JONI MITCHELL – ” Archives Volume 1 ” The Early Years 1963-1967 Box Set

Posted: September 10, 2020 in CLASSIC ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Joni Mitchell – the artist, songwriter, and singer who has created some of the most influential music of all time – has a reputation for not looking back. Despite her considerable legacy and personal archive full of treasures, it wasn’t until recently that she began began really celebrating her past. Films, tribute concerts, and a recent book of art and lyrics have done their part to reaffirm her influence and artistry in the public consciousness, but now Joni Mitchell has approved something long thought unthinkable; something that will surely leave diehard fans’ jaws on the floor: a series of box sets and archival albums that shows the arc of her artistry, to be released over the next several years. Rhino promises that Joni “has been intimately involved in producing the archive series, lending her vision and personal touch to every element of the project.”

The Five-CD box set kicks off the long awaited ‘Archives’ series

Joni Mitchell opens her vaults for the first time for the Joni Mitchell Archives, a new series of box set releases that will span the next few years and start Next Month with a five-disc box set, “Archives – Volume 1″ and two associated vinyl releases.

Mitchell has been “intimately involved in producing the archive series” and Archives Volume 1: The Early Years (1963-1967) features nearly six hours of unreleased home, live, and radio recordings that flow chronologically to map Joni’s rapid growth as a performer and songwriter during the period leading up to her debut album.

The collection begins in 1963 with her earliest-known recording as a 19-year-old Mitchell performs at CFQC AM, a radio station in her hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The box culminates with a stirring, three-set 1967 nightclub performance recorded at the Canterbury House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In total, the five-CD box includes 29 original Mitchell compositions that have never been released before with her vocals.

Volume 1: The Early Years (1963-1967) is a five-CD box set 

As you can probably guess, it focuses on the period prior to the release of her 1968 debut album, Song To a Seagull. The staggering 119-track, 5CD box set is a treasure trove of unreleased rarities from her archive, including significant upgrades to certain dubiously sourced radio material – all finally made canon some 50 years on. You’ll hear her perform Child ballads and Guthrie covers in the folk club setting, work out early versions of classics like “Both Sides Now,” “Chelsea Morning,” and “He Comes For Conversation” – the latter with interesting lyric variants – years before their official versions. And you’ll hear 29 previously unheard songs, among them “Jeremy,” “Free Darling,” and “Gemini Twin,” which had been slated for Seagull, plus other early favourites like “Urge For Going,” and “Eastern Rain.” And for the guitarists and banter-lovers, you’ll hear her tune up to those mystifying alternate tunings and tell stories about her songs as she puts them to tape. It totals nearly 6 hours of incredible material, an in-depth testament to the undeniable talent of an artist finding her way, building an impressive oeuvre of original material, and wooing crowds with her stunning music and lyrics.

The box set includes a 40-page booklet that features many unseen photos from Mitchell’s personal collection as well as new liner notes featuring conversations between Cameron Crowe and Mitchell, who recently spent a couple of Sunday afternoons together discussing her archives. Crowe will continue to provide liners for future releases in the series.

Looking back, Mitchell reflects on her early label of “folk singer”: “The early stuff, I shouldn’t be such a snob against it. A lot of these songs, I just lost them. They fell away. They only exist in these recordings. For so long I rebelled against the term, ‘I was never a folk-singer.’ I would get pissed off if they put that label on me. I didn’t think it was a good description of what I was. And then I listened and…it was beautiful. It made me forgive my beginnings. And I had this realisation…I was a folk singer!”

CDs four and five of the box set feature Mitchell’s previously unreleased, entire three- set performance at Canterbury House in 1967. Those three sets are also issued as a special 3LP vinyl package: Live at Canterbury House – 1967.

To complete the physical archive releases, a single 180g vinyl, Early Joni – 1963 features the nine-song CFQC AM performance in her hometown of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Here, the 19-year-old Mitchell performs at her hometown. The next year, she’s working through two sets of folk music in a Yorkville, Toronto folk club and preserving a clutch of favourites on tape at her parents’ house. Just months later, Joni begins writing her own original material, and lays down some early compositions from her apartment in Detroit for her mother Myrtle’s birthday – “Urge For Going,” “Born To Take The Highway,” and “Here Today and Gone Tomorrow.” By August 1965, she’s preparing a demo tape for Jac Holzman of Elektra Records with “Day After Day” – considered her first composition – the unheard tracks “Student Song” and “What Will You Give Me,” plus a cover of “Let It Be Me”! That’s before we get to the wealth of CBC TV recordings, radio sessions from Philadelphia, intimate home tapes of some of her best early work, and recently unearthed tapes from three sets at Canterbury House, Ann Arbor, in October 1967.

This is featured on CD 1 of the box set. The enclosed 40-page booklet features unseen photographs from Mitchell’s personal archives and new liner notes by Cameron Crowe, who will pen the notes for future volumes. The liner notes are drawn from new conversations with Joni Mitchell where she discusses her beginnings as a folk singer, her transition into song writing, and her ascent as an artist.

As an added bonus for collectors, the new Official Joni Mitchell Online Store will offer two additional vinyl variants: a clear vinyl edition of Early Joni – 1963 and a white vinyl configuration of Live At Canterbury House – 1967. Each exclusive colour vinyl configuration will be limited to 1,500 units. No matter your choice of format, if you order from the official store you’ll also get an exclusive 7″x7″ lithograph featuring two images of Joni Mitchell.

The five-CD box set, the 3LP Canterbury package and Early Joni will all be released on 30 October 2020.

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