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John Lennon

One Heck of a Self-Centered Individual

Unfinished Music #1 - Two Virgins
          Unfinished Music #2 - Life With the Lions
Wedding Album
Live Peace in Toronto 1969
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Sometime in New York City
Mind Games
Walls and Bridges
Rock 'n' Roll
Shaved Fish
Double Fantasy
Milk & Honey
Menlove Ave.
          Live in New York City

John Ono Lennon is the paradox to end all paradoxes (paradoxi?). He was the mopheaded Beatle hearthrob who repeatedly attempted (both unconsciously and consciously) to alienate his fans. The avant-gardist who liked playing old 50's rock. The quintessential Our Love Against the World poster child who left his wife for almost two years to gallavant with another woman in L.A.. The man who wrote songs about his parents lack of love then proceeded to ignore his first son. The man who wanted wrote songs like 'Woman is The Nigger of the World' who really wanted to be able to write 'Yesterday'. The man who was rejected and demonized repeatedly by the INS and the U.S. Government who made his home in New York. The huge well-known rock star who played live shows about once a presidential administration. 'Love is the Answer. Yes Is the Answer'...'Imagine All the People Living Life in Peace'...'How Do You Sleep?'...'You're Still Fucking Peasants as Far As I Can See'...and more and more and more.

It all sorta makes you wonder what exactly John Lennon was about all those years. I don't even think he knew. For so long in the 1970's, if you would have asked which Rock Deity was the most incomprehensible to the average well-informed fan, he probably would have answered Bob Dylan (Folksinger > Protest Singer > 'Like a Rolling Stone' > Country > Self Portrait > messy roots piano rock > acting > Stadium Rocker > Blood On the Tracks > Vegas Tour > Christianity > Judaism...I know I'm simplifying, but I'm hitting all the main points, aren't I), but Bob Dylan always seemed like he was doing exactly what he wanted to be doing at the time and never really seemed to contradict himself...just took a lotta left turns, that's all. Bowie? Bowie always knew what he was was planned, scripted beforehand. Ask me who the most incomprehensible rocker is and I'll answer John Lennon. I have trouble coming up with even one thread running through all of John Lennon's professional career that can be followed. I mean, he changed styles and life philosophies and major life conflicts so fast it even sounds like that within the context of a single album he would change halfway through the recording process. He would take a philosophy (say...the Maharishi f'rinstance, or Janov, or hedonsim, or activism) run with it for about a year, then totally reject it, denounce it publicly, and move on to the next Big Lennon Thang. He was always in the public eye for doing something 'shocking', like courting Yoko while still married, or returning his MBE, or fighting with Nixon and the INS or something. Always its something with John. At least until 1975 when he finally 'quit the big time' and spent the rest of the 1970's in his house. Then he came back and released a great album that sounded levelheaded and normal then someone shot him and he died and everyone shed a tear and that's that. Besides the periodic money-grubbing archive releases from his widow, anyway.

But John Loved People! Power to Women! Power to the People! Woman is the Nigger of the World! All You Need Is Love! Imagine! Give Peace a Chance! Love is the Answer!

Yeah right. John was a sloganeer. Now, I'm not claiming that John didn't support Peace and Women's Rights and all those other things at the time he was making those statements. But just as soon as he would change he would forget all about that old shit and fall back into the acerbic old John Lennon who certainly didn't sound like he cared whether the people lived or died, just as long as they didn't bug him too much.

But he always did what he wanted to despite public opinion, right? He was the Beatle with Integrity, right? Right? I don't think so. Was Mind Games not just a total attempt to soften his overbearing 'protest' image and sell a few records? Was Walls and Bridges really an uncompromised artistic triumph of content over commerce? Nah. What about Double Fantasy....boy that sure was One Big Earth Shattering Artistic Statement That Shocked and Shook the World, huh? I like my house! I like my wife! I like my son! Wow, that's far out, John. Just 9 years ago you publicly lambasted Paul (In a SONG that people have played EVERY DAY FOR DECADES....what a jerky fucking thing to do was THAT?) for saying the same things, you asshole.  Now I'm not saying he was selling out every time he released something that wasn't borderline unlistenable, but c'mon. How are we supposed to take something sentimental and obviously Beatle-recalling like '#9 Dream' or 'Mind Games' seriously after Plastic Ono Band? When you burn bridges you can't go back trying to pretend all is well with the world. It feels like we're being manipulated. Hard. Just like Paul wasn't nearly as cuddly as he was made out to be, nor Ringo as dumb, nor George as one-noted, John was simply NOT the best example of 'sticking by your artistic guns' in the world of rock music.

But John's a Beatle! He's a Legend with a capital L! He's worthy of my respect because he's An Important Individual of Our Times. And he's talented too, and intelligent, and has a level of professionalism, but that doesn't mean I have to like every little grubbing thing he throws at us. Especially if its tuneless and preachy. That's how John gets on my bad side real fast. And even John rejected and/or parodied his Legendhood so many times I feel like I'm doing the real man's memory a disservice if I buy into any of the stupid John=Love commercialized symbolism Yoko keeps pushing at us. I swear, if I see that stupid John-head scribble one more time I think there might be one more dead Lennon in the world. ESPECIALLY if it's rainbow-colored.

So what the hell? Why care that much about 5 years of solo music (only 5 years....6 if you include 1980, and well 9 if you include the first three albums, but I don't) when I can just sit back and watch as public opinion continues to elevate John as the 'Bestest Most Perfect and Respectable Ex-Beatle' year in and year out? (Though us true music fans and reviewers may have a bone to pick with that sentiment)  And nearly to the level of Symbol of All that Is Good And Holy in the World. Why did I choose to review him first of the four, for God's sake? Why? Because, first, he only released 7 albums and one compilation after the Beatles broke up. He never had a chance to dilute his legend through being involved in the suck-storm known as the 1980s. Its one thing to listen to 7 albums, each one being appreciably different from the rest. I, for one, am dreading the day I choose to wade through the back catalogs of say, George Harrison's late 70's work, or Paul McCartney's early 80's, or, well, most or all of Ringo's catalogue. Hell, the man's recording career entirely missed the slippery slope of the late 70's! No embarrassing 'disco' albums, or synth-pop albums, or Jeff Lynne (over-) produced 'rootsy' albums, or electronic experiments, or any of that shit that the other Beatles just rolled themselves shitty in since 1975. I mean, if most bands had only released records from the years 1970-1975 without attempting to soldier on after that, we would be saved a mountain of shitty music. Let's all face it, rock music had a high level of quality, importance, and interesting twists in those years. John's reputation is elevated simply by his lack of product available, and the luck of when he did release his product. There's simply no proof that John is a 'better' solo artist than the rest of them. Paul, for example, was much more consistently good than John during the tears 1970-1975, IMHO. And no way no how am I going to say that John Lennon defined the early 70's and could have defined the late 70's, or 1980's and therefore altered the style of music if he would have been releasing albums in those years. It's impossible. John didn't do it in 1971, at the peak of his success. The other three weren't able to do it either. But, anyway...his catalogue is short and easily digested / compartmentalized / and criticized.

