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Tuesday, June 22, 1971

Joni Mitchell released Blue: June 22, 1971

Originally posted 6/22/12. Updated 3/1/13.

image from greenobles.com


Release date: 22 June 1971
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) 1. All I Want 2. My Old Man 3. Little Green 4. Carey (9/4/71, #93 US) 5. Blue 6. California 7. This Flight Tonight 8. River 9. A Case of You 10. The Last Time I Saw Richard

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 15 US, 3 UK

Rating:


Review: “‘Write about what you know’ is advice few have followed as thoroughly as Mitchell did on this set of laments” BL in which she “exposes a fragile, battered heart in an exquisitely sad and lovely song cycle.” UT “She was only 28 when she recorded Blue, but she shaped the songs of decades to come” RV with this “brutally bleak masterpiece.” VB It is “the quintessential confessional singer/songwriter album.” AMG When country singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson heard the songs, he said, “‘Joni, save something for yourself.’ It was advice she chose to ignore.” BL

“From the bare arrangements of acoustic guitar and piano with maybe a hint of dulcimer, to the lyrics – ‘All I really want our love to do/ Is to bring out the best in me/ and in you, too,’” TL her “songs are raw nerves” AMG which “paint a picture of a vulnerable and pained woman.” RV “Mitchell whittles her journal entries and melodies down with poetic economy and relies on her falsetto to add the dramatic tension.” TL

These are “tales of love and loss (two words with relative meaning here) etched with stunning complexity; even tracks like All I Want, My Old Man, and Carey – the brightest, most hopeful moments on the record – are darkened by bittersweet moments of sorrow and loneliness.” AMG “‘All I Want’ highlights Mitchell’s desire to escape loneliness in the arms of someone who loves her. Mitchell and James Taylor provide flamenco-flavored accompaniment as she describes her perfect mate: ‘I want to talk to you, I want to shampoo you, I want to renew you again and again.’” RV

River

“At the same time that songs like Little Green (about a child given up for adoption) and the title cut (a hymn to salvation supposedly penned for James Taylor) raise the stakes of confessional folk-pop to new levels of honesty and openness.” AMG “It’s hard to think of a more emotionally naked song than the title track where Mitchell exposes her pain like a folk-inflected Billie Holliday.” RV “For Mitchell, blue is more than an emotion or a style of music, but also the nickname given to her lover.” RV

“Enjoyment depends entirely on your tolerance for sincerity, but even cynics concede the greatness of lines like, ‘I could drink a case of you and still be on my feet.’” TL “Unrivaled in its intensity and insight, Blue remains a watershed.” AMG

A Case of You


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Saturday, June 19, 1971

Carole King's Tapestry hit #1: June 19, 1971

Originally posted June 19, 2012.

image from popmatters.com


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) I Feel the Earth Move * (4/16/71, #1 US) / So Far Away (8/4/71, #14 US) / It’s Too Late * (4/16/71, #1 US, #6 UK) / Home Again / Beautiful / Way Over Yonder / You’ve Got a Friend / Where You Lead / Will You Love Me Tomorrow? / Smackwater Jack / Tapestry / You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman

* “It’s Too Late” and “I Feel the Earth Move” were released simultaneously as a double-sided single.

Sales (in millions): 13.0 US, -- UK, 25.0 world

Peak: 115 US, 4 UK

Rating:


Review: Carole King’s “songs with husband Gerry Goffin had been hits for talents as diverse as Aretha Franklin with You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman and Little Eva with ‘The Locomotion,’ but it took a push from James Taylor [who had recorded King’s You’ve Got a Friend] to get King to record a few herself.” TL “Always a superior pop composer, King reaches even greater heights as a performer” AMG by bringing “the fledgling singer/songwriter phenomenon to the masses with Tapestry.” AMG

You’ve Got a Friend (with James Taylor)

The album “is not over-produced, which makes up a big part of the album’s homespun charm.” DV “With its reliance on pianos and gentle drumming” AMG “with a few sonic flourishes and some saxophone and guitar here and there,” DVTapestry is a light and airy work on its surface, occasionally skirting the boundaries of jazz.” AMG

“Instead of the music, Tapestry is carried by the hooks and riveting vocals from King.” DV Her “voice has limits, range chief among them, and that’s a critical part of Tapestry’s charm.” TL “The music is loose, earthy, L.A. session-pop” AZ and while this is “Pacific rock…[it is delivered] with a sharpness worthy of a Brooklyn girl.” RC “King is casual, intimate, and tough; she covers all the emotional ground of the post-liberated woman with ease.” AZ It is “an intensely emotional record” AMG delivered with “disarming simplicity, and humane, undisguised sincerity.” GS Taylor said the album was “Very personal, very accessible statements, built from the ground up with a simple, elegant architecture.” BN

Songs which “have been worn thin by time and uninspired covers by every lounge singer in the world” BN “take on added resonance when delivered in her own warm, compelling voice.” AMG When “heard in the voice of the original songwriter, they still sound astonishingly fresh.” BN “Her take on ‘Natural Woman’ feels more vulnerable than Franklin’s, her slowed down Will You Love Me Tomorrow? more poignant than the Shirelles” TL by adding “adult nuance” AZ and backing vocals from James Taylor and Joni Mitchell.

It’s Too Late

The hit “new songs…rank solidly with past glories.” AMG Their “white-soul realism and maturity put pop hits to shame.” AZ I Feel the Earth Move “actually rocks” GS and “if there’s a truer song about breaking up than It’s Too Late, the world (or at least AM radio) isn’t ready for it.” RC

I Feel the Earth Move

That song might be rivaled by So Far Away. “With its universally recognized ‘doesn’t anybody stay in one place any more’ line, [it] is among the best ballads ever written.” GS Meanwhile, “Beautiful may not be the best song in existence, but it's certainly one of the most optimistic ones.” GS There’s also “the jolly upbeat country rock of Where You LeadGS and then Smokewater Jack, “that oh-so-Seventies outlaw tale [which] is completely and absolutely out of touch with the rest, but it’s good clean fun anyway.” GS

So Far Away

With Tapestry, King “created the archetype of the female singer-songwriter.” TL “King has done for the female voice what countless singer-composers achieved years ago for the male: liberated it from technical decorum.” RC “She insists on being heard as she is – not raunchy and hot-to-trot or sweet and be-yoo-ti-ful, just human, with all the cracks and imperfections that implies.” RC


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