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Songs of a Prairie Girl

Released: April 26, 2005

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Track List (click title for lyrics)

 

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Compilation produced by Joni Mitchell

Executive Producers: Robin Hurley & Mike Engstrom
Remastering: Bernie Grundman
Discographical Annotation: Reggie Collins
Editorial Supervision: Sheryl Farber
Art Direction & Design: Joni Mitchell & Masaki Koike
Photography: Joel Bernstein
Project Assistance: Karen LeBlanc, Glenn Schwartz, Matthew Abels, Randy Perry, Dorothy Stefanski Rhino would like to thank: Sam Feldman, Alisse Kingsley, & Joel Bernstein

Worldwide Management:
Stephen Macklam & Sam Feldman
Macklam/Feldman Management Inc.
1505 W 2nd Av Suite 200
Vancouver, BC Canada V6H 3Y4
management@mfmgt.com
Official site: www.jonimitchell.com

This collection of songs and photographs is my contribution to Saskatchewan's Centennial celebrations. I recommend that you get yourself a hot beverage and stand by the heater as you listen to these musical tales of long, cold winters, with a hint of short but glorious summers.
Joni Mitchell— January 2005

"Urge For Going" First issued as Asylum single #11010 (October 1972)
"The Tea Leaf Prophecy" From the album "Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm", Geffen #24172 (March 1988)
"Cherokee Louise" From the album "Travelogue", Nonesuch #79817 (November2002)
"Ray's Dad's Cadillac" From the album "Night Ride Home", Geffen @24302 (March 1991)
"Let The Wind Carry Me" From the album "For The Roses", Asylum @5057 (November 1972)
"Don Juan's Reckless Daughter" From the album "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter", Asylum #701 (December 1977)
"Raised On Robbery" From the album, "Court And Spark", Asylum #1001 (January 1974)
"Paprika Plains" This remixed version is previously unissued. Original mix available on the album "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter", Asylum #701 (December 1977)
"Song For Sharon" From the album "Hejira", Asylum #1087 (November 1976)
"River" From the album "Blue", Reprise @2038 (June 1971)
"Chinese Café" From the album "Wild Things Run Fast", Geffen #2019 (October 1982)
"Harlem In Havana" From the album "Taming The Tiger", Reprise #46451 (September 1998)
"Come In From The Cold" This edited version was issued as Geffen (promo) single #4213 (July 1991). Full-length version available on the album "Night Ride Home", Geffen #24302 (March 1991)

» Reviews of Songs of a Prairie Girl from the Library

 » Joni Mitchell Release Prairie Songs (ANTIMusic.com)
 » Songs Of A Prairie Girl (Buffalo News)
 

Comments on this album

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randyremote on 2010-Dec-16 at 11:27:13 GMT-5:
I've had the opportunity to do some careful listening to the new mix of Paprika Plains on SoaPG, and to compare it to the first pressing CD (not the HDCD version).

This is only the second time an original catalog Joni song has been remixed (I think), the first being the Big Yellow Taxi version without the doo-wop vocals from the Big Yellow Taxi Remix EP (I'm not counting the espresso/taxi remixes since those were essentially new recordings).

I consider Paprika Plains to be a religious experience. It is Joni's longest composition, and unique in it's conception. It started with 4 half hour piano improvisations recorded in LA at a time when Joni was feeling very 'in the groove' musically. These were edited to form one seven minute piece, then seven months after starting the project, she wrote a song inspired in part from a conversation with Bob Dylan, and inserted the original improv piece into the middle of this. Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter and John Guerin were added to the
last section, recorded in London.

It was orchestrated by English composer Michael Gibbs who also conducted the sessions in New York.

So what's a remix? The instruments and voices were originally recorded to separate tracks of a multi-track recorder. Probably 2" 24 track. Big fat expensive analog tape. The mixing engineer then reduced these many tracks to a stereo mix, probably on 1/2" analog tape, one song at a time. These tapes of each song were taken to the mastering engineer, who assembled them into an album and gave them a final tweaking.

Remastering involves re-tweaking the existing stereo mixes (either because digital audio technology has improved, or because the record company was too lazy to do it right the first time, in this case both).

Remixing involves going back to the multi-track recordings, and reducing them down to a new stereo mix. Every engineer will do this slightly differently.

