Top positive review
37 people found this helpful
on 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.