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Folk/Americana - Released January 23, 2007 | Rhino - Warner Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Pop - Released December 15, 2009 | Rhino - Elektra

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Folk/Americana - Released June 30, 1975 | Rhino

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Pop - Released May 7, 2013 | Rhino - Elektra

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Shadows and Light is Joni Mitchell's second live album, and it serves as a good retrospective of her jazzy period from 1975-1979. As expected, she assembles a group of all-star musicians including Pat Metheny (guitar), Jaco Pastorius (bass), Lyle Mays (keyboards), and Michael Brecker (saxophone) who give these compositions more energy than on the studio recordings. The musicians are given room to jam, and they sound terrific on uptempo songs such as "Coyote" and "In France They Kiss on Main Street." If there is a general theme of these songs, it's about growing older and maturing after the failed idealism of the late '60s (the album opens with audio clips from the movie Rebel Without a Cause). Although this album is pleasing, the live arrangements are not different enough from the studio versions to warrant higher marks. In fact, Mitchell has always been an album artist who recorded studio albums that had a sound and feel all their own. While Shadows and Light provides a nice summary of her experimental period for casual fans, interested listeners should start with Hejira or The Hissing of Summer Lawns. ~ Vik Iyengar
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Pop - Released September 24, 2013 | Rhino - Elektra

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A big chunk of the pop audience Joni Mitchell had earned with Court and Spark in 1974 deserted her in 1975 and 1976 when the follow-ups, The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Hejira, proved more difficult works. With the pretentious double album Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, Mitchell lost many of the loyal fans who'd stuck with her from the beginning, but who, upon hearing her here as she spread her obscure poetic observations and thin melodies across whole sides of the album, found her disengaged from the close, personal observations that filled her best songs. This was Mitchell's last album to go gold. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Vocal Jazz - Released June 28, 2011 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Accompanied by the London Philharmonic under the direction of Vince Mendoza, Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell revisits with great emotion, in a voice marked by time and supported by sumptuous orchestral arrangements, several standards of the American music hall from the 1920s to the 1970s, as well as very heart-moving remakes of two of her songs, her famous hit 'Both Sides', now from 1968 and 'A case of you' from the 1971 album 'Blue'.
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Pop - Released November 19, 2013 | Rhino - Elektra

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Pop - Released July 1, 1973 | Rhino

This wonderfully varied release shows a number of new tendencies in Joni Mitchell's work, some of which would come to fuller fruition on subsequent albums. "The Arrangement," "Rainy Night House," and "Woodstock" contain lengthy instrumental sections, presaging the extensive non-vocal stretches in later selections such as "Down to You" from Court and Spark. Jazz elements are noticeable in the wind solos of "For Free" and "Conversation," exhibiting an important influence that would extend as late as Mingus. The unusually poignant desolation of "The Arrangement" would surface more strongly in Blue. A number of the selections here ("Willy" and "Blue Boy") use piano rather than guitar accompaniment; arrangements here are often more colorful and complex than before, utilizing cello, clarinet, flute, saxophone, and percussion. Mitchell sings more clearly and expressively than on prior albums, most strikingly so on "Woodstock," her celebration of the pivotal 1960s New York rock festival. This number, given a haunting electric piano accompaniment, is sung in a gutsy, raw, soulful manner; the selection proves amply that pop music anthems don't all have to be loud production numbers. Songs here take many moods, ranging from the sunny, easygoing "Morning Morgantown" (a charming small-town portrait) to the nervously energetic "Conversation" (about a love triangle in the making) to the cryptically spooky "The Priest" (presenting the speaker's love for a Spartan man) to the sweetly sentimental classic "The Circle Game" (denoting the passage of time in touching terms) to the bouncy and vibrant single "Big Yellow Taxi" (with humorous lyrics on ecological matters) to the plummy, sumptuous title track (a celebration of creativity in all its manifestations). This album is yet another essential listen in Mitchell's recorded canon. ~ David Cleary
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Pop - Released December 15, 2009 | Rhino - Warner Records

