Joni Mitchell is one of the few artists working in the contemporary music field who is constantly progressing and evolving. Unfortunately her artistic striving tends to undermine her position as a Superstar because while her music moves on and up it becomes less accessible by the minute. She is in essence a jazz artist now. Her rhythms have always been complex and her musicianship has always been superb but her lovely melodies used to have a simplicity that produced a commercial entity. Those days are gone but while her sales figures might slump, her artistic contribution to the Seventies increases steadily. Off Night Backstreet (Asylum) happens to be one of the more accessible tracks on her innovative album DON JUAN'S RECKLESS DAUGHTER but it's still pretty weird. Big Yellow Taxi it is not. Joni's unique voice weaves tantalizingly over a vaguely disturbing music bed. Jaco Pastorius' bass is almost malevolent. It splutters, bends and leers sensually. Joni's voice soars and whinnies per poetic lyrics and the vocal harmonies are provided by John Souther and Glen Frey. The payoff line does add the most commercial ingredient into the mix but it isn't a Top Ten Record by any stretch of the imagination. What it is is a classy record that deserves playing selectively by discerning programmers. Great late night listening. Miss Mitchell used to provide us with prime time music but she's moved on now. She is one of the most enduring of musical talents. Like good whiskey she's a little hard to swallow sometimes but the flavour keeps improving.
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