Joni Mitchell : Shadows and Light : 1979
Shadows and Light. For me one of the greatest live albums there’s ever been, maybe even the best of all in some key respects. ..
Here we have Joni in September 1979 at arguably her artistic peak, at the end of her fabulous jazz oriented era, recorded in wondrous sound quality in front of a knowledgeable and chilled audience at Santa Barbara Bowl.
I really can’t think of another live album that holds a candle to this one in terms of how great it sounds, especially on vinyl, seen here as a very early near mint US promo pressing on Asylum.
The effect is to transport you to this amazing occasion, blessed with one of the most stellar line ups of musicians imaginable, including Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Jaco Pastorius, Don Elias, Lyle Mays and The Persuasions.
This remarkable ensemble delivers a totally flawless and brilliantly conceived set for the ages.
And Joni never sounded better than here.
Engineered by Andy Johns and mastered by Bernie Grundman, the soundstage on the record is just amazing. Close your eyes and you can picture yourself right there, listening on the right setup. It’s that good.
It’s all so great that there’s little point in pointing out highlights as the whole thing is one huge highlight. But it would be churlish not to mention the concert finale of Woodstock, which I think is the best version she ever did. Quite a summit.
I highly recommend buying this on DVD too. I watch it often and it never gets old. There are extras here not on the record, like Jaco’s fabulous bass solo. But on the other hand there are parts of the record not in the DVD. The HDCD that came out many years ago is also beautifully done, but slightly inferior to the stunning resolution on vinyl.
Thank goodness for Shadows and Light. It’s just amazing to have such a perfect and permanent record of Joni at the top of her game. Arguably even more impressive than the earlier Miles of Aisles, which is another engaging live set.
Chris Wright | Now Spinning Magazine