Joni Mitchell releases ‘Blue 50,’ with outtakes and unreleased tracks from 1971 classic

Joni Mitchell looks out a window, smiling
Joni Mitchell at her home in Laurel Canyon in October 1970.
( © Joel Bernstein)

In honor of the anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” which came out 50 years ago Tuesday, the artist’s label has released “Blue 50 (Demos and Outtakes),” which features five previously unreleased recordings from the album.

The EP includes a Mitchell demo for “A Case of You” with alternate lyrics; an acoustic take of “California”; an alternate version of “River” that features French horns; and a string-accompanied version of “Urge for Going,” a song she wrote a few years earlier and performed live but didn’t lay to tape until the “Blue” sessions. (It first came out in 1972 as the B-side to “You Turn Me on, I’m a Radio.”)

Most notably, Mitchell has finally allowed the release of “Hunter,” a song she cut from “Blue” at the last minute. Though she performed the song live, “Hunter” has never been officially released in its studio form.

The release is accompanied by news that Rhino Records will issue “Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years (1968-1971),” the follow-up to a 2020 volume that compiled her early folk recordings. Drawing from her work while living in Laurel Canyon that led to the creation of “Blue,” the new set will include what Rhino describes as “nearly six hours of unreleased home, studio and live recordings.”


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In addition to the five songs released on the EP, the music on “Archives Vol. 2” features a full 1968 gig at an Ottawa coffee house recorded by Jimi Hendrix. Another full concert, broadcast in 1970 on the BBC, features a cameo by her then-boyfriend James Taylor.

“Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 2: The Reprise Years” will be released on Oct. 29 digitally and as a five-CD package, as well as a 10-LP set in a limited edition of 4,000 copies. (A standalone version of the 1968 Ottawa concert will come out as a three-LP set on that same date.)

And if that’s not enough, on July 2 Rhino will issue “The Reprise Albums (1968-1971),” a four-CD, four-LP or digital set that includes remastered versions of the albums “Song to a Seagull,” “Clouds,” “Ladies of the Canyon” and “Blue.”