Ok. For my second review on the new John Lennon remasters I have decided to go with "Mind Games", originally released in late 1973.
This review will be divided into three separate segments:
1. Hystorical Context.
1. Hystorical Context.
It is 1973. John and Yoko have been practically two years living in New York City. They have just moved from a small apartment in Greenwich Village to the famous Dakota building opposite Central Park. So it is fair to say that they now "live" as a married couple in New York. Yet "things" are not so simple. To explain. This is the year that John Lennons private and personal life will literaly reach "rock bottom". This is due mainly to three different, yet all relative, reasons.
Firstly. While recording "Mind Games" John and Yoko, mainly at the insistance of Yoko, decide to have a small time apart. A separation, to be precise. The stress of being blamed for The Beatles break-up and being constantly criticized for her avant-garde concept work, solo as well as with John Lennon, was to much to handle. So it was time for a break. This is the start of what John Lennon referred to as his 18 month "lost weekend", for which he moved to a beach house in Los Angeles with his and Yokos assistant May Pang.
Secondly. At this precise time, Richard Nixon and the U.S. Government along with the F.B.I. come to the conclussion that they do not want John Lennon in the U.S.A. The "excuse" is his 1968 marihuana bust-up in London, but the real reason is his threat to the state as a peacenick. (For the record I would like to state that at this time and over the years many musicians, actors and artists have been busted for drugs. Yet I do not know of anyone who has been harrased to the extent that John Lennon was at this time because of this. Yet we all know now that that was not the real reason, that was an "excuse cover-up".) So due to this, John Lennon was totally paranoid. And not without reason.
Thirdly. John and Yokos previous album "Some Time in New York City" was completley slated by the press and the public as well, leading to very very poor sales and a hostile reaction. Because of its political themes, this is one of the reasons the government was after him.
So this is what was going on in John Lennons life at the time. Intense.
In "Mind Games" we see a derparture from political themes and a return to more "accesible" pop love songs. The content is more in line with "Imagine", and the sound is very "of the time". This album and 1974s "Walls and Bridges" have a very L.A. 70's feel to them. And they are also John Lennons most commercial sounding albums.
As a whole, it lacks the strong structure and connection from his strongest albums to date "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band" and "Imagine". Yet there are very very powerful songs in here. There is a little bit of everything.
Firts of all, we have the title song and lead (and only) single of the year "Mind Games". Its b-side being "Meat City". This is one of the greatest, most powerfull and melodic John Lennon songs out there. It all comes together: beautiful melody, powerful lyrics, elegant arrangement, etc. We also have hard rockers with "Tight As" and "Meat City". Typical love songs, "Aisumasen (I'm sorry)", "Out the Blue". A small concept piece, "Nutopian International Anthem". One politically directioned song with "Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple)", which sounds very much like songs on his previous album "STINYC". A few fillers with "Intuition", "I know (I know)" and "Only People". And, of course, two of my all time favourite John Lennon compositions "One day (At a Time)" and "You are Here". I kind of see the later as a prequel to "Number 9 Dream" from "Walls and Bridges".
I personally think this album would have benefited if it had been compresed a bit. I think another single should have been released (possibly "Bring on the Lucie") with an exclusive single b-side (either "Only People" or "I know (I know)". This is just my opinion.
All in all, a very underrated album that given a chance and a few listens can very much brighten the darkest of souls. I do find it a very uplifting and "feel good" album, considering what was happenning behind the scenes (just like The Beatles "Abbey Road").
This is my second edition of "Mind Games". My first was the 2002 remaster. When I first heard the 2002 edition it was the first time I heard "Mind Games" the album in full. I was slightly dissapointed at first because it did not live up to other John Lennon albums. But over the years I have grown to really really love it!! The sound of the 2002 edition was ashtonishing, even though I had only heard a few songs before, yet on the title track the remastering process was fantastic. So now we come to the 2010 remaster. The first element that strikes me is the power of John Lennons voice. It is definitely much louder and clearer. It is like having a band live in my bedroom. I also find the instrumentation much clearer to appreciate, there are many sounds that are much easier to identify. The word that comes to my mind is "polished". This edition sounds like it has had a very hard and well done clean up job. But the real surprise for me was the mix on "Meat City". WOW!!! What a hard rocking song!!! The guitars are so striking!! Like the sound of lightning right after an intense moment of silence. It is a real Disco Rock Song!! Really really mind blowing!
As far as the packaging goes, it is very similar to The Beatles Remasters, housed in an open up cardboard box. The liner notes are very interesting and we get a small comment from Yoko Ono on the album. And we also have all the printed lyrics. The booklet for the 2002 edition is much bigger and more complete, sometimes even excesive. But it is a shame that all the memorebilia from that edition is not present here. But at the end of the day what counts is the sound and mix of the CD. And I definitely prefer this mix. In one word: POWERFUL!
If you do not have this album I recomend you buy this edition. But if you already have the 2002 edition, or even the L.P. then it is really up to you. But it is definitely worth the listen.
Once again this "review" has resulted in being much longer than my initial thought. But what can I say? I am very passionate about John Lennon, and music and art in general. So when I start "talking" I have to sometimes make myself stop. So I will.
Thank you very much for taking your time to read my second review. I hope I have been of some help. Even if it is just to give you a little insight on this period of John Lennons life, to entertain you for a small amount of time, or even if I can give you a laugh.