For the Roses
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Fantastic 1972 album featuring 'You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio'...Graham Nash, Stephen Stills & James Burton guest
Sandwiched between the solitary, heart-on-her-sleeve confessions of Blue and the ravishing pop of Court and Spark, 1972's For the Roses captures Joni Mitchell in a deceptively subdued period of transition. Still hewing to a spare sound, Mitchell ventures beyond the elegant folk sources of earlier records to explore her love of blues and jazz-based harmony, writing as much on piano as guitar; thematically, the earnest reveries and heartbroken dirges of before give way to a more detached, even journalistic perspective and darker, grittier settings, most strikingly on "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire". "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio" was the set's nominal hit, yet in hindsight the keepers here are found in evolutionary pieces like the jazz-tinged "Barangrill", the rock-infused "Blonde in the Bleachers" and in more sober meditations like "Woman of Heart and Mind"--testaments to her restless growth and signposts to the more mature music ahead. --Sam Sutherland
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Top Customer Reviews
Fans will argue about classic discs before and after this one, but there is no doubt that Joni wrote For The Roses for grown up people, herself included.
After the tight, emotional masterpiece that she had released the year before (Blue), For the Roses was a stunner. She seemed to have taken the piano out on the beach of her British Columbia property and let rip. But in fact, she was travelling between her BC home and LA to team up with old friends on this one. Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, Russ Kunkel, and Tom Scott are featured.
In a few short years, she had moved from the evocative, simile-driven music of Laurel Canyon to something infinitely more experimental. Her chord changes on this album are hard, almost modern in a classical sense. The subject matter had changed, too. Taking a cue from the introspection of Blue and looking forward to Court & Spark, the lyrics are deeply personal meditations on love and loss. When we think of Joni, it's that subject matter we recall, but it's this trilogy of albums that accounts for the image.
What we tend to forget is how different these albums are. Where Court & Spark is intimate, For the Roses is defiant; where Blue is footloose, For the Roses is stubborn; where both Blue & Court and Spark are romantic in a grand sense, For the Roses is intense in its Byronic introversion.
The musical center of this disc is "Blonde in the Bleachers"; the artistic center is "Judgement of the Moon and Stars.Read more ›
Yet there are songs that do make the album a fair listening experience. "Barangrill" has a jazzy buoyancy I really like, "Let the Wind Carry Me" is truly touching as is "Woman of Heart and Mind," her pointed yet un-angry look at a confused male in her life. I often find myself clapping along to "You Turn Me On I'm a Radio." (Being one of Joni's sole hit singles I'm surprised I never heard it being played on the radio). I believe that it was these four songs that pulled the album from the precipice of being rendered as unlistenable. Now maybe Joni's a step ahead of me, yet I need to say that FOR THE ROSES is an album that, musically, doesn't help me to define her. Yet one can tell that she REALLY REALLY regained her balance with her next release after this one, being COURT AND SPARK of course!!
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read morePublished on July 15 2004 by Don Schmittdiel
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... Read morePublished on Feb. 9 2004 by Johncagebubblegum
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... Read more
Generally regarded as one of the "essentials" in a Joni Mitchell collection, FOR THE ROSES is a creative, long-playing novel of an album. Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2003 by bethtexas
When it comes to pleasing lyrical surprises wrapped in memorable melodies, no one comes close to delivering the way Joni Mitchell does. Read morePublished on July 11 2002 by Barron Laycock
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... Read morePublished on Sept. 14 2001
Get this album for no other reason than the following three tracks: Barangrill, Electricity, and Judgement of the Moon and Stars (Ludwig's Tune). Read morePublished on July 8 2001 by Damien Bjorn Ruud
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