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4.5 out of 5 stars125
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 3 October 2004
It is very, very hard to describe this CD without resorting to gushing superlatives and over-use of the words "amazing", "fantastic", and "wonderful"; yet this album is all of those things and more; much more.
To describe it briefly, I'd call it a collection of jazz songs and classics carefully selected from the 1920's all the way to the present, sung in beautifully re-orchestrated versions. It also includes re-worked versions of two of Joni's own songs: A Case of You, and the title-track Both Sides Now. Most of the other tracks were at some point sung by the great jazz artistes such as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.
Since I bought the CD a week ago I've been as hooked on it as I'm ever going to get. The CD has been on continuous play in my home hi-fi system; it's followed me into the car; and I've even snuck it into my computer at office. I'm surprised it hasn't yet burnt out! The mood of the music is at the same time both deeply emotional and dramatic, but also foot-tappingly upbeat - and this versatility and adaptability is perhaps the CD's best asset.
It's practically impossible to do justice to the collection by pin-pointing its highlights. I was initially drawn to the CD after hearing the version of "Both Sides Now" on the 'Love, Actually' soundtrack. This particular track is remarkable not only for the haunting clarity with which Joni delivers, but also for the stunning orchestration by Vince Mendoza. Now that the CD has started to grow on me, I also think "Answer Me, My Love" is another impressive track.
However cliché it may sound, this is one of those CD's without which no collection can call itself complete. I have never been a die-hard Joni Mitchell aficionado, but this CD is not simply intended for Joni fans. The CD has struck a chord with me and I cannot recommend it enough.
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on 28 February 2000
Well, Joni Mitchell has done it again, turned a corner while we weren't looking and gone off in another direction. While this is an album of jazz standards, Joni Mitchell uses her unique phrasing style and characterful voice to colour these songs. Listen to how she sings, 'Your smile is just a careless yawn' and you will melt. Her updated version of Both Sides Now is also something to behold. While completely steered away from the ingenue that wrote it, she has made the song come full-circle in it's complexity and has finally got the voice that can give this song the depth it has needed. Listen to the 'with wrinkles' version of 'A Case Of You' and your heart will weep.
Joni Mitchell's mother, Myrtle, says that to really appreciate this album you have to turn it UP LOUD! The strings and the arrangement really get to you.
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on 13 May 2000
Working late one night in my office, I had the radio on in the background. A beautiful version of an old song came on and distracted me to the point of waiting to hear who it was. The DJ announced that it was Joni Mitchell and the track was 'Answer Me'. I had never bought a Joni Mitchell album or listened to her music, but on the strength of that one song I immediatly logged on to Amazon and discovered it was a new album which I ordered. What a purchase! This album is a terrific collection of classic songs, with brilliant orchestral arrangements and Joni's soulful voice perfect on every track. Get yourself a glass of wine, turn down the lights and turn up the stereo, you are in for a treat. I have recommended this album to all my friends - none of them have regretted buying it and nor will you!
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on 30 June 2004
It was the film "Love Actually" that first led me to this album, and I don't mind admitting it. Emma Thompson sobbing to this rendition of "Both Sides Now" hit a strong chord with me and I decided to investigate the whole album.

Listening to Joni Mitchell's earlier recordings it's rather hard to imagine she might delve into the 1930s and 40s for this album. But thankfully she did, for this is a wonderful, beautiful piece of work, with many heart-wrenching moments. The choice of songs is superb, mixing great standards with more recherche numbers, all sung with total heart and soul.

The arrangements are grand but never cloying, with Joni's smoky voice cutting through the strings to magical effect. The album recalls the great thematic albums Sinatra made with Nelson Riddle and Gordon Jenkins in the 1950s, as the drama of each song is completely realised.

So, treat yourself to this. On a final note, don't listen to "Both Sides Now" if you're feeling particularly vulnerable - this is serious catharsis.
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"Both Sides Now" probably stimulated the interest of a new generation of music lovers after hearing the song in the film "Love Actually" (which was terrific).
The song here is deservedly given center stage on the album: it is classic,iconic and so many performers(good and bad) have shown that the words and melody of this piece can only enhance their C.V.
Here Joni performs her very own song with a full orchestral backing. At times she seems to merely speak the lyrics, not sing them, and this just adds to the majesty of the song.
A throughly engrossing album which burns into the heart.
Cheekily if you peek into the artwork of the cd you see Joni smoking and drinking at a bar: above the bar is a sign which says "No Smoking".Thats Joni!
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on 17 March 2013
I, like many others, was attracted to this album having heard Both Sides Now while watching the movie Love Actually. I thought it a fantastic rendition of this song. So I bought the CD and immediately fell in love with it. I have had it for many years now and I keep on going back to it. Not a dud track on the whole album. Some of the best renditions of the American songbook around. At first I wasn't sure of A Case of You being included, but slowly and surely I fell for it and now it is my favourite track. This is not your usual Joni Mitchell music but the further evolution of an innovative and ever changing career. The arrangements and the orchestrations are very good. Ignore those reviews which give it a 1* rating = no soul, no heart.
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on 26 May 2000
When Joni Mitchell first wrote 'Both Sides Now' as a young woman, it seemed an extraordinarily mature statement on life's lessons. The song has been recorded by so many, but it has taken the writer herself to re-define it, now from the perspective of a life lived to the full. It also marks one of the finest vocal performances of her career - along with the rest of this album.
Recorded almost live in the studio with an orchestra , it's that rare thing these days - a combination of first-rate musical talents (superb arrangements by Vince Mendoza, wonderful playing by Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, classic songs spanning four decades), in a recording which is both technically pure yet warm at the same time. So what if there's no new material - she's written enough in her career to satisfy the most demanding fan. She wanted to create a 'concept' album which demonstrated that, for all these years while we've been admiring her songwriting, there's been a hell of a singer in the background.
This album demonstrates an artist at the peak of her maturity. Order it,pour yourself a glass of wine, switch the lights off and dive in.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 September 2015
This album is definitely a case of maturity bringing appreciation. I received it as a birthday present shortly after its release in 2000, and have hardly played it - until now. This was Mitchell's final album to complete her contract with Reprise, and so different to anything she had released before. My initial impression was it was a disappointing covers album to fulfill that contract. How wrong can you be? Very in this case, as 15 years spent widening my appreciation of music reveals this to be a work of supreme quality after all. Mitchell just concentrates on singing, and with a maturing, husky voice she owns these songs as if they were all her own - which A Case Of You and Both Sides Now are, pointing the way to her next release 'Travelogue'. The miking technique is excellent, with Mitchell front and centre in front of lush orchestration that bears not a hint of syrup. It's almost like she's in the room singing just to you through a half decent pair of speakers.

The choice of songs is inspired and follows a theme, describing the arc of a relationship from first love to breaking up. On the way the tracks mainly dating from the 1920's-1940's plucked from the Great American Songbook take in joy, regret, ambivalence, and longing amongst other emotions. Mitchell sounds comfortable with all of the tracks, largely performed as if by a torch singer. Particular standouts are 'Answer Me, My Love' and opener 'You're My Thrill'. It's lovely, mature, comforting, relaxing late night music that actually works when many albums in a similar vein by a myriad of artists have failed. This one doesn't, with the two Grammy's won by the album entirely justified. Lovely stuff.
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VINE VOICEon 12 November 2003
The comparisons with Billie Holiday stem partly from the uncanny interaction with Wayne Shorter on some of these tracks, although the piano of Herbie Hancock and trumpet of Mark Isham aren't far behind.
Joni has before shown us her abilities in jazz (Don Juan, Mingus albums, singing Summertime on Hancock's Gershwin tribute) but this is really a showcase that keeps her somewhere out there beyond the current crop of female jazz singers. Hear the mature Joni sing 'Case of You' like this and you should feel something in your gut.
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on 29 August 2006
Joni Mitchell hardly needed to reinvent herself (again); of the singers of the last century, Mitchell contributed three of the most magnificent albums to the canon (Court and Spark, Blue, The Hissing of Summer Lawns), and even this is to undervalue the sheer heft and import of much of her other work. Both Sides Now reflects Mitchell's abiding interest in jazz, and for the most part contains powerful, imaginative interpretations of jazz standards, but the standout tracks on the album are the revisited songs from Joni's own backlist. Her voice, less pure now, a whispered croon brings to A Case of You and Both Sides Now a wisdom and a heartbreaking intensity which makes on forget how powerful they were thirty years ago. The success of the album is thanks in no small measure to the magnificent, nuanced orchestral arrangements of Vince Mendoza, who would collaborate with her again on Travelogue.
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