Miles of Aisles: Joni Mitchell and the L.A. Express
This is a truly superb record album by a triumphant Ms. Mitchell, a vocal tour de force. It is one of the finest, if not the finest live albums ever made. A truly remarkable new Joni is heard here. Her delivery is so much assured and emphatic that it totally captivated me. She really must feel best in live surroundings, singing to and for people who can be seen, touched, and responded to. The way she lifts her voice assuredly through Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire shows just how much a singer she is. Her version of Woodstock is a masterpiece. Her band, The L.A. Express, plays a big role in making this cut a beauty and they manage to maintain their posture throughout the parts of the album where they have the experience of sharing the making of fine music with Joni Mitchell. Loud applause to Electra/Asylum and the Wally Heider remote recording unit for their role in making this fine music. Surely their presence affected the performance; the result is a totally positive enhancement and exhilaration to all in attendance. The recording leaves nothing to be desired. A little hiss at the start of Cactus Tree is forgivable, because the good sound surrounds it, and because you can lose that electronic sound back in the shadows of the performance.
All 18 songs on the album are stunning. The sequencing and the tempo of the program make one want to listen straight through. Don't play this album just before an appointment; you'll probably be late. Armed with 18 winners, it's hard to choose the notables. But her new versions of songs like Blue, You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio, and, Circle Game are my personal favorites. Two love songs, Jericho, and Love or Money, are most appealing of all to me.
Miles of Aisles will be around as a sterling stand-out recording for a long time. I have not heard a record that was so satisfying on first hearing for a long time.
The recording responds exquisitely to any form of quadraphonic synthesizing (ambience) as well as real SQ or QS range. This recording is so clean and rich that only a half-track 15 ips tape could surpass it. Believe me, that is saying a lot for a commercial disc.
Joni Mitchell, the L.A. Express, and all the rest of the people involved in making Miles of Aisles did it right. All of it. Well, there is a cover art problem. The liner looks so blah that it's hard to find among a group of other albums and one is thus forced to keep it out in sight (where it belongs). But it still is ugly! Let's hope they brighten up the cover for the CD-4 version.
Sound: A Performance: A
Live: David Bowie
RCA CPL2, stereo, $6.98.
Just as sure as there is good luck and bad luck, there will be records that deserve being listened to and there will also always be a David Bowie album! Or even worse! Well, indeed, here is a live David Bowie album. It is unique because it is the worst! Worse than a studio David Bowie album. Worse than anything! PHOOEEY! The only thing that saves Bowie from being the worst here is the release of a new Mick Ronson album, Play, Don't Worry (he does neither). Thankfully either of these records will come in handy to dog-owning residents of Gotham City. If dipped in boiling water they can be shaped into useful utilitarian scoops, attached to sticks, and used to keep our city streets neat and safe for pedestrians. Thank heaven for civic-minded dog owners - without them the blokes with orange hair might starve to death!
Sound: Z- Performance: ZZ-
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