"He was sitting in the lounge of the Empire Hotel..."
The first time I heard "Raised on Robbery" come on the radio, I thought it had to be none other than Better Midler, the boogie-woogie queen of the Seventies. Soon, however, Joni Mitchell's voice and phrasing became clearly recognizable. No matter, "Raised on Robbery" is a fine song, one that brightens the airwaves every time it is played.
Joni Mitchell has a knack for depicting common, often down-on-their-luck characters in most delightful manner. "Barangrill" (from "For the Roses") is a primary example of how the ordinary can be made warm and humorous. "Raised on Robbery" has much the same effect, although it relies more on narration than description. And it certainly is refreshing to hear a "folkie" give such an energetic performance.
"Court and Spark" is the name of the album containing "Raised on Robbery." Considering the overall excellence of its single and the LP that preceded it ("For the Roses"), this new album is not quite up to snuff. Tunes like "Help Me" see plain and uninspired, while tunes like "Free Man In Paris" deal less succcessfully [sic] with the same themes that ran through Ms. Mitchell's last LP. A sort of joke track, "Twisted," does not come off well either.
In all fairness, some of the material is good: both "People's Parties" and "Court and Spark" are standouts. But as an album, "Court and Spark" is too inconsistent to be regarded as an exceptional effort. The cover isn't even as good as the last one, and I'm still trying to figure out how Cheech and Chong found their way onto the LP.
Personally, when I want to hear Joni Mitchell, I'll stick with "For the Roses."
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