20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
'Court And Spark' belongs to an exclusive club of albums that are as close to perfect as you're ever likely to find. Just like Carole King's 'Tapestry', with 'Court And Spark' it really is difficult to find anything that could be deemed insubstantial or filler.
Of course this takes great songwriting skills which Joni has managed to provide successfully over the years but the arrangements, musicianship and production also have to be spot on - which they are here, right down to the finest detail.
At this point in time Joni was working on a much larger canvas than in previous years and with the introduction of jazz elements to her folk sound (courtesy of Tom Scott) Joni recorded what is perhaps her most sophisticated album to date. A great many of the songs deal with the stresses of stardom ('Free Man In Paris') and personal relationships ('Court And Spark' the title track, 'Help Me', 'Same Situation','Down To You' amongst others). Her vocals on every track are also exquisite.
To those unfamiliar with much of Joni's work, compared with contempories like James Taylor and Carole King she lacks a little of their melodic traits although this is not altogether a bad thing. Her songs often stretches musical boundaries to a much greater degree with various textures and experimental flavouring. This can sometimes result in an album like 'Court And Spark' seeming a little disjointed on a first listen yet the true beauty of these songs soon shine through after repeated listens and they manage to stay in the conscience of the listener over a greater period of time. Joni also places greater emphasis on her often poetic and occasionally opaque lyric writing.
Ultimately, 'Court And Spark' is an album that many of Joni's contempories can only dream of.
It really is hard to find an album which sounds so complete as this.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2007
Dame Joni entered a new phase with "Court and Spark". Self designed album sleeves and deep, confessional lyrics were already a stalwart, but additional elements were added to the mix on this effort. Jazz pop inflections, musical departures that Mitch was eager to explore, flavor this offering, her most popular of this era.
As society spiraled down from idealistic utopia to self conscious anaylsis, Joni never failed to deliver. " Help Me" the only single of her career to break the top ten, sets the tone for the album's concept, the power of love verses the desire for freedom. " Free Man in Paris" is an interesting spin on the musings of David Geffen, perhaps the most ambitious start-up mogul to ever enter the industry.
"People's Parties" could be a snap shot from most social scenes. Excellent. "Same Situation" and " Down to you" seem to be the beginning and conclusion of the same book; doubt at the beginning of a relationship, confirmation in the end that all things are passing. The musical bridge in "Down to You" is amazing for what it says without the words; listen carefully and you'll hear the rise of anticipation, the fall of disappointment, and, finally, tentative optimism tempered with a dose of melancholy.
"Just Like This Train" is a simple song with a loaded message. Jealousy colors the best of love with a very unattractive green. "Twisted" is just the right ironic bit of humor needed to encapsulate, and lighten, the collection of songs. "Court and Spark" has been outstripped by " Blue" as the years passed, but the relevance of this recording is still fresh today.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2002
By the time Joni recorded this album, she had already delivered at least five classic albums. "Court And Spark" followed in the footsteps and did not let the side down, but this time with added melodies unheard from Joni before. "Help Me" was a worthy single, but the album is memorable for "People's Parties", "The Same Situation" and the masterful, "Down To You" which you can hear whimsical echoes of Captain and Tennille's "Wedding Song" in Joni's melody. "Twisted" is fun but unreservably misleading, and "Car On The Hill" brings you to pain and feel the wanting in Joni's heart of a cad-cum-boyfriend!? This Disk is wonderful Joni and like many albums of the period, certainly stands the test of time. The "Court And Spark" artwork has surprisingly not been lost - the original being 'gatefold.' So you thought all there was to Joni was "Blue!"
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2009
This album marks the transition from folkie to Jazzy Joni. Over these next three albums, she'd move into a gear far above her contemporaries. Unfortunately, nobody appreciated how far she was ahead at the time. If anybody were to ask me why I consider Joni Mitchell to be a genius, I'd just hand them the trilogy of 'Court & Spark', The Hissing of Summer Lawns' and 'Hejira'. Just beautiful musical poetry. These records will change your life.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2012
It really has been a most fascinating and enjoyable musical journey following Joni Mitchell's career.I was enchanted by the early folky style albums such as ' Clouds ' and ' Ladies of the Canyon ' until reaching maturity with the sound of ' Blue ' and my particular all time favourite which is ' Court and Spark '.I play it over and over because I just find it so damn lyrically sophisticated and melodic.I love my jazz and the influence here does of course make this album extra special.' Trouble Child ',' Twisted ' and the totally marvellous ' Down To You ' and ' Just Like This Train' hit the spot for me every time.What an inspirational lady she is and any human would have too go along way to match her extraordinary output over the years.Thank you Joni for all your wonderful music.
