The Asylum Albums (1976-1980) [6LP]

The Asylum Albums (1976-1980) [6LP]

SKU: #0603497827022
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“It’s not just the artifact – music and lyrics – that Joni gives us. Her artistry leaves us, ourselves, changed. She has shifted things around inside us. And that’s how artists change the world.” - Meryl Streep

After THE HISSING OF SUMMER Lawns tour, Joni Mitchell retreated to Neil Young’s beach house to recover. Eager to travel but undecided about a destination, Mitchell was unexpectedly invited on a cross-country road trip with friends. It was one of three road trips she took between 1975 and 1976 and the beginning of a period defined by wanderlust, both in her physical travels and musical exploration. This transformative phase is the focal point of THE ASYLUM ALBUMS (1976-1980), the next release in the Joni Mitchell Archives series.

The new collection showcases Mitchell at her most daring across HEJIRA (1976), DON JUAN’S RECKLESS DAUGHTER (1977), MINGUS (1979), and the live album SHADOWS AND LIGHT (1980). Renowned audio engineer Bernie Grundman remastered all four releases included in this boxed set from the original flat analog master tapes.

During this period, Mitchell boldly declared her move from the “hit department” to the “art department.” Critics were slow to catch up, but her creativity was in overdrive. Instead of session aces, she began recording with jazz virtuosos like Larry Carlton and Pat Metheny (guitar), Michael Brecker (saxophone), Herbie Hancock (keyboard), and Don Alias (percussion), as well as several members of Weather Report, including Jaco Pastorius (bass) and Wayne Shorter (saxophone).

HEJIRA stands out as a testament to Mitchell’s artistic evolution. Its subdued instrumentation, coupled with her introspective lyrics, resulted in timeless tracks like “Coyote” and “Furry Sings The Blues” with Young on harmonica. Mitchell once said: “I suppose a lot of people could have written a lot of my other songs, but I feel the songs on Hejira could only have come from me.”

Her journey continued with DON JUAN’S RECKLESS DAUGHTER, a double album of largely experimental music. It included “Paprika Plains,” a side-long piano piece with orchestral arrangements. It found a receptive audience in musical seekers like Bjork, who said the album’s fearless approach later inspired her music.

Ultimately, Mitchell’s path led to Mingus, her collaboration with jazz titan Charles Mingus, who wrote several songs for the project. Mingus died shortly before the album was complete, and Mitchell dedicated it to him. Four songs by Mingus with lyrics written by Mitchell appeared on the album, including a version of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” Mingus’ tribute to saxophonist Lester Young, and one of his most famous compositions. In the album’s liner notes, Mitchell said she felt fully immersed in jazz for the first time while making the record. “It was as if I had been standing by a river – one toe in the water – feeling it out – and Charlie came by and pushed me in – ‘sink or swim’…”

The final entry in THE ASYLUM ALBUMS (1976-1980) is the double live album Shadows and Light. It was Mitchell’s second live album and her last release with Asylum Records. She recorded it during the tour for Mingus in September 1979 at the Santa Barbara Bowl. Except for the performance of her classic song “Woodstock,” the album focused on songs from her most recent albums, like “Amelia,” “Dreamland,” and “The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines.” The Persuasions, a vocal group popular in the 1960s, also appeared on two songs: the title track and a cover of “Why Do Fools Fall In Love.”

The cover art for THE ASYLUM ALBUMS (1976-1980) includes a portion of one of Mitchell’s original paintings. Fans will enjoy a full version of the whimsically abstract landscape as an accompanying insert included in the album packaging for both the CD and LP configurations. Accompanying the set is a heartfelt essay penned by Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, a lifelong fan of Mitchell’s work.


Side One:

1.           COYOTE [5:00]

2.           AMELIA [6:00]

3.           FURRY SINGS THE BLUES [5:03]

4.           A STRANGE BOY [4:15]

5.           HEJIRA [6:35]

Side Two:

1.           SONG FOR SHARON [8:30]

2.           BLACK CROW [4:20]

3.           BLUE MOTEL ROOM [5:03]

4.           REFUGE OF THE ROAD [6:37]



Side One:

1.           OVERTURE – COTTON AVENUE [6:35]

2.           TALK TO ME [3:40]

3.           JERICHO [3:25]

Side Two:

1.           PAPRIKA PLAINS [16:19]

Side Three:

1.           OTIS AND MARLENA [4:05]

2.           THE TENTH WORLD [6:45]

3.           DREAMLAND [4:37]

Side Four:

1.           DON JUAN’S RECKLESS DAUGHTER [6:40]

2.           OFF NIGHT BACKSTREET [3:22]

3.           THE SILKY VEILS OF ARDOR [4:02]



Side One:

1.           HAPPY BIRTHDAY  1975 (Rap) [0:57]

2.           GOD MUST BE A BOOGIE MAN [4:33]

3.           FUNERAL (Rap) [1:07]

4.           A CHAIR IN THE SKY [6:40]

5.           THE WOLF THAT LIVES IN LINDSEY [6:33]

Side Two:

1.           I’S A MUGGIN (Rap) [0:07]

2.           SWEET SUCKER DANCE [8:06]

3.           COIN IN THE POCKET (Rap) [0:11]


5.           LUCKY (Rap) [0:03]

6.           GOODBYE PORK PIE HAT [5:41]


Side One:

1.           INTRODUCTION [1:51]


3.           EDITH AND THE KINGPIN [4:10]

4.           COYOTE [4:58]

5.           GOODBYE PORK PIE HAT [6:02]

Side Two:


2.           AMELIA [6:40]

3.           PAT’S SOLO [3:09]

4.           HEJIRA [7:42]

Side Three:

1.           BLACK CROW [3:52]

2.           DON’S SOLO [4:04]

3.           DREAMLAND [4:40]

4.           FREE MAN IN PARIS [3:23]

5.           BAND INTRODUCTION [0:52]

6.           FURRY SINGS THE BLUES [5:14]

Side Four:

1.           WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE [2:53]

2.           SHADOWS AND LIGHT [5:23]

3.           GOD MUST BE A BOOGIE MAN [5:02]

4.           WOODSTOCK [5:08]