It’s taken me 40 years but I have finally listened to Mitchell’s Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter. And no, I hadn’t read The Rolling Stone review of the time to put me off then and since – but I have read just now and I get the dismissal, though disagree.
It isn’t Blue, though The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Hejira had clearly signalled the tangent being taken from her glory days of sublime folk, or really singer-songwriter excellence.
The 16 minutes of Paprika Plains gets the main mentions – usually negative – in the other reviews I have also read just now, and as I listen just now to the orchestral sweep and ad lib piano that occupies so much of its middle I again get it [the criticism] though again disagree. But I disagree because I don’t have some expectation I’m sure I would have had 40 years ago, even after the two preceding albums mentioned. Maybe I’m just less agonised now, and so much drivel has passed by in four decades of other musical deviations that I can understand the better intention of this.
The opening three tracks are of course more traditionally sweet, though also jazz-upped, especially finely jazzed-upped via the bass of Jaco Pastorius – and there he is now 14 minutes into the paprika journey along with Wayne Shorter on soprano.
Some things are worth waiting for.