[A little background on PP is in order. When Joni met Charles Mingus, he commented that the strings on PP went in and out of tune. Joni had been saying this all along, but no one else involved in the project could hear it. The reason given for the pitch variation is that the beginning and end piano parts were recorded seven months after the center section, and the piano had been retuned. Joni specifically refers to the edit points where the new and old pianos start and stop, where the orchestra plays over the edits, as being out of tune. I can't really hear this. See if you can-the center section "January piano" starts at 5:14, the "August piano" comes back in at 11:13 on the original PP (11:11 in the new version). I don't know if anything was digitally retuned for this new mix, or if it's even possible, given that the orchestra players would probably automatically adjust their intonation as they played to the tape.]

What I did for my listening tests was to record the new mix and the original side by side on 4 tracks of a digital recorder. That way I could easily switch between them, and be in the same spot. Sort of. Because I found that even though I started them together, they drifted apart, and the new mix ends 2 seconds before the old one did. I imagine the reason for this is that the machine they played the tapes back on was running a little faster than the original. Whether they were aware of this, or it was intentional, I don't know. Presumably, they dumped the original analog tracks into ProTools (digital) and mixed from there. Another thing to mention is the "pop" that appears at 9:56. It sounds just like an LP pop, but does not appear on the original mix, only on the new one. How and why this occured, ?? It sounds like part of the track, rather than a data error.

Jim has mentioned the different dynamics on the new mix as compared to the old one. The problem (if it is one) is that, in the old mix, if you turn up the song in order to clearly hear the first part, then when the band comes in at the end, it's REALLY loud. So the new mix makes the volume on both parts more consistant.

The old mix was fairly dry, with the vocal right up front. The new mix has more ambient space, and sounds very 3D, and the vocal is not as loud. The orchestra has dimension, and feels more unified with Joni's parts. The piano has a nice stereo spread. Joni's voice is clear and detailed, and has a reverb ambience around it. Maybe a little too much compression, robbing her voice of power during a few louder refrains. The orchestra sounds excellent, much better than the original. Strings have texture, percussion is deep and natural. Also, different orchestra mikes are emphasized, resulting in different sounds at times. My one complaint about the orchestra is where Joni sings "I dream Paprika Plains" and the orchestra hits a big crash (twice). On the original mix, especially the second hit, there is a luscious, wicked, thunderous roll looming ominously. This effect is tamer on the new mix. (Rolling Thunder may have been a literal inclusion-PP is based on a dream Joni had while on the Dylan tour of the same name. The poem written inside DJRD and reprinted in SoaPG is that
dream.)

Another thing about the new mix is that it has much more low frequency information. This was not audible without a subwoofer, but it is there. You can hear the orchestra room breathing. Jaco's bass at the end is the voice of god, you can see the notes slither through the air. On the original, Guerin's drums are a bit more in your face, especially the snare. On the new one, they are more refined. The cymbals are pristine, the toms rich, and a good stereo panorama. Shorter's soprano sax is more detailed and nuanced; you can hear him squeezing and stretching the notes out of his horn. Joni's piano sound on the first and end parts is very present and crisp, a beautiful piano sound. The piano in the center part has a darker sound, perhaps, as Jim suggested, because the lid is down. This section sounds better and has a better stereo spread than the original, but still sounds markedly different than the "August" piano. You can hear the change in sound at the edit points mentioned above.

On the new mix, check out around 4:45, the recording is so clear you can hear Joni's nails clicking on the ivories.

All in all, very well done, and a great way to spend 17 plus minutes.

I don't know how much difference you would hear on a boombox, but through headphones or on a good stereo, you will.

Concerning the package, it's a digi-pak (boo). But the layout is very nice, mainly due to the B&W photos of Joni on skates, in her black crow dress, and, contrary to the seriousness of Hejira, looking playful. Thankfully no Joni self portrait this time. The sticker on the cover says "A new collection curated by Joni Mitchell. Musical Tales of Long, Cold Winters. With a Hint of Short but
Glorious Summers." Art direction and design are credited to Joni Mitchell and Masaki Koike. The photos are great, and would make a good print series.

I want to add how wonderful the jmdl searchable library archive is- I was able to quickly refresh my memory on the details of PP. If you are further interested in the story, type in the song's title.

RR,
vast and bleak and god-forsaken

Gear used: Carver CD player/Alesis HD24 dig rec/Tannoy spkrs & powered subwoofer/Hot House amp/AKG M240 headphones.  [ed.]