JONI MITCHELL - Miles Of Aisles (1974)
Miles of Aisles is a four-sided live album with a greatest-hits feel to it that collects 18 numbers from Mitchell's successful concert tour of last winter. It's a strong album of her best songs performed mostly informally, backed on sides one and four by reedman Tom Scott and his band - an interesting album because it displays an occasional awkwardness that provides a glimpse into the artist's mercurial character. Although she constantly maintains a stunning professional control over her own performance, much of the pleasure of this record comes from the new band arrangements of songs we've heard often (one or two of which I've heard to death). Even "Woodstock," which is now something of a hoary hippy anthem, gets a clever revitalization through Robben Ford's biting guitar work that constructs a personality of its own as the concert builds.
Most of the new readings are superb. "Cactus Tree," "A Case of You" and "Blue" once again knock me out with the seriousness of their romantic vision. The opening bars of "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire" and "Woman of Heart and Mind" both elicit surprised gasps from an adoring audience that approaches a cult following, These and the other songs from For the Roses blew minds when they were first released, and on Miles of Aisles they are reproduced in a rare way — live versions of important songs that approach the crackling intensity of the recording studio originals. The exuberance and high spirits of "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio" and "Big Yellow Taxi" are preserved intact, and again the interaction of Joni with the tasteful Scott quintet must be praised.
TRACKS: 01. You Turn Me on I'm a Radio 02. Big Yellow Taxi 03. Rainy Night House 04. Woodstock 05. Cactus Tree 06. Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire 07. Woman of Heart and Mind 08. A Case of You 09. Blue 10. The Circle Game 11. People's Parties 12. All I Want 13. Real Good for Free 14. Both Sides Now 15. Carey 16. The Last Time I Saw Richard 17. Jericho 18. Love or Money