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John Heaton (Budapest, Hungary)

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The Best Of George Harrison
The Best Of George Harrison
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.50

48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Never Should Have Seen The Light Of Day, 18 Mar. 2005
It seems incredible that even Ringo Starr got a compliation of his solo efforts released in the 1970s, 'Blast From the Past' (1975). Paul has 'Wings Greatest' (1978) and John put out 'Shaved Fish' (1975).
Yet the only George Harrison compliation put out in the 1970s was the frankly scandalous 'Best Of George Harrison' album from 1975, which was half Beatles and half solo. No one is complaining about the quality of songs actually included on this album. It's just that to reduce George's solo career to that point to a mere six tracks and then coupled with highlights from his Beatles output is so utterly ridiculous that one is simply lost for words. This album can be put together with home taping if it really needs to be. But as an official release it is unrewarding, insulting and as I said earlier: ridiculous. By 1975 Harrison had at least put out in 1970 one fantastic double album 'All Things Must Pass' (ignoring the third jam disc). And then another commendable follow up in 'Material World' (1973). It is true that the following two albums lacked that consistent quality. And I hate compilation albums anyway. This album can conceivably be only for those with a supremely casual interest in George Harrison's music. This kind of album has no place because the listener would find a much richer experience in purchasing an original Bealtles album if they want to hear Beatles songs. Pick any album, you really can't go wrong. But if Harrison is your prime souce of interest, then pick anything from 'Rubber Soul' onwards to hear those great Beatles Harrisongs in their true context.
And if you're interested in solo George, then go for (from this period) 'All Thing Must Pass' or 'Material World'. Not this pathetic attempt at a compliation. Which George disowned and was quite rightly highly upset by. There are only two tracks here which might possibly warrant buying this album. 'Bangla Desh' the single from 1971 (the only reason I bought it I can tell you) and the superb track 'You' from the rather weak 'Extra Texture' album from 1975 which is undoubtedly beyond the interest of the casual fan.
But that is Not Enough to justify this album. I would hate it if anyone actually purchased this one thinking that was it. There are riches in abundance to be found elsewhere. I mean how can a so called Best Of George Harrison not include the track 'All Things Must Pass' to name one of many examples. As I said I have a distaste for compilation albums but I admit they serve a purpose for some people. So if you would like to do more than scatch the surface, avoid this album and buy 'All Things Must Pass' which contains so many great songs that it is of infinitely better value than this weedy and thoroughly unrepresentative attempt of a compliation album. The accountants won here and that is never a good indightment of any album. Nor did it sell very well actually. So Go Forth And Multiply Ye EMI Accountants Of 1975.
This album does no justice to George Harrison.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 30, 2011 8:04 AM BST

Ringos Rotogravure
Ringos Rotogravure
Price: £19.81

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost Vintage Ringo, 11 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Ringos Rotogravure (Audio CD)
Apparently the start of a downhill slide in Ringo's solo career if you listen to the critics. But this album from 1976 is probably the equal if not better than the previous album 'Goodnight Vienna' (1974). It features contributions from all three Ex Beatles and in its songwriting and in its choice of cover material it is pretty damn good.
The opener 'A Dose Of Rock 'N Roll' is vintage Ringo. Play Loud as the Plastic Ono Band once said. Great guitar solo from Peter Frampton by the way. The second track, a cover of the classic 'Hey Baby' also is perfectly suited to Ringo. What great drumming, even if the legendary Jim Keltner had a hand in here! The McCartney track 'Pure Gold' is fairly lightweight but still of considerable charm. McCartney excels in writing such irresistable melodies. Like no other mortal. The next track 'Crying' is actually co-written by Ringo and is an incredibly moving commentary on the failure of his first marriage. Presumably. It's moving anyway. 'You Don't Know Me At All' was to have been the first single but was replaced at the last minute by 'A Dose Of Rock 'N Roll' at the last minute. It is nevertheless a very catchy infectious Ringo number full of charm and pleasant melody. Remember Ringo albums are not meant to impress on any supersonic scale. They are meant to please the listener and make him/her feel good. This album does that pretty much throughout and hence it is an album I return to quite often. Particularly if I'm a little down.
Side 2 (vinyl record) is less impressive it must be said but still contains a few gems. Lennon's track 'Cookin' not being one of them. Not often you call a Lennon song ordinary. But this is one example. The George track 'I'll Still Love You' is great althought Hari Georgeson is nowhere to be heard on the track, somewhat of a surprise. Eric Clapton contributes the pleasant but pretty lightweight 'This Be Called A Song', noteable really only for a great Clapton solo. 'Las Brisas' is quite pleasant, showing that Ringo Can write a good song if he puts his mind to it. The album closer 'Lady Gaye' is far better and is full of that Ringo sense of humour and infectious melody we all know and love.
All in all this is a thoroughly creditable effort. Unfortunately it came out when interest in the Ex Beatles was on the wane. But history will judge this one kindly. It is among Ringo's most enjoyable solo records. And he has recorded quite a few in my book.

