Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby timbo » Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:16 pm

This is an album I love, but then I'm a great Joni fan. In fact it's not my favourite album of hers.

I listened to it again today. My favourite track is A Case Of You, a true declaration of love if there ever was one.

The album is "of it's time", and arguably so is her vocal style. I think her voice improved as she aged a few years - there is nothing shrill on Hejira, for instance. It's greatness is partly for it's place as an early classic of the confessional singer-songwriter style, and it was hugely influential in that sense.

I only have a CD copy, but it is the 2007 remaster, and isn't bad sounding but I can believe it sounds better on vinyl (or vinyl rip).
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby jackdawclaw » Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:33 pm

Sorry for not sticking to the format, it's late.

I know a bloke who knows a bloke who when buying a gift only ever buys 'Blue' to give.  He supposes that if they don't have it, it will enrich their life, if they do then it can't help to be reminded to re-listen.  (I expect he's a twat).

Female singer song writers are not my thing.  I've heard a hell of a lot and they are mostly boring.

But both this album and Tapestry somehow manage to break into everything I am as a listener/person. 

I love blue.  I don't know how to say 'why'.  Other than throughout the record she really means it and what she means matters.    And both of those things are really really rare in any record.  Especially one as sparse as one like this where genesis is not hidden behind riffage or production.  It sounds like it's recorded over the course of a wet Sunday where reflection happens before the wine is opened. 
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby simbo » Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:48 pm

Format(s) used:

  • CD (kit as per sig)
  • 320kbs on Spotify through iPhone 6 / Shure SE530

Background to my review:

This album was released in the year I was born. While I can study the Zeitgeist of 1971, I didn’t experience the album’s release as others may have – not much can be done about that, but it undoubtedly influences how one views a particular album.

I bought the album as a ‘must have in the collection’ about 10 years ago, but could not stand to listen to it as it was just too forward and bright on my system at that time, mainly down to the Monitor Audio speakers that just made the guitar opener and vocal too much to endure unless at the very quietest volume, where much of the intimacy disappeared.

I have only revisited it a couple of times since as my kit has changed and after focussed listening over the last couple of weeks I am experiencing one of those moments of regret of downsizing from my Audio Note system that would have made so much of this album. That said, my current kit does a fine job of reproducing it, with a lovely smoothness, all the intimacy and detail and none of the harshness.

Before recent and repeated listening to the album for this review my view was that it sounded a bit dated and sickly-sweet musically. Although I don’t always find this with albums of the same period and much earlier, I did with this one.

My review:

I have enjoyed listening to this album, but this has only come from concentrated listening to it – which is not my usual approach to listening to music; I prefer to have music on while doing other things. I have also admonished myself (not for the first time) for not paying enough attention to lyrical content of an album.

I still find it a little dated, but this has become much less relevant now. I have found myself admiring JM’s vocal ability to hit the notes as if they were being struck on the keys of a piano, for example in My Old Man – “we don’t need no piece of paper from city hall…” and also to achieve some pretty incredible phrasing of her lyrics.

My favourite track (at the moment) is Little Green, the performance has a real emotional intimacy, as does the whole album, but being relatively pared down instrumentally even for this album this seems to me to be even more personal. And I just love those mid-line key changes in the chorus (same keys changes in the very different Song for Sharon on Hejira).

I also really like the title track. At around 2m 31s there is cracking in her voice – the only one I noticed – that adds another layer of intimacy to the album that is already there in spades due to the close mic’d vocal, zero reverb on any vocal or instrument, no drums (the tapping of a guitar body, the odd bongo and high eq’d thin guitar chords the only percussion to be found here) and of course those so personal lyrics.

Least favourite track: Carey – I found myself wanting to skip this one, perhaps because I want more of Little Green...

Stand out moment: the last few seconds of California (“will you take me as I am…”)

Other things I noticed were the little production additions like the headphone bit in This Flight Tonight, and the not-unintended Jingle Bells theme to River. And I didn't realise they had dishwashers in 1971.
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby Simon Chick » Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:47 pm

[quote="simbo"] And I didn't realise they had dishwashers in 1971.
[/quote]

:D  ;D
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby argustimewas » Mon Nov 24, 2014 5:13 pm

Are all of the reviews posted yet?

The reason I ask is because I intend to re-listen to Blue after having read all of the reviews.

Also, please would those familiar with the Joni Mitchell back catalogue recommend other albums? Hejira and Don Juan's Reckless Daughter have been mentioned - what's a good starting point?

Thanks.
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby SteveC » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:13 pm

[quote="argustimewas"]
Are all of the reviews posted yet?

The reason I ask is because I intend to re-listen to Blue after having read all of the reviews.

Also, please would those familiar with the Joni Mitchell back catalogue recommend other albums? Hejira and Don Juan's Reckless Daughter have been mentioned - what's a good starting point?

Thanks.
[/quote]

Good question.  Fourteen reviews so far, including my introduction.  I haven't seen Abozo's review, and I am not sure if Operaman intented to post.  I'll check off the list later.

Many excellent contributions, several of which show the benefit of being forced to listen to something and how previous prejudices  can be challenged.  Please let me know of any changes in format that you would like to see.
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby realoldfart » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:17 pm

argustimewas, following the Blue posts I had a Joni session this afternoon.  I started with Blue and then moved on to arguably three of the finest albums by any artist, not just JM. They represent a sequence of growth in her lyrical and musical stature.  Here are the covers:-

Image


Image


Image


Blimey too much variation in sizes. 