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This wonderfully varied release shows a number of new tendencies in Joni Mitchell's work, some of which would come to fuller fruition on subsequent albums. "The Arrangement," "Rainy Night House," and "Woodstock" contain lengthy instrumental sections, presaging the extensive non-vocal stretches in later selections such as "Down to You" from Court and Spark. Jazz elements are noticeable in the wind solos of "For Free" and "Conversation," exhibiting an important influence that would extend as late as Mingus. The unusually poignant desolation of "The Arrangement" would surface more strongly in Blue. A number of the selections here ("Willy" and "Blue Boy") use piano rather than guitar accompaniment; arrangements here are often more colorful and complex than before, utilizing cello, clarinet, flute, saxophone, and percussion. Mitchell sings more clearly and expressively than on prior albums, most strikingly so on "Woodstock," her celebration of the pivotal 1960s New York rock festival. This number, given a haunting electric piano accompaniment, is sung in a gutsy, raw, soulful manner; the selection proves amply that pop music anthems don't all have to be loud production numbers. Songs here take many moods, ranging from the sunny, easygoing "Morning Morgantown" (a charming small-town portrait) to the nervously energetic "Conversation" (about a love triangle in the making) to the cryptically spooky "The Priest" (presenting the speaker's love for a Spartan man) to the sweetly sentimental classic "The Circle Game" (denoting the passage of time in touching terms) to the bouncy and vibrant single "Big Yellow Taxi" (with humorous lyrics on ecological matters) to the plummy, sumptuous title track (a celebration of creativity in all its manifestations). This album is yet another essential listen in Mitchell's recorded canon. ~ David Cleary
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Pop - Released January 1, 1991 | Geffen

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. ~ James Chrispell
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Pop - Released June 30, 1975 | Reprise

Clouds is a stark stunner, a great leap forward for Joni Mitchell. Vocals here are more forthright and assured than on her debut and exhibit a remarkable level of subtle expressiveness. Guitar alone is used in accompaniment, and the variety of playing approaches and sounds gotten here is most impressive. "The Fiddle and the Drum," a protest song that imaginatively compares the Vietnam-era warmongering U.S. government to a bitter friend, dispenses with instrumental accompaniment altogether. The sketches presented of lovers by turns depressive ("Tin Angel"), roguish ("That Song About the Midway"), and faithless ("The Gallery") are vividly memorable. Forthright lyrics about the unsureness of new love ("I Don't Know Where I Stand"), misuse of the occult ("Roses Blue"), and mental illness ("I Think I Understand") are very striking. Mitchell's classic singer/songwriter standards "Chelsea Morning" and "Both Sides Now" respectively receive energetically vibrant and warmly thoughtful performances. Imaginatively unusual and subtle harmonies abound here, never more so in her body of work than on the remarkable "Songs to Aging Children Come," which sets floridly impressionistic lyrics to a lovely tune that is supported by perhaps the most remarkably sophisticated chord sequence in all of pop music. Mitchell's riveting self-portrait on the album's cover is a further asset. This essential release is a must-listen. ~ David Cleary
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Pop - Released April 24, 2007 | Rhino - Elektra

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Pop - Released March 5, 1976 | Rhino

On For the Roses, Joni Mitchell began to explore jazz and other influences in earnest. As one might expect from a transitional album, there is a lot of stylistic ground explored, including straight folk selections using guitar ("For the Roses") and piano ("Banquet," "See You Sometime," "Lesson in Survival") overtly jazzy numbers ("Barangrill," "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire," and hybrids that cross the two "Let the Wind Carry Me," "Electricity," "Woman of Heart and Mind," "Judgment of the Moon and Stars"). "Blonde in the Bleachers" grafts a rock & roll band coda onto a piano-based singer/songwriter main body. The hit single "You Turn Me on I'm a Radio" is an unusual essay into country-tinged pop, sporting a Dylanesque harmonica solo played by Graham Nash and lush backing vocals. Arrangements here build solidly upon the tentative expansion of scoring first seen in Ladies of the Canyon. "Judgment of the Moon and Stars" and "Let the Wind Carry Me" present lengthy instrumental interludes. The lyrics here are among Mitchell's best, continuing in the vein of gripping honesty and heartfelt depth exhibited on Blue. As always, there are selections about relationship problems, such as "Lesson in Survival," "See You Sometime," and perhaps the best of all her songs in this genre, "Woman of Heart and Mind." "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire" presents a gritty inner-city survival scene, while "Barangrill" winsomely extols the uncomplicated virtues of a roadside truck stop. More than a bridge between great albums, this excellent disc is a top-notch listen in its own right. ~ David Cleary
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Jazz - Released November 5, 2007 | Rhino - Elektra