Thirty Three And 1/3
Thirty Three And 1/3
Price: £16.32

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exuberant but flawed, 11 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Thirty Three And 1/3 (Audio CD)
An improvement on 'Extra Texture' for sure. And the best thing to report on this album is that we hear much more of that unique Harrison slide guitar so absent from the previous two albums. And secondly that the album maintains a positive uplifting mood throughout, a massive contrast to the last outing. A trend that was to continue on the next album 'George Harrison' (1979). But the difference between this and the next album is in the songwriting, so consitently melodic and brilliant on the latter, and so uneven here really. In truth this is a 3 and half star album and the only reason I have rounded it up as opposed to down is because of the numerous outstanding guitar solos and because George had dragged himself out of the pit of depression he seemed to be in on the previous album 'Extra Texture'.
OK let's get to the songwriting which probably ultimately dictates how often we return to listen to an album. There is at least one outstanding track 'Learning How To Love You', a tender moving ballad which brings the album to a serene and relaxing finish. There were even two minor hit singles, quite a rarity for George post 1973: 'This Song' and 'Crackerbox Palace'. Both catchy and inoffensive on first listen. But after repeated listenings they become pretty tiresome and show themselves to be what they mostly are. Lightweight.
There is one track 'See Yourself' which had been started in 1967 in response to when McCartney admitted to the press that he had taken LSD. He didn't finish until now nine years later. No big surprise but although it's lyrically quite interesting, as a melody it's pretty mediocre. 'It's What You Value' and 'Woman Don't You Cry For Me' are both cheerful good sounding songs taken to a higher level than they might have been by the superb musicianship, especially George's superb slide on 'Woman'. As songs they are better than mediocre, but not by too much.
'True Smokey' is another meandering dirge to Smokey Robinson, like the one on 'Extra Texture'. Boring.
The other two songs which I've not discussed are probably the best, excepting 'Learning How To Love You'. 'True Love' covers the Cole Porter classic in confident style and the guitar hear makes it about ten times better than the original if you ask me. Trust no Cole Porter fan is reading this.:-). The second track 'Dear One' is a heartfelt plea and thank you to Harrison's God. Good melody, interesting arrangement and a very sincere and moving set of lyrics. Then there is 'Beautiful Girl', the first of many truly great songs George would write for his Olivia. Although this one in particular probably achieves great status on account of the wonderful slide work.
So this is a mixed bag of Harrison goodies and not so goodies. It paves the way for the triumphant next album 'George Harrison' but lacks that songwriting quality which was so obvious there but which then somewhat deserted him again on the next two albums after that one, 'Somewhere In England' (1981) and 'Gone Troppo' (1982). Another review or two!
For mood, style and guitar this is probably a 5 star album. But for songwriting it is not much better than a 3 if we're honest.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2011 11:42 AM GMT

