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      Joni Mitchell

      Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years 1963-1967

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      Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years 1963-1967 fills in an important chapter that heretofore has gone undocumented through in her official discography: her formative years as a folkie, playing intimate venues and radio stations while recording the occasional demo or gift tape at home. It's every manner of amateur recording, spanning a period from when Mitchell first started singing publicly to just before the recording of her 1968 debut album, Song to a Seagull (produced by David Crosby), and what's remarkable about the set is that it's possible to hear Mitchell discover and develop her voice over the course of five discs. At the start of the box, she's merely a striking folksinger, perhaps a little tentative but possessing a clear, piercing voice well-suited to the collection of standards she played for a Saskatoon radio station in 1963. Much of the first disc then shifts to two sets given at the Half Beat in Yorkville, Toronto in October 1964, shows where she snuck in some original songs to balance traditional material, but the end of the first disc and the beginning of the second contain home recordings. The latter is a tape she made for her mother's birthday in 1965 and it contains her first great song, "Urge for Going," a song that didn't make the demo she cut for Jac Holzman that year, a tape that's also on the second disc along with a November 1966 set at the 2nd Fret in Philadelphia where she plays "The Circle Game." Mitchell's art starts coming into focus on the set's third disc, which begins with her playing "Both Sides Now" and "The Circle Game" for a Philadelphia radio station and ends with her singing the latter's inspiration, Neil Young's "Sugar Mountain," for the same station. In between, is a birthday tape with original material, and the cumulative effect of this disc is hearing Mitchell subtly honing what works as a performer and what doesn't. The fourth disc opens with a home demo recorded in New York City in the middle of 1967, and Mitchell sounds fully formed: her voice soars and her melodies unwind in unconventional ways that aren't quite folk, aren't quite pop. It's startling to hear her suddenly pull into focus, a sentiment that also applies to the three sets from Ann Arbor's Canterbury House on October 27, 1967, where she plays the bulk of her then-current songbook and jokes with the crowd. Effectively, this evolution is a biography in the form of archival tapes, and the results are not only historically important, they're absorbing on a sheer musical level.

      Track Listing - Disc 1

      Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
      1 02:54 Amazon
      2 02:25 Amazon
      3 03:07 Amazon
      4 03:00 Amazon
      5 03:23 Amazon
      6 04:10 Amazon
      7 02:18 Amazon
      8 02:48 Amazon
      9 02:46 Amazon
      10 01:03 Amazon
      11 03:03 Amazon
      12 00:21 Amazon
      13 04:07 Amazon
      14 03:00 Amazon
      15 04:28 Amazon
      16 00:27 Amazon
      17 03:09 Amazon
      18 03:04 Amazon
      19 04:04 Amazon
      20 00:19 Amazon
      21 02:41 Amazon
      22 03:22 Amazon
      23 05:21 Amazon
      24 03:17 Amazon
      25 02:51 Amazon
      26 02:59 Amazon

      Track Listing - Disc 2

      Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
      1 04:25 Amazon
      2 03:35 Amazon
      3 02:51 Amazon
      4 03:48 Amazon
      5 03:34 Amazon
      6 02:36 Amazon
      7 02:10 Amazon
      8 02:51 Amazon
      9 02:37 Amazon
      10 02:39 Amazon
      11 02:39 Amazon
      12 02:40 Amazon
      13 02:34 Amazon
      14 02:27 Amazon
      15 01:04 Amazon
      16 04:55 Amazon
      17 01:01 Amazon
      18 03:03 Amazon
      19 03:53 Amazon
      20 03:52 Amazon
      21 05:13 Amazon
      22 01:32 Amazon
      23 03:33 Amazon

      Track Listing - Disc 4

      Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
      1 03:29 Amazon
      2 02:45 Amazon
      3 05:11 Amazon
      4 03:07 Amazon
      5 02:19 Amazon
      6 04:01 Amazon
      7 02:34 Amazon
      8 04:02 Amazon
      9 03:03 Amazon
      10 02:08 Amazon
      11 05:07 Amazon
      12 00:35 Amazon
      13 03:00 Amazon
      14 00:54 Amazon
      15 02:50 Amazon
      16 01:15 Amazon
      17 04:27 Amazon
      18 02:53 Amazon
      19 01:11 Amazon
      20 03:22 Amazon
      21 04:10 Amazon
      22 00:24 Amazon
      23 02:33 Amazon
      24 01:51 Amazon
      25 04:56 Amazon
      blue highlight denotes track pick
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