Williams University Auditorium and then appeared live again in August, twice at The Corral Club, accompanied by Neil Young.
Production

Mitchell spent most of 1973 in the recording studio creating Court and Spark. Mitchell and producer/engineer Henry Lewy called in a number of top L.A. musicians to perform on the album including members of The Jazz Crusaders, Tom Scott’s L.A. Express, cameos from David Crosby & Graham Nash and even a twist of comedy from Cheech & Chong.

JoniMitchell2In December, Asylum Records released a single, her first in over a year, “Raised on Robbery”. The single reached No. 65 on the Billboard Singles Chart.

Court and Spark was released in January 1974. Critics and the public enthusiastically embraced the album, and its success was reaffirmed when the follow-up single, “Help Me”, was released in March. It received heavy radio airplay and became Mitchell’s first and only Top 10 single in the Billboard charts, peaking at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the first week of June, and reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. Court and Spark went on to be a big seller that year, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard album charts and staying there for four weeks. The album became the pinnacle of Mitchell’s commercial success. The album was kept from the top spot by three No. 1 albums—in order Bob Dylan’s Planet Waves, Barbra Streisand’s The Way We Were and John Denver’s Greatest Hits.

In a July 1979 interview with Cameron Crowe for Rolling Stone, Mitchell recounted an anecdote in which she played a copy of the then-just completed Court & Spark to Bob Dylan, during which Dylan fell asleep. Mitchell later suggested that Dylan was probably trying to be “cute” in front of label boss David Geffen, who was also present.

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Joni Mitchell reached her commercial high point with Court and Spark, a remarkably deft fusion of folk, pop, and jazz which stands as her best-selling work to date. While as unified and insightful as Blue, the album — a concept record exploring the roles of honesty and trust in relationships, romantic and otherwise — moves away from confessional songwriting into evocative character studies: the hit “Free Man in Paris,” written about David Geffen, is a not-so-subtle dig at the machinations of the music industry, while “Raised on Robbery” offers an acutely funny look at the predatory environment of the singles bar scene. Much of Court and Spark is devoted to wary love songs: both the title cut and “Help Me,” the record’s most successful single, carefully measure the risks of romance, while “People’s Parties” and “The Same Situation” are fraught with worry and self-doubt (standing in direct opposition to the music, which is smart, smooth, and assured from the first note to the last). (by Jason Ankeny)

JoniMitchell3Personnel:
Larry Carlton (guitar)
Wilton Felder (bass)
John Guerin (drums, percussion)
Joni Mitchell – vocals, guitar, piano clavinet on 07.)
Tom Scott (woodwinds, reeds)
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Max Bennett (bass on 10.)
Dennis Budimir (guitar on 10.)
Tommy Chong (background vocals on 11.)
David Crosby – background vocals on 03. + 07.)
José Feliciano (guitar on 03.)
Chuck Findley (trumpet on 10. + 11.)
Milt Holland (chimes on 01.)
Jim Hughart (bass on 03. + 04.)
Cheech Marin (background vocals on 11.)
Graham Nash (background vocals on 03.)
Wayne Perkins (guitar on 06.)
Robbie Robertson (guitar on 09.)
Joe Sample (piano, clavinet on 09.)
Susan Webb (background vocals on 07.)

BookletTracklist:
01. Court And Spark  2.46
02. Help Me 3.22
03. Free Man In Paris 3.02
04. People’s Parties 2.15
05. Same Situation 2.57
06. Car On A Hill 3.02
07. Down To You 5.38
08. Just Like This Train 4.24
09. Raised On Robbery 3.06
10. Trouble Child 4.00
11. Twisted” (Ross/Gray) 2.21

All songs written and composed by Joni Mitchell, except where noted

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The Chieftains – The Wide World Over (2002)

FrontCover1In the Chieftains’ four decades of recording, they’ve changed labels a handful of times, and each label has seen fit to record at least one or two collections of the band’s output under their tenure. At this point they have so many best-ofs and greatest-hits compilations, it’s tough for the listener to know the best of what they’re actually hearing. New millennium — new collection: the band’s longtime label, RCA Victor, has done the Celtic community a favor by releasing a collection that deals more with the band’s journey through their different phases as opposed to trying to reassemble a hits package. The end result is almost like listening to a radio station that only plays Chieftains songs. There are some live tracks, their countrified romp through “Cotton-Eyed Joe”; Van Morrison’s adult-contemporary “Shenandoah”; an unusual introduction of the bandmembers in Chinese; appearances from Sting, Diana Krall, and Art Garfunkel; and a couple of new recordings. The breezy cover of “Morning Has Broken” fares better than the hybridized “Redemption Song” (in fact, it’s a challenge to think of any instances of a successful Celtic/reggae alloy). The album will be enjoyed by Chieftains fans as a fun collection of songs they have never heard back-to-back before, and those looking for a greatest-hits collection will have plenty of other places to look. (by Zac Johnson)

Inside1Personnel:
Derek Bell (cláirseach, oboe, keyboards, tiompán, vocals)
Kevin Conneff (bodhrán, vocals)
Martin Fay (fiddle, bones, vocals)
Seán Keane (fiddle, tin whistle, vocals)
Matt Molloy (flute, tin whistle, vocals)
Paddy Moloney (uilleann pipes, tin whistle, button accordion, bodhrán, vocals)
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Anúna (vocals)
Jean Butler (dancer)
Ry Cooder (electric guitar, mandocello)
Elvis Costello (vocals)
Art Garfunkel (vocals)
Diana Krall (vocals, piano)
Ziggy Marley (vocals, guitar, percussion)
Joni Mitchell (vocals)
Van Morrison (vocals)
Carlos Nunez (bagpipe)
Sinéad O’Connor (vocals)
Linda Ronstadt (vocals)
Ricky Skaggs (vocals)
Don Was (percussion)
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Belfast Harp Orchestra
Chinese Ensemble
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra conducted by Erich Kunzel
Los Lobos
The Corrs
The Rolling Stones

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Tracklist:
01. March Of The King Of Laois (Traditional) 4.25
02. The Foggy Dew (feat: Sinéad O’Connor) (Traditional) 5.01
03. I Know My Love (feat: The Corrs) (Traditional) 3.27
04. Cotton-Eyed Joe (feat: Ricky Skaggs) (Traditional) 2.45
05. The Magdalene Laundries (feat: Joni Mitchell) (Mitchell) 4.57
06. Live from Matt Molloy’s Pub (Traditional) 2.21
07. Shenandoah (feat: Van Morrison) (Traditional) 3.52
08. The Munster Cloak (Traditional) 6.12
09. Morning Has Broken (feat: Art Garfunkel / Diana Krall) (Traditional) 2.55
10. Morning Dew /Women Of Ireland (P.Moloney) 2.57
11. Mo Ghile Mear (feat: Sting) (P.Moloney/Traditional) 3.20
12. Carolan’s Concerto (feat: Belfast Harp Orchestra) (Traditional) 3.02
13. Guadalupe (feat: Los Lobos / Linda Ronstadt) (Traditional) 3.31
14. Full Of Joy (feat: Chinese Ensemble) (Traditional) 3.24
15. Here’s A Health To The Company (Traditional) 3.03
16. Chasing the Fox (feat: Erich Kunzel / Cincinnati Pops Orchestra) (P.Moloney/ Traditional) 4.11
17. Long Journey Home (Anthem) (feat: Anúna / Elvis Costello) (Costello/P.Moloney) 3.20
18. The Rocky Road To Dublin (feat: The Rolling Stones) (Traditional) 4.17
19. Redemption Song (feat: Ziggy Marley) (B.Marley) 4.22

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