Each album is excellent and as well as tracking JM's career record a major step in popular music - just magnificent. 

I'm sorry if the above is a bit garbled, I didn't manage to sleep last night and didn't do a lot better the night before.
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby blair207 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:43 pm

Good to read everyone's thoughts. I am surprised at the range of views on the album, but that's because I like it so much. I was six when it came out and my uncle used to play it and Tapestry often and I would hear them when at my cousins. When I bought it for myself in my thirties I found there was so much meaning and depth to it which I obviously hadn't noticed as a child. In case any of you are unaware of the story behind Little Green, Joni Mitchell wrote Little Green in 1967 about the daughter she had given up for adoption in 1965, when she was a poor folk singer in Toronto. The existence of her daughter was not publicly known until 1993, when a room-mate from Mitchell's art-school days in the 1960s sold the story of the adoption to a tabloid magazine. Its such a personal song its hard to believe she put it out but she did and to my mind its one of the most fascinating songs ever written even though not even my favourite on the album.

I am happy with the format. It allows us to contribute as much or as little as we wish and gives a good framework to start our views with.

ROF I agree that the series of albums you posted are an amazing body of work by one of the all time great singer songwriters.

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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby argustimewas » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:59 pm

Thank you ROF for your suggestions and also to blair207 for commenting on these. I'm now set up with Spotify so I will be able to try these out before deciding whether to buy.

Regarding the format for reviews I found the framework a useful structure, although I think it's OK to take a flexible approach to this and it's been interesting to read all of the reviews including those which didn't stick to the recommended format.

Regarding the continuance of the reviews I think it would be very helpful for the person suggesting the album to offer an introduction.

I'm still not clear on the album selection process? We've got a top 10 / 15 ranked from the votes of all of the suggestions and it makes sense to work through at least the top 10. However, I'm unclear on how we managed the individual choices and whether this is necessary. Neither of my original suggestions made it into the top 15, does that mean I select one of these anyway or do I select something different? Given we have an agreed ranking is it better to stick to these and then we all re-suggest and rank the new list? I have no strong feelings on any of these options - this is meant to be fun and too many rules would detract from that I feel.

Apologies if all of this should have been in the other (i.e. non-review) post. 
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby Bolts2109 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 9:48 pm

Thanks ROF, can't disagree with those - I'd recommend a listen to Don Juan's Reckless Daughter too.
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby timbo » Mon Nov 24, 2014 10:49 pm

I also agree with the "next three albums" selected by ROF.

Which one you pick depends on your motive:

- for the biggest possible contrast from Blue, jump furthest forward to Hejira. Jazz influenced, mellower voice

- choose one nearest to your preferred type of music: the next album, Court and Spark, is mainly kind of West Coast soft rock in feel, Hissing Of Summer Lawns is more sophisticated sound with some early jazz/world influences showing.
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby operaman » Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:30 pm

[quote="SteveC"]

Good question.  Fourteen reviews so far, including my introduction.  I haven't seen Abozo's review, and I am not sure if Operaman intented to post.  I'll check off the list later.

Many excellent contributions, several of which show the benefit of being forced to listen to something and how previous prejudices  can be challenged.  Please let me know of any changes in format that you would like to see.
[/quote]

No I hadn't intended to post. I feel I don't know these albums well enough first hand to make my opinion worthwhile having a rather different musical background but the format is great - I'm happy to watch. If you want to give me Scriabin Poème de l'Extase then maybe!
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby realoldfart » Tue Nov 25, 2014 2:31 am

[quote="timbo"]
I also agree with the "next three albums" selected by ROF.

Which one you pick depends on your motive:

- for the biggest possible contrast from Blue, jump furthest forward to Hejira. Jazz influenced, mellower voice

- choose one nearest to your preferred type of music: the next album, Court and Spark, is mainly kind of West Coast soft rock in feel, Hissing Of Summer Lawns is more sophisticated sound with some early jazz/world influences showing.
[/quote]

Tim, there are her initial forays with Jazz on 'Court and Spark' I feel.  I think the albums should be discovered in the order in which I listed them so that a listener is gradually drawn - I think a jump from 'Blue to 'Hejira' would be several steps too far.
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But I said I have spent more money than a millionaire!
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I would've been a millionaire a looong time ago...
Lyrics taken from <a href="http://www.elyrics.net/read/h/howlin_-wolf-lyrics/goin

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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby cheese » Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:02 am

I would also like to add another fabulous album by Joni Mitchell- Mingus. I remember listening to it on headphones
about 33 years ago (formative years) and been blown away by her Jazz sound. It was not Miles Davis that lead me to my life long love of Jazz but Joni Mitchell and Wayne Shorter on this album.
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Re: Classic Albums - Joni Mitchell, Blue. Review date Sunday 23rd November 2014

Postby abozo » Tue Nov 25, 2014 11:06 am

I must apologize for not getting my review in on Sunday.  Events have been conspiring against me recently.

I have just read all the very interesting reviews.  Thanks to you all.

When I was young, growing up with mostly heavy rock and classical music, my cousin played JM and James Taylor to me incessantly.  He still does it now.  Whether it is for that or other reasons, I am afraid that although I can sincerely appreciate the artistry, song writing skills and sheer emotional portrayal, I cannot say that I can enjoy listening to JM or any music of this ilk.  My problem.

So, sorry, Steve and everyone else.  I hope to come up for a breath soon.  I look forward to contributing something more useful soon, in the accepted format.  :-[

Cheers,
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