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Album of the Week   Print

by Colin Someville
Scotland on Sunday
November 24, 2002

Nonesuch 7559798172, £19.99

On tribute albums we marvel at those who reinterpret the work of the artist and mutter unpleasantries about the ones who slavishly clone the original. Joni Mitchell has wisely decided to save them all the bother and reinterpret herself , and what a wonderful job she has made of it. This has the sweep of Hollywood’s golden era, with ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’ and ‘The Sire Of Sorrow’ more blinding than hitching down the road to Damascus. ‘Hejira’ was made for this kind of treatment, but the double album set’s finest moments are probably the creative reworking of even more familiar songs such as ‘Woodstock’, ‘The Last Time I Saw Richard’ and ‘The Circle Game’. The former is transformed from a eulogy to the last great act of 60s hippiedom into something more of a social documentation, blessed with musical hindsight. Another song that seems to have been subconsciously screaming out for this treatment is ‘Sex Kills’, which comes over all horny and on the prowl. Travelogue may symbolise journeying the length and breadth of Mitchell’s career, but it also takes the listener past vistas never usually seen on the conventional pop and rock routes. And it is first class all the way.

 

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