Wings At The Speed Of Sound
Wings At The Speed Of Sound
Price: £22.30

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warm And Beautiful, 11 Mar. 2005
This album was recorded hurriedly whilst in the midst of Wings' triumphant tour of the USA but it hardly shows. In fact there are so many highlights here that this album is basically up there with the best of Wings' albums. Some have argued that Paul should not have allowed other band members to sing such a high quota of the lead vocals. Well, this is pretty petty in my opinion as here we have Denny Laine's superb vocal on a great McCartney lost gem 'The Note You Never Wrote' plus his own classy contribution 'Time To Hide' which with McCartney's high backing vocals is one of the highlights of the album. Not to mention Paul's wonderful bass playing on this track. Even more so on the live version from 'Wings Over America'. How often has Paul played uninhibited and superb bass on someone else's song? 'Come Together', 'Something' and 'Old Brown Shoe' leap to mind, to name but three.
The drummer Joe English's solo spot 'Must Do Something About It' is wonderful. Glorious in its laid back feel. And guitarist Jimmy McCullough's 'Wino Junko' is an impressive follow up to his great track 'Medicine Jar' from the previous album 'Venus And Mars'. In fact letting the others sing lead on several, mostly their own tracks gives this album a sense of band identity which was missing from 'Venus And Mars'. The following album allowed Denny Laine two lead vocals. Again contributing to the overall feel of a group effort (albeit in this case amidst the departure of McCullough and English). Here though we hear Wings at their commercial peak, totally tight as a band and on a tour that was so good that Paul would and will never match it again.
Which brings us to the McCartney tracks. That is if you don't mind me skipping Linda's 'Cook Of The House' which is not too bad, but she has shown herself capable of far greater songs than this on her album 'Wild Prairie', released posthumously. To the point where 'Cook Of The House' is about the weakest track! So to Paul's. Well there IS some pretty disposable stuff here, notably 'San Ferry Ann' and 'She's My Baby', although the latter has some charm, if a little ruined by the awful 'like gravy I keep mopping her up yeah yeah' lyric.
But the remaining McCartney tracks are uniformly brilliant. 'Let 'Em In' especially is up there in the high echelons of McCartney songs. So simple. And so effective. And tuneful of course. Also, I defy anyone to criticize this wonderful lyric. After all Family is about the most important thing in Life and to hear McCartney joyfully welcoming his friends and family to a huge party is timeless in its appeal. 'Silly Love Songs' is similarly joyous and free in its positivity and the track is taken to another level by Paul's inspired, supremely melodic bass line. 'Beware My Love' is truly one of Paul's lost gem classics. And all three of these tracks work wonderfully well in concert, particularly on that triumphant Wings tour of America in 1976.
Which brings us to the closing number 'Warm And Beautifil'. A sentimental ode if ever there was one. I had this track as the first slow dance at my wedding. Unkind folk may complain about McCullough's slightly off tune solo. But this track is up there with the very best McCartney piano ballads. Paul's song (again) to Linda and his favourite on the album. Rightly so.
So this album captures a wonderful age when Wings were about the biggest band in the entire world. Song for song this may not be the strongest Wings album. But it flows so well and contains more than its fair share of the magic that McCartney is so eminently capable of. Perhaps those two words sum up this entire album in fact.
Warm. And Beautiful. :-)
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 3, 2014 10:57 AM GMT

Red Rose Speedway: The Paul McCartney Collection
Red Rose Speedway: The Paul McCartney Collection

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Melodic, 11 Mar. 2005
This album is a mixed bag but contains enough McCartney magic to warrant this glowing review. At times, the melodies from Paul McCartney seem to be almost taken for granted. On this album, the melodies are up there with his absolute best work and it is only perhaps the lyrics which prevents this album from having a classier reputation than it has. But lyrics are not everything and I for one would stand up in court and defend this album on the basis of the melodies alone.
We had abundant examples of this melodic mastery of course in all Paul's Beatles work and then on his home spun debut solo album 'McCartney' (1970) and plenty more on the two subsequent albums 'Ram' and 'Wild Life' (both from 1971). But here on this album he reaches melodic heights not heard since 'Abbey Road'.
The first single 'My Love' needs no further introduction. It is absloutely up there in the Hall of Fame Best Ballads Ever. Sentimental? Yes. But then so was 'Three Times A Lady' and 'I'm Not In Love'. I am tired of defending such classic songs. Tired.
'Little Lamb Dragonfly' may probably not be described as a classic. But it has touches of melody that were made in heaven. The same goes for 'Single Pigeon', 'Hold Me Tight', and 'Hands Of Love'. The latter possibly containing the most beautiful harmony singing from Paul and Linda ever committed to vinyl. 'Power Cut' is another little hidden gem.
The other tracks are mostly memorable too. 'Big Barn Bed' is a raucous opener, far superior to Wild Life's also raucous opener 'Mumbo'. The main difference being that 'Big Barn Bed' features a daring and creative McCartney bass line, the like of which we had not seen since 'Abbey Road'. 'Get On The Right Thing' was apparently a 'Ram' leftover but it is pretty enjoyable all the same. If not a classic.
Even the lesser moments here have some considerable charm. 'When The Night' has a beautifully melodic middle eight which somewhat rescues the song above its rather ordinary verse and lyric. The instrumental track 'Loop - First Indian On The Moon' is an interesting curio. Great bass playing from Paul, which takes it to an altogether higher level than its equivalent on the first solo album, the weird and basically forgettable 'Kreen Akore'.
So there we have it. 'Band On The Run' was to follow later in the same year, 1973, which became the blockbuster we all know and love. But on this album, we have enough memorable McCartney melody to make a Melody Cake. And if this artist was not at his supremely confident self whilst making it, presumably because of the hostile reaction to his post Beatles output thus far, this is hardly a reason to refute the sheer quality that is on display here. Paul never lost his genial melodic touch. And it is rich in abundance on this album.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 7, 2010 4:57 PM BST

Sentimental Journey
Sentimental Journey
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.81

