If you have a turntable, look for an LP of Blue.
Try Hejira. I'm also a huge fan of her first album, Song for a Seagull.
Try Hejira. I'm also a huge fan of her first album, Song for a Seagull.
I remember my Mom told me she went to a garage sale around 15 years ago and bought some records for me. Well my Mom is always buying stuff that I don't want anyway as she says it's the stuff you like. I said ok went over and there was Blue and the first Neil Young album Original Pressings in Mint + and my mouth started watering. Bless her heart,and this LP has been a reference recording,and Record to die for in both Stereophile and Absolute Sound for as long as I can remember. It's because of the vocals. Love you Mom.
Blue is a classic for sure, and I'd agree, find the LP if you have a rig. I made a comment similar to yours about the CD in another thread and had several folks jump down my throat saying that the CD was an outstanding one on their players. I think there was a 20-bit version of it at some point. And yes, Joni Mitchell is truly an artist...wonderful stuff...I've been a big fan for a long time. Blue would have to be my favorite of her early stuff. A close second would be Court and Spark. I think I wore those two LP's right through! Her recent stuff is quite different, and I haven't been as hooked by any of them. There is a great live double album too that is a must if you like her stuff...Shadows and Light.
Of all the artists in my record collection Joni is at the top of the list and "Blue" is my favorite. I understand we were THIS close to a DCC version on LP before they folded--the release was literally weeks away. I cried when I found out it wasn't to be. So what choices do you have? The LP version is best if you have a record deck. After that, make sure your CD version is HDCD which will tell you it is the most recent release remastered by Joe Gastwirt at Ocean View Digital. The sound is not bad and certainly better than the original releases. By every Gastwirt mastered CD up to 1985's "Dog Eat Dog", pull the cork on a bottle of red and sink into a morass of blissful depression.
Great thread. Takes me back to 1972, we were riding in a friends 63 Rambler Classic and my best friend tells me I goota hear Joni Mitchell "Blue." It was twenty years later that I really listened to it and had the same reaction you did. I lived on the island of Crete for three years and her references to the island such as "I got beach tar on my feet" are absolutely precious. "Court and Spark" is also a start to finish killer set.
I have two LP pressings, not sure which ones they are as I'm currently away from home. But based on these two LP's, I would have to say that while Blue is a great work of artistry, it just isn't that well recorded. I hope that's not the case in reality, but both LP's sound thin to me - Joni sounds "small". I should look for the DCC CD and check that out.
I have no idea what these other posts are talking about.
Blue is an excellent recording -- my copy is one of my favorite test CDs. Will check the version for you, but I don't think there is anything special about it.
It's not hi fi ish, but it's a very good, non fatiguing recording with an uncanny, almost spooky presence in the vocals.
But whether you believe that or not, there should be no debate that artistically, Blue is a masterpiece and a classic.
Robm321, I have Blue on CD also but the qualilty of the sound of it does not come very close to that of my stereo LP and I purchased my LP originally when it was first released(so it has a lot of miles on it). I find the CD rather harsh to Mitchell's wide-ranging voice. It is, however, still quite good and I would not be without it. However, I would like to know more about your CD if you find it reference material because this is an all-time favorite recording for me and I like the "travelability" and convenience of CD. I am also going to look for the English version that someone in this thread mentioned above. I bet that format sounds even purer. Thanks
cwlondon given his name must have the English version because my version is harsh on the highs.
I would not recommend my version if there is another available. The strings sound good, but her voice is a little glaring on the upper frequencies. Having said that it is definately listeneable and enjoyable. Thanks for mentioning there is an LP.
One of the first concerts I ever attended was Joni Mitchell solo at the troubador in LA right around the time blue was released. It was unbelievable. How can someone channel emotion so?
Blue is one of my all time favorite albums, a desert isle recording. It is best listened to alone late at night or early in the morning.
I own many copies of this recording. The best is my first pressing on vinyl. The vocals and instruments are extremely realistic. The second best is the dcc gold cd, which I sought out years after it went out of print, and for which I paid a pretty penny. Both are exceptional. I use both as system demo discs. The biggest criticism of the recording is its abundant treble energy. Stereophile interviewed Steve Hoffman (?) who remastered this record for DCC and he commented on the difficulties he had taming this energy. The two above versions have smooth treble and palpable realistic detail and timbre. Lesser versions can sound harsh.
Any early joni is excellent but blue is her masterwork.
