Court and Spark
|Court and Spark|
|Studio album by|
|Released||January 17, 1974|
|Studio||A&M Studios, Hollywood|
|Producer||Joni Mitchell, Henry Lewy|
|Joni Mitchell chronology|
Court and Spark is the sixth studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. It was an immediate commercial and critical success—and remains her most successful album. Released in January 1974, it infuses her folk rock style, which she developed throughout her previous five albums, with jazz inflections.
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. It also reached the Top 20 in the UK and was voted the best album of the year for 1974 in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop Critics Poll. In 2003 it was listed at #111 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
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.
Mitchell spent most of 1973 in the recording studio creating Court and Spark. Mitchell and producer/engineer Henry Lewy called in a number of top L.A. musicians to perform on the album including members of The Crusaders, Tom Scott's L.A. Express, cameos from Robbie Robertson, David Crosby & Graham Nash and even a twist of comedy from Cheech & Chong.
In December, Asylum Records released a single, her first in over a year, "Raised on Robbery". The single reached No. 65 on the Billboard Singles Chart.
|Christgau's Record Guide||A|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Martin C. Strong||9/10|
|Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
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 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.
In a July 1979 interview with Cameron Crowe for Rolling Stone, Mitchell recounted an anecdote of when she had played a copy of the then-just completed Court & Spark to Bob Dylan, during which Dylan fell asleep. Mitchell later suggested that Dylan was probably trying to be "cute" in front of label boss David Geffen, who was also present.
- February 27, 1974 Court and Spark certified Gold.
- In 1974, Court and Spark was voted the 'Best Album of the Year' in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll.
- In 2003, Court and Spark was ranked No. 111 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
- In 2006, Court and Spark was included in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
- Grammy Awards
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1975||Court and Spark||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|"Help Me"||Record of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Nominated|
|"Down to You" (arranger: Joni Mitchell and Tom Scott)||Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)||Won|
All tracks written by Joni Mitchell, except where noted.
|1.||"Court and Spark"||2:46|
|3.||"Free Man in Paris"||3:02|
|5.||"The Same Situation"||2:57|
|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|
|11.||"Twisted"||Annie Ross, Wardell Gray||2:21|
- Joni Mitchell – vocals, including background; acoustic guitar; piano; clavinet on "Down to You"
- Tom Scott – woodwinds, reeds
- Joe Sample – electric piano; clavinet on "Raised on Robbery"
- Larry Carlton – electric guitar (on all tracks except "Car on a Hill", "Raised on Robbery" and "Trouble Child")
- Max Bennett – bass guitar (on all tracks except "Free Man in Paris", "People's Parties" and "Trouble Child")
- John Guerin – drums, percussion
- Chuck Findley – trumpet on "Trouble Child" and "Twisted"
- José Feliciano – electric guitar on "Free Man in Paris"
- Wayne Perkins – electric guitar on "Car on a Hill"
- Robbie Robertson – electric guitar on "Raised on Robbery"
- Dennis Budimir – electric guitar on "Trouble Child"
- Wilton Felder – bass guitar on "Free Man in Paris" and "People's Parties"
- Jim Hughart – bass guitar on "Trouble Child"
- Milt Holland – chimes on "Court and Spark"
- 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"
- Cheech Marin & Tommy Chong – background voices on "Twisted"
- Joni Mitchell and Henry Lewy - producers
- Henry Lewy and Ellis Sorkin - engineers
- Anthony Hudson - art direction, design
- Joni Mitchell – cover painting
- Norman Seeff - photography
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- Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) . "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.
- Ankeny, Jason. Court and Spark at AllMusic. Retrieved July 22, 2005.
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- Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 769. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
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- Sharon Mawer. "US number two albums". Freespace.virgin.net. Archived from the original on April 17, 2009. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
- Rolling Stone article: "The Rolling Stone Joni Mitchell Interview", by Cameron Crowe. July 26, 1979.
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- "GRAMMYs' Best Albums 1970–1979". grammy.org. Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
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- "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
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