Wild Things Run Fast

(1982), 6/10
While descriptions such as “Joni Mitchell’s rock album” and “duet with Lionel Richie” may raise alarm bells, Wild Things Run Fast is more along the lines of smooth jazzy pop. While the music’s generally solid enough, supported by an able cast of jazz musicians including Wayne Shorter, John Guerin and Larry Klein, the lyrics of Wild Things Run Fast are facile by Mitchell’s previous standards. They share the same romantic preoccupations as Court and Spark, but aren’t as idiosyncratic or as elegant; it’s disorienting to hear Mitchell make a straightforward declaration of love in ‘Underneath The Streetlight’. Wild Things Run Fast starts strongly with ‘Chinese Cafe’, supposedly a dialogue with Carole King about the rigours of aging, that drops hints of ‘Unchained Melody’ before seguing into it. The lyrics for ‘Love’ are a verbatim reading of St. Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians (“love does not boast…..”). Between these two serious bookends, the rest of the fare is more lighthearted. The two rock songs, the title track and the Lionel Richie duet ‘You Dream Flat Tires’, are both surprisingly effective, and there are pretty songs like ‘Moon At The Window’. But overall, Wild Things Run Fast isn’t essential, and I wouldn’t bother tracking it down until you’ve digested her more substantial seventies output.

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