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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 13 July 2017
Well, took me 10 years to get round to trying this one. I guess I thought I may be disappointed with a "comeback" from retirement. I needn't have worried, of course. Joni remains a giant amongst midgets.The sound she produces with the band is consistent throughout the album,,,and, have no doubt, intentional. The glorious golden voice of the past is gone, but the songs are a strong and powerful as ever and the musical ideas brilliant and fascinating, as always.It's a shame that this may very well be the last we will ever hear from Joni, given her current state of health, but who knows - she's surprised everyone before! To give Dylan a Nobel was laughable travesty (Joni said that, or words to that effect). If any songwriter should have got one it's her (I said that) !
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 March 2017
Joni Mitchell's (at present) final album Shine was recorded as part one of a two album deal with Hearmusic, so hopes are still there that a return to fitness might see her break her long silence. For now this politically-themed album from 2007 is her last word. She explains in the liner notes that after a 10 year break from writing she suddenly found inspiration to sit down at the piano and write the instrumental that opens the album 'One Week Last Summer'. Encouraged she continued. Outraged at the quarrying of a hill behind her home she wrote 'This Place'. War in the name of religious zeal is the theme of 'If I Had A Heart'. There's a return to environmental exploitation and corporate greed, familiar Mitchell themes in 'Bad Dreams'; and a quite extraordinary condemnation of the pace of progress and the unfairness of life in one of the album standouts, title track 'Shine'. This is an angry Mitchell, responding to injustice in life. The themes have been covered before but here she leaves no doubt of her feelings for the modern world, the pace of life and greed for greed's sake. The album's centrepiece is a new version of her most revered and respected treatise about ignorance of environmental concerns 'Big Yellow Taxi'. It's a lovely reworking complete with an infectious accordian backing and deserves it's place here.

But Mitchell leaves the best until last with a beautiful musical framing of Rudyard Kipling's famous poem 'If', which perfectly states her spirituality, appreciating the beauty in life and striving to be the best you can be - it acts as a lovely counterpoint to the condemnation that has preceeded it.

This project took shape as a collaboration with the Alberta Ballet and together with a selection of her older music became an environmentally-themed ballet named "The Fiddle And The Drum" named after one of Mitchell's early songs - there are a few clips on YouTube which add an extra perspective.

Joni's last word this may well be, but it's a very strong album. It's undoubtedly her most politicised and her contempt for unbridled 'progress' literally shines through, perhaps informing the title. It's lovely to hear Joni accompanied by a small but well-chosen selection of musicians - including former husband Larry Klein. The beauty of the music, some of Mitchell's most evocative, contrasts starkly with the lyrical content. If this is it, it's a fabulous swansong.
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on 20 September 2016
Certainly surprised me, Joni at her protesting best! This woman is a genius. "Shine" title song is my pick, though, "Big Yellow Taxi" is a better version than Joni's hit single! I play this in my car every day, an album you could never grow tired of!
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on 26 July 2015
I have tended to ignore Joni's later CDs, while adoring her work up to Hejira. I recently took the plunge with this one, and have no regrets.
I can listen to it over and over again. Some reviews are mixed, but I have no reservations. Buy it. I wish her well in her recovery. She is the greatest female singer-songwriter of her generation.
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on 11 February 2017
Arrived after a long wait broken and unplayable.Promised full refund
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on 13 October 2007
Shine is the long awaited Joni Mitchell LP. In terms of anticipating what was to come from Joni, there is one surprise. The surprise is that on this LP there is no inward looking at self. Instead, Joni turns her attention to the environment, the misuse of science, the politics of selfishness, and domination through war. With only ten tracks on the LP, it was bound to be an ambitious task to address these huge issues satisfactorily.

The stance that Joni is going to take towards the themes of the LP is set out from the beginning with the 4 minutes and 58 seconds instrumental piece, "One Week Last Summer". In a brief explanation of the inspiration behind the piece Joni, in an oblique manner, outlines her stance on the the themes the LP raises. But this is not to suggest that there are hiden aims on this LP. On the contrary, in the main Joni is direct and to the point. She is critical of modern society and this is nowhere more telling than in "Bad Dreams". In this song Joni delivers some harsh words - for example, "The cell phone zombies babble/Through the shopping malls/While condors fall from Indian skies/Whales beach and die in the sand".

