2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grandawg turned me on to this...
My grandmother, a force unlike any other, introduced me to this album soon after it came out. I was spending the summer with her on her farm, and after working all day, we'd sit in the kitchen, sipping something potent, and she'd play this. She liked it because the songs are about a woman who is strong, independent, clever and resilient. Joni sings "I spring from...
Published on Nov. 14 2001 by Victoria E. Gallucci
3.0 out of 5 stars I don't get it...
A lot of people like it, a lot of people don't. I'm kind of on the fence. It doesn't move me the way "Blue," "Hejira," or even "Court and Spark" does. A lot of the lyrics I don't get. There are some great moments here, however, and on the whole, the album does seem to be the bridge between the starker, more sparse arrangements of her...
Published on March 31 2001 by Mark Welch
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grandawg turned me on to this...,
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)My grandmother, a force unlike any other, introduced me to this album soon after it came out. I was spending the summer with her on her farm, and after working all day, we'd sit in the kitchen, sipping something potent, and she'd play this. She liked it because the songs are about a woman who is strong, independent, clever and resilient. Joni sings "I spring from the boulders like a mama lion." My grandmother loved that. And so did I. Still do. She's been gone 4 years now, but I always play this when I go home to visit. And you should too.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars singer-songwriter personified,
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)Joni Mitchell is the virtual personification of what it is to be a 'singer-songwriter'. Her songs are so expressive of her personal life and experience that, at times, it seems impossible to relate to them. What I often get from Joni Mitchell is an opportunity to experience life through the eyes of another person. Unlike many other singer-songwriters, such as Stephen Stills, whom I enjoy because I experience life much as they do, and their songs are often generic enough to translate to my own, Joni shows me how life feels from the perspective of an introspective, socially conscious, cerebral and expressive female. I hope the only reason I have trouble relating is because I'm not female!
'For the Roses' was released in 1972, bringing an end to the 'early stage' of her career, just prior to the release of the more commercial and polished 'Court and Spark'. It shouldn't be a surprise therefore to find the title track weighing the distinction between playing music 'For the Roses' (the rewards and acclaim) as opposed to "the days when you use to sit and make up tunes for love". While 'For the Roses' still claims the hallmarks that represent pre-'Court and Spark' Joni (simple piano or guitar accompaniment), the presence of Tommy Scott, whose L.A. Express would beef up 'Court and Spark', providing limited woodwinds and reeds signal beyond the lyrics the change that was looming in Joni's career.
The album opens with 'Banquet', ironically a song all can relate to regardless of your station in life, as it focuses on the discrepencies between the haves and have-nots in our society, in both tangible and intangible ways. There isn't much else on the album that explores such universal themes. The second track, 'Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire' is an effecting number, on the one hand a nod to the requisite '1960's folksingers take on heroin addiction, and on the other hand painting a disturbingly graphic picture ("red water in the bathroom sink, fever and the scum brown bowl, Blue Steel still begging) that is anything but generic. Very typical Joni, but how many listeners can relate to heroin addiction?
Many of the songs on 'For the Roses' are, of course, relationship oriented, from Joni's parents reaction to her fame and rock lifestyle ('Let the Wind Carry Me'), to the travails of her romantic life explored in 'See You Sometime', 'Blond In the Bleachers' and 'Woman of Heart and Mind'. Again, unless you're lifestyle is in someway reminiscent of the rock scene it may prove difficult to relate. Joni frequently offers up lighter fare somewhere along the way, and 'You Turn Me On I'm a Radio' (which ascended to number 25 on the national charts in 1972) fills that bill, as does the light-hearted and witty 'Electricity'.
More challenging fare is offered on 'Barangrill', which strives to consider the simultaneous presence of the obvious and the hidden in everday scenes ("and you think she knows something by the second refill, you think she's enlightened as she totals your bill"). The closer, 'Judgment of the Moon and Stars', challenges the listener to "shake your fists at lightning" and "roar like forest fire" to "show them you won't expire". The song plays on images from the Civil Rights Movement ("they're going to aim the hoses on you") so that "if you're feeling contempt, well then you tell it". A great closer it is.
The album is certainly among Joni's best from her pre-'Court and Spark' era. Her melodies are distinctive and the lyrical content is consistently thoughtful and often provocative. The liner notes include the lyrics, and a from-behind nude photo of Joni looking out on the ocean, accompanying her lyrics from 'Lesson In Survival', "I'm looking way out on the ocean, love to see that green water in motion". She is clearly a rock and roll diva.
