Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 2: The Reprise Years 1968-1971

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Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 2: The Reprise Years 1968-1971 Review

by Fred Thomas

The first volume of the Joni Mitchell Archives series shed significant light on the beginning of Mitchell's musical journey, compiling a wealth of unreleased demos, radio broadcasts, and live tapes from the years just before she began making records. The extensive collection painted a detailed picture of Mitchell's nascent years growing as a songwriter and performer in the independent folkie scene, and Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 2: The Reprise Years 1968-1971 does just as thorough and impressive a job of drawing back the curtain on the lively period surrounding her first four albums. The collection moves in chronological order, beginning with some rough home demos for songs from 1968 debut Song to a Seagull and its 1969 follow-up, Clouds. Hissy home recordings of tracks like Clouds' "Roses Blue" offer interesting counterpoint to the more polished studio versions, and documentation of this phase also includes outtakes from the Song to a Seagull sessions. The most intimate inclusions here are relaxed demos made at a friend's Manhattan apartment in early 1968. Sketches like "It's Easy" and "Another Melody" find Mitchell humming wordless placeholder melodies and sometimes searching for the next chord on the guitar as she finds her way but still sounding sublime. A complete recording of both sets from a 1968 gig at an Ottawa coffee house (recorded by Jimi Hendrix, no less) captures Mitchell playing at full power to a sparse crowd, and a shortly afterwards the track list jumps to a full performance from a packed Carnegie Hall less than a year later. Mitchell was evolving at a blinding pace in this four-year period, and the collection traces that growth at every turn. The difference is marked between a somewhat mellow September 1968 version of "Chelsea Morning" made with the John Cameron Group for a BBC broadcast and the soaring solo rendition of the same song at Carnegie Hall just five months later. Similar demos, outtakes, and live material are included from the time of third album Ladies of the Canyon and 1971 masterpiece Blue. The Blue-related tracks are some of the collection's most exciting and include a lengthy Paris concert from October of 1970 where Mitchell is joined by James Taylor for duets of Blue songs that were yet to be released at that point. The massive set closes out with three outtakes from the Blue studio sessions, including a version of B-side "Urge for Going" with a string arrangement, the upbeat "Hunter," and an unreleased mix of "River" with French horns playing familiar melodies from Christmas carols over the song's melancholy piano progression. Much like the volume before it, this installment of the archive series is a must for Joni completists, zeroing in on one of her most vibrant phases. If the first volume of the Joni Mitchell Archives tracked the development of an artist finding her voice, Volume 2 illuminates the creative process from a time when that voice was reaching its zenith.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Joni Mitchell 02:33 Amazon
2 Joni Mitchell 03:00 Amazon
3 Joni Mitchell 00:44 Amazon
4 Joni Mitchell 03:07 Amazon
5 Joni Mitchell 00:19 Amazon
6 Joni Mitchell 05:22 Amazon
7 Joni Mitchell 05:22 Amazon
8 Joni Mitchell 00:29 Amazon
9 Joni Mitchell 03:50 Amazon
10 Joni Mitchell 04:52 Amazon
11 Joni Mitchell 04:39 Amazon
12 Joni Mitchell 00:38 Amazon
13 Joni Mitchell 03:14 Amazon
14 Joni Mitchell 00:33 Amazon
15 Joni Mitchell 02:22 Amazon
16 Joni Mitchell 00:31 Amazon
17 Joni Mitchell 04:06 Amazon
18 Joni Mitchell 03:17 Amazon
19 Joni Mitchell 02:55 Amazon
20 Joni Mitchell 03:21 Amazon
21 Joni Mitchell 01:21 Amazon
22 Joni Mitchell 04:14 Amazon
23 Joni Mitchell 01:47 Amazon
24 Joni Mitchell 03:54 Amazon
25 Joni Mitchell 02:55 Amazon
26 Joni Mitchell 02:28 Amazon
27 Joni Mitchell 00:34 Amazon
28 Joni Mitchell feat: The John Cameron Group 02:43 Amazon
29 Joni Mitchell 00:14 Amazon
30 Joni Mitchell 02:23 Amazon
31 Joni Mitchell 00:25 Amazon
32 Joni Mitchell feat: The John Cameron Group 03:50 Amazon
33 Joni Mitchell 00:35 Amazon
34 Joni Mitchell 02:21 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Joni Mitchell 02:49 Amazon
2 Joni Mitchell 01:11 Amazon
3 Joni Mitchell 04:55 Amazon
4 Joni Mitchell 02:40 Amazon
5 Joni Mitchell 04:11 Amazon
6 Joni Mitchell 03:06 Amazon
7 Joni Mitchell 00:58 Amazon
8 Joni Mitchell 02:40 Amazon
9 Joni Mitchell 01:00 Amazon
10 Joni Mitchell 05:19 Amazon
11 Joni Mitchell 04:35 Amazon
12 Joni Mitchell 05:01 Amazon
13 Joni Mitchell 03:36 Amazon
14 Joni Mitchell 01:03 Amazon
15 Joni Mitchell 04:29 Amazon
16 Joni Mitchell 04:24 Amazon
17 Joni Mitchell 03:34 Amazon
18 Joni Mitchell 00:39 Amazon
19 Joni Mitchell 05:26 Amazon
20 Joni Mitchell 01:22 Amazon
21 Joni Mitchell 09:02 Amazon
22 Joni Mitchell 04:48 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Joni Mitchell 01:21 Amazon
2 Joni Mitchell 06:01 Amazon
3 Joni Mitchell 05:14 Amazon
4 Joni Mitchell 03:33 Amazon
5 Joni Mitchell 03:58 Amazon
6 Joni Mitchell 02:21 Amazon
7 Joni Mitchell 01:59 Amazon
8 Joni Mitchell 03:31 Amazon
9 Joni Mitchell 03:19 Amazon
10 Joni Mitchell 04:15 Amazon
11 Joni Mitchell 02:43 Amazon
12 Joni Mitchell 02:46 Amazon
13 Joni Mitchell 05:03 Amazon
14 Joni Mitchell 00:58 Amazon
15 Joni Mitchell 03:59 Amazon
16 Joni Mitchell 03:30 Amazon
17 Joni Mitchell 03:34 Amazon
18 Joni Mitchell 03:19 Amazon
19 Joni Mitchell 04:17 Amazon
20 Joni Mitchell 04:00 Amazon
21 Joni Mitchell 03:33 Amazon
22 Joni Mitchell 00:16 Amazon
23 Joni Mitchell 04:00 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 5

