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4.6 out of 5 stars
Walls And Bridges
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 4 January 2006
Upon Yoko booting John out of the house in 1973, Lennon spent his so-called "lost weekend" in Los Angeles with various boozy mates until reuniting with Mrs Lennon late in '74. The phrase "lost weekend" is misleading though, because if John was at a low ebb personally, he was productive artistically, making an album of rock'n'roll covers and this seriously underrated set, "Walls and Bridges".
Spending his time in L.A. where the sun always shone and the wine always flowed, this album is John's most "American", with a stack of sax, brass and strings fleshing out the sound, more than a hint of a soul swagger and a warm, mellow west coast production. The musical arrangements and production style contrast markedly with the lyrical content, which dwells on feelings of loneliness and loss. The opening track "Going Down on Love" for example, with its laid back funk and cool sax, includes lyrics such as "You know I'm drowning in a sea of hatred".
Other titles like "Scared" and "Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out") add to the expressions of cynicism and desire to recapture something missing in his life. Yoko for a start, perhaps. And a longing for a renewed sense of direction generally. He sounds happiest when he escapes into the other-worldly realms filled with memories of better times evoked on "Old Dirt Road" and most famously on "#9 Dream". That sense of searching and yearning carries over to the album's artwork, depicting a number of John's paintings from primary school days.
The most famous song here is "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night". The story goes that Lennon agreed to play live with Elton John if this single reached no.1, little thinking it would. But it did, and Elton John introduced a surprise guest to his audience later that year. This reissue of "Walls and Bridges" includes their live performance of "Whatever Gets You Through The Night". That's great but our friends at EMI are not being as generous as they'd like you to think. At that show John also performed "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "I Saw Her Standing There", which have surfaced on bootlegs in the past so why not here now?
"Walls and Bridges" is, then, not only a document, a diary almost of a turbulent time in John Lennon's life. It is also a collection of high quality, emotionally charged and mostly sad songs given a deceptively lush setting. That's California for you I suppose. Ignore the "lost weekend" dismissals, this is Lennon in great musical if not personal shape.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 16 March 2009
After initially disliking this album and feeling it was inferior to Mind Games (i was 13 at the time), I filed it away for over 30 years. Now, after hearing the remastered cd this week I have completely revised my opinion.... For me it now ranks as a major piece of work and is up there with the best of Lennons solo output. Supported by first class musicians - jim keltner (drums) klaus voormann (bass), Nicky Hopkins (piano) Bobby Keys (sax)- there are several songs that easily rank with anything off Imagine and Plastic Ono Band i.e. Going down on love, Scared, Bless you, #9 Dream, Nobody loves you when you are down and out...The remaining songs are all strong, even the instrumental Beef Jerky is enjoyable. Lennon is in fine voice - his vocals, especially in Scared and Nobody Loves you .. send shivers as his best work does..

Recommended
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 17 November 2005
It is inappropriate to rate a Lennon album other than at the level of enjoyment perhaps. Certainly not comparitively, i.e better,as good as or not as good as Imagine, the album which tends to be the yardstick for his other albums to match up to. Walls and Bridges is a certain mood album, early morning music, as the NME described it. The mood is certainly not uplifting, how could it be with songs such as Going Down on Love, Scared and Nobody Loves You? These are strong but doleful songs. However, No 9 Dream is pure Lennon and harks back to his Walrus and Lucy creativity. The opening bars lead into an ethereal, vocal and melodically enchanting experience. The album is worth purchasing for this song alone, I never tire of not just listening to it but being carried away by it. Steel & Glass is Lennon at his best vocally. Few, if any rock singers, could hold a note for as long and as emotionally felt as Lennon does. Even the fade out humming is laden with emotional content. A major criticism of mine is the smothering of a brilliant voice with layers of instruments. Nobody Loves You should be a classic Lennon accoustic guitar number, but his unfortunate lack of confidence in the quality of his voice is drowned out instead by heavy handed brass and fiddle sections. Elton John adds spice to the two jaunty tracks that he appears on, and Harry Nilson is a wise partner on the bluesy, laid back Old Dirt Road. All in all, it is a mood album albeit excellent one, and stands apart from his other albums because of this.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Title : Walls And Bridges
Released 1974
Highest chart position. UK 6 USA 1
All songs written and composed by John Lennon, except "Old Dirt Road", by John Lennon and Harry Nilsson and "Ya Ya", by Lee Dorsey/Morris Levy/Clarence Lewis/Morgan Robinson
Produced by John Lennon/Harry Nilsson.
The band :
John Lennon: lead, harmony and background vocals; lead, rhythm and acoustic guitar; piano, whistling and percussion.
Ken Ascher: electric piano, clavinet and mellotron.
Jim Keltner: drums.
Arthur Jenkins: percussion.
Nicky Hopkins: piano.
Klaus Voormann: bass.
Bobby Keys: tenor saxophone
Jesse Ed Davis: lead and acoustic guitar
Eddie Mottau: acoustic guitar.

John Lennon is possibly the greatest songwriter that ever lived. Walls and Bridges is Lennons fourth album in his solo career that followed his split with the "Beatles". In my opinion it's his second best with Imagine being my favorite and "Plastic Ono Band" coming third. His singing is superb on every track on this album and the the production is full and heavy with plenty of brass. It has a variety of musical stylings and many of the lyrics make it clear that Lennon was having a good time on the surface but also doing a lot of soul searching. The album has an extreme of emotions where at times he explores the depths of feeling that he reached on his first "Plastic Ono Band" album but on this album the strong production gives warmth to these sometimes heartbreaking lyrics. Track 1 is "Going Down On Love" and this is a really cool and funky track similar in style to "Hold on" which is the opening track on the "Plastic ono band" album. It has a lovely feel to it. Track 2 is "Whatever gets you through the night" This is an upbeat feel good track which features Elton John. It's the most commercial track on the album but not the best. It was the main single from the album and although it only reach No 36 in the UK it reached No1 in the USA. Track 3 is "Old dirt road" is co written with nilsson and is a lovely slow country feeling song. Track 5 is the spell bounding "Bless You" which is one of the best songs that lennon ever wrote. It is a beautiful ballad with feelings of loss and love. He is addressing his feelings toward Ono but it includes the line "some people think it's over now that we've spread our wings" which may refer to someone else. Track six is "Scared" which has such a haunting lyric where he really expresses his fears so well. Musically strong and it's a simply brilliant first person song. Track 7 is No 9 Dream which is a whimsical dreamy song with feelings of reminisce. It's a top class song which stands out on it's own. Track 8 is "Surprise surprise" which is a song written for May Pang. It's a very passionate and sexy song but it's so obvious that Johns heart belongs to Yoko. Track 9 is "Steel and Glass" which is similar in feel to "How Do You Sleep" from the Imagine album but this time the target is Alen Klien. Lennon is brilliant when he's angry. Track 10 is "Beef Jerky" which is an instrumental which is brassy and loud. Track 11 is "Nobody Loves You When Your Down And Out" This slow folky song is similar in style to "Working Class Hero" and it's just about as good which is saying something. It's Lennon expressing how he feels at being where he is in life. It's so good and it has a killer middle 8 which would fit right in the Beatles "White album" This is the last proper track on the last album that Lennon released before his death and the last line of this track is "nobody loves you when you're six feet underground". Well john never went six feet underground and although some didn't like him I know millions who did, including me. Track 12 is a throw away extra which includes Julian on drums. This is a classic album which everyone should take a listen to. It's an album to listen to on your own where you can feel Johns pain and hurt and loneliness sooth your own. The world was blessed to have a man like this. Listen and enjoy for we may never see his like again.

Track listing and my ratings.

1."Going Down on Love" 4/5
2."Whatever Gets You thru the Night" 4/5
3."Old Dirt Road" 4/5
4."What You Got" 3/5
5."Bless You" 5/5
6."Scared" 5/5
7."#9 Dream" 4/5
8."Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)" 3/5
9."Steel and Glass" 4/5
10."Beef Jerky" 3/5
11."Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out)" 5/5
12."Ya Ya" 2/5

[edit] 2005 reissue bonus tracks
1."Whatever Gets You thru the Night" - 4:23 Live with the Elton John band

2."Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out)" - 5:07 Alternative version