5.0 out of 5 stars For The Roses,
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)Man, do I love Joni Mitchell. I have not yet started to explore her eighties-stuff (which doesn't seem to be that great anyway), but everything she's done from the spare, folky 'Song To A Seagull' to one of my favorite albums by Joni (and any other artist) 'The Hissing Of Summer Lawns' is plain brilliant. I thought it would be fitting to devote another positive review to this underrated gem of an album. I'll admit, i was kind of late to check it out myself too, mainly because of it's ugly and dated cover-art; which makes the record seem kind of cheap. The music though, is just plain heaven. My favorite songs are the ones where she mixes folk with jazzy arrangements; and I rarely heard more beautiful songs as "Cold Blue Steel And Sweet Fire" and especially "Barangrill". These songs are so unique; I'm always captivated by them when they fill up my ears. The rest of the album, despite one or two songs that are kind of interchangeable, is A+ quality too: the beautiful social commentary on 'Banquet' and typical Joni-ballads that have the exact same quality as anything on 'Blue': 'See You Sometime', 'Woman of Heart And Mine', and the gorgeous 'Blonde In The Bleachers'. The only thing that keeps this album from being my favorite Joni-album is 'The Hissing Of Summer Lawns'; a brooding, warm, highly melodic and pleasantly haunting masterpiece that still sounds fresh and overwhelming after 100+ listens.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant mixture of old styles and what was to come,
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)After having stripped her skin bare on "Blue", Joni found it
hard to move forward; therefore, she holed herself up in a
Canadian cabin for about a year and emerged with "For The Roses",
whose cover and contents were heavily influenced by her
time there and show her trying to sort out the confused and
bleeding emotions she felt at the time. The result is another
brilliant masterwork with all of the inner psychic pain of "Blue", matched with a greater willingness to branch out musically. Although it does not have the complete thematic or musical unity of the spare, edgy "Blue" or the confident jazz-pop followup "Court And Spark", "For The Roses" takes a little
from both and succeeds just as well on its own terms.
Lyrically, there are three types of songs here: social protest,
Musically, about half of the songs stick to the spare style of "Blue", with Joni accompanied only by piano or acoustic guitar, and of course work quite well (these include "Banquet",
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex work of art,
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)Generally regarded as one of the "essentials" in a Joni Mitchell collection, FOR THE ROSES is a creative, long-playing novel of an album.
The thing about Joni Mitchell fans is we love everything she does because we've been hypnotized. You can't reason with a Joni Mitchell fan. Once we've been won over to her honest, brilliantly simple poetry and her "call of the free-roaming spirit" that comes across in every album ... she can no longer do any wrong in our eyes. She's like a friend we've never met.
Joni's voice has always struck me as plain, but I've come to stop seeing that as a bad thing. The natural quality of it enhances the impression of her as just "someone I know who writes beautiful poetry and makes up incredible melodies." She hits some nice high notes, but overall, she sounds just a little less trained than some other singers you hear. (In my opinion.) But that's part of her style! That's part of the reason her personality comes through so strongly. Because we can HEAR HER HEART in her voice. It hasn't been trained to cold perfection.
FOR THE ROSES is a combination of folk and 60s-style pop. Sometimes it moves along like a comfortable train, easing from one song to the next. Many of the pieces are easygoing melodies, so mild that the complicated, intelligent lyrics come as a surprise. But a couple of the songs are heart-stopping or contain heart-stopping moments.
THE BLONDE IN THE BLEACHERS starts off as a mild, easygoing melody, but suddenly, at the end, it completely turns - Joni seems to turn to the audience, break out of the song, and suddenly sing some surprising lyrics RIGHT AT YOU.
LET THE WIND CARRY ME is a heartfelt confession/ballad that you will want to play over and over and over. It is beautiful to the core.
The album as a whole is complicated - both lyrically and melodically. Like a great novel, it needs to be opened slowly, appreciated in morsels and then gradually as a whole.
Most die-hard Joni fans I know say that this isn't their number one favorite album. But it's in everybody's top three without exception. So if you're a fan, this complex work is an absolute must.
4.0 out of 5 stars Blue Roses,
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)I used to have a "two-fer" cassette that contained both FOR THE ROSES and COURT AND SPARK. Now that's what I call a bargain! I wish someone would consider a similar CD package. I've always loved those early 70s records of hers--BLUE, ROSES and C&S. Her earlier, folkier efforts were very nice, in a self-consciously dainty way. By the early 70s she was becoming more expansive, more boldly experimental. It sounded, quite frankly, that she had been listening to and absorbing the music of her contemporary, Laura Nyro. The move from tight little folk ballads to freer form jazz tinged numbers may have been a little alienating to some fans, but it would be several years before Mitchell's music would become truly "difficult." For a few years in the 70s, Mitchell wore her pretensions lightly, wrote good solid melodies, and penned lyrics that were intelligent, "sensitive," and not overly arty.
Yes, it's pretty nervy to (even indirectly) compare yourself to Ludwig van, but it was also refreshingly honest for someone as artistically ambitious as Mitchell, to cease being so gosh darn demure and to "burn like forest fire," and if she was "feeling contempt, Jesus, well then, [she was going to] yell it..." You can listen or not--decide to put up with the pretensions, because the music is, on the whole, worth it. It's your call.
The early 70s material is often referred to as "confessional," as in "Sylvia-Plath-confessional" or "Anne-Sexton-confessional." Well, it is true that Joni Mitchell specializes in writing about herself, her love life and her muse. Some of those songs work well: others are not so effective. And sometimes you wish she WEREN'T so darn direct. I can't imagine that James Taylor exactly relished obvious references their celebrated relationships. ("Pack your suspenders," indeed!)
