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Joni Mitchell — Dog Eat Dog Print-ready version

by Marc S. Taras
Michigan Daily
January 27, 1986
Original article: PDF

Sometimes I am a little slow when it comes to popular music. It often takes me a while to catch on to what's happening. Case in point: the new album from Joni Mitchell. Dog Eat Dog seemed cold and contrived on first hearings. I was confused. When it comes to Joni Mitchell, I am easily impressed.

Joni has been among pop royalty for fifteen years or better and much of her well deserved reputation stems from her restless commitment to growth and change. Joni Mitchell does not excuse herself. Remember how surprised we were with the jazz polish of For the Roses? How these flirtations grew into the oblique poetics of Don Juan's Reckless Daughter and Mingus? How the return to pop roots tickled on Wild Things Run Fast? Well, the protean princess is on the move again. Joni boldly steps into the future. Is there life beyond MTV?

Dog Eat Dog hollers an affirmative response. Say yes. Slickaphonic production qualities abound. Thomas Dolby is co-producer and sideman. Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta could be anybody's second choice and, in general, the group adds spice to Joni's strongly flavored stuff. Prominent among this new batch of compositions is a powerful opus called "The Three Great Stimulants." Rife with sympathy and apocalyptic vision, this tune shows that Joni hasn't lost her teeth. While madmen sit up building bombs / And making laws and bars / They're gonna slam free choice behind us.

Saxophonist Wayne Shorter appears to great advantage on a couple of pieces. His tenor is sinuous on "Lucky Girl" while Joni rhymes like wild: Cheaters / Woman / beaters / And Huck / Finn / hucksters / hopping / parking / meters... And thankfully the impish Joni Mitchell sense of humor is alive and thriving. Witness the wry qualities of "Smokin" with it's sample and hold gotta-have-another-smoke behavior problems.

It's all coming together for me. Slowly. And thoughtfully. I'm beginning to feel that this will be remembered as some of the best and most substantial slickaphonic pop music of the decade. And then some. Bravo Joni.

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