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Down time: Joni Mitchell Print-ready version

by Dan Cairns
The Sunday Times (of London)
January 14, 2007

How many can you say this about: eight great albums in eight years, at least two masterpieces? One of those, 1974's Court and Spark, is among a trio rereleased this month in expanded form. This selection, from 1968 to 1976, captures Joni at her peak, jazz- and folk-tinted melodies soaring in the major, breaking hearts in the minor, lyrics both soothing and skewering. A good half-dozen alternative Top 10's suggest themselves, and clamour for supremacy.

1 The Last Time I Saw Richard. A vocal line that flits like paper in the wind; a lyric with a lethal sting.

2 Free Man in Paris. David Geffen gets dipped in her caustic acidity.

3 My Old Man. A celebration of domestic bliss? The tune drags this classic down darker paths.

4 Chelsea Morning. An early appearance for those fluting, just-out-of-tune harmonies.

5 Marcie. Rare for Mitchell, no ambiguity: a tune as melancholy as the words.

6 In France They Kiss on Main Street. One of her most beguilingly serpentine melodies.

7 Songs to Aging Children Come. Ever wondered what inspires Joanna Newsom?

8 The Same Situation. Pondering love and fidelity on Court and Spark.

9 Blonde in the Bleachers. An intriguing hybrid - lyrics bemoaning rocknroll men, tune off on jazz tangents.

10 Amelia. Amelia Earhart inspires a devastatingly resigned soul-baring.

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