Joni Mitchell – Miles of Aisles

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Miles of Aisles


  • This Joni Mitchell classic boasts STUNNING Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on all four sides
  • The sound is incredibly rich, warm and Tubey Magical with huge amounts of space and breathy presence on her vocals
  • Joni reworks all her material here, giving the songs new arrangements and making them fresh again – it’s got a cool Court and Spark vibe
  • “It’s a strong album of her best songs performed mostly informally… Much of the material here is beautiful, replete with the patented Mitchell tension. And a word for engineer Henry Lewy—the sound is terrific, the best reproduced concert album I’ve heard.” Rolling Stone

We recently had a chance to do another shootout for this album, and when you find a great copy the sound is out of this world. Not many live albums have this kind of “you are there” immediacy. Turn down the lights, crank up the volume, and you’ll be right there in the crowd as Joni and the LA Express (Tom Scott, Robben Ford, and the crew) knock out jazzy versions of some of her best material.

The brass sounds great — you can really hear the breath moving through the horns, plus a nice bite that really brings them to life.

I’d be remiss not to mention the amazing bottom end on this copy. The best sides have BIG, NOTE-LIKE bass that sets an unusually strong foundation for these great songs. You don’t usually get much bass on Joni’s studio albums, so Whomp-aholics like myself will find a copy like this to be quite a treat.

Just check out the songs on here: You Turn Me On I’m A Radio, Big Yellow Taxi, Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire, Circle Game, People’s Parties, All I Want, Woodstock, The Last Time I Saw Richard, and on and on. Those are many of our very favorite Joni songs, and the versions on this album do not disappoint.

Great Live Arrangements

Joni reworks some of her most well-known material here, giving the songs new arrangements and making them fresh again.

Both this and her other live album, Shadows and Light, can have excellent sound on the better copies, although the sound — and especially the music — is markedly different on the two albums. Miles of Aisles sounds much more like her earlier work, with the kind of analog warmth we find on the best early ’70s recordings (and practically nowhere else).

Shadows, in contrast, has a harder, more modern sound, more like Wild Things Run Fast. It’s not necessarily worse — I’m sure that’s the sound that she wanted for her music at that time. That’s just the way her albums from that period sound. I think audiophiles will prefer the sound of her first live album, but both are certainly worth owning.

This album has the LA Express as her backing band, so if you hear echoes of Court and Spark in the music it’s not hard to see why.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in a Live Folk Rock record.

Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of these things better than the other copies we played in our shootout.

The best copies have:

  • Greater immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree);
  • Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule);
  • Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful);
  • Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space);
  • Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD;
  • And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the venue, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording


Side One

You Turn Me on I’m a Radio 
Big Yellow Taxi 
Rainy Night House 

Side Two

Cactus Tree

This song comes from a different concert than the rest of the tracks and never seems to sound as good.

Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire
Woman of Heart and Mind
A Case of You

Side Three

Circle Game 
People”s Parties 
All I Want 
Real Good for Free 
Both Sides Now

Side Four

The Last Time I Saw Richard 
Love or Money

Rolling Stone Review

Miles of Aisles is a four-sided live album with a greatest-hits feel to it that collects 18 numbers from Mitchell’s successful concert tour of last winter. It’s a strong album of her best songs performed mostly informally, backed on sides one and four by reedman Tom Scott and his band—an interesting album because it displays an occasional awkwardness that provides a glimpse into the artist’s mercurial character.

Although she constantly maintains a stunning professional control over her own performance, much of the pleasure of this record comes from the new band arrangements of songs we’ve heard often (one or two of which I’ve heard to death). Even “Woodstock,” which is now something of a hoary hippy anthem, gets a clever revitalization through Robben Ford’s biting guitar work that constructs a personality of its own as the concert builds.

Most of the new readings are superb. “Cactus Tree,” “A Case of You” and “Blue” once again knock me out with the seriousness of their romantic vision. The opening bars of “Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire” and “Woman of Heart and Mind” both elicit surprised gasps from an adoring audience that approaches a cult following, These and the other songs from For the Roses blew minds when they were first released, and on Miles of Aisles they are reproduced in a rare way — live versions of important songs that approach the crackling intensity of the recording studio originals. The exuberance and high spirits of “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio” and “Big Yellow Taxi” are preserved intact, and again the interaction of Joni with the tasteful Scott quintet must be praised.

… In any case, much of the material here is beautiful, replete with the patented Mitchell tension. And a word for engineer Henry Lewy—the sound is terrific, the best reproduced concert album I’ve heard.