Court and Spark

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Court and Spark
Studio album by Joni Mitchell
Released January 1, 1974
Recorded 1973
Genre Folk jazz, folk rock
Length 36:58
Label Asylum
Producer Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell chronology
For the Roses
(1972)
Court and Spark
(1974)
Miles of Aisles
(1974)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]
Pitchfork Media (10/10)[2]
Robert Christgau A[3]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[4]
Slant 5/5 stars[5]
Martin C. Strong (9/10)[6]
Paul Roland 5/5 stars[7]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[8]

Court and Spark is the sixth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.

Released in January 1974, the album saw Mitchell infusing her folk-rock style, which she developed throughout her previous five albums, with jazz inflections. A very accessible and commercially appealing album, Court and Spark was Mitchell's commercial and popular triumph—it was not only praised by critics, but was also very warmly received by the public, becoming her most successful album.

It reached No. 2 in the United States and No. 1 in Canada and eventually received a Double Platinum certification by the RIAA, the highest of Mitchell's career.[9] It was voted the best album of the year for 1974 in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics Poll.[10] In 2003 it was listed at No. 113 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[11]

History[edit]

1973 was the first year since she began recording that Mitchell did not release a new album. Her previous offering, For the Roses, was released in November 1972 to critical and commercial success, and Mitchell decided to spend the whole of the next year writing and recording a new album that revealed her growing interest in new sounds—particularly jazz. During 1973, her stage appearances were fewer than in previous years. She performed in April in a benefit concert at the Sir George Williams University Auditorium and then appeared live again in August, twice at The Corral Club, accompanied by Neil Young. She spent most of the year in the recording studio, creating Court and Spark. Finally, in December, Asylum Records released a new single, her first in over a year, "Raised on Robbery". The single reached No. 65 on the Billboard Singles Chart.

Mitchell and producer/engineer Henry Lewy called in a number of top L.A. musicians to perform on the album including members of The Jazz Crusaders, Tom Scott's L.A. Express, cameos from David Crosby & Graham Nash and even a twist of comedy from Cheech & Chong.

Reception[edit]

Court and Spark was released in January 1974. Critics and the public enthusiastically embraced the album, and its success was reaffirmed when the follow-up single "Help Me" was released in March. It received heavy radio airplay and became Mitchell's first and only Top 10 single in the Billboard charts, peaking at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the first week of June, and reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. Court and Spark went on to be a big seller that year, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard album charts[12] and staying there for four weeks. The album became the pinnacle of Mitchell's commercial success. The album was kept from the top spot by three No. 1 albums—in order Bob Dylan's Planet Waves, Barbra Streisand's The Way We Were and John Denver's Greatest Hits.[13]

In a July 1979 interview with Cameron Crowe for Rolling Stone, Mitchell recounted an anecdote in which she played a copy of the then-just completed Court & Spark to Bob Dylan, during which Dylan fell asleep.[14] Mitchell later suggested that Dylan was probably trying to be "cute" in front of label boss David Geffen, who was also present.[14]

Honors[edit]

Accolades[edit]

Grammy Awards
Year Recipient Award Result
1975 Court and Spark Album of the Year[16] Nominated
"Help Me" Record of the Year[17] Nominated
Best Female Pop Vocal Performance[18] Nominated
"Down to You" (arranger: Joni Mitchell and Tom Scott) Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)[19] Won

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Joni Mitchell, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Court and Spark"   2:46
2. "Help Me"   3:22
3. "Free Man in Paris"   3:02
4. "People's Parties"   2:15
5. "Same Situation"   2:57
Side two
No. Title Length
6. "Car on a Hill"   3:02
7. "Down to You"   5:38
8. "Just Like This Train"   4:24
9. "Raised on Robbery"   3:06
10. "Trouble Child"   4:00
11. "Twisted" (Annie Ross, Wardell Gray) 2:21

Personnel[edit]

  • Joni Mitchell – vocals, including background; acoustic guitar; piano; clavinet on "Down to You"
  • John Guerin – drums and percussion
  • Wilton Felder – bass
  • Max Bennett – bass on "Trouble Child"
  • Jim Hughart – bass on "People's Parties" and "Free Man in Paris"
  • Milt Holland – chimes on "Court and Spark"
  • Tom Scott – woodwinds and reeds
  • Chuck Findley – trumpet on "Twisted" and "Trouble Child"
  • Joe Sample – electric piano, clavinet on "Raised on Robbery"
  • David Crosby – background vocals on "Free Man in Paris" and "Down to You"
  • Graham Nash – background vocals on "Free Man in Paris"
  • Susan Webb – background vocals on "Down to You"
  • Larry Carlton – electric guitar
  • Wayne Perkins – electric guitar on "Car on a Hill"
  • Dennis Budimir – electric guitar on "Trouble Child"
  • Robbie Robertson – electric guitar on "Raised on Robbery"
  • José Feliciano – electric guitar on "Free Man in Paris"
  • Cheech Marin – background voice on "Twisted"
  • Tommy Chong – background voice on "Twisted"
  • Joni Mitchell and Henry Lewy - producers
  • Henry Lewy and Ellis Sorkin - engineers

Charts[edit]

Preceded by
Planet Waves by Bob Dylan
Canadian RPM 100 number-one album
March 16 – March 30, 1974
Succeeded by
Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ankeny, Jason. Court and Spark at AllMusic. Retrieved July 22, 2005.
  2. ^ "Joni Mitchell: The Studio Albums 1968-1979" at pitchfork.com
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Joni Mitchell > Consumer Guide Reviews". Robert Christgau. Retrieved Apr 13, 2006. 
  4. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "Joni Mitchell". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. p. 547. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Walsh, Barry (September 3, 2004). "Joni Mitchell Court and Spark > Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved Jun 3, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Court and Spark". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  7. ^ "Court and Spark". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  8. ^ "Court and Spark". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  9. ^ "Gold & Platinum – August 07, 2010". RIAA. Retrieved August 8, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "The 1974 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. January 20, 1975. Retrieved Mar 21, 2005. 
  11. ^ a b Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "111 | Court and Spark – Joni Mitchell". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Retrieved Mar 21, 2005. 
  12. ^ Joni Mitchell > Court and Spark > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic
  13. ^ Sharon Mawer. "US number two albums". Freespace.virgin.net. Retrieved August 8, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Rolling Stone Magazine article: "The Rolling Stone Joni Mitchell Interview", by Cameron Crowe. July 26, 1979.
  15. ^ Super Seventies. Court and Spark: Joni Mitchell.. Retrieved February 27, 2009.
  16. ^ "GRAMMYs' Best Albums 1970–1979". grammy.org. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  17. ^ "Rock On The Net: Grammy Awards: Record of the Year". Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  18. ^ "Rock On The Net: Grammy Awards: Best Pop Solo Performance". Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  19. ^ "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  20. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  21. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 21, No. 7" (PHP). RPM. 1974-03-30. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  22. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark" (ASP). Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  23. ^ "Joni Mitchell > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  24. ^ "Allmusic: Court and Spark : Charts & Awards". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  25. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1974". RPM. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  26. ^ "Billboard.BIZ Top Pop Albums of 1974". billboard.biz. Archived from the original on 2012-12-31. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  27. ^ "American album certifications – Joni Mitchell – Court and Spark". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2011-09-22.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH