Joni Mitchell Court and Spark 1974
Joni Mitchell’s 1974 album classic marked a very significant moment in her career; the point where her previous folk leanings gave way to a wider range of possibilities.
Playing this fantastic sounding very early US promo pressing again reinforced my view that this could arguably be her most optimistic and joyous song set.
There’s a vibrancy to the writing and performing here that immediately tells you this remarkable artist has come of age and risen to a whole new level – one that she maintained across the following very diverse records and which, in my view, is unsurpassed by anyone.
The opening title track is still possessed of familiar Joni Mitchell leitmotifs from her previous albums, but there is a freshness and bravura to it that tells you things have changed and in a great way.
Help Me also acts as a guide along Joni’s new found route. So original. Free Man In Paris takes these new ideas even further. It is, of course, an all-time great combo of tracks. I simply can’t imagine not listening to these songs one after the other. They are so well balanced.
The quality maintains at sky-high altitude throughout the record’s glorious two sides. Each one is a favourite but I would just highlight the Side Two sequence of Down To You, Just Like This Train and Raised on Robbery. Any of those songs would crown anyone’s career. For Joni Mitchell, it was just another day at the office.
The closing track Twisted points the way to the future with its jazz style and a great sense of humour. Lovely ending.
For many fans, the optimism and consummate song smithery here would be enough to sustain them over the rest of Joni’s career. Instead, Court and Spark represented some sort of never-to-be-revisited high watermark.
I can quite understand how many people might think of this as her greatest achievement. It is certainly more diverse and engaging than even Blue! Well, at least that’s my take.
Chris Wright | Now Spinning