To balance those self-absorbed tendencies, Mitchell wisely begins this record with the socially conscious "Banquet" and follows it with the gritty portrait of an urban addict, "Cold Blue Steel," which no one in his right mind would assume had anything to do Joni Mitchell's own life. (I think she was clearly experimenting with urban jungle themes a la Nyro or Lou Reed.) Almost every other song on the record--except, arguably, for "Judgment of the Moon..."--is either highly personal or veers intriguingly between the personal and the general.
A number of reviewers have noted that this is a "transitional" album. Actually, my own sense--especially having owned that "twofer" for so long--is that many of these songs could be interchangeable with tunes from BLUE or COURT AND SPARK. If anyone had asked me precisely which album a song like "See You Sometime" or "Let the Wind Carry Me" actually appeared on, I might have been at a loss to place it accurately. More devout fans likely see it differently, but I think we don't see much in the way of a sharp musical divergence until, say, HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS. I can get a sense of why some find COURT & SPARK to be a more cohesive, more satisfying recording, but to this listener, they are more similar than they are different.
And that's my point, the early 70s were a highpoint in Joni Mitchell's career--if not THE highpoint. From BLUE to COURT & SPARK, the music was ambitious, intelligent and still tuneful enough that you think you can sing along (although when you try, you may find it's not so easy). "A Woman of Heart and Mind"? Yes and no. There's often a bit too much mind, undercutting the heart's message. Still this is compelling stuff. It early Joni seemed too lacey, and more recent stuff too leathery, the early 70s stuff is a well tempered mix of cold steel and sweet fire.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Effort By Joni Mitchell In Her Prime!,
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)When it comes to pleasing lyrical surprises wrapped in memorable melodies, no one comes close to delivering the way Joni Mitchell does. Indeed, someday long in the future, when someone wants the perfect example of a stellar and singularly talented singer/songwriter and a peripatetic innovator of 20th century music, they will dust off any of a dozen of Joni Mitchell's albums and give it a spin. This particular album represents her at her eclectic best, moving through a romantic landscape, calculating an emotional calculus as she does, spinning imaginative concoctions and personal equations with measured levels of method and abandon, using a variety of styles and approaches, fusing jazz and blues to her popular venue, resulting in a captivating and quite arresting collection of works.
My personal favorites here include her smash hit "You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio", "Blond In The Bleachers", "Woman Of Heart And Mind", and "Judgment Of The Moon And Stars (Ludwig's Tune)", but the entire album is excellent, as usual for Ms. Mitchell. From beginning to end this song cycle is an ardent but soft-spoken exploration of her internal landscape, a tour of her thoughts and feelings about the state of contemporary relationships. The song cycle represents an informal inventory of her feelings and emotions about herself, her friends, and the world at large. Never one to stand still, this effort followed the immensely popular "Blue" , preceding the jazzy, experimental "Court and Spark".
Each of these albums is both unique and quite different from the others, and as a body of work illustrates he r fantastic creativity and ability to change style s and venues like so many suits of stylish clothing. Here in particular Mitchell's gorgeous and intricate lyrics, melodies and acoustic guitar arrangements meld into the strings, horns, and piano work to create an indescribably beautiful work. As with her other work, this album shows Joni at her apex, full of hope, compassion, and with all her creative juices flowing. For folk fans and people just interested in one of the best albums to have come out of her unforgettable stable of mysteries, this is an essential album. Enjoy.
4.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointing...,
By A Customer
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)FOR THE ROSES isn't Joni's best album, but it is very good and has some essential songs. "You turn me on i'm a radio" is a classic that really kicks, and "for the roses" has a really beautiful but edgy melody--they're the two best songs on the album. "A Woman of Heart and Mind" has also become one of my favorites, and "blonde in the bleachers" also has grown on me the more I listen to it. My favorite part is when the rock-n-roll band starts in at the end. It just gives the song so much energy. All in all the album is a little weak, but the songs that are good are really excellent. Unfortunately, those great ones are only too few.
5.0 out of 5 stars maybe her most passionate,
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)Get this album for no other reason than the following three tracks: Barangrill, Electricity, and Judgement of the Moon and Stars (Ludwig's Tune). The wistfulness of the first two is joyous while the introspection of the latter is equally great. The versions of Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire, For The Roses, Woman of Heart and Mind, and You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio found on her live album Miles of Aisles are actually better than those found on For The Roses. This time around she muddles them in too much production, whereas on Miles they gain better power, clarity, and meaning through the stripped down renditions on solo acoustic guitar. Electricity, though one of her least known tracks, is I feel the crown jewel of this album. Spoiler: Although the woodwind, brass, string interlude on Judgement may seem abrasive at first it perfectly analogizes with the stubborn genius of Beethoven.
5.0 out of 5 stars Joni Mitchell rules,
By A Customer
This review is from: For the Roses (Audio CD)Joni Mitchell rules. That is it. Period.
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