Joni Mitchell evolved from the smooth jazz-pop of Court and Spark to the radical Hissing of Summer Lawns, an adventurous work that remains among her most difficult records. After opening with the graceful "In France They Kiss on Main Street," the album veers sharply into "The Jungle Line," an odd, Moog-driven piece backed by the rhythms of the warrior drums of Burundi -- a move into multiculturalism that beat the likes of Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, and Sting to the punch by a decade. While not as prescient, songs like "Edith and the Kingpin" and "Harry's House -- Centerpiece" are no less complex or idiosyncratic, employing minor-key melodies and richly detailed lyrics to arrive at a strange and beautiful fusion of jazz and shimmering avant pop. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Pop - Released October 29, 1996 | Reprise

The album is a long overdue anthology of one of Canada's most celebrated ex-pats, Joni Mitchell. She sanctioned the release only on the condition that she be allowed to compile companion album Misses. While the 15-strong Hits focuses on her earlier folk-pop crossover successes, many made famous initially by others ("Both Sides Now," "Woodstock," "The Circle Game"), Misses is a personal cross section of her more challenging early material and more recent recordings -- the riveting "The Wolf That Lives in Lindsey" from Mingus is especially enlightening. One should not pick up one disc without the other. With the flood of box sets released in recent years for far less deserving artists, it's odd that Reprise didn't go all out and make this a more elaborate tribute. ~ Roch Parisien
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Folk/Americana - Released December 23, 2015 | Nonesuch

According to Joni Mitchell, Travelogue is her final recorded work, and if that is so, it's a detailed exploration of moments in a career that is as dazzling as it is literally uncompromising. Over 22 tracks and two CDs (and as stunning package featuring a plethora of photographs of Mitchell's paintings), Travelogue is a textured and poetic reminiscence, not a reappraisal, of her work -- most of it from the 1970s through the 1990s. A 70-piece orchestra, as well as jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Kenny Wheeler, drummer Brian Blade, bassist Chuck Berghofer, producer Larry Klein, and organist Billy Preston, among others, accompanies her. It's true that Mitchell dabbled in this territory in 2000 on Both Sides Now, but that recording only remotely resembles this one. Cast in this way it is true that this is no easy cruise, but given the nearly 40 years of her sojourn in popular music, Mitchell's work, particularly from the mid-'70s on, has been difficult for many to grasp on first listen and always gives up its considerable rewards, slowly making her records age well over time; they are not disposable as much of the music from her peers is. These completely recast songs cover the entirety of her career, from her debut, Song From a Seagull, to Turbulent Indigo (with certain albums not being represented at all). It's true there aren't high-profile cuts here except for "Woodstock," which is radically reshaped, but it hardly matters. When you hear the ultrahip, be-bopping "God Must Be a Boogie Man," there is an elation without sentimentality; in the scathing and venomous "For the Roses" and "Just Like This Train," the bitterness and aggression in their delivery offers the listener an empathy with Mitchell's anger at the recording industry -- and anyone else who's crossed her. But while there is plenty of swirling darkness amid the strings here, there is also the fulfillment of prophecy; just give a listen to this version of "Sex Kills" that bears its weight in full measure of responsibility and vision. Her voice, aged by years of smoking, is huskier and is, if anything, more lovely, mature, deep in its own element of strength. The restatement of W.B. Yeats, "Slouching Toward Bethlehem," is more stunning now than ever before as is "Hejira." In "The Circle Game" and "Slouching Toward Bethlehem," you hear the ambition in Mitchell's musical direct as she has moved ever closer to the tone poem as a song form. Though it may not be as easy on first listen as Court and Spark, Travelogue will continue to unfold over time and offer, like her best work, decades of mystery and pleasure. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop - Released October 29, 2012 | Rhino

