Joni Mitchell's evolution from a folk singer-songwriter of greater-than-usual sophistication to pop diva is traced on the 15-track Hits. The simultaneously released Misses features 14 of her more esoteric and experimental songs.
Maybe because Mitchell hasn't been in the limelight lately, it's surprising how familiar, how wonderful her Hits songs are. The period mostly represented, 1967 to 1974, was a time of prime creativity for Mitchell. Her blooming melodic and lyric-writing skills enliven the breezy "Chelsea Morning," plucked from 1969's Clouds. Many memorable songs follow, including 1970's lively "Big Yellow Taxi," idealistic "Woodstock," 1971's delightful "Carey" and 1973's breathless "Help Me."
Mitchell's Misses finds her blending African, jazz and new age influences in 1991's "Passion Play," going impressionistic with 1979's "The Wolf That Live" and moving further into jazz with 1975's "Harry's House/Centerpiece." A lesser known track from 1969, "The Arrangement," shows Mitchell doing what Tori Amos does now 27 years ago. On the down side, the energy of Mitchell's acoustic guitar takes a back seat to life-sapping synthesizer in her '80s and '90s work.
Missteps aside, Mitchell remains one of pop music's finest songwriters and a huge influence upon female singer-songwriters.
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