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Joni Mitchell|Court And Spark

Court And Spark

Joni Mitchell

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The strength-to-strength peaks of Joni Mitchell's run of albums in the early 1970s is one of the most remarkable stretches of musical excellence in the pop era. The folk-rock perfection of 1970's Ladies of the Canyon led to the stark emotional intensity of 1971's Blue, which then opened up into the kaleidoscopic sonic experimentalism of 1972's For the Roses. While this era yielded only one U.S. Top 40 hit (1972's "You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio"), it nonetheless established Mitchell as a formidable artistic force who was not only far more musically interesting than many of her hippie-era peers, but also far more iconoclastic in her approach to her art and the music business.  So one would be forgiven for assuming that, after taking 1973 off, Mitchell would return with an album that either aimed straight for the charts or one that indulged her creative adventurousness. Court and Spark managed to do both. By far Mitchell's most commercially successful album—it's her only album to go double-platinum in the U.S. and also contained her only U.S. Top Ten hit, "Help Me"—the popularity of Court and Spark has managed to overshadow its weirdness. Following along from the jazzy inflections that made For the Roses so sonically interesting, Court fully blossomed into a funky, fusion-tinged affair, featuring members of the Crusaders and Tom Scott's L.A. Express providing highly complementary instrumentation to Mitchell's always-unusual guitar playing. In Mitchell's hands, "jazzy" becomes as much of a mindset as a sonic signature (a cover of Annie Ross's "Twisted" that closes the album is the closest that Court ever gets to anything resembling capital-J "jazz"), giving her freedom to dive deep into the unusual tunings and chord voicings she's always preferred, but also to open up the arrangements of the songs beyond simple verse-chorus-verse. Of course, her lyrics are as impressive as ever (the imagery in "Raised on Robbery" is as vivid as it is implicit), but even the largely wordless multi-tracked harmonies of "Trouble Child" and "People's Parties" can take the listener's breath away. Mitchell's use here of the "studio-as-an-instrument" is notable; while she is once again self-producing alongside the formidable engineering talents of Henry Lewy, her bold approach to Court's construction also helped make it the best-sounding album in her catalog to this point. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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Court And Spark

Joni Mitchell

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1
Court and Spark
00:02:46

Milt Holland, Chimes - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Tom Scott, Oboe - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - Max Bennett, Bass Guitar - LARRY CARLTON, Electric Guitar

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

2
Help Me
00:03:21

Milt Holland, Chimes - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Tom Scott, Oboe - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - Max Bennett, Bass Guitar - LARRY CARLTON, Electric Guitar

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

3
Free Man in Paris
00:03:02

David Crosby, Backing Vocals - Milt Holland, Chimes - WILTON FELDER, Bass Guitar - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Tom Scott, Oboe - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Backing Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - Jose Feliciano, Electric Guitar - Graham nash, Backing Vocals - LARRY CARLTON, Electric Guitar

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

4
People's Parties
00:02:14

Milt Holland, Chimes - WILTON FELDER, Bass Guitar - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Tom Scott, Oboe - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - LARRY CARLTON, Electric Guitar

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

5
The Same Situation
00:02:56

Milt Holland, Chimes - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Tom Scott, Oboe, Strings Arranger - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - Max Bennett, Bass Guitar - LARRY CARLTON, Electric Guitar

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

6
Car on a Hill
00:03:01

Milt Holland, Chimes - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Tom Scott, Oboe - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist, Strings Arranger - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - Max Bennett, Bass Guitar - Wayne Perkins, Electric Guitar

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

7
Down to You
00:05:38

David Crosby, Backing Vocals - Milt Holland, Chimes - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Tom Scott, Oboe - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Writer, Clavinet, MainArtist, Strings Arranger - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - Max Bennett, Bass Guitar - LARRY CARLTON, Electric Guitar - Susan Webb, Backing Vocals

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

8
Just Like This Train
00:04:23

Milt Holland, Chimes - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Tom Scott, Oboe - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - Max Bennett, Bass Guitar - LARRY CARLTON, Electric Guitar

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

9
Raised on Robbery
00:03:06

Milt Holland, Chimes - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Tom Scott, Oboe - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - Max Bennett, Bass Guitar - ROBBIE ROBERTSON, Electric Guitar

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

10
Troubled Child
00:03:59

Milt Holland, Chimes - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Chuck Findley, Trumpet - Tom Scott, Oboe - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, Writer, MainArtist - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - Dennis Budimir, Electric Guitar - Jim Hughart, Bass Guitar

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

11
Twisted
00:02:22

Cheech Marin, Backing Vocals - Milt Holland, Chimes - Bernie Grundman, MasteringEngineer - Chuck Findley, Trumpet - Tom Scott, Oboe - JOHN GUERIN, Drums, Percussion - Henry Lewy, Engineer - Joni Mitchell, Producer, Piano, Vocals, MainArtist - JOE SAMPLE, Piano - Wardell Gray, Writer - Max Bennett, Bass Guitar - Annie Ross, Writer - LARRY CARLTON, Electric Guitar - Thomas Chong, Backing Vocals

© 1974 Elektra Records. ℗ 1974 Elektra Records

Album review

The strength-to-strength peaks of Joni Mitchell's run of albums in the early 1970s is one of the most remarkable stretches of musical excellence in the pop era. The folk-rock perfection of 1970's Ladies of the Canyon led to the stark emotional intensity of 1971's Blue, which then opened up into the kaleidoscopic sonic experimentalism of 1972's For the Roses. While this era yielded only one U.S. Top 40 hit (1972's "You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio"), it nonetheless established Mitchell as a formidable artistic force who was not only far more musically interesting than many of her hippie-era peers, but also far more iconoclastic in her approach to her art and the music business.  So one would be forgiven for assuming that, after taking 1973 off, Mitchell would return with an album that either aimed straight for the charts or one that indulged her creative adventurousness. Court and Spark managed to do both. By far Mitchell's most commercially successful album—it's her only album to go double-platinum in the U.S. and also contained her only U.S. Top Ten hit, "Help Me"—the popularity of Court and Spark has managed to overshadow its weirdness. Following along from the jazzy inflections that made For the Roses so sonically interesting, Court fully blossomed into a funky, fusion-tinged affair, featuring members of the Crusaders and Tom Scott's L.A. Express providing highly complementary instrumentation to Mitchell's always-unusual guitar playing. In Mitchell's hands, "jazzy" becomes as much of a mindset as a sonic signature (a cover of Annie Ross's "Twisted" that closes the album is the closest that Court ever gets to anything resembling capital-J "jazz"), giving her freedom to dive deep into the unusual tunings and chord voicings she's always preferred, but also to open up the arrangements of the songs beyond simple verse-chorus-verse. Of course, her lyrics are as impressive as ever (the imagery in "Raised on Robbery" is as vivid as it is implicit), but even the largely wordless multi-tracked harmonies of "Trouble Child" and "People's Parties" can take the listener's breath away. Mitchell's use here of the "studio-as-an-instrument" is notable; while she is once again self-producing alongside the formidable engineering talents of Henry Lewy, her bold approach to Court's construction also helped make it the best-sounding album in her catalog to this point. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz

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