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sentimental Ringo, 10 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Sentimental Journey (Audio CD)
The first Beatles solo album. And what a field day the critics had! But this album has stood the test of time and with hindsight is a perfectly charming album. It is my Hungarian wife's favourite Ringo album and maybe her favourite Beatles solo album no less. And she knows a good album when she hears one. And she is also that tremendous rarity among us fans. An objective listener. For there is a charm here on this album which is quite hard to define. Ringo singing a bunch of 1940s classic may not have been 'Abbey Road' or 'Imagine' or 'Band On The Run' for that matter.
But it is 100% Ringo. Doing songs many of which are perfect for Ringo. Not as consistently perfect as the country album 'Beaucoups Of Blues' which followed later in 1970. But this album has a disticntly Beatle quality to it. Firstly because it was released before people really knew the Dream Was Over, and more importantly due to the comforting presence of George Martin who as we know produced all the Beatle albums, excepting 'Let It Be' when even the Fab Four had lost interest.
It is a thoroughly enjoyable record for the most part. The title track: who can failed to be moved by Ringo's singing here? I once got a crowd of elderly people singing along to this in an Exeter pub during my university years. A timeless song and Ringo does a pretty decent job here. In my humble opinion.
Other highlights include the sublime covers of 'Bye Bye Blackbird' and 'Whispering Grass', both of which suit Ringo's voice perfectly. 'Night And Day' and 'Blue Turning Grey Over You' rather less so. 'Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing' is so hilarious that it is good. Good. There are also ballads which charm such as 'Dream' and 'Stardust'.
Then there is the closing track 'Let The World Go By'. Not only featuring the only known Ringo harmony vocal on record but also an incredibly moving cover version of which only Ringo is capable. Only Ringo. It is brilliant, as is at least half of this album. And written during that period when the Beatles'split was far from certain it almost qualifies as a Beatles album. Albeit one where Ringo sings all the tracks!
Ringo and his Brothers were to do far worse than this over the years. Hence the 4 stars. I hope history catches up with this one. It has considerable merit....and here's the important bit, it has truly lasted the test of time and 30 years of angry NME reviewers. A fine happy record with more charm than most. God Bless You Ringo.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2014 9:33 AM BST

Ringo The 4th
Ringo The 4th

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting, 10 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Ringo The 4th (Audio CD)
At the time this was probably among the hardest Ringo album to defend to the objective listener. Whoever he is. But I am assuming that you would not be reading this had you not fallen victim to a least of a bout of that wonderful disease called Subjectivity.
Ringo's albums of from least the 1970s have a special charm, especially in the late 70s when they were so profoundly untrendy. Not likely to ingratiate oneself with the In Crowd was the sentence: 'Have you heard the latest Ringo album, it's great.'
When most kids were listening to Stiff Little Fingers or The Buzzcocks, yours truly was discovering Ringo Starr albums. Don't Laugh. And I am happy to say that I return to this album quite often. For although it may not be Ringo's best album, it certainly has its moments. Even Ringo dismissed his work after 'Goodnight Vienna' as going downhill and the declining work of a disinterested alcoholic, but he is being pretty unfair. All three albums from this period: this one, the previous one 'Rotogravure' (1976) and the next one 'Bad Boy' (1978) all have several fine moments. Maybe not up there with the best two which are 'Beaucoups Of Blues' (1970) and 'Ringo' (1973), the sublime set of which very nearly, very nearly saw a Beatles reunion. No less.
This album has no other Ex Beatles contributing which is a little disappointing but there are references to his three brothers, most noteably on 'Out On The Streets' which has him meeting up with the Lennons at the Dakota. Or else out on the streets nearby. And one track is even called 'Wings'!
But enough of Beatles connections, to the songs. The opener 'Drowning In The Sea Of Love' is an OK disco number but better was to come. The second number 'Tango All Night' is quite poppy but basically unmemorable. The said track 'Wings' is pretty decent but the first great song is the very moving ballad 'Gave It All Up'. In which Ringo tells a moving story of giving up various things in his life as he moved through the rollercoaster life that it was. Most so when he talks of his now ex wife 'giving it all up....for Love'. The line 'one night she needed me and I wasn't there' is perhaps the best line Ringo ever wrote.
Who said only Lennon of the Beatles could be open hearted and emotional? And the tune is decent too.
It is true that a few tracks are rather ordinary. 'Sneaking With Sally Through The Alley' was a bad choice for Ringo to cover and 'Out On The Streets' is pretty forgettable as a song, despite the afore mentioned Lennon reference.
Side 2 (vinyl record) opens with 'Can She Do It Like She Dances' which is a perfect song for Ringo and he delivers the goods, however drunk he was at the time. The lyrics are highly amusing and Ringoish. Not a word you'll find in The New Oxford Dictionary.
The editor must have missed it.
There are some fine ballads too on Side 2, in particular 'Gypsies In Flight' and 'It's No Secret' which are both charming in the best Ringo style.
The album ends in fine style with 'Simple Love Song'. Which is just that but with that infectious Ringo melody and cheerfulness we all know and love.
No this isn't a bad album by any means. I even find myself listening to it as often as several albums from the others. And this is supposed to be about the low point of Ringo's career. Who, again supposedly, was just the dum drummer. As Paul McCartney said in 1971, 'Some People Never Know'.