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Joni Mitchell 00:21 Amazon
2 Joni Mitchell 05:23 Amazon
3 Joni Mitchell 00:33 Amazon
4 Joni Mitchell 04:27 Amazon
5 Joni Mitchell 02:39 Amazon
6 Joni Mitchell 00:17 Amazon
7 Joni Mitchell 03:39 Amazon
8 Joni Mitchell 03:55 Amazon
9 Joni Mitchell 04:01 Amazon
10 Joni Mitchell 03:43 Amazon
11 Joni Mitchell 03:06 Amazon
12 Joni Mitchell feat: James Taylor 04:38 Amazon
13 Joni Mitchell feat: James Taylor 00:14 Amazon
14 Joni Mitchell feat: James Taylor 04:25 Amazon
15 Joni Mitchell feat: James Taylor 00:51 Amazon
16 Joni Mitchell feat: James Taylor 04:37 Amazon
17 Joni Mitchell feat: James Taylor 01:40 Amazon
18 Joni Mitchell feat: James Taylor 07:23 Amazon
19 Joni Mitchell feat: James Taylor 00:40 Amazon
20 Joni Mitchell feat: James Taylor 02:54 Amazon
21 Joni Mitchell 03:47 Amazon
22 Joni Mitchell 00:26 Amazon
23 Joni Mitchell 03:18 Amazon
24 Joni Mitchell 02:57 Amazon
25 Joni Mitchell 04:05 Amazon
26 Joni Mitchell 05:06 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick