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VINE VOICETOP 50 REVIEWERon 28 August 2016
Joni Mitchell’s seventh album release in 1975 saw her further develop the eclectic fusion of musical styles evident on ‘Court & Spark’ a year earlier. ‘The Hissing of Summer Lawns’ was not well received on its release - ‘Rolling Stone’ even went so far as to nominate it “one of the worst albums of the year” - but the stature of this ambitious project has grown in later years as the adventurous sophistication of the songwriting becomes more evident with repeat-listening. Some even consider it to be Joni’s crowning achievement, her masterpiece.

THoSL has a style all its own, but one difficult to describe in the classic terms of musical genre. Strings, woodwind, brass, synthesizer and backing vocals are deployed carefully but selectively, giving each piece a different sound so there appears to be no unifying theme. Jazz influences predominate. Joni herself said of this project that she “tried to move away from the hit department to the art department" and it’s probably true to say that the result is a 1975 vision of what an arty rock/folk/jazz fusion album should sound like. It is both less commercial and less immediately accessible than its predecessor C&S.

Most of the song lyrics on THoSL are observational, de-personalized, themed on the life-experiences of other women in urban LA society: more stylistically Dylanesque in contrast to the deeply personal stories accompanied by acoustic guitar and piano which dominated Mitchell’s earlier songwriting.

THoSL is probably not the best starting point on a journey to discover Joni Mitchell’s rich and varied musical legacy; for that I would recommend any of the first four albums, especially ‘Ladies of the Canyon’ or ‘Blue’. If you have an appreciation and a feel for jazz, you’re also more likely to ‘get it’: approached from that direction, THoSL will reveal its delights.
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on 20 October 2017
Stunning album. When comes the remaster? Have just found a new voice, a voice that could be Joni, the timbre is so similar, a fellow Canadian, Tamara Lindeman who goes under the moniker of The Weather Station. A superb lyricist she is too.

One of the lyrics, any from the 2017 album "The Weather Station" would do: COMPLICIT

I was on the sidewalk, and you were in a dream; you said you couldn’t stand it these days, your sensitivity. The city felt oppressive, the heat and the noise, and even at home you felt every unspoken voice. I don’t know how, but I tell you you’ll be fine, and I set the table, and you pour the wine. You always have been capable, always have been kind; it isn’t really your fault, just the tenor of the times. You got a job and lost it, and they never told you why; and you can’t seem to get past it, this ordinary lie. And they’re saying this summer is the worst it’s ever been, with the radio on, and they’re talking. Another shooting, floods creeping in the lowlands, and everybody’s shouting, and I just hold your hand. And I say nothing, I say nothing at all; I don’t think my voice matters really after all. I was raised to hear the curlews; I was raised to notice light, and I watch the little swallows, delicate in their flight. I trail my hand down through the water of the familiar riverside, for hours in such silence I lay beside—terrified, for knowing in my time, for all the parts per million, for unstoppable design. How can you get over knowing all you know? All the facts and the figures you learned years ago.

I moved back to the city; I lost myself in you, or in some kind of fiction, or in some kind of truth. I let myself get cynical; I felt cold and bruised, and the facts never changed, and time only moves. And somewhere above the tree line, silent just like you, the river never froze in, and footsteps break through. And somehow in my heart, am I supposed to make do with the fragment of the stars the blue-white streetlights let through? All the birds not calling, all the hot winds blow; I took your picture in the sunset, smiling in the shadow. You and I, we are complicit; you and I were never blind; now we’re gonna live with it, our open eyes.
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on 11 January 2018
I remember being in London around 2001 and I was a friends house for Sunday dinner.
she went out to get something and I was looking at her vinyl collection and I put this on.
I stood rooted to the spot for the whole album (apart from turning it over) I couldn't believe how beautifully played and sounding it was.
when I read the record sleeve I realized that the album was as old as me, I thought where had I been all this time?

I had heard of Joni Mitchell but I never took much noticed and truth be told this was the first time that
an album had ever moved me so much that I had to replay it and find a piece of scrap paper and write the name and title down.