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2001
If I was asked to recommend just one record in the entire world it would be this.The lyrics the musical accompaniment and that voice make this the complete package.This is Joni right in the middle of the most astonishingly creative period of any artist in the history of popular music. There is not a single weak moment on the entire recording with the absolute stand out track being Help Me which is simply joyful.The "didnt it feel good" refrain is my all time favourite section of any recording and the album is worth buying for this alone but remember the other tracks are also simply stunning. Do yourself a favour and buy this. I promise you that you will never regret it.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2002
After hearing all the amazing reviews of 'Court And Spark', I decided to listen to it and I must say upon first listening I was a little disappointed. Where were the powerful melodies everyone was talking about? And then as I listened to it more, I could see where everyone was coming from - 'Court And Spark' is a classic!
It is a lot more commercial than 'Hejira' or 'The Hissing Of Summer Lawns', particularly with tracks like the brilliant 'Help Me' (the woodwind hook is awesome!) and the 50s style rock'n'roll of 'Raised On Robbery'. The best songs for me are the aforementioned ones as well as the simply beautiful title track (the melody leaves you breathless), the upbeat 'Free Man In Paris', the laidback-but-uptempo 'Car On A Hill', the sleek 'Just Like This Train' and the excellent two closing tracks. 'People's Parties', 'Same Situation' and 'Down To You' are not as good melody-wise but the music on 'Down To You' is particularly stunning and it deserved its Grammy thoroughly.
I can see why 'Court And Spark' is Joni Mitchell's most successful album and it is blissful jazz-pop, but at present does not beat 'Hejira' as my favourite Joni album. The lyrics and chords on that album...oh!
It is amazing to think that the following year after the release of 'Court And Spark', Joni would come up with something as fascinating and sophisticated as 'The Hissing Of Summer Lawns'. It shows the stunning musical muse of this genius songwriter, and I would recommend her other albums. If you like 'Court And Spark' and have not heard any other Joni material, the safest bet next would be to go for 'Blue' but, like me, you'll find yourself thirsting for something less commercial - of which 'The Hissing Of Summer Lawns' or 'Hejira' would be a perfect antidote (but just because they're less commercial does not mean they're not as brilliant as 'Court And Spark'!)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 April 2015
Joni's astonishing ability with a lyric had been honed to perfection by this, her 6th album, but here we saw her stretch from the deeply confessional and introspective masterpiece that is "Blue" and the developing pop sensibilities of "For The Roses" into more outward looking themes, as well as changing her sound to include backing from many of that era's pop royalty including Tom Scott and members of the L.A.Express, David Crosby and Graham Nash, and Robbie Robertson. This was her most successful album commercially and it's easy to hear why, with pop and jazz inflections throughout. There isn't a wasted track on this album, it's all of high quality, but particular favourites are "Help Me" and "Free Man In Paris" which form the centrepiece of the original Side 1. The album ends strongly too with the upbeat "Raised On Robbery" the highlight of Side 2 before a final cover version of the amusing "Twisted", a minor key triumph featuring a brief cameo from Cheech and Chong.
This album shows a strong and clear development from Joni's folk music roots to an adoption of pop and jazz sensibilities. It's a maturing work with both lyrical and musical gems liberally scattered throughout and clearly points the way forward for the rest of her 70's era releases. If you like anything you've heard by Joni Mitchell you can buy this with confidence and won't be disappointed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
Court and Spark is one of the shining gems from the seventies, a decade in which Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Gordon Lightfoot, Tom Waits and Dylan either made their best records or at least a couple of classics. Joni was no exception. Ladies Of The Canyon, Blue, For The Roses, then this glorious set of eleven songs, with more to come. What did we do to deserve such bounty?
There are several of Joni`s most memorable songs here, such as the suitably vertiginous Help Me ("I think I`m falling..."), the wonderful Free Man In Paris, delicate People`s Parties, the quietly electrifying title track, and the irresistibly rocking Raised On Robbery, a song I never want to end.
She sounds happier than for some time on these songs - and indeed was, by all accounts - and the whole thing has a laid-back, quite summery feel to it.
A lot of people go on about Blue and Hejira, for example, but this is their equal. Some of the songs take a while to get to know, but that`s no bad thing. With Joni, the rewards are endless.
One of her best, without a doubt.
Love came to my door
With a sleeping roll
And a madman`s soul
He thought for sure I`d seen him
Dancing up a river in the dark
Looking for a woman to court and spark
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2011
This album has a particular personal resonance for me. I remember buying it when it was released. Trying to be objective is difficult because so many memories are recollected upon hearing it now so many decades later. I feel the album has many tangled threads about relationshps and anxieties, of a personal nature to the artist, who makes these feelings very accessible to the listener. I believe anyone new to this album may recognise the universal dilemmas Joni Mitchell explores and I hope the listener will weave their lived experience into that special place where simply hearing a piece from this album, a few decades from now will bring as much pleasure and reflection as I have experienced. As with much of her work I believe it is timeless.