One has to wonder why this box, Joni Mitchell's The Studio Albums 1968-1979, was issued only in the European market. During this period --and some would argue even after -- Mitchell had one of most consistent quality runs in pop history. She is one of the most influential songwriters and recording artists of the 20th century. Included here are Song to a Seagull, Clouds, Ladies of the Canyon, Blue, For the Roses, Court and Spark, Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira, the double album Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, and Mingus. The first four are regarded as her "singer/songwriter" era offerings, the next one (For the Roses) details her crossing over into pop success (without compromise, of course), and the final five as her "jazz period," an era that lasted longer than her tenure with Warner Bros, and into her years at Geffen. What's remarkable is that they are all indelibly Mitchell. From the earliest, her vocal phrasing and guitar playing were just off enough to underscore the depth and poetry in her lyrics. By the time she reached For the Roses, she was already inventing new melodic and rhythmic paths. By Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira, and especially on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, she was off-road, cutting a new swath of rhythmic invention in popular music, utilizing jazz syncopation and harmonics, Brazilian and Latin rhythms, and even modal elements that seemed to make time, melody, and lyric concerns more elastic. There is a great anecdote from Robbie Robertson about Mitchell asking the Band to back her at the Watkins Glen rock festival. They were unable to play with her because only drummer Levon Helm could flow with her sense of groove. All these albums feature their own mini-LP sleeves (no fancy paper, sorry). There is no bonus material of any kind included. The art is not so much redone as extremely reduced, making most of the print small enough that reading can be difficult. There is no liner essay in the package, either. The plus -- in addition to a stellar body of music -- is that the price is right; each album prices out to considerably less than these recordings sell for individually. ~ Thom Jurek
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Pop - Released January 28, 2000 | Reprise

Ex-husband Larry Klein, who serves as co-producer and musical director, explains in his liner notes that Joni Mitchell intended to tell the story of a "modern" romantic relationship in the songs, most of which come from the '30s and '40s. If so, her concept of a modern relationship is very troubled -- most of the selections are unhappy love songs. Vince Mendoza's arrangements -- a third of them played by a gigantic 71-piece orchestra, a third by a regular-size orchestra, and a third by a swing-style big band -- often suggest the oceanic sweep and serious, melancholy tone of film noir movie music. They also do a lot of Mitchell's work for her. As a singer, she has never had much projection or power, but she is a master of phrasing and tone. Mitchell often sounds like an alternate Billie Holiday, with the breathiness and note decay characteristic of later Holiday, if none of her delayed timing. Both Sides Now is not revelatory in a musical sense, but it does achieve its intention of reconceiving Joni Mitchell as an interpretive singer. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released July 5, 1968 | Rhino

Joni Mitchell's debut release is a concept album. Side one, subtitled "I Came to the City," generally exhibits songs about urban subjects that are often dour or repressed in some way. "Out of the City and Down to the Seaside," by contrast, is a celebration of nature and countryside, mostly containing selections of a charming, positive, or more outgoing nature. What sets this release apart from those of other confession-style singer/songwriters of the time is the craft, subtlety, and evocative power of Mitchell's lyrics and harmonic style. Numbers such as "Marcie," "Michael From Mountains," "The Dawntreader," and "The Pirate of Penance" effectively utilize sophisticated chord progressions rarely found in this genre. Verses are substantive and highly charged, exhibiting careful workmanship. "Song to a Seagull" has graceful and vivid lyrics about the joys of freedom set to a haunting, wide-ranging vocal line. Conversely, "Cactus Tree" explores the downside of a no-strings-attached approach to life, the fear of committing to a relationship (ironically wedding these words to a hopeful melody and pulsating guitar texture). "Marcie" utilizes poignant, twisting music set to desolately lonely lyrics about a jilted woman; the recurrent use of red and green imagery in the verses is especially clever. Character studies such as "I Had a King" and "Nathan la Franeer" are painfully bleak in contrast to the lithe domestic scene of "Sisotowbell Lane" and the winsomely reserved love song "Michael From Mountains." Unusual in her oeuvre are the overlapping dialogue prose manner of "The Pirate of Penance" and the jaunty honky tonk stylings of "Night in the City." Mitchell sings in a light, gossamer, at times diffident manner; vocal harmony is sparingly employed here. David Crosby's production is simple and effective. This excellent debut is well worth hearing. ~ David Cleary
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Pop - Released June 24, 1975 | Rhino

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). ~ Jason Ankeny