The suggestion that the songs on this LP represents Joni's stance about the environment is underpinned by the fact that Joni does a lot on the LP. The music is composed, arranged and produced by her. The lyrics are composed by her except for "If" and she plays many of the instruments. One could not help but wonder if Joni was showing off her considerable talents or keeping down production costs.

Certainly, Joni's talents extend to ambitious daring. The reprise of "Big Yellow Taxi" on this LP is quite apt. It fits in with Joni's evironmental concerns. It was also quite visionary and appropriate to end the LP with the setting of Rudyard Kipling's "If" to music. Here it seems to me that Joni attempts to deliver a message to each of us about the standard of behaviour that is expected.

Nonetheless, Joni's extensive involvement in producing this LP does not detract from the contribution of the small ensemble of muscians who produce a rich mixture of sound. Greg Leisz pedal steel gives a subtle country feel to many of the tracks such as "This Place" and "If I had a Heart". Then there is the melodious sweet sound of Bob Sheppard's soprano saxophone which is very prominient on "Hana". The percussive sounds of Brian Blade, Larry Klein and Paulinho DaCosta connect this LP to some of Joni's past LPs such as the "Hissing of Summer Lawns".

The message of this LP is timely and important but I cannot say that it gripped me. The reason is quite simply that Joni's lyrics are not as powerful as they once were. On some of Joni's previous LPs the lyrics were quite arresting. I would replay tracks asking myself what was that saying.

The lyrics also lack the sophistication of some of Joni's great songs. For example, lines from the title track "Hejira" from the 1976 LP, such as: "Well I looked at granite marker/Those tributes to finality - to eternity/And then I looked at myself here/Chicken scratching for my immortality". On this LP the lyrics are more direct and straight to the point. This is nowhere more in evidence than on the title track "Shine". This I suppose is to be expected given the main concerns of the LP.

The delivery of the songs suggests that the range and reach of Joni's voice is now fixed in the lower register but this is not a criticism rather it is just a mark of passing time.

For me "Shine" does not rank among Joni's great LPs but nonetheless it is a refreshing return by Joni Mitchell to the popular music scene that is lacking great talent. If you are a Joni Mitchell fan, as I am, you will most likely enjoy this LP. However, if you are coming to Joni's music for the first time then you will have to be patient in getting to appreciate it.
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A little late in the day to be sure sure but with good reason.

I wasn't sure I wanted to hear it but having bought the album
it then took me a good year to absorb its' wily charms.

'Shine' is a conceit of a sort you see.

The languidly marvelous orchestral excesses of'Both Sides Now' (2000)
and 'Travelogue' (2002) notwithstanding it has been almost
a decade since the last recording of new and original material and
'Taming The Tiger' (1998) could never be seen to have been a high point
in Ms Mitchell's long and illustrious career.

Having 'retired' from the business of strumming and singing in
2002 her muse lay dormant for a while but we can be glad that
she has set her paintbrushes aside and that those deep, dark internal
stirrings have once again percolated slowly to the surface in the shape
of 'Shine' - a late autumnal flowering and a far more worthy testimony
to the strange genius of one of the greatest writer/performers ever to
have blessed both our ears and our lives.

'Shine' is a very precious thing indeed.

Ten tracks - Eight new songs, an instrumental overture and one
canny reworking. Coming in at a little under 50 minutes the album
displays neither economy nor excess. Everything feels as if it is
in its' rightful place.

Environmental Destruction ( 'This Place' ); War ( 'If I Had A Heart' &
'Strong and Wrong' ) and Hope ( 'Shine' and 'If' ). Big Themes.

These compositions rank with the very finest she has produced.

The shuffling latin rhythm of 'Hana' ( a close musical cousin
to 1991's 'Cherokee Louise' );
the spare pathos and beauty of 'Bad Dreams';
the exotic, energizing grandeur of 'Night Of The Iguana';
the luminous relevance of 'Big Yellow Taxi' undimmed and undeterred.

Title track 'Shine' is nothing less than sublime.