Also, Dammit! And finally...John is Interesting!! Super interesting! You never know what you're gonna get! Another classic addition to the lexicon or trash? Is an album going to be beautiful melodies, cathartic minimalism, overblown rock, or just horrible noise? Who knows? It's a hell of a lot more interesting than reviewing AC/DC, lemme tell you! Let's take a risk! Whee! And in his public life, too! He's the perfect Beatle for a Co-Dependent, because one minute he'll beat you up with Life With the Lions, and you have to wear sunglasses for a week, then the next minute he's bringing you 'Imagine' and apologizes so sincerely and swears he'll never do it again and he loves you forever. Then he gets raging drunk and pops you upside the head for two hours with Sometime in NYC and the cycle starts again. And never, ever forget that Yoko, his little beloved toadie, will gladly help beat you about the neck and torso with the garbage bag full of oranges she calls her 'singing' and 'songs'. Yoko Ono, unfortunately, is part of the John Package that just seems not to have an upside. There, I said it....I Hate Yoko Ono.

So no, I'm not a John fanatic. I'm not even really a Lennon fan. I think his continuing rise to the level of God of Perfection in the public eye is the result of laziness and conservatism on the part of fans and music critics. But I DO find the guy fascinating, and some of his music extremely personally affecting. Like some of it makes you want to cry and think about life and hug my wife and have kids just so I can love them too.

And some of it makes me wish I had been the one to pull the trigger. And I'm a pacifist who doesn't become an alcoholic and cheat on his wife after having problems with the INS. How you like them apples?

Michael Bleicher" <>

Interesting observations...I agree with you on a number of the points. Lennon did change positions more often than the seasons. Throughout the Seventies he was wont to cast on and off identities extremely quickly, and none of them, obviously, are the "real" John, if he ever knew who that was. I think he had some sort of basic gut instinct, and that's why he went through all the phases, trying to find out who he really was, but he never really found it. Not in time anyway. However, I don't think you can truly accuse John of being a hypocrite or of conning his audience, because whatever he was or wasn't, I get the impression that he did really believe in whatever he was doing at the time, with the possible exception of his drunk-in-LA-and-partying phase. However, you can't accuse him of selling out or falsifying his image by not repeating Plastic Ono Band with every record he made, because Plastic Ono Band was just another phase. There might have been more of the "real John" on that record than anywhere else, but he was in post-Beatles mythbusting ultra-cynical mode in that period, and as he mellowed out, the music changed. That said, I agree with you that the transformation of Lennon into some kind of musical deity is total crap, and ironically the kind of thing he was (at times) fighting while still alive. Not that Yoko Ono gives a shit about that, if plastering John's image on shot glasses will enrich her bank account a bit (I HAVE seen these). So in all, a very troubling, contradictory, obtuse, at times infuriating guy with a totally uneven body of work, but "when it's good, it's really good" (to quote "It's so hard"). And I know this may seem like sacrelige, but in a way all his karma, or whatever you want to call it, worked out for him in the end...he did some wonderful, beautiful things, but the violent, ugly side of him got its due in the end. He always thought he was a violent man who would meet a violent end. Ah well...happy birthday to him (it's october 9).  


Any Short Comments?: "When he's good, he's REALLY good" I ll keep that. Lennon was rough. He grew up without a mama. I guess if he had one he would be Paul. Who wants that? He could write masterpieces if he had a cause. The rest of the time he didn't care. It is so sad he left early. What a guy, really!


Unfinished Music #1 - Two Virgins - Apple 1968.

Unfinished Music #2 - Life With the Lions - Apple 1969. Wedding Album - Apple 1969.

I'm finishing up listening to Gentle Giant's Interview for the first time as I start to write this review, and it's going to take some Herculean display of fortitude for me to have such dissonant twonky crap coming into my ears as I attempt to make coherent sentences come out of my fingers about three other record albums I had awful times listening to. I feel like I'm undergoing some sort of bad taste complete-immersion experiment. Time to take some deep breaths and hope this stupid 'My Head' song finishes soon. ffffuh...*Whew!*  ffffuh...*Whew!*....aaah! The fade out! Time to put Mind Games back in and start anew...

I'm not gonna jive you on here and claim I like these three non-musical record albums put out by John Lennon and Yoko Ono while John was still in the Rolling Stones. I'm not even going to claim I listened to each one from front to back. Nope! Wad my credibility right up into a little ball and throw it in the incinerator because I'm simply not strong enough gastro-intestinally to make it through over an hour and a half of this sort of self-indulgent non-music fucking around John decided to put out. I'm just gonna interpolate the parts I fast-forwarded to and make one single general rating for all these records, okay? I could simply say 'This is not music' and not review it, but since the concept of my page is a 'Buyers Guide', and I wouldn't want any of you to fall into the trap of buying one of these out of curiosity, I'm going to do my best to describe the gist of these, and to persuade you just to let them be. Completists will want to buy them, sure, but that's what a completist is. Like how I bought Jamming With Edward, or how I even got the soundtrack to Ned Kelley one time because Mick Jagger was in the movie. You just can't sway those completists, you know?

I mean, I'm not against the concept of these albums existing. In fact, they have quite a bit of historical value in that we have selections that have some connection with John and Yoko's Bed-In for Peace ('Amsterdam' on Wedding Album). And I'm sure they were of great importance to John and Yoko what with all of the baby heartbeats and gushy new-love sentiment that drips off of these (John was always about gushy sentiment when it came to Yoko (and later, Sean) except for on Plastic Ono Band, but anyhow). What I have a problem with is the finished product. I know, I know, I'm sure not much of a lover of performance art if I don't get this nonsense...what with all the winking and snorting I can just see John and Yoko doing at each other while making these. Some of this stuff is so intensely personal I feel sort of weird listening to it. It's like examining used Kleenexes under your friend's bed, you know?

You need to realize, though, that art this is simply not. It's fucking around. I don't release my first attempts at making recordings with my new four-track, now do I? Neither do the Rolling Stones. Or any of the other Beatles. Or anyone else except John Lennon, who apparently felt this stuff is important enough to unleash on the world. And to make money off of. And generate press because he and his girlfriend are naked on the cover of one of them. It was a ploy, that's all. A fucking marketing ploy. And we the audience are the suckers. Thanks John.

Oh, and on the rereleases there's some Yoko songs, and not all of them are shit. But this is not a 'Yoko Ono and John Lennon' page, so I'm just not gonna review those songs. Not like they're gonna raise the rating of these much anyway.

Capn's Final Word: But mostly I just think these are shit. Not fun. Not entertaining. Load of shit. Not worth buying. At best a long, infinitely less interesting version of 'Revolution #9', at worst the worst thing I've ever heard.

