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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 8 April 2007
'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.
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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.
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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.
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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'!)
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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.
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on 9 April 2002
This album makes a person happy to have ears! I only recently uncovered Joni (after a tip-off from a very good friend) and in the short time that Ms.Mitchell and I have been aquainted I can honestly say that her music takes my understanding of melody and lyric to another level - and Court & Spark the album that helped me along the way.
Her lyrics are, undeniably, so poetic and prolific that when I hear them I feel I really need to listen and understand entirely where her life was at the time. Lyrics of such unparalled quality deserve respect! 'Constant stranger, you're a brute, you're an angel,you can crawl, you can fly too. It's down to you....' and 'So I sent up my prayer, wondrin' where it had to go. With heaven full of astronaughts, and the Lord on death row...' These are but morsels of a multitiude of intense, searching lyrics showcased on the album. The melodic structures and the atomity of rhythm, melody and phrase are all second to none.
I tell you, this album makes a person rejoice at the invention of sound recording!
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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!"
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2005
A college friend introduced me to Joni Mitchell (her music I mean, not Joni herself) and I have loved this album ever since. Great melodies, wonderful lyrics, you can't really ask for anything more; she has such a wonderful way of describing things.
'Free Man in Paris' is just perfection. I can't help wondering if Joni just heard some guy talking like that and wrote it down.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 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.
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on 19 June 2005
Before this album was released Joni was vastly becoming hugely famouse with awards, critical acclaim, constant tours and more recently she was writng songs that appealed more to the mainstreem song like You turn me on i'm a radio a top 30 hit in America and her hits were becoming more radio friendly which is one way of describing this epic album. The album contain 3 huge hits in America, the top 10 'Help Me' the top 30 'Free man in Paris' both featured in Rolling Stones top 500 songs and the more minor hit Raised on Robbery. The album itself was one huge hit when it climbed its way to number 2 on billboards hot 100 becoming a record for a Canadian female until Alanis Morrissette hit number 1 with Jagged Little Pill in the 90's. After hitting number 2 the album sold 2 million copies was nominated for several grammys but only maaged one for the arranement of Down to you. The grammys recieved critism and Olivia Newton john recieved boo's that night for winning over one of that years most important artists. That year Joni got loads of coverage like appearing on magazines and she was winning other awards elsewhere. She was also doing loads of sell out dates in concert at the same time that Court and Spark and its 3 hits were all over the radio. The opening track is a combination of previous simple song and her new more jazz feel songs. Help me, the albums highlight, is a superb song which has been covered by Mandy Moore, Wynonna Judd and KD Lang, Free man in Paris is another huge highlight. People's paties is a less complex song so is Same situation, both important to be contained on the album to show Joni was stil true to herself despite all the fame and coverage. Car on the hill is very complex musically and very simple lyrically. Down to you, is a long epic masterpiece which earned its grammy, Just like the train is a more mellow song. Raised on Robbery was the fist song of the album to be exposed and was met with a great reception from not only Joni fans but fans of Rock 'n' roll, the song is another highlight. Troubled child is another excellent song and the last song Twisted is the only cover version on the album and is one of the only covers she has ever done. This album was 111 on Rolling Stones top 500 albums and has enteted the grammy hall of fame and is a true rare classic album that is of a very timeless piece of recording.
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