Dog Eat Dog (Joni Mitchell album)

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Dog Eat Dog
Joni Dog.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 1985
StudioA&M Studios (Hollywood)
Joni Mitchell chronology
Wild Things Run Fast
Dog Eat Dog
Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm
Singles from Dog Eat Dog
  1. "Good Friends"
    Released: November 1985
  2. "Shiny Toys"
    Released: April 1986
Professional ratings
Review scores
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[3]
Rolling Stone(not rated)[4]
The Village VoiceB+[5]

Dog Eat Dog is the 12th studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, released in 1985. It was her second album for Geffen Records.

As with its predecessor Wild Things Run Fast, Dog Eat Dog moves away from Mitchell's previous folk and jazz influences in favour of 1980s studio pop. The album was a particular departure for Mitchell due to its highly synthetic sound – it was the first (and one of the few albums) on which she plays no guitar and on which she focuses entirely on keyboards (mostly synthesizers and the Fairlight CMI sampler). Dog Eat Dog also featured an expanded role for Mitchell's bass-playing husband Larry Klein, who not only co-produced and played keyboards, but played a significant part in shaping the album's technological pop sound and also wrote the music for two of the songs. All guitars were played by session musician Michael Landau, using an electric/textural approach very different from Mitchell's own. Over the course of the next few albums, Mitchell would gradually return to a more organic approach similar to her mid-'70s sound.


British electro-pop musician Thomas Dolby plays a prominent role on Dog Eat Dog, although his involvement led to friction. Dolby thought he had been hired to produce the album, whereas it was Mitchell's understanding that he had been hired as a sampling and production consultant. On the original issue of the album, Dolby was credited as a co-producer, but on the version released as part of the 2003 Mitchell box set The Complete Geffen Recordings albums he is only credited with "sound file assistance".

Mitchell was enthusiastic about the potential of sampling and played a proactive role in incorporating it. She recorded the bashed metal sound on "The Three Great Stimulants" herself, sourcing it from an abandoned metal sheeting panel in an alleyway near her New York home, and forced its inclusion despite arguing with Klein and Dolby, who both believed that the sample was too low-fidelity. Mitchell also based "Smokin' (Empty, Try Another)" around the sound of the cigarette machine in the parking lot of A&M. According to her notes about The Complete Geffen Recordings, the machine was played live, not sampled.[6]

In terms of music genres, Dog Eat Dog was described as "synth-fueled pop" by Paste's Ellen Johnson,[7] and classified under the pop/rock category on AllMusic, having also been thought of by reviewer William Ruhlmann as Mitchell "continuing to straddle the worlds of California folk/pop and jazz fusion".[2] Lyrically, the album dealt with prominent issues in mid-1980s society, such as Reaganism, televangelists, consumerism and famine in Ethiopia. "Good Friends" was recorded as a duet with Michael McDonald, Rod Steiger made a voiceover appearance on "Tax Free" as a televangelist, while Dolby and Bob "Zyg" Winard added humorous character vocal interjections in the background to "Shiny Toys". Some connections to Mitchell's past work are evident in the use of horn sections, and also by appearances from James Taylor and saxophonist Wayne Shorter.


"Shiny Toys" and "Good Friends" were both released as singles. A video was produced for "Good Friends" using film animation by Jim Blashfield. "Shiny Toys" was also released in a 12" extended dance single format, remix by François Kevorkian, and had a more complete lyric than the album version, featuring additional spoken character voices by Thomas Dolby ("I LOVE being out on the golf course!").

Track listing[edit]

Credits taken from Mitchell's official website.[8]

All lyrics are written by Mitchell; all music is composed by Mitchell, except "Fiction" and "Tax Free", composed by Larry Klein.

Side one
1."Good Friends"4:25
3."The Three Great Stimulants"6:11
4."Tax Free"4:19
5."Smokin' (Empty, Try Another)"1:43
Side two
1."Dog Eat Dog"4:41
2."Shiny Toys"3:27
4."The Impossible Dreamer"4:30
5."Lucky Girl"4:02


  • Joni Mitchell – vocals, piano, keyboards, synthesizers, sound effects, cover painting
  • Larry Klein – keyboards, synthesizers, bass, programming; spoken vocals on "Fiction"
  • Thomas Dolby – keyboards, synthesizers, programming; spoken vocals on "Fiction" and "Shiny Toys"
  • Joe Smith – spoken vocals on "Fiction"
  • Rod Steiger – spoken vocals (evangelist speech) on "Tax Free"
  • Bob "Zyg" Winard – spoken vocals on "Shiny Toys"
  • Michael Landau – guitar
  • Steve Lukather – guitar on "Smokin' (Empty, Try Another)"
  • Larry Williams – flute, tenor saxophone on "Shiny Toys"
  • Kazu Matsui – shakuhachi [sic] on "Ethiopia"
  • Wayne Shorter – soprano saxophone on "Impossible Dreamer", tenor saxophone on "Lucky Girl"
  • Jerry Hey – trumpet, flugelhorn, horn arrangement on "Shiny Toys"
  • Gary Grant – trumpet, flugelhorn on "Shiny Toys"
  • Vinnie Colaiuta – drums, samples
  • Alex Acuña – bata drum on "Impossible Dreamer"
  • Michael Fisher – percussion samples
  • Michael McDonald – vocals on "Good Friends", background vocals on "Tax Free"
  • Don Henley – background vocals on "Tax Free", "Dog Eat Dog" and "Shiny Toys"
  • James Taylor – background vocals on "Tax Free", "Dog Eat Dog" and "Shiny Toys"
  • Amy Holland – background vocals on "Tax Free"


  • Mike Shipley – engineer, mixing
  • Bob "Zyg" Winard, Dan Marien – assistant engineers
  • Glen Christensen – art direction


Chart performance for Dog Eat Dog
Chart (1985) Peak
Australian Albums (Kent Music Report)[9] 86
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[10] 44
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[11] 30
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[12] 27
UK Albums (OCC)[13] 57
US Billboard 200[14] 63

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adjei-Kontoh, Hubert (June 12, 2020). "Westerman : Your Hero Is Not Dead". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 2, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "Dog Eat Dog - Joni Mitchell". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  3. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  4. ^ Rob Tannenbaum (January 16, 1986). "Dog Eat Dog". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 27, 2005.
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 3, 1985). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  6. ^ "Complete Geffen Recordings". Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  7. ^ Johnson, Ellen (September 21, 2020). "Joni Mitchell's 19 Studio Albums, Ranked". Paste. Archived from the original on March 2, 2021. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  8. ^ "Joni Mitchell - Dog Eat Dog". Joni Mitchell - Official Website. Archived from the original on March 2, 2021. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992: 23 years of hit singles & albums from the top 100 charts. St Ives, N.S.W, Australia: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0613". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  11. ^ " – Joni Mitchell – Dog Eat Dog". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  12. ^ " – Joni Mitchell – Dog Eat Dog". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  13. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  14. ^ "Joni Mitchell Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved April 7, 2021.