What blows me away every time is the voice and the songwriting every moment and every scene you feel as if you could be right there.
the ones in my mind that so the expertly are Edith and the Kingman & Shades of Scarlett Conquering lamenting the the kind of love that only comes if you are pretty but fades and then you just become another pretty face in the crowd or having no other talent but to marry rich only to find that you gave up real life and love for the comfort of material things. of course, that is not the observation here but there seems to be a little thread. what touches me every time is the marriage of jazz elements with pop neither one of those elements are competing they are just working together and the lush orchestration that sometimes flows quietly into the background. All grounded in the songwriter's keen eye for observation and the ear of a master. the key changes in some of the tracks are masterful this total works and the second song The Jungle line is so future proof of its mix and modernization as the drums sound sampled in. Some people call this track an anomaly but for me, it fits right in. In my mind, this album is a total masterpiece and no matter what I listen to I always come back to it eventually.
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on 13 June 2014
Music was great, delivery quick. But the cover plastic was in pieces and the text part well used. And not from the transport!
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on 30 January 2016
Not as good as I expected. One of Jonis` weaker albums I`d say.
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on 29 September 2015
what a talent!
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on 28 April 2002
When I first heard "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns", I had only previously heard the much less ornate, folkie-rock albums "Blue" and "Ladies Of The Canyon". Having read loads of reviews of this album, I didn't know what to expect but I knew I wouldn't be disappointed because the two I had heard were brilliant.
This album is so much different...it is jazzier with trumpets, flutes, clarinets, saxophones and horns aplenty but there are still some Joni piano and guitar parts. The track 'In France They Kiss On Mainstreet' is the elegant opener, while 'The Jungle Line' is a very strange Moog-led uptempo track featuring the Warrior Drums of Burundi. Some parts of this song sound dated, but it is thoroughly amazing 26-and-a-half years after release.
'Don't Interrupt The Sorrow' boasts a strong melody, 'Harry's House - Centerpiece' is enthralling and the title track is just wonderful. 'Shadows And Light' is another great one, with gospel-like backing vocals.
But in amongst the good stuff is some not-so-good stuff. The songs that have not been mentioned are not that memorable, but they will grow on you after a few listens. Even if the melody is not very strong or catchy, the lyrics and the sublime music that works as accompaniment will blow you away - how can this woman be so brilliant? you will frequently ask yourself on an album like "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns".
If you absolutely adore "Ladies Of The Canyon" or "Blue" and want more of the same, then "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns" might be a disappointment. It certainly won't work for everyone, but Joni Mitchell and her astounding musical prowess makes the grade for me!
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on 22 March 2002
In an interview in the early 80s, I remember Joni Mitchell saying this album is complimentary to the final scene of "Walkabout" when the bored housewife stares out of her window across the urban jungle and wishing she was still in the outback. Free from constraints. "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns" takes no prisoners and is a varied album not heard of from Joni before. "The Jungle Line" features the great drowning drums of the Brundi Tribes, "Edith and The KingPin" is simply wonderful and the title track - sheer poetry (though the Live version on "Shadows And Light" Live LP is more superior in delivery). This album is not for fans of "Blue" but more for those stretching beyond. It is also timeless owing to it's variety.
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on 14 December 2016
She was playing "folkie" in coffee houses in Canada (Song for a seagull), then she was leading a superb band a few years later on this album and giving nothing away to them in terms of musicianship and creativity - they couldn't "take it from her" - the Boss. How on Earth did she do that? Where did she learn her art? Not enough that she can sing the way she does, she's a mill of words, ideas, tunes and textures, plays guitar like a nutcase and makes it better than most doing it properly. And the piano! Joni Mitchell is a genius, one of the very, very few of such and we have to treasure this and give her freedom. But we all know all that. This is still great today. It still stands. If it's not enough - to see her stand and play her songs, watch the way she moves and ripples, dressed better than a super model - that's sublime too. An extraordinary woman. Genius if there is such a thing. Posh bird!
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on 26 October 2016
Finally caught up with this...40 years later! So glad I did. Joni's a genius. If songwriter's can get Nobels she shoulda been the automatic choice! Being Canadian, and therefore Commonwealth, can we make her Poet Lauriet as compensation ?!
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