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David Elliott      Your Rating: F

Any Short Comments?: Heh. John has a tiny wiener.

Live Peace in Toronto 1969 - Apple 1969


The live album you don't really want to hear. Not that, if you think about it, really hard, a John Lennon live album should be any good at all anyway. He didn't perform live since 1966! And before that he was just muggin' before a bunch of teenage girls who were busy wetting themselves. The guy had the ability to play onstage, but sort of in an academic sense of the word perform. He sure wasn't a showman, and his live shows were ragged, under-rehearsed, mistake-riddled affairs that might shock the ears of the uninformed fan expecting a high level of craft from Mr. Lennon.

Like this album...the Plastic Ono Band had never performed together, dig? Just threw John (future househusband!), Eric Clapton (future Derek and the Dominoes!) , Alan White (future Yes!), and Klaus Voorman on bass (I think, jeez...I guess I should look it up like a good lad.) and went onstage at the 1969 Toronto Music Festival and played a bunch of ragged rock standards that most rock folks could play in a drug coma ('Blue Suede Shoes', 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy') along with some contemproary John tunes so simple most rock stars could play while already dead ('Yer Blues'). And since Eric Clapton is one of those good folks, he just caint hep rippin' up those solos like he knows he can. But 'Shoes' is too slow and all three of the covers are sloppy and raw. And they play an itchy version of 'Cold Turkey' so ugly they beat it and threw it into a trash dumpster immediately after delivery. But as a whole, this first side is listenable, if not really all that good...

Now Yoko is onstage the entire time during this concert, first doing her little 'hot shards of metal under the fingernails' screeches on 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy', but somehow is able to shut up least until 'Cold Turkey' anyway. Then on 'Give Peace a Chance', which is performed here in a neato 'real song' sort of way with riffs and all that good nonsense, she shuts up again. But by the time of side 2 she's had all the bottling up she can stand and lets wail. For the rest of the album. So on 'Don't Worry Kyoko' and 'John John' don't expect much other than her awful dentist drilling and a bunch of horrifying noise from the Plastic Ono Band. And not 'horrifying' like 'scary and good', but 'horrifying' like 'this is truly awful shit'. Other than the neato riff of 'Kyoko', though. Sounds like Clapton was trying to give the audience something to enjoy during the second half of the shit, I mean, err...the set. But 'John John' is just sad, really sad. If I were in the audience for this I probably would have left and gotten a beer (or something stronger). I feel jittery just having it on my CD player as it is...

Capn's Final Word: Half ragged rock covers you absolutely don't need and half torturously bad wailing and screeching. Don't fall victim.

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Pakito     Your Rating: C Any Short Comments?: Have you noticed the Yoko Ono-esque cries in the pre-Beatles song "Searching" (kind of country and western)? Take a look...  

John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band - Capitol 1970


Saving us from any Yoko on this record is simply a marvelous treat. The first real John Lennon solo record and the one written and recorded during the time he was doing Primal Scream therapy, which in essence means lots of crying and getting in touch with painful memories and catharsis. And guess what, congregation? These elements translate to the record like you wouldn't imagine. The music (produced by Phil 'Echo' Spector, but without all the usual orchestras and shit) is wiry and stripped. Thin, tippy drums (by Ringo, who's brilliant), quiet fluid bass (Klaus Voorman, who painted the Revolver cover, in case you didn't know) and either an itchy, dirty electric guitar or piano by John. That's all, but damn it if that's all you ever need here.

And John tackles the 'issues' on this record, and effectively does so by taking a razor to each one of them. 'Mother' is the single best song about pain from parental alienation ever written by mortal man. 'I Found Out' discloses the Hippie Religion facade for the sham it was, and 'Isolation'...umm...I guess that's about isolation. The lyrics, while being extremely simple throughout, cut to the point with laser precision and leave one with the exact impression John was trying to give you. No misunderstandings are possible here. Many people have a problem with this album because it states its case so plainly and explicitly there's no room left for interpretation.

Of course, its difficult to hear something like 'Working Class Hero' and not feel a little hurt by the words. I mean is my life that worthless? I guess I never thought about it that way. What's the solution then, John? Unfortunately John gives few answers on this record. Of course, 'love' seems to be the one shining light on the record, at least embodied in his love for Yoko and his self-respect, and I can dig that. The song 'Love' is probably the one love song I can ever name that has no cliches in it. Not a single one. John's destroying the illusions left and right on this record and there's few people I'd rather give me bitter medicine than Lennon, who comes across like the grizzled veteran who's simply giving a 'beware' to all of us who may decide to take one of the roads he's travelled by (drugs, family, work, religion, etc.). And finally, on 'God' he pulls it all in on himself and declares his freedom from the world. And its a shocking, if highly respectable way to deflate an illusion, if I may say so myself.

Musically, the album is so minimalistic as to be either breathtaking or dreadfully boring. The songs are split into either rockers or ballads (except for 'Working Class Hero', which is a folk tune, and 'My Mummy's Dead', which is, umm...a country fragment I guess) I like the piano on 'Isolation', 'Love', 'God' and 'Mother' but hate it on 'Remember'. Love the vibrato guitar on 'Hold On' and the sinister acoustic on 'Hero' but find 'I Found Out' too stingy. Could've used a better melody on that one. Most of the songs do have a nicely developed melody, despite the skeletal instrumentation and arrangement. But gosh, is melody what these songs are about? No way. Dancing neither. Its about listening to what he's putting across to you, and that's as much power as 10,000 certified great melodies.

Capn's Final Word: File under the word Sincerity. Spectacular amounts of emotion, depths and highs, on every track. An A+ for sure.

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Sarah       Your Rating: A+

Any Short Comments?: Masterpiece. Nothing more can be said.

Didier     Your Rating: A Any Short Comments?: This is the best album an ex-Beatles has ever produced.Unlike so many of their post-Beatle production,it's strongat today tan it was thirty years ago.It invented the confessional album which would thrive in the seventies mainly with Neil Young'"s "tonight'sthe night"

Jim H.S.     Your Rating: A Any Short Comments?: Yup.  And don't it beat the living shit out of the McFartney album?  Fuckin' right. No bowl of cherries required.

G. J. Donnelly   Your Rating: A+ Any Short Comments?: Lennon was mercilessly satirized for the raging self-pity of this album (check out "Magical Misery Tour" off the NATIONAL LAMPOON RADIO DINNER LP), but that's like poking fun at Robert Johnson for fleeing the hellhound. No artist of his stature ever let down their guard with such candor. With kamikaze intensity, John pulls no punches, picks at every wound and screams for deliverance with a unwavering committment that makes the punks of following decade seem like snotty pretenders. Never mind the bollocky Sex Pistols, here comes Lennon, brimming with jagged guitar riffs and numbing piano fills. "Love" is aural smack at the eye of an emotional hurricane. "Mother," "I Found Out", "Working Class Hero" and "God" mix psychotherapy, nihlism and Jerry Lee Lewis fury. A once in a lifetime record, not just for Lennon, but for an entire century. These days rage and hopelessness are pure AOR formula (Sting, U2). Of course, in the right hands, the results can be grea!t (Neil Young's TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT; Bruce Springsteen's NEBRASKA), but no one ever approached the larger-than-life balls John displayed here. Brace yourself, because this record draws blood.

