Sunday, July 22, 2012

June 2012 - Popular Music

Gotye - Making Mirrors
Joni Mitchell
  • Blue
  • Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm
  • Taming the Tiger
Tears for Fears - The Seeds of Love

Technically, I was still going through the massive Tori Amos listening extravaganza in the first part of the month. But it wasn't in the form of albums, and for the purposes of this blog the relatively rare times that I engage in constructing short-term playlists or in pressing the 'shuffle' button don't count.  What's the point? How can anyone relate to the random results my particular iPhone created at a particular time?

After that, having done one career overview I decided to start on another using the same method, this time with Joni Mitchell. I haven't been going at the same pace, but it's pretty remarkable to jump from Taming the Tiger, released in 1998, back to Blue from 1971!

The latter is a fabulous album, one of Mitchell's best in my personal opinion.  Whereas something like Taming the Tiger is a real mix, with some great songs and some that really don't create any kind of response in me at all, or make me wince at how heavy-handed they are.  It's not simply a case of "old Joni is good and new Joni is bad", as my preferred albums are scattered throughout her career.  I expect that to hold up as I continue listening to all 17 studio albums.

It's interesting to note that because those albums are generally shorter than Tori Amos', it's Tori that has now released just a fraction more album music, in terms of both number of songs and in total timing.  But it's a very close run 'contest'.

And I do think they have a lot in common. Particularly in the sense of exploratory range, and that's really why I decided to do the same kind of career overview with Joni.  There's her early "folk" work, then the "jazz" phase, then after she well and truly went jazz in collaborating with Charles Mingus there's an abrupt shift to something more "pop" in the 80s followed by what I suppose is, ahem, slightly more "adult contemporary".  That one artist can navigate her way through all of that, especially with the quite radical changes in the tone and range of her voice, is a testament to her musical instincts.

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