17

Joni Mitchell

Court And Spark

1974 (Feb US, Mar UK)

Features the cream of LA’s session musicians next to stoner comedians Cheech and Chong

Seventies Rock and Singer-songwriter

Court And Spark was a huge leap forward. Joni brought in uber-talented musicians and produced the best sounding album of her career.

It oozes class – each song full of musicianship accompanied by Joni’s layered vocals soaring and swooping. It opens on the beautiful piano refrain of the title track. Larry Carlton’s guitar licks and sweet brass jabs interplay throughout the chipper Help Me and Free Man In Paris sees Joni ruing the “star maker machinery” – ably aided in her efforts by David Crosby and Graham Nash on backing vocals.

But that pales against the magical People’s Parties, which documents the awkwardness of being in company when you’re vulnerable. It segues into more lyrical honesty and brilliance with The Same Situation – the band feeling like an early incarnation of Steely Dan. Wayne Perkins provides guitar on the funky-soulful Car On A Hill and Joe Sample’s delicacy on the piano opens the beautiful Down To You.

The sound lifts into the stratosphere for Just Like This Train – lovers counted like railroad cars, and Robbie Robertson lends his guitar to the funky Raised On Robbery. The album closes out with two more grooves – Trouble Child and the analyst “right out of my head” jazz of Twisted.

Few artists elicit whispers of worship in every circle – but Joni does. This amazingly accomplished album reveals exactly why.