Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 11 March 2016

An album I love: Joni's "Wild Things Run Fast"

The latest issue of MOJO magazine has an interesting feature on Joni Mitchell's foray into jazz in the 1970s, featuring those albums THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS, HEJIRA, DON JUAN'S RECKLESS DAUGHTER (a double album) and MINGUS, followed by her SHADOWS AND LIGHT tour which was also another double gatefold album and is now a concert dvd with some marvellous concert footage of Joni with those great musicians Jaco Pastorius and Pat Metheny. The albums also featured jazzmen Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. It was great to be introduced to the work of Jaco and his amazing bass guitar - I had to get his solo album as well. 
These albums are endlessly fascinating and for me have stood the test of time (I simply love that live version of "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat"), following on as they did from Joni's great early '70s string of singer-songwriter albums like LADIES OF THE CANYON, BLUE, FOR THE ROSES, COURT AND SPARK and that first double album, the MILES OF AISLES concerts, with fascinating new versions of her songs. (We had seen Joni in 1970 and 1972 in London (where I also met her then - as per previous reports, see Joni label - no Martin, I won't rehash all that again...) and then saw the new jazzy Joni at the New Victoria theatre in 1974 after rushing back from Milan and Paris by train ....

Her next album then was WILD THINGS RUN FAST in 1982, another vinyl gatefold - this was a new Joni too, perhaps she had gone as far as she could with jazz progressions - some people had not cared for the DON JUAN double, but I loved it - and she had now married, to musician Larry Klein and its a new happy Joni here as she explores love and memory. We love "Chinese Cafe" and those songs "Be Cool" and "Man to Man" appealed to me - a lot. Other great tracks here are "Solid Love" and "Love" and "You're So Square Baby I Don't Care" - happy, upbeat and great. 
Let's quote some stuff from MusicStack:
"Down at the Chinese Cafe, we'd be dreaming on our dimes/We'd be playing 'Oh my love, my darling' one more time," sings Joni Mitchell of the old times. The way Mitchell threads lyrics from the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody" through her own "Chinese Cafe" signifies the passing of time that is central to Wild Things Run Fast. "Caught in the middle, Carol, we're middle-class," she sings in that opening cut. "We're middle-aged/We were wild in the old days."
Joni Mitchell's music has taken dramatic turns over the past fourteen years, and she has produced a classic in each of three styles: folk (Blue), pop-rock (Court and Spark) and pop-jazz (Hejira). Lyrically, love has been Mitchell's main concern–the word gets fifty-seven mentions on this LP–and her shifts have been more subtle: from the arched but intimate innocent to the Hollywood high-lifer and, finally, to the romantic on the run from experience.
It is almost a great record, on a par with For the Roses and Clouds. It alternates rhythmically scratchy rock with cocktail jazz keynoted by Larry Klein's elastic bass and Wayne Shorter's soprano sax. Similarly, it splits lyrical concerns between what happens at people's parties and what goes on in Mitchell's solitary salon."

Joni was less prolific in the '80s and '90s - doing 3 albums each decade (as opposed to 9 in the '70s) - after WILD THINGS came DOG EAT DOG in 1985 and CHALK MARKS IN A RAINSTORM in 1989, each had good tracks on them, and in the '90s: NIGHT RIDE HOME, TAMING THE TIGER and TURBULENT INDIGO, and in 2000 that great album of covers including some of her own: BOTH SIDES NOW, followed by some interesting compilations (SONGS OF A PRAIRIE GIRL, TRAVELOGUE, DREAMLAND and the 4-disk LOVE HAS MANY FACES in 2015) and that new album in 2007 SHINE. One hopes she is recovering well after recent illness.  
Meanwhile Carole King is now - finally, 45 years later - playing her 1971 album TAPESTRY in full at a concert in London's Hyde Park on July 3, while her 'jukebox musical' BEAUTIFUL starts its second year. Lots more royalties for Carole who, according to an interview today, lives quietly in a log cabin in the woods; and Carly Simon is still promoting her tell-all memoir ... 


  1. I must dig out these later albums and re-listen again. I never really cared for them at the time - at least, in comparison to the earlier stuff.

  2. Her 80s (and 90s) albums are lighter and more joyous than the jazzy 70s ones - you would enjoy them more.

  3. Again I must really listen to these again.