3."John Interview (by Bob Mercer)" - 3:47

This is a brilliant album which is up there in qulity with "imagine" and comes a close second.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2005
A few too many negative things have been said about this album about this album over the years, despite the ecstatic reaction to it at least in the US on its original release more than 30 years ago. Lennon treading water, depressing, notasgoodasimagine and such like.
It is in fact a truly remarkable piece of work. Lost Weekend or not, this is Lennon's creativity and genius on highly visible display here, on nearly every track. The opener 'Going Down On Love' is a less arresting opener as, say 'Imagine' was three years earlier. But in its haunting minor key melody and gripping lyrics and peerless vocal it is a minor masterpiece. When Lennon sings 'will somebody please please help me?' he really means it. This album continues the return to form which 'Mind Games' was from the previous year, and the main reason is that Lennon is writing about personal experience as opposed to fighting some political cause. And this is what he does best, with only very a few exceptions The second number 'Whatever Gets You Thru The Night' is a joyous ode to survival in the midst of adversity. In this case, losing Yoko no less... which we know was No Minor Event. And the lyrics are very witty and amusing, in particular the timeless trio of 'Don't need a sword to cut thru flowers', 'Don't need a watch to waste your time' and 'Don't need a gun to blow your mind'. Great stuff indeed and you can throw these lines into conversation 30 years on and guarantee an 'Oh that's good' reaction!
'Old Dirt Road' is hardly a classic as a song (when Nilsson covered it in 1980 it became a bit ordinary) but what it does beautifully is convey an atmosphere. Would have worked well on the soundtrack to 'Blazing Saddles' for example. 'What You Got' is a great rocker with another great line, if not exactly original: 'you don't know what you got....until you lose it'. So true. Then there is 'Scared' with a thoroughly harrowing lyric and great minor key melody (again), this time on stomping piano. This track could have been on the first solo album JL Plastic Ono Band but this one is if anything, even more personal. 'Hatred and jealousy, gonna be the death of me' Lennon screams he Really Means It.
Side 2 (of the vinyl album) opened with No 9 Dream, which Lennon himself dismissed (somewhat) as 'craftsmanship'. Who cares? It's a truly beautiful melody and a great ghostlike vocal. 'Surprise Surprise' is about as close to a thowaway as there is on this album, but even here the harmony vocals of Elton John take this rather ordinary song to a higher level. And by the way Elton's contribution to 'Whatever Gets You Thru The Night' does the same to greater effect (listen to the lacklustre version on the Lennon anthology and you will know what I mean!). 'Steal and Galss' is Son Of 'How Do You Sleep', this time (presumably) aimed at Allen Klein. Less convincing in its delivery no doubt because the resentment on this occasion was rather less severe. A great song all the same. 'Beef Jerky' is an amusing if lightweight instrumental which brings us to the closing number 'Nobody Loves You' which is probably even more effective on the Anthology version (a rare event). Again, a beautiful number, full of very personal and moving sentiment. The album version is perhaps a little over produced in its Spectoresque strings and horn section, but this is basically very minor criticism. The middle eight 'well I get up in the morning' section brings goosepimples on both versions. A very moving song. 'Ya Ya' brings things down to earth int he same way as 'Her Majesty' did at the end of 'Abbey Road'. ,
All in all, this album is a triumph , about the definition of Triumph Out Of Adversity if you ask me. Ringo at the time in 1974 called it the best album of the last 5 years. And he was probably right. But now, 30 years on, it is more than that. More than that.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2005
One of the three untouchable peaks of Lennon's solo career (with POB & Imagine), W&B is a nearly perfect blue eyed soul album. The songs are strong and the production beautifully understated. His last great album......
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on 6 September 2014
If I was allowed to take only one Lp with me in the grave, it would be "Walls and Bridges".

I remember when it was issued and when I bought it when I was 12. Friday I was in the cinema together with the schoolboys, crossing the street to look at it in the window. Wow ... Then I bought it on monday. This LP has made the biggest emotional impression on me ever.

It was Lennons dream that Frank Sinatra would sing "Nobody Loves You (when you're down and Out)".

#9 Dream (which was a result of working on Many Rivers to Cross/ Pussycats) is probably the best Lennon track ever, though it is not so known.

I was so sad for many years when Lennon died, because there would never be a "Walls and Bridges no. 2". I think he would have been able to make something like it again. The "Walls"-vinyl record with the flapside, photos, paintings and the book really shows the difference between a vinyl and a CD. The CD has not the same soul.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is by no means John Lennon at his finest hour. He wrote and recorded this album during his "lost weekend" when Yoko and him separated for eighteen months. You can tell.
Having said that, it is still a brilliant piece of emotive music. It lacks the finesse of Plastic Ono Band, but it more than makes up for it in other ways. Stand-out tracks are Steel and Glass, Scared and Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out.
It's quite odd that the two singles that he released from the album were more uplifting than the rest of the album, but nevertheless this is a great chronicle of Lennons life. He has an album full of songs for every aspect of his private life, and this is the side of him that is upset that his wife has left him. But it still contains the stamp of class.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2003
Walls and Bridges is underated horribly and should have already been remastered and remixed like the other albums. Songs like old dirt road and Steel and Glass are some of his best. This album is fabulous. Easily my favourite lennon album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 August 2010
The remastered version of W&B has weakened in particular the rich drumming in #9 Dream especially the drumbeat link to the second part of the song. I'm sticking to this original rich album production as Lennon intended.
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