Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter
Mitchell’s albums had steadily become more ambitious throughout her career, but while her previous albums stuck to the standard 10-12 song format, Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter is a double LP with only 10 tracks, including a side long track in ‘Paprika Plains’. There are moments when she over-reaches, but overall Don Juan is more enjoyable than any other album from outside her 1971-1976 peak run. Jaco Pastorius is back from Hejira, and he’s an important collaborator again here, with his busy basslines providing plenty of melodic interest.
Some of the material is similar to Hejira – the title track, ‘Talk To Me’, and ‘Off Night Backstreet’ are all excellent, and would have easily fitted onto the previous album. ‘Otis and Marlena’ is pretty in its elegant and simple acoustic arrangement. But elsewhere, the album more experimental – ‘Dreamland’ is based around percussion and Chaka Khan’s backing vocal, while ‘The Tenth World’ is Latin percussion and chants. The 16 minutes of ‘Paprika Plains’ is largely improvised, and it drags a little, but it steps up a gear when the percussion hits and there’s enough to reward listening.
It’s certainly less tightly constructed that her previous work, but there’s still enough of interest on Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter to make it a solid entry in her catalogue.