For my walking music last night I decided to listen to Joni Mitchell’s live album “Miles of Aisles” because it’s the only album I have not listened to in full from her middle-70s jazz phase, with her excellent band The L.A. Express.
This is my favorite phase of her career, by far. For me, she hits her most comfortable performance place with a good jazz-oriented band and the full instrumentation and the arrangements and production that go with it.
She’s always been a great songwriter who is very creative with melodies and jazz chords and funky guitar tunings, and for me she hits her performance peak matching that and her natural singing style with a great 5 piece jazz-oriented band.
I was not disappointed.
This was (mostly) the same excellent band that backed her on her prior album “Court and Spark” — with “Help Me” and “Free Man in Paris” and several other great tunes — a truly ground-breaking album that has been my favorite Joni Mitchell record since I bought it a few years later, and one of the best albums of the entire decade of the 70s.
Several familiar songs like “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” ...
... and “Carey” ...
... and “Both Sides Now” ...
... plus “Big Yellow Taxi” ...
... and “Circle Game” ...
I much prefer these live versions to all of the originals, mainly due to the band, instrumentation, and arragnements, as noted above. Your mileage may vary, of course.
This was her very first tour with a band, after touring solo for several years.
Here’s more info on the album, produced by Joni Mitchell and arranged by Joni Mitchell and The L.A. Express
The L.A. Express personnel:
- Max Bennett - Bass
- John Guerin - Drums, Percussio
- Robben Ford - Electric Guitar
- Larry Nash - Piano
- Tom Scott - Woodwinds, Reeds
The 1973 version of the band that appeared on “Court and Spark” included Larry Carlton on Electric Guitar and Joe Sample on Keyboards — also excellent musicians — instead of Ford and Nash.