Wild Things Run Fast spurs Joni Mitchell's quest for musical growth

Los Angeles Times
May 1, 1983

Joni Mitchell's career continues to show evolutionary growth.

"Wild Things Run Fast," her late 1982 release for Geffen Records and her first studio album in three years, was a return to the melodic pop-rock of her biggest hit records, "Court and Spark." But on "Wild Things Run Fast," Mitchell did not forsake the funky jazz she has explored on her past several albums.

A captivating performer, Mitchell brings her special charm to the Universal Amphitheatre June 13 and 14.

Like "Court and Spark," said New York Times' Stephen Holden, "'Wild Things Run Fast' is an exhilaratingly high-spirited album that features several vibrant rock 'n' roll performances that communicate a pure joy in being alive." In addition, Holden said, "Wild Things Run Fast" "is long on the edgy, syncopated folk-jazz singing that became her trademark in the mid '70s."

Mitchell has said her return to rock evolved out of her admiration for the English rock group, The Police. The album was recorded with a rhythm section that plays rock without oversimplifying the internal rhythms of the songs.

The author of "Woodstock," the anthem of generation that was included on her "Ladies of the Canyon" album, Mitchell was once the prototype female folk singer.

As the '60s ended and the sociological revolution subsided, Mitchell became a confessional poet, making public in albums such as "Blue" and 'For the Roses" many of her private relationships and feelings.

Mitchell's next album, "Court and Spark," was hailed as one of the finest works of the '70s, and it summed up her career to that point.

With her two-record-set live album, "Miles of Aisles," part of which was recorded at the Universal Amphitheatre, Mitchell made her first tentative steps toward adapting her maturing lyrical impressions to horn player Tom Scott and his L.A. Express band.

Mitchell made a more daring step in jazz directions with the "Hissing of Summer Lawns," a musical novel about the housewife trapped in suburbia, and "Hejira," a purely poetic album about travel and flight. On the latter album, Mitchell recorded the music on the guitar alone, with bassist Jaco Pastorius, guitarist Larry Carlton and percussionist Bobbye Hall adding the spare instrumental support later.

Mitchell's "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter" was an admittedly experimental album on which the artist made further explorations into the realm of jazz, Afro-Latin percussion and chanted mood-setting lyrics.

The follow-up, "Mingus," was a tribute to the late jazz great Charles Mingus, and with her 1980 release, "Shadows and Light," Mitchell took the liberty of further jazz explorations.

Mitchell's vocal style is notable for her ability to fit virtually any stream-of-consciousness lyric to her melodies.

Mitchell comes by her adventurous qualities most naturally. She was born in Ft. Macleod, Alberta, Canada, and her family eventually settled in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the Canadian plains. Her interest in the arts, especially painting, a discipline to which she has devoted much time in recent years, emerged at an early age.

It is a rocking Joni Mitchell returning to the Amphitheatre, singing songs like her own "Be Cool," which segues into Leiber and Stoller's "You're so Square Baby, I Don't Care."

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