There’s a lot of men on the list of bands and artists who stayed relevant beyond a handful of studio albums.
In fact, Chive’s recent list of the most successful rock artists of all time is pretty bleak for those who enjoy the company of the “other” sex – of 76 artists actually depicted, you can count on zero hands the number of women who appear.
But those are just rock bands, right? Perhaps music fans expected a certain amount machismo from their early rock stars. That, plus the gender gap inherent in most every other occupation and profession, would certainly make breakthrough difficult for any female recording artist.
Even when you expand the category to include artists of all genres, though, there’s still an incredible imbalance. Of the seven acts who have sold more than 250 million records, all but one – Madonna – are men.
So to measure the importance and significance of Joni Mitchell, we have to stick to some abstract facts and figures – and we urge you to keep the context of the aforementioned male-dominated music industry in mind:
-Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Mitchell 72nd on its list of greatest guitarists of all time – the highest ranking woman on the list;
-She released 17 albums over the course of her career and won nine Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002
-She is one of only three Canadian singer/songwriters appointed to the Companion of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor.
So, for an singer/songwriter like Mitchell to not only rise to prominence but to stay relevant through a string of releases at a time when women were (are?) marketed primarily for their sex appeal … let’s just say it speaks highly of her talent.
Pitchfork contributor Jessica Hopper did her best to encapsulate Mitchell’s remarkable career in its 2012 review of a box set that included the first 10 of her studio albums:
“During this run, Mitchell charted one of the most solid career arcs in contemporary music …,” Hopper wrote. “Throughout, she was confident and unrepentant in her vision, in an era where that kind of ego was unbefitting a woman, even if she did have the gold albums and Grammys to back it up.”
All this praise we’re heaping is leading up to our introduction of the seventh album in the set – the one Mitchell fans agree marked the transition from her pop sensibilities to a less digestible jazz-influenced career.
The album is titled The Hissing of Summer Lawns, and Craig will feature it all morning tomorrow as his selection for this week’s Vinally Friday.
Released in 1975, the album previewed the nuanced and experimental jazz style Mitchell would incorporate into her later works, but didn’t abandon completely the pop sentimentality for which she was known.
And though initially panned by critics, Hissing has since been celebrated as among Mitchell’s finest.
“It’s the album of an artist absolutely assured of herself, and it’s addressed to anyone who might not consider her a serious musician, who believed all she could do was confess her heartache,” wrote Jason Ankeny in his review for AllMusic. “Though it doesn’t have the rhapsodic rep as Blue, it’s unquestionably one of Mitchell’s finest albums, and it is certainly her most timeless.”
Tune in as Craig puts that to the test.
Also on the turntable tomorrow:
-Alanya will follow up with a few spins of Bonobo’s fourth studio album.
Released in 2010, Black Sands marked an evolution for the English DJ into a “more distinctive, sophisticated, and complex style,” with forays into gamelan, Afrobeat and Middle Eastern influences, wrote K. Ross Hoffman in his AllMusic review.
The result, he concluded, is Bonobo’s “most musically adventurous work to date, and certainly his most modern-sounding.”
We’re just excited we finally figured out where some of that amazing Adult Swim music comes from!
-Robert will continue his long legacy of ceding his airtime to legends past and obscure musician’s musicans.
This time it’s one of the latter: David Lindley, the “maxi-instrumentalist” who you should probably recognize for his work on nearly every one of your favorite artist’s albums.
But, more than likely, you don’t.
Lindley’s most recognizable collaboration was as lead guitarist (and falsetto backup vocalist) for Jackson Browne – but his most significant contribution to rock came as a solo artist and as founder of El Rayo-X, which was born in 1981 and last performed together on the final day of that decade.
Friday, Robert will give us a sampling of that band’s third studio album, Very Greasy.
The 1988 album charted at #174 in the U.S., but critics generally agree it was not the band – nor its frontman’s – most solid work, notably due to the absence of drummer Ian Wallace.
His name is Dan Auerbach, and like so many before him he has ingeniously transformed his work as a successful artist into one as a successful producer – and this new solo venture represents a refreshing return to why we fell for him in the first place.
Albeit a little less grungy and a little more pop, Waiting on a Song features guest appearances from John Prine, Duane Eddy and Mark Knopfler – the latter on one of our favorite singles of the season, “Shine On Me.”
Check out Pitchfork’s review of Waiting HERE.
Finally, it’s Friday! It’s Vinally Friday, all day on the Trail 103.3!