Rolling Stone - 12/11/03, p.120Ranked #111
in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums Of All Time" - "Mitchell settles into a folk-pop-jazz groove that remains a landmark of breezy sophistication..."
Rolling Stone - 6/22/00, p.1345 stars out of 5
- "...An album that not only represents the culmination of Mitchell's folk-rock period but also signals the many musical experiments in her future....[It] was - and still is - [her] most commercially successful album..."
Personnel: Joni Mitchell (vocals, piano, Clavinet); Larry Carlton, Dennis Budimir, Robbie Robertson, Jose Feliciano (guitar); Tom Scott (woodwinds, reeds); Chuck Findley (trumpet); Joe Sample (electric piano); Max Bennett, Jim Hughart, Wilton Felder (bass); John Guerin (drums, percussion); Milt Holland (chimes); David Crosby, Graham Nash, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Susan Webb (background vocals).
All songs written by Joni Mitchell except "Twisted" (Ross/Grey).
Composer: Joni Mitchell.
Personnel: Joni Mitchell (vocals, guitar, piano, Clavinet, keyboards, background vocals); Joni Mitchell; Cheech & Chong (vocals, background vocals); Dennis Dudimir (electric guitar); Victor Feldman (keyboards, percussion); Jim Hughart, Max Bennett, Wilton Felder (bass instrument); Chong, Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin (background vocals); Graham Nash (vocals, harmonica, background vocals); David Crosby, Susan Webb (vocals, background vocals); Dennis Budimir, Jos‚ Feliciano, Larry Carlton, Robbie Robertson, Wayne Perkins (guitar, electric guitar); Tom Scott (reeds, woodwinds, wind); Chuck Findley (trumpet); Joe Sample (electric piano, keyboards); John Guerin (drums, percussion); Milt Holland (percussion, chimes).
All tracks have been digitally mastered using HDCD technology.
Photographer: Norman Seeff.
Arrangers: Joni Mitchell; Tom Scott.
COURT AND SPARK completed Joni Mitchell's transition from folk-singer to sophisticated rock auteur. In addition to her meticulously crafted melodies and evocative, image-rich lyrics, the songs here are breezy and immediately appealing. This is in part due to Tom Scott's L.A. Express, a sinuous jazz-based combo, but also to Mitchell's knack for pop hooks, which abound on COURT AND SPARK. The album's accessibility made it Mitchell's most commercially successful, yet the personal intensity and insight of her songwriting never wavers.
"Help Me" was a hit single, as was "Free Man in Paris," an expansive pop frolic that is reputedly a dig at industry mogul David Geffen. Mitchell returns to the terrain of piano balladry on "The Same Situation" and "Down to You"; yet even on these, as on the excellent social satire "People's Parties," one can hear the influence of jazz on her vocal phrasing and intonations. The rock-&-roll romp "Raised on Robbery" and the bluesy, comic swing of "Twisted" mix things up a bit, showing the artist's increasing ability to master and manipulate any form. COURT AND SPARK is one of Mitchell's finest albums, confirming her standing as one of the most important and subtle talents of the rock era.