Imagine, if you will, that you are sitting in your room writing a film analysis for Intro to Film or something. A knock is heard on the door, you open the door, and there I am, your old buddy that you met at freshman summer orientation. I'm all out of breath and I'm holding a record in my hand, and I say "Hey - - - - (fill in your name)! I just bought the new Joni Mitchell album, Miles of Aisles (Asylum Miles of Aisles (Asylum AB 202)!"
"The new Joni Mitchell album, Miles of Aisles (Asylum AB 202)," you say, "is it any good?"
"I don't know. I haven't listened to it yet. Can I put it on your stereo?"
"Sure," you say rather hesitantly, because as you recall from the last time I played a record on your stereo, I dropped a beer can on the tone arm, and it knocked the crap out of your needle.
I take the first record of the two album set out of its cover, handling it like the crown jewels, and I place it on the turntable. Suddenly, you find your cramped dorm transformed into a giant auditorium, or maybe just a small cafe somewhere in Winnipeg. Some impressive looking fellow comes on stage and says, "And now ladies and gentlemen, it is our pleasure to present...Miss Joni Mitchell." And the music begins.
Like I said, record reviewers who try to make their articles sound like a work of art are a pain in the ass.
It doesn't happen that way, of course. You could be driving into town with a dark cloud above you, or even in a Penn Central train when you first hear the album. The effect will always be the same. It is an intimate feeling that can only be recreated by seeing her in concert yourself.
And don't forget her excellent back-up band. Tom Scott is probably the best and most demanded saxophonist in rock music today. Along with Max Bennett on bass, John Guerin on drums, Robben Ford on guitar and Larry Nash on piano, the L.A. Express provides a perfect background to Ms. Mitchell's album cover that is suitable for framing, if you're into that sort of thing.
All of the songs on this album were recorded during Joni's recent world wide concert tour (during which she made a stop at Barton Hall), with most of them appearing originally on her six previous albums. Only one song, however, comes from her first album an incredibly beautiful version of "Cactus Tree". She rarely performs any of her earlier songs anymore, explaining that she has changed those first songs.
There are also two new, previously unrecorded songs on this album: "Jericho", which deals with the invisible, unpenetrable walls we build around ourselves, saying "just like Jericho let those walls come tumbling down," and "Love and Money."
This is a great album, but don't take my word for it. Listen to the record sometime in a living room with a fire place, a cat on your lap, and a bottle of sherry shared with someone you care for. You'll see. It's an experience not found on any other live album today.
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