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Joni Mitchell, backup musicians provide inspiration on live album Print-ready version

by Jo E. Hull
Kansas City Times
November 22, 1980
Original article: PDF

“SHADOWS AND LIGHT” Joni Mitchell (Asylum Records) — Joni Mitchell’s latest work is no mere “live” or “greatest hits” album. Although “Shadows and Light” fits both categories quite well, the two-record set achieves a much wider scope.

Ms. Mitchell has carefully packaged older works which alternately cajole, condemn and offer hope for humanity. To embellish her lyric poetry, she has included the exquisite musicianship of guitarist Pat Metheny, keyboardist Lyle Mays (of the Pat Metheny Group), bassist Jaco Pastorius, and drummer Don Alias.

The culmination of these stellar talents is breathtaking. Ms. Mitchell’s talents. [sic] Following a magnificent drum solo by Don Alias, Ms. Mitchell slips into the fervent strains of “Dreamland.” Together, Alias and Ms. Mitchell shift from the hypnotic, to a lullaby, to a churning African celebration.

The old Frank Lyman/Morris Levy hit, “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” receives a smashing rendition, through Ms. Mitchell’s use of the backing harmonies of The Persuasions. The back-up group also adds a delightful, swingy accompaniment to Ms. Mitchell’s “God Must Be a Boogie Man.”

The lightening effects of both The Persuasions’ appearances has been well planned. The Lyman/Levy tune precedes the visionary title cut, and “God Must Be A Boogey Man” provides an ironic follow-up. It is this sort of care and planning that further demonstrate Ms. Mitchell’s admirable taste and astounding depth.

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