Posted: December 16, 2021 in MUSIC
Joni Mitchell Blue

Joni Mitchell has marked the 50th anniversary of her masterpiece, “Blue“, with a new digital EP, Blue 50 (Demos & Outtakes), featuring early demos of Blue tracks “A Case Of You” and “California“; a previously unreleased track from the sessions, Hunter; and alternate versions of “River” (featuring French Horn) and “Urge For Going” (recorded for Blue, but left off at the last minute and released as a B-side in 1972) with a string section. The striking cover of the “Blue 50” EP features the original Blue colour treatment with a previously unseen alternate photo of Joni by Tim Considine from the same show as the original. 

And there’s more good news for Joni fans. All five of these tracks will also be included in Joni Mitchell Archives Vol 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971), released on 29th October as a 5CD set as well as digitally. The music will be available the same day exclusively at as a 10LP set on 180-gram vinyl, limited to 4,000 copies. All orders on the official Joni Mitchell store come with an exclusive 7”x7” art print featuring a never-before-seen illustration by Mitchell from the era.

The tracks on “Archives Vol 2” have been sequenced chronologically to follow Mitchell in real time through one of the most creative periods of her career. The collection uncovers several unreleased Mitchell originals, including “Jesus”, recorded in 1969 at her friend Jane Lurie’s New York apartment in Chelsea, which also served as the setting for the song “Chelsea Morning“.

Other highlights include Mitchell’s performance at Le Hibou Coffee House in Ottawa on 19th March 1968 that was recorded by Jimi Hendrix and a concert at the Paris Theatre in London on 29th October 1970 that was broadcast on the BBC. The latter includes several songs destined to appear on “Blue” the following year: “Carey”, “River” and “My Old Man“. In addition, singer-songwriter James Taylor joined Mitchell to perform with her during the second half of the show.

Joni Mitchell Archives Volume 2

With “Volume 2”, it’s time to buckle up because we’re now at the really exciting stage of the series. “Volume 1″ was an illuminating journey through Mitchell’s early, pre-record-contract years. It documented a period in the 1960s when Mitchell was just starting to find her feet as a songwriter but hadn’t yet carved out her own identity as a singer. Her performances were marred by a heavy-handed, artificial vibrato and her act, especially as revealed on the first couple of discs, was folk-singer boilerplate. On that volume’s vast array of home tapes, demos, and live recordings, she sounded like someone mimicking Joan Baez. Lucky us, it didn’t take her long to start becoming herself.

Volume 2 covers the “Seagull-to-Blue” era, 1968 to 1971, during which Mitchell exploded into the national consciousness of several countries. It includes a Carnegie Hall concert, an appearance at Ottawa’s Le Hibou coffee house, over 30 BBC recordings, and – most excitingly – studio outtakes from all four albums. Finally, we get to hear “Hunter” (in terms of its musical character, it’s a bit of a sister song to “All I Want”) as it would have sounded had it been included on “Blue”. “Volume 2” also provides an intriguing insight into the way Mitchell’s albums were planned and structured; songs that ended up on “Clouds” (1969) and “Ladies of the Canyon” (1970) were first recorded for consideration for Mitchell’s debut and these early studio versions of “Both Sides Now” and “Conversation” appear on disc one.

Praise should go to this series’ design and clarity of concept, photography and the engaging Cameron Crowe interviews printed in the perfect-bound, glossy, square-shaped booklet. Everything – right down to the Joni Mitchell Archives logo – shows that a disciplined aesthetic is at play. In an effort to distinguish themselves visually from conventional studio releases, the archives series of some of Mitchell’s contemporaries have ended up with bootleg-style artwork. Mitchell’s archives boxes, on the other hand, are things of beauty.

Among the other treasures on “Archives Vol 2” is Mitchell’s complete Carnegie Hall debut, recorded on 1st February 1969, a few months before the release of her second album, Clouds. In addition to its inclusion on “Archives Vol 2″, the concert will also be released separately on 29th October as a 3LP set on 180-gram vinyl for, with an exclusive 180-gram, white vinyl version, limited to 3,000 copies,

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