Joni Mitchell

TV Collection 1966-1996

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As is the case with many major popular music artists, there's a heck of a lot of interesting Joni Mitchell footage encompassing various periods of her career that has not been compiled for official release. That leaves the door open for unauthorized DVDs such as this one that, while quite flawed, undeniably does offer much material of great historical value. Certainly you can't accuse this of being short on running time, with a little more than two hours of clips, most indeed taken from TV broadcasts (though there's actually a bit from other sources as well). The major discoveries on this disc, by a wide margin, are the half-dozen black-and-white performances -- in far-from-perfect, but perfectly watchable, quality -- from Canadian television in the late 1960s. This is among the earliest Mitchell on film to be found anywhere, including the outstanding songs "Night in the City" and "The Circle Game." Yet more fascinating, however, is the version of "The Dawntreader" (mistakenly titled "A Dream" on the back cover) with light orchestration, electric guitar, and drums that give some hint of how she might have sounded had she gone for a fuller sound on her early records. There's also a song she never put on her official releases, the O. Henry story-inspired "The Gift of the Magi" (misidentified as "What a Fool He Is" on the back cover), and two versions of another tune not found in her proper discography, "The Way It Is." Also originating from the late '60s are two other black-and-white clips from a Cass Elliot-hosted show on which Joni does "Both Sides Now" (with some orchestration) and joins Elliot and Mary Travers for a rendition of Bob Dylan's "I Shall Be Released."