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Pop - Released June 21, 2021 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Pop/Rock - Released July 2, 2021 | Rhino - Warner Records

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After publishing Archives-Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967), an imposing box set of Joni Mitchell's recordings, running to 119 mostly unreleased tracks that date from before her first official record, there now comes a collection of well-made, overdue remasterings of her studio albums. As its title suggests, The Reprise Albums (1968-1971) brings together the first four of these: Song to a Seagull (March 1968), Clouds (May 1969), Ladies of the Canyon (April 1970) and Blue (June 1971). The first four and nothing else! That means that we dispense with the usual alternative takes and other unreleased demos that we would usually find on this kind of reissue: the focus here is on the essentials. And what is essential here is a young woman gradually extracting herself from a folk idiom (the Canadian always hated being labelled a folk-singer) and creating her own language. This is an identity that takes shape from Songs to a Seagull onwards. The young Mitchell even entrusted the former Byrd, David Crosby, with the production of this first effort, which she divided into two sides: I Came to the City which looks towards the city, and Out of the City and Down by the Seaside, which turns towards nature. Joni Mitchell develops these themes with her open tuning, her high, clear, mesmerising voice, and a certain melodic richness. A big drawback to Songs to a Seagull is its original mix, which sounds almost shameful. This error was rectified for the 2021 re-release by sound engineer Matt Lee. “The original mix was atrocious. It sounded like it was recorded under a jello bowl, so I fixed it!” With Clouds, Joni Mitchell ploughs a similar furrow, but with greater harmonic and instrumental richness. The themes she addresses on this second album remain transparent enough, from the personal and introspective (I Don't Know Where I Stand) to the tormented and fearful (The Fiddle and the Drum), but the music has become denser.This feeling will intensify with Ladies of the Canyon, a hit which boosted her reputation. This third album saw the singer transform her folk sound with richer lyrics and increasingly subtle arrangements. Joni Mitchell was achieving unprecedented sophistication and becoming a unique star in the orbit of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, to whom she was still very much attached. Critics and audiences quickly fell in love with all of these quirks. But in spite of her fame she still yearned for freedom, and to get away from the limelight. So after Ladies of the Canyon was recorded, naturally Joni Mitchell wanted to set out travelling.One year later, Blue came out. Her fourth album on Reprise, it proved a cornerstone of her introspective, stripped-down folk sound. For all its lack of artifice and repetitive ingredients, this was a work of peerless grace and depth. A masterpiece conceived as a private journal set to music, it marked a real turning point in the career of the 28-year-old musician. This remaster offers up a definitive version. And that is just one more reason why The Reprise Albums (1968-1971) are totally in-dis-pen-sa-ble! © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released September 18, 2020 | Marina Records

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Rock - Released September 25, 2007 | Hear Music

Shine, recorded and released in 2007, is the sign from the heavens that Joni Mitchell has come out of retirement. She left in the early part of the century, railing against a music industry that only cared about "golf and rappers," accusing it of virtually every artistic crime under the sun. So the irony that she signed to Hear Music, Starbucks' music imprint, is pronounced. The company has been embroiled in controversy over its labor and trade practices, and has been accused of union-busting and spying on its employees and union members. It's especially ironic given the nature of the music on this set, which is political, environmental, and social in its commentary. Hear Music has also issued recordings by Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, so she's in great company. But it's music that we're after here, and Mitchell doesn't disappoint on this score. She doesn't have the same reach vocally that she used to. A lifetime of cigarette smoking will do that to you. But given the deeply reflective and uncomfortably contemplative nature of some of these songs, it hardly matters. Mitchell produced this set herself, and with the exception of guest performances -- saxophones by Bob Sheppard, steel guitar by Greg Leisz, some drum spots by Brian Blade, and bass by Larry Klein, all selectively featured -- Mitchell plays piano, guitar, and does all the other instrumentation and arrangements herself. The drum machine she uses is so antiquated that it's corny, but it's also charming in the way she employs it. The songs carry the same weight they always have. Her off-kilter acoustic guitar playing is as rhythmically complex as ever, and her commentary is biting, sardonic, and poetic. The set begins with a five-minute instrumental that would be perfect to accompany the images of the ballet dancers on the cover. "This Place," where her acoustic guitar, a synth, and the pedal steel are kissed by Sheppard's soprano saxophone, follows it. It's a statement of place, and the knowledge that its natural beauty is heavenly, but will not remain that way: "You see those lovely hills/They won't be there for long/They're gonna tear 'em down/And sell 'em to California...when this place looks like a moonscape/Don't say I didn't warn ya." She ends it with a prayer for the "courage and the grace/To make genius of this tragedy/The genius to save this place." It's hardly the standard pontificating of rock stars. Thank God. The next tune, "If I Had a Heart," with Blade, Klein, and Leisz, offers this confession: "Holy war/Genocide/Suicide/Hate and cruelty...How can this be holy?/If I had a heart, I'd cry." It's the acceptance of the dehumanization of the culture as well as the increasing uninhabitability of the planet, this resignation that's so startling even as these melodies take you to the places in Mitchell's songwriting we've always loved. The massive drum loops, didgeridoo samples, and bass throbs -- with additional percussion by Paulinho da Costa -- is a story-song that is meant to be a backbone, hands dirty working and improving things. It's haunting, as it hovers inside its groove with startling electric guitar distortion and effects. But only two songs later we move to "Big Yellow Taxi [2007 Version]." It's radically revisioned and reshaped. It's full of darker tones, soundscapes, an accordion sample, and a tougher acoustic guitar strum. What used to be a hummable if biting indictment of the powers that be, who wanted to develop every last inch of natural space, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The exhortation to farmers is still there, but it's more a bitter reminder of the refrain. It's the only song here, and followed by the most beautiful cut on the entire set in "Night of the Iguana," a big, elegant, polyrhythmic allegory that features some of the greatest guitar playing Mitchell has ever done -- those leads actually sear, though she employs them as Brian Eno would. In this tune, the storyteller is at the height of her powers, examining the contradictions in being human in a morality tale. With her poetic powers at a peak, she sings, "The jasmine is so mercilessly sweet/Night of the iguana/Can you hear the castanets?/It's the widow and her lover boys/Down on the beach." She suspends all judgment of the protagonist. She merely lets it all come in and sort itself out. "Strong and Wrong" reasserts with Blade, Leisz, and Mitchell's beautifully articulate piano and warm, watery sonic textural backdrops, with her feminism coming through, expressing that the story of war is because men love it and that's what history is for: "a mass-murder mystery/His story." Right. Chrissie Hynde and Madonna may have trouble with Mitchell's old-school feminism, her politics, and her view, although she indicts not only men but all of us for "still worshipping/Our own ego." Shine is an unsettling album, full of lean, articulate statements that are not meant to make you feel good. She doesn't have to finger-wag like Bono, who foolishly tries to use the power of guilt on the people he's playing with -- they've been at this game for far longer and seen it all -- or Thom Yorke's own contemptuous anguish that pleads as much as it professes. Mitchell doesn't have to do anything but lay it down in song, play the generalities and ambiguities as part and parcel of human existence as it has "evolved" and wandered off the path to paradise, through the seduction of power and money. She's an artist; it's her job to report what she sees. "Shine," a relatively simple, mantra-like song, is the other side of the coin and provides that glimmer of Beckett-ian hope we need more than she does, but it seems she's holding out for it, too. It's hunger. Musically it's imaginative, fresh, full of a more studied elegance and a leaner kind of pomp that we heard during her Geffen years (a period of her career that's still criminally underappreciated). In addition to her truly iconoclastic songwriting ability, she has proved herself to be a worthy producer of her own work. She's picked up tips from many others from Klein to Daniel Lanois to Jon Brion, and by employing excess at all the seemingly wrong moments, while stripping away the drama from her truly forceful lines and letting them hang out there nearly naked, she offers a view inside her music that we haven't heard before but still sounds familiar. Shine isn't a coffee-table record. It's an intuitive one; it won't attract record execs looking for the next fading star to resurrect. Mitchell doesn't need them, because there is little to resurrect in the life of a singular artist, especially this one. Her spirit is as unbowed, aesthetically curious, and restless as it has ever been -- thankfully. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Concord Jazz

Jazz pianist and composer Patricia Barber accomplishes two things simultaneously on this digital download single: first she returns to covering pop standards with this deeply moving cover of Joni Mitchell's "River," and secondly, she delivers her first recorded foray into the holiday season, though this sad, blue song might seem an unlikely choice. Despite its melancholy, this is a wise choice as it addresses the fact that the holiday season is a time when many reflect on losses, reverie, and loneliness as opposed to gratitude and joy. Barber, appearing with only her piano as accompaniment, delves deeply into Mitchell's lyric, allowing its sparse, stark poetry to arise even as her instrument underscores and highlights the ends of her sung lines, tracing out the jazz roots in the melody. While Barber is hardly the first jazz artist to cover Mitchell, she would no doubt create a compelling album of the latter's songs should she ever choose to do so. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 15, 2021 | Go Faster Records

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Jazz - Released July 1, 2008 | Linn Records

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Country - Released December 1, 2020 | Loma Vista Recordings

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Rock - Released May 7, 2021 | Zip City

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Jazz - Released November 6, 2020 | ACT Music

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 18, 2016 | Masterworks

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Contemporary Jazz - Released June 20, 2018 | My Quiet Moon Records

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Folk - Released May 14, 2021 | Amelia Recordings

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Pop/Rock - Released October 23, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Pop - Released October 15, 2021 | Polydor Records

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Pop - Released June 3, 2019 | EMI Recorded Music Australia Pty Ltd

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Pop/Rock - Released June 14, 2013 | WM Finland

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Pop/Rock - Released June 24, 2021 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

In some ways, For Free plays like the culmination of David Crosby's late career purple patch. Working once again with James Raymond -- his son who has turned out to be an unusually empathetic and intuitive producer -- Crosby mines similar territory as he has on the records he's released since 2014's Croz, yet For Free contains its own distinctive vibe. It's smoother, for one, lacking the twilight haze of Lighthouse as well as the loose-limbed adventure of Here If You Listen, the 2018 record he made in concert with Snarky Puppy's Michael League, Becca Stevens, and Michelle Willis. The slickness is reminiscent of the glory days of pre-MTV soft rock, a connection underscored by two key guests: Michael McDonald and Donald Fagen, who both contribute songs redolent of their signature styles. McDonald lends his signature harmonies to "River Rise" while Fagen offers "Rodriguez for a Night," a song that sounds as if it could've been excavated from the Gaucho sessions. These, along with the Joni Mitchell cover that lends the album its title, anchor For Free, allowing Crosby to ease into reflective jazz-funk grooves that give him plenty of space to harmonize and reflect. The nimble beats and warm surfaces give For Free an appealing buoyancy while also putting the quiet coda of "Shot at Me" and "I Won't Stay for Long" in sharp relief. Here, Crosby hints at his folkier origins without dispensing with the musical elasticity that characterized the rest of For Free, an expansion that serves as a gentle reminder that Crosby is in the midst of the longest sustained burst of creativity in his entire career. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released February 12, 2021 | ACT Music

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Rock - Released September 25, 2007 | Hear Music

