For all her critical kudos and her perennially dropable name, Joni Mitchell's sales have never eclipsed her influence. The 2CD Travelogue is an attempt to present Mitchell's back catalogue in a new light. Alongside a 70 piece orchestra and backing band including jazz stalwarts Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, she has re-recorded a 22 song selection of her back catalogue, from 1968's The Dawntreader to a trio culled from 1992's Turbulent Indigo album.
If Mitchell is hoping to introduce her work to a new audience, she will probably disappointed, for it remains too intricate, even by the standards of her acolytes Beth Orton and Fiona Apple. More crucially when Chinese Cafe seques into Unchained Melody, the difference in accessibility is startling. However, these songs, with their myriad musical and lyrical subtexts, are ideal for this format and, 70 pieces or not, thisis one restrained orchestra. Her voice glides over Slouching Towards Bethlehem and the acerbic Sex Kills, whilst an ominous funereal trudge through Woodstock gives her best known song a whole new death rattle-dimension.
Of course, the exercise might be seen as merely a way of wringing a few more sales from songs which have never reached the wider world, but the introductory swell to Judgement of the Moon and Stars (Ludwig's Song) suggests in fact that Joni Mitchell has found her natural home, albeit a holiday one.
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