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by Graham Reid
New Zealand Herald
December 26, 2002

Herald rating: * * *

Mitchell, 59, recently suggested she may retire, which may account for this somewhat self-aggrandising double album in which she revisits her back catalogue with a 70-piece orchestra, 20-voice choir and guest pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and flugelhorn player Kenny Wheeler. While there are some excellent revisions here (Be Cool, Hejira, God Must Be a Boogie Man) there's also an over-ripe, sentiment-tugging, emotion-milking quality about some (Love, Slouching Towards Bethlehem) and it's notable on a lavishly presented album with Bush/bin Laden paintings she has picked some songs which resonate post-September 11 (Otis and Marlena with the line "while Muslims stick up Washington" is the opener). The formerly light and spry Woodstock is here sunk by the weight of its self-important delivery and dark strings. Mitchell never lacked ambition, but judicious pruning might have made for a more consistent collection.

 

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