Sunday, November 26, 2023

Joni Mitchell - Court and Spark - Acoustic Version (1974)

Joni Mitchell's five studio albums from 1968 to 1972 were basically solo acoustic, with only occasional additional instruments added in. But her 1974 album "Court and Spark" was much more of a full-band recording, as she moved into a jazzier direction. The public responded very positively. It sold over two million copies in the U.S., making it her best selling album of her entire career.

There's no doubt that "Court and Spark" is a classic album that's great exactly how it is. But what if she'd recorded it in the solo acoustic mode of all her previous albums? If nothing else, that would make for a nice alternate listen from time to time. In October 2023, the rarities box set "Archives, Volume 3" was released. I realized that contained solo (or almost solo) acoustic demos of nearly every song from the album. So I resolved to try to make an alternate acoustic version out of that material.

I mostly succeeded. The only major problem I faced was that there was no alternate version of "Free Man in Paris" to use. So I used the album version. However, that has a full band on it. So, using the audio editing program UVR5, I removed the drums and bass, making a unique acoustic mix. Also, the songs "Down on You," "Car on a Hill," and "Same Situation" were all part of a medley. I did more editing to separate them out, so I could have every song here in the exact same order as the official album.

There are some prominent drums on the last song, "Twisted." But that's a very stripped down version, with drums being the main instrument aside from her voice. So I figure that's acoustic in nature, and I kept it that way.

This album is 37 minutes long. The original album is also 37 minutes long.

01 Court and Spark [Demo] (Joni Mitchell)
02 Help Me [Demo] (Joni Mitchell)
03 Free Man in Paris [Acoustic Mix] (Joni Mitchell)
04 People's Parties [Demo] (Joni Mitchell)
05 Same Situation [Alternate Vocal Piano Mix] (Joni Mitchell)
06 Car on a Hill [Demo] (Joni Mitchell)
07 Down to You [Early Alternate Take] (Joni Mitchell)
08 Just like This Train [Demo] (Joni Mitchell)
09 Raised on Robbery [Demo] (Joni Mitchell)
10 Trouble Child [Demo] (Joni Mitchell)
11 Twisted [Early Alternate Version] (Joni Mitchell)

Since this is an alternate album, I wanted to make a cover similar to the original album cover, but somewhat different. So I used Mitchell's drawing, but enlarged it so it filled most of the cover. Then I rearranged her written words, and added the word "Acoustic."


  1. Nice!! Now if you could do this with Hejira I'd be in heaven!

    1. I can't do that yet, since that material isn't on the Archives 3 release. Hopefully when Archives 4 comes out though. But I could probably do it with The Hissing of Summer Lawns.