Just popping back--I just received and listened to the new Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman mastered Blue on Rhino Vinyl. Absolutely to die for. Must more realism and detail with the new version. On my old standard Warner Bros. issue Joni's voice could harden up during some passages, now not at all. I can hear instruments and instrumental lines much more clearly. Differences between types of instruments is also much easier to discern.
IMO there aren't any other Joni albums like Blue. The problem with JM is that she is a true artist. Hard to pick a favorite. I came into her music when I was in high school and Blue was the album. One album that is largely overlooked is "The Hissing of Summer Lawns". It was the studio followup to Court and Spark and the first one after the Miles of Ailes lp. Critics across the board hated it but it's where Joni found the onramp to the fast lane. She interwove Hendricks Lambert & Ross' "Centerpide" with her own "Harry's House" and every other song had mystical imagery of sometype that surpassed even her previous output. After that everyone else followed her but none came close. Shadows and Light followed Miles of Ailes within two years of each other and I don't think anyone will ever mistake one for the other because how different they are from each other. I like all kinds of music and respect most artist in one way or another but no artist comes close to her musicianship as far as how fast and furious she grew interms of intensity and output. Maybe Steely Dan. Great Thread!
The entire Joni catalogue has been remastered in HDCD. These can almost always be found in the discount bin of your local record store. I bought "For the Roses" since I could NEVER find a decent pressing on vinyl. Engineered by Joe Gastwirt at Ocean View Digital the sound is very good. FWIW, here is my top four Joni list in rank order best to less:
Court and Spark
For the Roses
Ladies of the Canyon
I'm not a fan of anything after Hejira.
I received, cleaned and played my new copy of "Blue" and must say I was a little disappointed. This is the first time Steve Hoffman reissued an LP that I was not blown away with.
My copy sounded almost digital on the high frequencies, a bit ragged. Maybe there were some pieces that didn't get pressed right?
My original USA first pressing has more life in the vocals and more warmth in Joni's voice and the strings on the guitar don't sound as steely as the repress.
Who knows, perhaps the new issue is correct and I am just accustomed to the old version. Tonight with 8 people we played both albums several times and the original won by a slight margin.
Would love to read comments by others.
For those who may not have seen Steve Hoffman's comments on how he mastered this LP and why it will sound different than an original pressing, you can read is remarks here:
My system is down for my move, so I can't offer any opinion on the results.
Wonder too how many have compared with a perfect first pressing of Joni that's been in their library since it was new?
Wonder too if the master might sound different now? 36 years have passed since my copy was pressed off it.
I worked in the music business back then, did coverage of rock concerts and promo work for a hot radio station as well as my advertising photography gig. My copy is VERY early, given to me by the rep from the record company.
As I already stated, perhaps I am just accustomed to my excellent copy, a tonal presentation of Joni that I have lived with and accepted all these years.
I may buy another copy and have a second go at this. I already passed my Rhino reissue to a young guy in my group that wanted it.
For him, it was his first experience with "Blue" and he loved it.
The Rhino reissue sounds much different than my original. Everything (pianos, guitars, you name it) sounds much more life like and Joni's voice more dynamic and vibrant. The original must have some EQ because her voice is smoother (in places) but not as realistic. I think they rolled off some of the top end. Also on the original the piano sounds like a saloon upright compared to the reissue.
I can see how anyone accustomed to the original pressing may not like the reissue because it's a different animal.
To my ears the reissue wins, KO, no contest.
A bit of news for fans of Joni Mitchell: She was inducted last weekend into the Canadian Music hall of Fame. She was also presented with a beautifull personalized handmade Boucher guitar, a beautifull instrument ( I happen to be lucky enough to own the same guitar). Upon receiving the gift, she immediately picked a few strings, to everyones's pleasure. James Taylor was on hand for a musical tribute song, as well as other artists. Last year's inductee was Neil Young. Her early albums were great, but also try ''Night Ride Home'' for a nice sampling of a somewhat more mature voice, and trademark intelligent wit.
Just received the latest Japanese reissues CDs (late 2006) of Ladies of the Canyon, Court and Spark and Blue. Ladies and Court sound excellent while Blue seems to be a bit on the brittle side. This may be because of the dulcimers sound plus the sparse instumentation on the album. I've owned Court and Blue on gold CD and if memory serves the gold Blue was the best I've heard. I would recommend the Japanese Ladies and Court but not the Blue. Planning on purchasing Clouds, Hissing and Hejira in the near future.