Greetings, Glancers! It’s obvious by now that I’ve been disappointed by Lennon’s post Beatles work. I could say the same for all of them really, but I think both McCartney and Harrison have so far made more songs that I’ve enjoyed. I didn’t know a thing about this album until I went to grab the tracklist and saw that it is half studio, half live. I’m not going to listen to the Live half. I’ve I’d absolutely loved Lennon’s post-Beatles work till this point, then I may have dipped into the Live part, but I haven’t so I won’t. Maybe I’ll come back to it some day. Anyway, here’s what I assume is another bunch of angry protest songs.
‘Woman Is The N****r Of The World‘ is a song I’m aware of more because of its name and surrounding controversy, rather than any musical or lyrical content. In fact, of the ten songs listed, I don’t believe I’ve heard any of them. It has a big brass opening, Lennon’s soothing vocals a counterpoint to the harsher vocals and the great lyrics. He does go in for the hard R at times too. The music is laid back in a New Orleans style, but isn’t overly exciting. There’s a lot thrown in to the production in terms of layering, but little of it stands out. As you’ll hear me say quite a bit, which is unusual for someone who loves long songs, but this could have been condensed easily to under four minutes and increased its impact.
‘Sisters, O Sisters‘ begins, as is standard for Yoko, with some Yoko warbling. What’s interesting is that the song is actually quite fun – it has a Motown/Supremes/earlier rock vibe. The production is particularly horrible and with Yoko’s vocals being what they are… were they trying to hide how bad they sound by doubling up? That has only made them worse. Stick any other vocalist in here and you’d have a pretty nifty song. A shame as this is very catchy and lovely – it’s like seeing someone butcher your favourite song at a school talent contest.
‘Attica State‘ opens like a hundred other Blues rockers, including quite a few which The Beatles did themselves. The squealing guitars, shouty vocals, and burping horns compliment each other even if it does all sound jumbled and messy. It keeps to a more adequate length.
‘Born In A Prison’ is intentionally positioned tracklist wise between the next song and the previous one. Yoko does a lullaby sing-song to remind us of all of the prisons we find ourselves in. The vocals are marginally better, John’s arsing about in the background, and it’s all a little too quaint. Nice sax, if you’re into that sort of thing.
‘New York City’ is another, uninventive, riff on blues rock standards. It’s all a bit silly when you see what Zep was doing at this point in time. Without having heard this song before, it’s a song I’ve heard a hundred times before. The lyrics are more interesting, but it’s a song which isn’t saying a lot. Solid guitar in there. It’s a topical Chuck Berry influence rocker, without the melodic fun. Again, shave a minute off this and you don’t lose anything.
‘Sunday Bloody Sunday‘ opens with a much more interesting sound, and evolves into a funky rhythm. Unfortunately the lyrics are a bit of a shambles. I appreciated the sentiment, but coming from Northern Ireland you’re never going to get a simple answer to such a mess. The general consensus in these sorts of songs and movies is that the Protestants living in Northern Ireland shouldn’t be here and should be booted out. Which would be fine if we’d just moved in and took over 5 minutes ago, but all of that shit was the crimes of our (several times over) ancestors and ultimately becomes a naive and racist statement in itself and makes a mockery of his sentiment in Imagine. Good music all round though.
‘The Luck Of The Irish‘ is a sweet little ditty which seems to deal with the same subject as the previous song. It’s a little too saccharine and on the nose with Yoko’s mythological nonsense, but Lennon’s lyrics include a few great lines. A few more naive ones too – taking sides in this nonsense as it currently stands will never get anywhere – there are simply murderers and monsters from all directions and the best solution would be to nuke it all and start again.
‘John Sinclair‘ is a folksy rocker which sees Lennon still trying to emulate Dylan. It’s more fun than a Dylan song, and has the benefit of not having Dylan sing on it. Plus the slide guitar is strong with this one, and the ‘got to got to got to’ shenanigans is fairly amusing.
‘Angela‘ is a sweet song. It’s another Yoko song, neatly constructed and catchy, but harmed by the fact that she’s the one singing on it. Is that Harrison on guitar? It sounds like his tone.
‘We’re All Water‘ blasts out of the speakers, a fast paced jukebox rocker with plenty of horn parps and jagged guitar. Yoko sings again – they’ve got her voice filtered again so it sounds even weirder than normal. The vocals are more spoken than sung. It’s basically a list of names juxtaposed, with the refrain signifying that we’re all the same. Then Yoko starts screeching, which I don’t mind as much as her singing. It’s damn catchy too.
It’s another sub par album by Lennon. The better songs, musically, are the ones which Yoko performs. Which is a mess because her vocals are not right. I get that you want to work with the one you love, and that when you’re John Lennon you can do whatever the fuck you want. But from a purely musical perspective, from the respective of any listener, there are so many other singers out there that could have filled in and turned the songs into what they deserved to be instead of a point of ridicule. Lennon sounds as if he’s barely trying, while the Yoko songs are genuinely fun, or would be with a stronger singer.
Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Angela. John Sinclair, I guess. We’re All Water.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!