Clearly intended to be the ideal Christmas souvenir gift for Joni Mitchell fans, Travelogue is an intriguing, though not always rewarding, nostalgic exercise in which Mitchell revisits songs from throughout her career, reinterpreting them with the help of a 70-piece orchestra and a backing band that includes such jazz and rock luminaries as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Billy Preston.
The double CD collection starts well, with highlights including the cool but sassy jazz groove of You Dream Flat Tires, the silky, dramatic Love, both from the 1982 album Wild Things Run Fast, the majestic backing and male chorus of The Sire Of Sorrows (Job’s Sad Song) and the bewitching orchestral jazz of Trouble Child.
But after a while the terminally civilised arrangements start to grate, and Mitchell’s inert delivery irons out the idiosyncrasies of early classics such as Woodstock and The Circle Game.
The whole reverent venture tastes like archetypal South Bank Show territory and, wouldn’t you just know it, there’s a documentary on the making of the album directed by Allison Anders, which may do the rounds of the film festivals.
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