Robert Grazer     Your Rating: C Any Short Comments?: I hate to be the naysayer for an album I really wish I liked more than I did, but the vast majority of this album really doesn't resonate with me very well at all, and, quite frankly, I can rarely gather enough courage and patience to sit through it as a whole. I find the "primal scream" vocal style incredibly grating, and I don't think that there's any way getting around the fact that John seems to be writing songs that deliberately defy the Beatle pop-style tunes that he became famous for in the first place. While I think it's admirable that he's trying to separate himself from the other members and trying to form a name for himself as a SOLO artist, Plastic Ono Band has always struck me as too much too soon. It might have profitted him more if he had tried to pull his songwriting away from Beatledom by continuing a progression of his own style, uninhibited by the other Fab Three (much like George Harrison did with All Things Must Pass), but instead th!is is a blatant attempt at re-invention, and, let's face it, there was nothing wrong with Lennon the way he was as a clever, often comical, sometimes serious pop songwriter. The "confessional singer-songwriter" style would be done in a much more convincing and subtle manner by Joni Mitchell a year later, and that's where I prefer my soul-searching artist work. Lennon just has a really hard time convincing me that there's THIS much pain in his life. That said, parts of this album rule, "God" in particular.  

Ian A.     Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: An absolutely amazing album lyrically, but the melodies leave me cold more often than not. It's almost as if Lennon deliberately tossed much of this album off in an effort to sound spontaneous, but ended up sounding self-consciously slight and emotion-neutral. "Mother"'s still a near classic tune and "I Found Out" rocks hard, but several other songs that should be gut wrenching ("Working Class Hero", "God") feel distant to my ears. There's nothing overtly offensive though (except maybe the screamed middle section of "Well, Well, Well") so a few flawed bits here and there can be ignored.

Imagine - Capitol 1971.


Backpedaling. John had seen that his total rejection of Beatledom and radio-friendliness on Plastic Ono Band was risking his chances of having much of an audience, so his second try is the CD equivalent of 'Hey buddy, I know I said all those mean things before, but do you think we can still be friends?' and the people bit on it like you wouldn't believe. It sounds Beatle-y! Nothing too mean! Nothing too in-your-face! Enough good sentiment and Spector production goodies to allow your parents to like it. Like take the title track, of course its a beautiful song with a beautiful melody and a great sentiment (which, for one, I happen to believe in as a sort of ideal life philosophy, if not a workable one....people are greedy and stupid.) but doesn't it just sorta ring a little lame if you listen to it immediately following 'God'? It does for me. Tell us you don't believe in anything but yourself and your wife, then turn around and ask us to 'join you' in your vision of a new world. Whatever. I'll be over here picking my nose and you can build all the Utopias you want, John. Put it on as a singularity in John's solo career and it shines like a gleaming star light of positivity and love. Put it next to something even more sincere and sharp and it simply pales. Not to say it isn't a gorgeous song in all respects. John's 'Yesterday', for sure. But we'll revisit that idea a bit later on.

The music on this album is still fairly simple, no 9 piece bands or anything yet, but it sure sounds produced compared to last time. Like these are real, full fleshed songs with proper EQ-ing and everything. And tell me that a neat little song like 'Jealous Guy' would have been as darn catchy and beautiful if it didn't have that echoey glop on the piano and the soppy strings. No way. On a lesser song these elements are equivalent to injecting death, but on a melody as strong as this one, the song simply soars with all the Spector-izing Phil cared to slap on this thing. Bash Phil if you want, but it seems to me the man only ruins things that aren't so strong in the first place. Like, the less the song needs a Spector-treatment, the less it's going to get one.

A lot of this album is light and airy ('How?' is another example), to be sure, but there is a Plastic-Ono hangover on the record if you look for it. Like I think 'Gimme Some Truth', repetitive or not, is harrowing stuff with some surely stinging slide work (by none other than George Harrison, hey!) and the strongest political lyrics John ever put out. And 'Oh My Love' could have fit next to 'Hold On' and 'Love' on the last one no problem. Not to say it also could have fit perfectly on any Beatles album since 1965 or so.

The McCartney character assassination 'How Do You Sleep' is another one with all the bile and acid of POB, but this time it simply comes across as nasty. I know Paul was probably quite a jerk to the rest of the boys since about 1967 or so, and did snide little things like rushing McCartney to get it out as the first post-Beatles solo record, and therefore look like the most important Beatle to the public, but c'mon. It seems here that John mostly attacks Paul because he's cute, writes sweet little melodies and hasn't done anything great since 1965. And Paul's supposed to have trouble sleeping because of this fact? If I were John I'd look back on his first four self-indulgent releases and remember the parable about people who live in glass houses. Luckily the tune itself it pretty rockin', with a sleazy, sneaky little riff and some help from George (and Ringo?). 

'Its So Hard' and 'I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die' are the other losers on this record, the first one being extremely pointless boogie and the second one a simple mantra of the title (and variations on the theme) over a throbby funk background. Ugh. Especially 'Soldier', which I simply wish to be over soon whenever it starts itself up. Of course, John makes us sit through like 9 minutes of it. What a jerk.

Capn's Final Word: If you're thin-shelled or a Beatle fanatic, this is the best bet John Lennon album for you. Melodic, decently meaningful, and fun in places. And not stupid.

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Simon B.     Your Rating: B- Any Short Comments?: There was a while there when I thought this album was overrated (back then I would've given it a C- or something). But then I came to apprecite the good songs as quite good ones(ie. "Imagine", "Jealous Guy", "How Do You Sleep?", "Oh My Love", and "Oh Yoko"). However, I still don't like "It's So Hard", "I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier", "Gimmie Some Truth" and "How?". (I still think that "I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier" and "Gimmie Some Truth" are still too long and repeatitive for their own good.) I don't really think of this as a CLASSIC, but just a good album.

Robert Grazer     Your Rating: B+ Any Short Comments?: Admittedly, it is a more commercial record, but dammit, that's what John Lennon was good at. None of this "my life sucks" nonsense. Instead, Lennon has delivered an album that very naturally makes him seem like an individual while still maintaining his excellent sense of melody. In short, it's the record that *really* begins his career as John Lennon, as opposed to "man who isn't and never was a Beatle". And for all of the times the word "sincerity" is lumped on the previous record, I do think this sounds a lot more genuine. I still don't think this *quite* lives up to the solo career promise he established while still with the Beatles, but still not knowing his solo work beyond this and the previous album, I don't expect to hear that kind of music from solo Lennon.  

Some Time in New York City - Capitol 1972


Now this one is misguided, and LONG past it's sell-by date. After all the Janov and 'momma you never loved me' screaming business, John took off for Leftistville, became an activist, and started wearing his Army uniform everywhere. And decided to 'get topical' on the musical front as well, whereby he ended up loading this well-dated double disc document on us. I mean, if you really dig hearing about what was politically cool to bitch about in 1972 (Northern Ireland, Feminism, John Sinclair) this album may be right up you alley. If, like most of us, you don't shed too many tears for the lost activism of the early 70's (soft post-Panther losers), most of the themes here will be lost on you (and me). But that doesn't prevent John from presenting his (seemingly strongly felt) views in the most in-your-face, blunt, and condescending manner possible. Luckily (?) John grabbed himself a band on this one (the Elephant's Memory Band, like that isn't a cumbersome moniker) so he has a fairly strong, energetic, musical base to stand on. But, unluckily this is attributed to John and Yoko, so you know what you're in for there ('EEEEEEEEEEAAHAHAAYYAYAYAYYAAAAAAAAKKKKK!!!' in case you forgot from last time, but then again not really. She sings real words almost the entire time here, really. But it's still not any good. Read on). And, well, John plum leaves his songwriting in his other pants. So Solly, Cholly!!

The opening track is 'Woman is the Nigger of the World' which is about how repressed everyone else's girlfriend/wife is and how 'we make her paint her face and dance'. Whatever. John Lennon has a knack for making me feel like I've done something horrible in my life when he wants to ('Working Class Hero', this one), but mostly I just see it as him projecting his own fears on his audience. I mean, I never had my wife on stage howling uncontrollably to everyone in sight. If that display didn't set back feminism about 15 years then I'm not a slightly aging white Anglo-Saxon atheist who wants to screw 16 year olds. Put that in your feminist and smoke her, John. Besides the fact that the music is ultrabombastic warmed over soul-boogie which neither rocks nor boogies. Honking saxes and about 20 musicians playing at the same time make up one ugly boogie soup. Fool. Some people really like this song, but I for one don't buy it musically or lyrically. Where's the melody?  It's a sham.

The second tune, 'Sisters, O Sisters' is a cute 50's girl-group doowop throwback that probably qualifies as Yoko's least annoying song. Not that it is any less annoying than listening to a Patti Smith song, which for some reason this one reminds me of. Whatever. The words are the usual agit-prop 'stand up sisters' stuff. 'Attica State' is sorta bluesy, I guess, but it most importantly should be known as a sloppy mess with a loser melody. Ick. The sing-songy chorus sure doesn't help things out. 'Born in a Prison' is a deliberate ballad wherein Yoko tells us about all the things we do in a prison (everything besides washing the dog's anus, sounds like) and is superiorly annoying despite her (mostly successful) attempts to stay on key, if not on tempo. Something about this song reminds me of David Bowie's uglier moments. Wonder why?

So 'New York City' ain't so bad, but I liked it better when it was called 'The Ballad of John and Yoko'. But let's let that slide and call it a pretty cool rocking song on here. Nothing more than 2 inches away from Chuck Berry, mind you, but still, hey. Let's be kind. The hyper-percussion rap 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' is neato on the verses, where John pops off the lyrics like the Original G he is (he even says 'loin' instead of 'learn', so that's cool) but boy oh boy that chorus is ugly, like one of Funkadelic's worse noise experiments on their second album. Oh, and there's another song about Ireland, 'The Luck of The Irish', which has especially obvious and preachy lyrics traded off by both John and Yoko. Christ. Yoko has a voice about as pretty as a 75 year old tracheotomy patient belching through an electric vibrator. And on a song like this, where the musical background is slight enough (but not un-bombastic! it's HUGE sounding! unnecessarily so!) to be easily ignored, the vocals are impossible to ignore. The acoustic blues 'John Sinclair' even sounds like, umm, authentic and genuine and stuff, but then John goes off and does this 'gottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagottagotta' thing that just FUCKING ANNOYS me! Do you get me? This album is the most irritating mother I think I've ever heard! On purpose! They did these things on purpose!

But 'Angela' is just fine other than that Yokovoice, with its sweeping production and nice lyrics (not too obvious!) resembling a early-to-mid-70's Rod Stewart song more than anything else. Yeah, okay, that's not so bad. And really, 'We're All Water' is not so bad for a herky-jerky sock hop Yoko song until she, err, does her 'ACK ACK ACK!!!! WLALALAALAOOLOLOOO!!' bullshit and then it's simply awful.

At this point I'm gonna talk about this sax dude in Elephant's Memory. The guy is one of those stereotypical 70's sax players like the guy in the Muppet Band or the original Saturday Night Live Band who just play all the time, all the time. It's irritating. Not like sax is my favorite instrument, but in the hands of, say, that Roxy Music guy, sax solos can be simply breathtaking. These are excessive and add to the everpresent 'annoying' factor on this record. Same thing with the guitar solos. They're always performed in the 'full dramatic rip' mode with not a hint of subtlety in tone or performance. Too much boneheadedness on the musical front here. This album doesn't need help being annoying.

This album reportedly has a live second half recorded with Frank Zappa, but some versions simply don't have it. I'm going to (lie) be perfectly honest and say that I didn't listen to it (sit through it with teeth-a-grit) because I can't find the disc (don't want to deal with the 'lesser part' of this shit album), so if anyone wants to review it (trash it) and send in a reader (idiotic) comment, feel free to do so, and I'll post it soon (after I finish finding porn for the afternoon).

Capn's Final Word: Lyrically dated, preachy, and obvious. Musically lacking in restraint, melody, or rock power. Songwriting absent. Lots of annoying parts (off-key singing, tuneless howling, repetition) that ruin otherwise bad songs.


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Your Name: Steve Knowlton     Your Rating: F

Any Short Comments?: Actually, I don't know this record well enough to rate it. I just wanted to comment that "Come Together" sounds very much like it had a lot of involvement from Paul. The bass line practically defines the tunes, there's a terrific piano line in the bridge that Macca says he played, and check out the harmonies!

Mind Games - Capitol 1973


How such a gorgeous tune as the title track could drift from Mr. Lennon's fingers following the stinkfest that was Some Time in New York City seems like either a testament to his undying talent or to the oddities of the mystical muse. I mean, aren't we all just much happier when John's singing about vague, mushy topics like Peace on Earth rather than how John Sinclair has got-ta be set free? I sure do. Makes for a longer lasting effect, for sure. And it doesn't hurt when musically the thing is one, long majestic fade-out of a chorus? We've spoken of how it sure is difficult to take John too seriously on these sorts of songs nowadays, so let's not cover that ground again. Sometimes I, too, want to believe, and that's what this here title track implores me to do.

Needless to say the rest of the record doesn't hold up to the level of that song, but darn it if there's no truly stinky moments on the entire thing. Or any Yoko Ono, and that's gotta be worth at least 4 or 5 grades! 'Tight As' is goofy and inconsequential country-rock, but its catchy and doesn't harm anyone. 'Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)' is a really pretty ballad tune quietly featuring my favorite instrument in the known universe (pedal steel, which is all over this album, in fact), and sorta even sounds like a toned-down 'God' music-wise. Or it kinda reminds me of 'Ship of Fools' by the Grateful Dead. Or maybe a non-obnoxious Eagles song. Lyrically it's just cool and with great singing. Fine track, if nothing super-extraordinary. 'One Day (at a Time)' is the first of John's children's songs (though I'm sure its for Yoko, but cmon, its Sesame Street all the way), to be continued in force on Double Fantasy. Same thing with the twinky, boinky 'Intuition', which is like self-help for people with a mental age of 7 years. The Lucie (Freeda People)' is a toned down Some Time outtake, with a neato sighing pedal steel and some decidedly less-than-forceful lyrics. But its simple and catchy, and I sorta like it. I don't like the fellow-outtakey 'Only People', though, with its cringeworthy lyrics ('We don't want no big brother scene'? Far out, man.) and screaming. What the hell is he screaming for? Its a silly twoinky little song. Still better than anything on the last album, though. If the political stuff annoys you, take 'Out of the Blue', which is a sweet love song also containing pedal steel. Really nice. So's 'I Know (I Know)', but something keeps nagging at me that that melody has been heard on a Beatles song before. Dang. The boy probably changed it just enough, though. You know? Whatever, forget it and enjoy the catchy little pop song before your very ears. Same with 'You Are Here', which is a bit slight for my taste, being about a trip to Tokyo, but there's more of that pretty, pretty steel guitar and the whole thing is really sweet. 'Meat City' finishes things off with an ugly, high-pitched rocker that totally doesn't fit with the rest of the record. John never could get a decent rock guitar tone, you know?

It can be difficult to get any strong opinions about this record because, quite honestly, there's very little wrong with it. And very little outstanding material either. It's a bunch of tuneful, sweet, unchallenging little ditties that sound like John didn't work to hard writing. It's not going to change your life at all, but I put it on an equal footing with Double Fantasy for sure, maybe even higher since there's no Yoko junk to skip past. Get POB and Imagine, then this one, I say.

Capn's Final Word: I listen to it and I go, 'Hey, that was pretty okay!' You won't have your socks blown off, but its surely diggable.

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Mdh1985     Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: I think every song on here is enjoyable, but he's lost a lot of the weird hipness that was all over his late Beatle, early solo stuff. The part in "I Know (I Know)" that reminds you of the Beatles is probably the guitar riff which is nearly note for note the rhythm guitar part heard at the beginning of "I've Got A Feeling" From LET IT BE

Walls and Bridges - Capitol 1974

A strange thing happened in late 1972 with John Lennon. His anger and acid, his feeling and emotion, began to turn inward. So while POB was an outward expression of inward pain, and Imagine was an outward expression of inward, umm, calm and irritation, and Some Time in NYC was simply whining and complaining (sorry, but it's quite true), with Mind Games John began to have less and less to say to the world. He simply ran out of opinions, I think. Which explains why Games, pretty as it was, really sorta leaves a nothing taste in one's mouth. Same thing here, but the process has advanced. I mean, what the hell is 'Old Dirt Road' about other than a sweet melody? Nothing at all. And '#9 Dream', another super-pretty slide-driven hit on the level of 'Mind Games'? What of it? A revisitation of the time when the Dream Wasn't Over Yet? Here is the time where John's muddle-headedly thinking he Can Go Home Again. Where melody and belief reign supreme. And where John Lennon can sing soul music. I'm simply left dumbfounded. It's not that it isn't high-quality songwriting, but come on!!! This is either stinkingly insincere or John was truly confused at this time. And this one is really gloppily produced, too. Like a Philly soul record or something, all stacked up with electric pianos and bongos. See 'Bless You' for the worst offender on here. Who is this? Barry White? And 'Scared' comes across like Isaac Hayes!

The other side of this record are the silly soul-daddy rockers on this thing, like 'What You Got' (which sounds like Presence-era Led Zeppelin with horns, I swear on my CD player) or 'Whatever Gets You Through the Night' with Elton John. Which is fine for a 1974 Elton John song, when even that hit factory had begun to run a little thin. Truly inconsequential, though. 'Surprise Surprise' sounds like he's copping off from Wings now. Where's that Lennon-trademark sound we all know and love?

Capn's Final Word: Ehh, frankly I'm sick of listening to and reviewing this album. I honestly, flat out, unqualified don't like this album very much. There's nothing seriously wrong with the thing, but its all so frigging dispassionate and messy. You'll probably like it.

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Rock 'n' Roll - Capitol 1975

John gives us a covers album of 50s songs for record contract and artistic bankruptcy reasons. But you know what? It's a pleasant, well-sung, rollicking Spector of a good time. What do you expect of a drunken Mr. Lennon singing great old songs he's probably known by heart for 15-20 years? And since John has such a cool voice for this kind of music, if you don't dig him singing the 'Rip It Up - Ready Teddy' medley you deserve to be tied up in a tiny, windowless room directly adjacent to Yoko Ono's favorite shower for a few early morning 'creme rinses' if you moisten my double reed prior to mouth insertion, and I think you do. Do you know these songs? Sure. Maybe I didn't totally recall each one from record titles, but once I heard the song I always went 'oh yeah, I know that one!' The hoodoo hoedown of Chuck Berry's 'You Can't Catch Me' sounds a bunch too much like the Blues Brothers, but the similar 'Ain't That a Shame' is totally cool. There's really too many horns on this record, but who am I to question Phil Spector's drug-addled, wife-torturing, gun-wielding production expertise, Steve Albini? The wah-wah's on 'Sweet Little Sixteen' are low class, too. 'Peggy Sue' is fanTAStic, and not just because Fabian is the best of ALL the original rock 'n' roll songwriters, but also because that first guitar solo is played JUST like I learned how to play it, my first ever guitar solo!. And his cover of Bob Seger's 'Turn The Page' fits John's long hair heavy metal road warrior rock-Adonis image to a tee. And his cover of Christopher Cross's 'Sailing', done as an accordion- and washboard-flavored Jewish Emo/bluegrass rave up is simply breathtaking. So is athsma, but the only kids who I ever knew who had athsma were either total wusses who got beat up all the time or the sons of alchoholics. And speaking of alchololics, John Lennon made this album, co-wrote and -performed David Bowie's 'Fame', then decided to hang around the house all day in his underwear for 4 years or so. Just like me! Us lazy househusbands sure are the bee's knees, you know?

