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Imperfect CD transfer
on 2 August 2007
Two albums into her Asylum contract came this double album recorded live in California in 1974. Treading water prior to her next studio album a full year later (The Hissing Of Summer Lawns), the album also usefully provided Asylum with shiny new versions of some of her Reprise back catalogue, at a time when her vocal style had matured. Some of these now sounded considerably different, having been rearranged to incorporate the LA Express, the band led by Tom Scott with whom Joni had been working since their involvement on the Court And Spark album released at the start of the year. Perversely though, the one song from that album, People's Parties, is performed live acoustically.
Big Yellow Taxi, Woodstock, Carey, The Last Time I Saw Richard and Both Sides Now in particular appear in marked contrast to their studio counterparts, making them of some interest whether or not in the final analysis they are improvements. The album concludes with two previously unrecorded songs, Jericho (later to appear on Don Juan's Reckless Daughter) and Love Or Money.
Most of the concert was recorded over four August nights at the Los Angeles Universal Amphitheater and mixed to create the atmosphere of a single live performance (though two of the tracks come from earlier concerts at different venues in March).
However, much of this atmosphere has been sacrificed on this CD in an attempt to squeeze the albums onto to one disc. With the exception of Joni's amiable preamble to The Circle Game, all the between song chat and some of the applause has been crudely excised, with applause frequently being unceremoniously cut short by the clean start of a new track. As the running time is only 74 minutes, one hopes that any HDCD remastered edition will be able to restore this album to something approaching the whole, in line with the original production intentions