Shine, recorded and released in 2007, is the sign from the heavens that Joni Mitchell has come out of retirement. She left in the early part of the century, railing against a music industry that only cared about "golf and rappers," accusing it of virtually every artistic crime under the sun. So the irony that she signed to Hear Music, Starbucks' music imprint, is pronounced. The company has been embroiled in controversy over its labor and trade practices, and has been accused of union-busting and spying on its employees and union members. It's especially ironic given the nature of the music on this set, which is political, environmental, and social in its commentary. Hear Music has also issued recordings by Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, so she's in great company. But it's music that we're after here, and Mitchell doesn't disappoint on this score. She doesn't have the same reach vocally that she used to. A lifetime of cigarette smoking will do that to you. But given the deeply reflective and uncomfortably contemplative nature of some of these songs, it hardly matters. Mitchell produced this set herself, and with the exception of guest performances -- saxophones by Bob Sheppard, steel guitar by Greg Leisz, some drum spots by Brian Blade, and bass by Larry Klein, all selectively featured -- Mitchell plays piano, guitar, and does all the other instrumentation and arrangements herself. The drum machine she uses is so antiquated that it's corny, but it's also charming in the way she employs it. The songs carry the same weight they always have. Her off-kilter acoustic guitar playing is as rhythmically complex as ever, and her commentary is biting, sardonic, and poetic. The set begins with a five-minute instrumental that would be perfect to accompany the images of the ballet dancers on the cover. "This Place," where her acoustic guitar, a synth, and the pedal steel are kissed by Sheppard's soprano saxophone, follows it. It's a statement of place, and the knowledge that its natural beauty is heavenly, but will not remain that way: "You see those lovely hills/They won't be there for long/They're gonna tear 'em down/And sell 'em to California...when this place looks like a moonscape/Don't say I didn't warn ya." She ends it with a prayer for the "courage and the grace/To make genius of this tragedy/The genius to save this place." It's hardly the standard pontificating of rock stars. Thank God. The next tune, "If I Had a Heart," with Blade, Klein, and Leisz, offers this confession: "Holy war/Genocide/Suicide/Hate and cruelty...How can this be holy?/If I had a heart, I'd cry." It's the acceptance of the dehumanization of the culture as well as the increasing uninhabitability of the planet, this resignation that's so startling even as these melodies take you to the places in Mitchell's songwriting we've always loved. The massive drum loops, didgeridoo samples, and bass throbs -- with additional percussion by Paulinho da Costa -- is a story-song that is meant to be a backbone, hands dirty working and improving things. It's haunting, as it hovers inside its groove with startling electric guitar distortion and effects. But only two songs later we move to "Big Yellow Taxi [2007 Version]." It's radically revisioned and reshaped. It's full of darker tones, soundscapes, an accordion sample, and a tougher acoustic guitar strum. What used to be a hummable if biting indictment of the powers that be, who wanted to develop every last inch of natural space, has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The exhortation to farmers is still there, but it's more a bitter reminder of the refrain. It's the only song here, and followed by the most beautiful cut on the entire set in "Night of the Iguana," a big, elegant, polyrhythmic allegory that features some of the greatest guitar playing Mitchell has ever done -- those leads actually sear, though she employs them as Brian Eno would. In this tune, the storyteller is at the height of her powers, examining the contradictions in being human in a morality tale. With her poetic powers at a peak, she sings, "The jasmine is so mercilessly sweet/Night of the iguana/Can you hear the castanets?/It's the widow and her lover boys/Down on the beach." She suspends all judgment of the protagonist. She merely lets it all come in and sort itself out. "Strong and Wrong" reasserts with Blade, Leisz, and Mitchell's beautifully articulate piano and warm, watery sonic textural backdrops, with her feminism coming through, expressing that the story of war is because men love it and that's what history is for: "a mass-murder mystery/His story." Right. Chrissie Hynde and Madonna may have trouble with Mitchell's old-school feminism, her politics, and her view, although she indicts not only men but all of us for "still worshipping/Our own ego." Shine is an unsettling album, full of lean, articulate statements that are not meant to make you feel good. She doesn't have to finger-wag like Bono, who foolishly tries to use the power of guilt on the people he's playing with -- they've been at this game for far longer and seen it all -- or Thom Yorke's own contemptuous anguish that pleads as much as it professes. Mitchell doesn't have to do anything but lay it down in song, play the generalities and ambiguities as part and parcel of human existence as it has "evolved" and wandered off the path to paradise, through the seduction of power and money. She's an artist; it's her job to report what she sees. "Shine," a relatively simple, mantra-like song, is the other side of the coin and provides that glimmer of Beckett-ian hope we need more than she does, but it seems she's holding out for it, too. It's hunger. Musically it's imaginative, fresh, full of a more studied elegance and a leaner kind of pomp that we heard during her Geffen years (a period of her career that's still criminally underappreciated). In addition to her truly iconoclastic songwriting ability, she has proved herself to be a worthy producer of her own work. She's picked up tips from many others from Klein to Daniel Lanois to Jon Brion, and by employing excess at all the seemingly wrong moments, while stripping away the drama from her truly forceful lines and letting them hang out there nearly naked, she offers a view inside her music that we haven't heard before but still sounds familiar. Shine isn't a coffee-table record. It's an intuitive one; it won't attract record execs looking for the next fading star to resurrect. Mitchell doesn't need them, because there is little to resurrect in the life of a singular artist, especially this one. Her spirit is as unbowed, aesthetically curious, and restless as it has ever been -- thankfully. © Thom Jurek /TiVo