Capn's Final Word: More inconsequentialities from the Most Audience Bating Man in Showbusiness. But they're 50's rock 'n' roll inconsequentialities, so dig right in with your melon baller! It's 'rollicking'!

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Shaved Fish  - Capitol 1975.


The hits collection no one bought, because by 1975 everyone had had just a little too much John Lennon in their lives and were as sick of him as he was of us listeners. Darn us fans who demanded he write songs like 'Mind Games' rather than 'Howlin' SLA Revolution Blues' or whatever. Darn us to heck and give us a really unpleasant demon to cut our toenails too short or mismatch our socks or something equally as tormenting. But what's a worn-out former superstar who's been hitting the sauce to do when he's down-and -out? Why, release a compilation of 5 years of solo hits, that's what! You get the goods ('Imagine', 'Mind Games', the neato Nike ad song 'Instant Karma', 'Mother', '#9 Dream'...'Whatever Gets You Through the Night', I guess), the unnecessaries ('Power to the People', 'Happy X-Mas (War is Over)', 'Give Peace a Chance'(twice)) and the bads ('Woman is the Nigger of the World', 'Cold Turkey' (ugly late Beatles-era single with lots of nagging guitar belches)). I mean, sure, you don't get anything from Double Fantasy yet, but it would have been cool if you were able to do that. Oh yeah, you can. There's another compilation out there called Lennon or something like that. Buy that one instead. I'm sure it was made for CD and not a measly 40 minute LP like this one. You know what I heard? You know why John Lennon made his albums all pretty short? Because if you put more than a certain amount of music on one side of a vinyl LP record, the grooves get all narrow and shallow and it doesn't play as loud. Wow, the stuff you learn from reading second rate record reviews...

Capn's Final Word: It's a compilation. And it won't do your laundry for you no matter how long you make it stare at the dirty clothes basket.

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Chopped Liva     Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: Cold Turkey is a great... er, I hesitate to call it a great song, because it could've been written by a lazy junkie(heh heh) but the performance is fuckin wild! The guitar is a fucking chainsaw and Lennon screams his guts out. So, in summary, Cold Turkey doesn't belong in the "bad" section.


Double Fantasy - Capitol 1980

Everyone grows up at one time or another. Begins to realize that their happiness is separate from having a bunch of people idolize and love them. Comes to understand that using one's talent on one's own terms is the highest tribute a person can make to their art or work. And begins a true road where love for family and self are the only companions. It's one of the best stories in rock history that finally, after God knows how many years, John stopped jerking himself and his audience around and released himself a labour of love, a record that showed the true man without any masks, pretension, or really, fame. How big was John Lennon in 1980, really? He was a Beatle for sure, but he hadn't made a record in 5 years, and hadn't been anyone's darling for some years prior to that. Honestly, he was able to retreat to his New York apartment without too many people missing him. And John Lennon, smart guy that he was, came back from his exile with the most immediately respectable attitude many had seen from him in over a decade. And one of the strongest batches of songs.

So this album was truly a fresh start for John Lennon. Writing with a clear mind and soul, he lays some of his best ever work on us for this record. 'Just Like Starting Over', 'Watching the Wheels', and 'Woman' are not just all huge hits, but also number among John's best, most easy-going and effortless compositions ever. He's writing melodies...real, iron-clad, honest-to-Paul melodies with just a slight hint of new-wave and/or AOR freshness. And the musical background is fairly stripped-down but tasteful, rocking when it needs to be, quiet when it needs to be, but more often than not bouncy...boing boing boing. 'Just Like Starting Over' is a fresh, clear doo wop that sounds more authentic than most of the covers on Rock 'n' Roll, and which addresses the idea of falling in love with your wife (music?) again, which John definitely had to do after his philandering in LA in the mid-70's. 'Clean Up Time' is the most obviously 'early 80's' sounding song here, what with the slightly-paranoid atmosphere and relentless boinginess. I love the chorus on this song...funky and interesting. And different for John, for sure! Way to grow, John! Talking late-70's, 'I'm Losing You' has an almost Eagles' The Long Run disco disposition, but doesn't. It does, though, have super hooky 'dramatic' octaved guitar parts that we'd all hear a lot more of in the later 1980's. Not on John Lennon songs, though. Dammit. 'Beautiful Boy' is just about the prettiest children's song John ever wrote, and one of the coolest (if corniest) songs a dad ever wrote for his son.

Another piano-roller, 'Watching the Wheels' is like 'Just Like Starting Over' in that the lyrics are autobiographical, but more explicit this time, talking about his time off and self-exclusion from the world of fame. I think the words are spectacular, but the music is almost even better. When that quick synth sequence comes in on the chorus, underneath the piano chords, or when John does a little voice catch like Buddy Holly all I can say is....this is a fantastic song. 'Woman' is the most far out adult contemporary song on here, and your bullshit detector might begin to tick, but it doesn't mean that this song isn't as gorgeous as a 16 year old prom queen wearing only saran wrap and Hershey's chocolate syrup. And for a I-love-Yoko song, the supercute 'Dear Yoko' has to take the cake as the catchiest of all, if also for the silliest. But we're all adults here and can handle a supercute song written as an ode for someone's favoritist ever cuddle bunny nookum-pop. I wish I'd written this song for my wife. The finishing 'Hard Times Are Over' is marred by John's having to share the stage with his wife, making for an unfortunately Some Time In NYC-esque track with the honky sax and everything.

Oh yeah, there's also a huge number of Yoko's songs here, but you are free to skip over them. Or, even better, pretend they don't exist. Like me.

Capn's Final Word: So that's 7 wonderful tracks and one clanker. A pretty outstanding John Lennon record. It's quite a shame that's all he was able to release in his lifetime, but I sure am happy he was able to release this near-perfect, 8-song gem at the end of his tragically shortened life.

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Simon B.     Your Rating: C+

Any Short Comments?: Too keep it short, I will say that the only songs that I like on this album are Lennon's. Yoko's songs are IMO, not very good. At all. If only they put Lennon's songs on one side and Yoko's on the other...(sigh).  

Dver     Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: Half of it shows why this man wass considered to be a genius (and he was). The rest of it is discusting ono staff.


Milk and Honey - Capitol 1984

After 3 years or so of arguing within herself about whether or not to sell out her husband's memory, Yoko took the low road and decided to release Double Fantasy II, made up half of John's nearly-finished Double Fantasy-era outtakes and half of her own songs that no one would ever buy on an album without John Lennon's name on it.

