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Joni Mitchell - Court & Spark (LP)

8122798618

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Label: Asylum Records – 7E-1001
Format: LP
Country: US
Released: 1974
Genre: Rock, Folk
Style: Soft Rock, Folk Rock

180 gram vinyl.

Mitchell's graceful melding of her folk music roots with Tom Scott's Southern California brand of light jazz yielded one of her finest, most enduring albums back in 1974. It wasn't without precedent, however. If you go back two years to 1972's FOR THE ROSES (Asylum SD 5057) you'll hear more guitars but you'll also find "Tommy" Scott's woodwind and reed accents, Bobby Nortkiff's string arrangements and Wilton Felder on bass. Find yourself an original thick Atlantic pressed LP -- it's got a white label -- and you'll be a happy camper. The later blue cloud label WEA pressing pales by comparison. I haven't heard the latest CD.

On COURT And SPARK Mitchell ups the level of jazzy sophistication, downplaying the acoustic strumming and adding Joe Sample and Larry Carlton to the mix - along with Robby Robertson, Jose Feliciano and others. While the music has an increasingly breezy So-Cal feel, Mitchell's preoccupation with the chains of love versus the freedom of the road continue -- on the title tune, on "Help Me" and on "The Same Situation," where conflicted self doubt has her singing "I called out to be released/Caught in my struggle for higher achievement/And my search for love/That doesn't seem to cease."

When the album was released there was a great deal of speculation about the subject of "Free Man In Paris." Was she writing about her agent/manager/label head David Geffen? Probably. The album ends on an uncharistically light note: a cover of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross' "Twisted" from their "THE HOTTEST GROUP IN JAZZ" (Columbia CS-8198 "6 Eye") with Cheech and Chong's backups. The song's a novelty track, but it pointed the way toward Mitchell's jazzier future.

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