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A Vital Recording
on 7 August 2006
This is beyond doubt one of my favourite records of all time.
Initially badly received by Mitchell fans still expecting folk-chick songs - I came by my original copy through a donation from one such - it is now acknowledged as worthy of its maker and its eponymous subject by Mitchell fans and many jazz/fusion fans alike.
The music is superb, the lyrics sublime, and Mitchell's voice on its customary ethereal plane. Musicianship, as you would expect from a stellar cast including Pastorius, Shorter and Hancock, is incredible. In fact, the whole thing is so good the superlatives run out.
There are some who believe the interjected recordings of Mingus talking detract from the music, but for me they complete the story.
The stand out track for me is the atmospheric The Wolf That Lives In Lindsey, with its backing track of howling wolves. Play it on a hot summer night to cool you down. It never fails to evoke snow and cold. And instead of a plectrum it sounds like Mitchell could only find a hammer to hit the guitar strings in an all-out frontal attack.
The incredible thing is that somewhere in the vaults there are tapes of outtakes by the people who mentored Mitchell in the album's sound, including Tony Williams, John McLaughlin and Jan Hammer. Please, Asylum, release them now! How many copies do I have to promise to buy to persuade you? Take a leaf out of Sony Legacy's book and do what they've done with the Miles Davis back catalogue.