A year ago, Mitchell unearthed a batch of rare ’60s recordings called Archives – Vol. 1 and, boxed separately, remasters of her early studio albums. Now we have Vol. 2, a mammoth set with 128 live tracks, alternate takes, radio tapes, and demos.
Beyond the songcraft, you witness the radical guitar tunings Joni learned (to make it easier to grab chords) after suffering polio as a child. A 1969 show at Carnegie Hall gives us “The Circle Game,” Mitchell accompanying herself on spartan acoustic. From a ’70 concert in London, Joni duets with rising singer/songwriter James Taylor, including the timeless “A Case of You” and “For Free.”
A ’68 coffee-house gig (recorded by Jimi Hendrix) is a fine study of Mitchell’s six-string style. Listening to her strum “Night in the City,” you may be reminded of Led Zeppelin, notably “That’s the Way.” To be fair, Page and Plant never hid their Joni obsession.
Vol. 2 is a serious motherlode, but well worth the journey. If you just want to enjoy her classic albums, get the box of remasters. If you want your perspectives stretched and imploded by genius, get this stellar set.
This article originally appeared in VG’s November 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.