Shadows and Light

by Ray Colbert
Rip It Up
October 1980

That's Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers singing "I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent" in the introductory collage on Side One. Lymon, one of rock's less-publicised drug deaths, also wrote "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" that starts Side Four and whose title a cynic might say sums up everything Ms Mitchell wrote on her first six albums. If "Stay" was the hit off Jackson Browne's Running On Empty, then I suppose "Fools" could be the big one for Joni off this double live set. He said wearily.

So much for the inconsequential aspect to this impeccable double live set, a release which accurately mirrors Joni Mitchell at the end of the 70s - and assuredly updates the previous Miles Of Aisles. "Woodstock" is here, a my-back-pages closer to Side Four, but this is mainly recent Mitchell music, from the era when she stretched out beyond the college graduate, hippie and coffee bar folk audience she had utterly conquered, and made a real play for the respect of musicians. And her own hang-the-record-sales high musical standards.

"In France They Kiss On Main Street", "Coyote" and "A Free Man in Paris" have replaced "Big Yellow Taxis" [sic] and "Chelsea Mornings" [sic] as easily-recognised loosening-up exercises, and "Edith And The King Pin", "Amelia", "Furry Sings The Blues" and "Hejira" more than equal their slow, wandering beautiful contemporaries from the early to mid-70s live sets.

Two tracks here also from the cautiously-received Mingus, both relishing their distance from the original project, and both startlingly well presented by an enviable band. ECM guitarist Pat Methney [sic] gets a lovely ringing tone from his one pick-up 175 - admirably suiting his very melodic style. His supreme moments come as he moves out of "Amelia" into his own solo on Side Two. Don Alias' percussion lends perfect colouring, and Jaco Pastorius plays as usual, as if constantly bathed in a spotlight. Joni Mitchell's ambitions have thinned her following somewhat, but Shadows And Light, beautifully sung, recorded and performed, is an ideal review of the recent peaks for those who have fallen off the pace.


Printed from the official Joni Mitchell website. Permanent link: http://jonimitchell.com/library/view.cfm?id=3771

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