I’m working on a couple larger projects at the moment which I should be able to announce soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share a very rare recording I found on Big O Magazine’s always-excellent ROIO of the Week (Recordings of Indeterminate Origin).
These are the unreleased demos from Joni Mitchell’s The Hissing of Summer Lawns, one of my favorite albums ever. Unlike the lush arrangements found on the album, these early versions are stripped down to only piano, and acoustic guitar. It’s like Hissing of Summer Lawns in the style of Blue or For the Roses. At the time of its 1975 release, The Hissing of Summer Lawns was panned by critics unhappy with her shift towards jazz/folk/rock fusion. I doubt they would’ve complained if these demos were the final cuts.
The Seeding of Summer Lawns
01. Harry’s House/Centerpiece
02. Edith and the Kingpin
03. In France They Kiss on Main Street
04. Sweet Bird
05. Shade of Scarlett Conquering
06. Shadows and Light
07. Dreamland (later released on Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter)
08. The Boho Dance
09. Hunter (unreleased demo from Blue sessions)
As I mentioned, I found these on Big O Zine. That site is an odd cookie, the web presence of a long-running music magazine in Singapore with no less than four active domain names that redirect to each other in strange ways. The navigation is obscure and each page on the massive site is created manually in Dreamweaver, so it feels like a throwback to online zines from the mid-1990s. There’s no homepage for the ROIO of the Week, so your best bet is finding the most recent ROIO of the Week on the homepage and skimming the hand-edited list of archives from there.
But man, what a resource. Not confining themselves to just live bootlegs, Big O posts demos, alternate studio sessions, and other extreme rarities from classic and current artists. (For example, Steely Dan’s Royal Scam Outtakes, Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball outtakes, Barry Gibb’s unreleased 1970 album, Jeff Buckley’s Grace outtakes, and Janis Joplin’s 1964 audition tapes.) But you need to be quick: they’re usually removed within a week or two. The Joni bootleg was removed from their site, but this is so great, I’m giving it a permanent home so it can be heard by a wider audience.
Update: I’ve updated the links to point to this playlist of fan-remastered versions on YouTube.