This great lady's music had formed an important part of the soundtrack
to my life ( many of our lives very probably! ).
This latest installment represents a magisterial return to form.

Perhaps it may be too much to hope for further chapters
but we, like she, should always live with hope.

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on 25 September 2007
The sparse, poetic, beautiful 'Shine' is Joni Mitchell's first album of new songs in almost a decade, and it does not disappoint.

Lyrically she is, as always, completely self-assured, the new songs ranking alongside such mid-1970's classics as 'Court and Spark' and 'Hejira', although the themes are very different; most of the songs here focus on environmental and political issues rather than the search for love. One of my favourite lyrics is from the title track:

'Shine on the pioneers
Those seekers of mental health
Craving simplicity
They travelled inward
Past themselves'-

Brilliant, and pure Joni.

Musically 'Shine' is a much sparser affair than anything we have seen from her in the 1980's and 1990's; most of the songs feature Joni herself on piano (and occasionally guitar), with ex-husband Larry Klein on bass and Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar. The result is that listening to the album is a much more intimate affair than anything she has done since her mid-1970's heyday.

'Shine' is a testimony to Joni Mitchell's unparelleled songwriting ability, and shows that she has certainly not run out of things to say. It sure is good to have her back.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 October 2007
A brand new record by Billie Holliday? Janis Joplin? Previously unknown tapes of Robert Johnson? Miles Davis to tour? I'd believe it.

A new record by Joni Mitchell? Never! I'd long discounted the likelihood. She'd left the music behind and repaired to the studio to paint the rest of her days away. I rationalised it away by deceiving myself anything new would just be a disappointment.

And now this.

The sticker on the case almost has it. "One of the greatest singer/songwriters of our time." One of? Where did that come from? This is the woman who defined a generation in one song, Woodstock. The kind of feat reserved for the likes of Shelley in its brevity, perception and clarity.

And the spark is still there.

This is most definitely not the yodelling hippy chick of the 60s, though she does revive Big Yellow Taxi, this time accompanied by accordion so she sounds like she may be busking on the Champs Elysee. It's also not the Joni from my personal favourite period spanned by the jazz-inflected material on Shadows and Light.

The subject matter tends toward the political in the way BYT was - a little outraged, indignant - and which really began to find its voice with Dog Eat Dog. The feel and sound is more Sex Kills, although Strong And Wrong initially had me thinking of Blue.

At this stage of the game, I'd have been happy with a remake of Wild Things Run Fast, my very least favourite Mitchell album. What I think we have here is somewhere in the middle of the range - on a par with Taming The Tiger, maybe.

There are people who would sever their own right arm to be that good for just five minutes. Joni Mitchell's now been doing it that good or better for five decades. A beautiful addition to the tradition.
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on 15 October 2007
If you're expecting this album to showcase Joni Mitchell taking a completely new direction after a 5 year hiatus, you might end up feeling disappointed.

This album treads a similar path in production and feel to Joni's other more recent offerings, particularly Chalk Marks in a Rainstorm. The album's orchestration has some of the melacholic brooding that was apparent on her career re-working 2002 album Travelogue. If you enjoyed that, you will revel in the beauty of this new album.

The standout title track, Shine, is a bit similar to Fourth of July in its peering into fire flames enveloping thoughtfulness, but this time it is not so much concerned with the personal, as it is with the state of humanity and the planet, at this perilous time. It's a seven minute prayer for spiritual uplift to come to all those places where there's despair and darkness.

Yes, it's a protest album, but in quite a subtle, artful way, that elder hippie states people like Joni, Bob Dylan and George Harrison seem to make so well, pointing out the callousness, greed and stupidity abounding today. "We have poisoned everything, and are oblvious to it all..." she sings on the beautiful lament Bad Dreams.

It's very appropriate to have a cajun tinged re-working of Big Yellow Taxi - was this the first ever eco-themed song?!

This album just gets better with every listen. It demands to be played as a whole, and provides some 45 minutes of restorative solace and aural splendour for our troubled spirits in this modern world - despite its heavy themes, it gives so much more as well.

Joni is one of the most significant artists of the last 50 years, and we are immensely fortunate to have her musically active again. Now we just need to get her back to doing some live shows...
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