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Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 3: The Asylum Years (1972-1975) Print-ready version

by Hays Davis
Under the Radar
November 27, 2023

The third Archive release from Joni Mitchell offers an expansive look behind and beyond the curtain during a period that saw startling creative growth from the artist as well as her greatest commercial success. Beginning with a 1971 session with Graham Nash and David Crosby, the set moves through recordings and performances during the years spanning the releases of the albums For the Roses (1972), Court and Spark (1973), the live Miles of Aisles (1974), and The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975). Over the course of five CDs, Archives Vol. 3 contains demos, rarities that include early and alternate versions, and live material, along with a 40-page book that features an enlightening interview between Mitchell and Cameron Crowe (with 4-LP and digital versions also available).

With the studio albums having been available for roughly a half-century, the demos and sessions for those releases provide an illuminating view into their creation and at what was left behind. The mystifyingly never-before-heard "Like Veils Said Lorraine," which appears among the For the Roses demos, sounds album-ready to finally make its debut here, as does "Bonderia," a spirited, wordless tune from the Court and Spark sessions. Formative versions of "You Turn Me On I'm a Radio" follow the song's development (including a take with Neil Young & The Stray Gators), while a session moment with James Taylor drops in on a warm and casual take on "Bony Moronie/Summertime Blues/You Never Can Tell."

Stripped-down demos for Court and Spark find Mitchell on piano and acoustic guitar during the summer of 1973 for songs that emerged later that fall in full-band sessions, provided here as alternate takes. As the set follows Mitchell's notable artistic evolution in the studio from Court and Spark to The Hissing of Summer Lawns, incorporating more jazz elements into her work, Archives Vol. 3 also tracks those changes on the concert stage. From a 1972 Carnegie Hall show to a spring '74 performance with Tom Scott & The L.A. Express and an appearance the following September at Wembley Stadium, Mitchell reveals herself here during each period as a fascinating artist who was well worth returning to year after year, as she continues to be.

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Added to Library on November 27, 2023. (581)

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