John's songs, though obviously unfinished, are still prime stuff. John's in 'wacky mode', though, so be forewarned. The opening 'I'm Stepping Out' is the best rejection-of-Sesame Street song I've ever heard (besides 'Expressway to Yr. Skull' by Sonic Youth, of course). Yeah, that musical background is a tad, umm, unimaginative maybe, but let's assume John was gonna come back and throw on some neato piano parts or something. 'I Don't Wanna Face It' isn't bad either, but it sorta got outta line before receiving its fair weekly ration of Melody. 'Nobody Told Me' was the huge hit here, and its no less than the level of the finished hits off Double Fantasy, yet is harder-edged than any of those songs, harder rocking, anyway. Quite a neato song, tonguetwisting hookline and all. 'Borrowed Time' is a kooky, cutesy reggae. If he's exploring island rhythms, he may as well carry on with 'My Little Flower Princess', which is some sort of ultra-lightweight dub music. I wonder who exactly John was listening to all that time cooped up in his apartment with Yoko and Sean? Lee 'Scratch' Perry doesn't necessarily come to mind first, but this song must've come from somewhere. But it's over before it really begins, so who cares anyway. 'Grow Old With Me' has a shining, gleaming melody line and equally pretty singing but sounds like it was recorded in a sewer so the enjoyment level is somewhat limited.

Right, there's more Yoko songs on here, and they're just as packed with early 80's cliches as before, but the songwriting is even worse. Sometimes things like keys and scales are there for a reason, Yoko. Luckily, this marks the last time a Yoko song is going to be tacked on to a John Lennon archive release (unless you count her wailings on the live album) so let's all say a little cheer right now.

Capn's Final Word: Outtakes, but good ones. Nearly to the level of Double Fantasy except for all those, you know, other songs.

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Menlove Ave. - Capitol 1986


How many outtakes does this woman have? Enough to fill 6 1/2 discs full of post-mortem releases I figure. Maybe even more, for all I know. Well GaySex St. at least gives you a side full of fresh stuff you've never heard before because when John recorded it in 1975 he was too worn out and sloppy to finish an album. Bummer none of it is any good. Side A is made up of crapola like 'Here We Go Again', an underwritten 'circular-structured' song that goes round and round but never seems to find its way into a melody. And the overblown production (snare drums that sound like blimps falling into the ocean) only serves to make things worse. 'Rock 'n' Roll People' and 'Since My Baby Left Me' are little pieces of roots-boogie crap that John probably pinched off before his liquid breakfast in the morning. 'Angel Baby' takes the doo-wop love pledge song (and Spector's production) to some sort of obscene extreme, wherein each instrument keeps reverberating for years and years while all us listeners simultaneously undergo massive dental surgery due to all the saccharine bullshit on this track we have to eat. The similarly styled 'To Know Her is to Love Her' is slightly better, but still boring and overblown enough to make me look longingly at my Husker Du records. So each and every one of those songs sucks ass.

The second side is for all those Walls and Bridges lovers out there, of which I'm not one. Yeah, it's nice to hear some of these songs without their supercrusty production, and songs like 'Steel and Glass' and 'Scared' were just about the best that sad album had to offer, but who is this exactly going to excite? The songs change a verse here and there, but did anyone ever listen to Walls and Bridges and say to themselves 'Boy, I sure could use a load of skeletal, unfinished  versions of these songs, they're so fucking good I can't get enough!!'? I doubt that shit like I doubt George W. Bush's intelligence.

Capn's Final Word: Not recommended unless you just really loved that W&B album. And even then you're going to be hard-pressed to like it.

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 Live in New York - Capitol 1986

Requisite live release from 1972 Elephant's Memory show in Madison Square Garden. This is probably the best John Lennon ever got on stage following the breakup of the Velvet Underground and Burl Ives, but since our bow probably played enough concerts to be counted on one hand anyway, that's not too high a recommendation. So don't go rushing out and buying this then calling me late in the night and telling me how this is 'so not as good as Ya-Ya's'. You hear me? John Illyitch Ulyanov was good enough live, but that's about the extent of it. Good enough not to suck too hard. Doing windmills, constructing huge walls of sound, or recreating Rachmaninov passages he will not be doing on this disc, so don't ask.

So what does he do, huh? Plays a lot of his 'difficult' solo hits, that's what. Like a bunch of stuff off of his first record you'll never hear live any other place, like 'Well Well Well' and 'Mother'. Actually only those. What did you think you were getting, 'My Mummy's Dead'? You morbid fuck. And since this is still during his time in NYC, you get 'New York' and 'Woman is the Nigga of Compton, Mutherfucker', both of which I dislike. And an extremely anaemic 'Instant Karma' which blows! And one and only one Beatles tune, 'Come Together', which may as well be a John solo song anyway considering Paul's involvement in that song was probably limited to ashing his cigarette into the tape can during playback. You know, there's very little on here I seriously like. None of these songs is lent even one iota of extra energy or weight by being performed live. Maybe that's because the band isn't any good. And the mix blows, but like that was a big mystery.

Capn's Final Word: I fucking hate reviewing substandard live albums. You know the goddamn songs. It's not as entertaining as you might think to hear John's smart-ass stage patter, so proceed at you own risk.

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Anthology - Capitol 1998


How much more of this is possible? I mean, could you imagine an underinformed fan running out and plunking down $50+ for this 4 CD set, thinking its just a huge collection of John's Big 70's Hits? How disappointed would they be to find out its just a bunch of old work tapes with John figuring out how to play such timeless classics as 'Luck of the Irish'? I for one would be incensed. Again we're into an album not for the interesting music contained within, or any of that usual old record-reviewing shit, but for historical value.  For historical value I'd have to give this album an A, for giving us a great lesson on the writing process as well as shitloads (and I mean shit LOADS) of interview snippets and stage patter from the likes of Geraldo Rivera. (Whee!) I mean, if you really like hearing minute long recordings of John and a piano and a crappy microphone (there are some of us), this record might be just up your anus. I actually prefer to hear a lot of my less-favorite John songs in this sort of minimalistic context rather than, say, the simply cruddy versions to be found on Menlove Ave. And since there's over 4 hours of stuff on here, you get some real gems like the short rip on 'Yesterday' he does after fucking up 'Whatever Gets You Through the Night'. And lemme say that the 'Be Bop A Lula' without all those horns is SPECTACULAR. And the drunken stuff between John and Phil Spector from the Rock 'n Roll sessions is simply hilarious. How can you not like a title like 'When in Doubt, Fuck It'? And the Double Fantasy stuff is still fantastic even when played with a drum machine.

I dunno, what do you want from this review anyway? Some of these songs were fantastic to begin with, and therefore hearing the outtakes is interesting. Some of the songs were shitty, but the outtakes are finally where you can discern the melody in that crap (I respect the NYC stuff more after hearing this, I guess), but then some of the outtakes are just mistake-filled pools of vomit. Lots of funny stuff, lots of crap. I'm giving it a B, the most non-committal grade I can muster.

Capn's Final Word: You won't think of John Lennon the same way after hearing this. But maybe that's a good thing. 'What are they gonna do, go and play jazz with the Jethro Tull?' hahahahahaha!!!!

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