Venus And Mars
Venus And Mars

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plastic Production I'm Afraid, 7 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Venus And Mars (Audio CD)
This is a difficult album for me to review as I first heard many of the tracks here on the live set 'Wings Over America' (1976) and it is difficult to evaluate the original album versions after hearing such a stupendous live set as that. Normally I infinitely prefer studio albums to live albums but here...with just one exception I must admit that the 1976 live versions achieve far greater impact than their studio counterparts. This is certainly the case with 'You Gave Me The Answer' and 'Magneto' which are basically taken to a much more exciting level than the rather tepid versions on offer here! It is hard to believe they are in fact the same songs. 'You Gave Me The Answer' is pretty damn lightweight on this album. Not totally devoid of charm of course. But two things: it is not a patch on 'Honey Pie' from the Beatles White album to which it inevitably draws comparison. And it totally lacks the punch of the live version. 'Magneto' is something of a curio on this studio album but on the live set takes on a whole new life with McCartney's pulsating bass line for a start being about twice as loud.
The title track is of course sublime on this album as on 'Wings Over America' but the follow up track 'Rock Show' is incredibly weak on this album. It is a Rock Song for God's sake but here it is almost like a parody of a pretty bad rock song. 'Medicine Jar' is a fine song from guitarist Jimmy McCullough but it is literally 10 times better on the live album. I can't believe I'm saying this. But the production here on most of the album sounds artificial, forced and generally unlikeable. Not a comment on the songs, but on McCartney's production. Perhaps not helped by a change of drummer half way through the sessions. But this didn't hinder 'London Town' (1978) from being the thoroughly cohesive, not to mention melodically inspired album that it undoubtedly is. Unbelievably 'Spirits Of Ancient Egypt' is also vastly inferior to the live version. You'd think I have a vendetta against this album and am getting paid a massive commission on 'Wings Over America'. Not guilty (to quote Mr Harrison) on both counts!
Of course there are redeeming features of course, as always. 'Love In Song' is pretty fine, if not up there in the etchelons. 'Call Me Back Again' works well here and 'Treat Her Gently' is a fairly charming McCartney ballad. Although again it is far removed from his best work in this oeuvre.
The absolute stand out track her is unquestionably the sublime 'Listen To What The Man Said' which not only puts the live version in the shade but is up there in the Top 10 McCartney solo tracks. It is wonderful. Dave Mason's rhythm guitar helps and it's basically a Tour De Force McCartney 1975. So vastly superior to anything else on the album, with the possible exception of the mystical and wondeful title track.
Rumour has it that Lennon was invited to participate in the sessions for this album. And that only his reconcilation with Yoko prevented this historical event from taking place. To quote Brian Wilson 'God only knows' what this album would have sounded like had we'd seen a Lennon-McCartney collaboration in 1975. It doesn't even bear thinking about. Because it's not as if there's anything wrong with the songs themselves. A triumphant World Tour was launched on the back of it after all! But it is the lacklustre production which really lets the side down here. And we won't dwell on some of the rather weedy lyrics.
It is about the only solo album from Paul in 30+ years that I find hard to warm to. Not exactly bad of course but a wasted opportunity to follow up 'Band On The Run' with another album of peerless sound quality to match the quality of the songs. Sorry Paul.

Shaved Fish
Shaved Fish
Price: £12.82

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If You Must Buy A Compilation....., 6 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Shaved Fish (Audio CD)
It is very rarely that I would review a compilation album, having an immense preference album for original albums because they and they alone display the continuity that a compilation can virtually never offer. And this indeed is a compilation album and so in my opinion is vastly inferior to virtually all of Lennon's solo albums, the possible exception being 'Some Time In New York City' (1972). But compared to the countless compilations we have seen since Lennon's tragic death in 1980, at least this album has something none of those albums have.
It was put together by Lennon himself. Not by some record company. Not even by Yoko, who on balance has done a decent job of keeping the Lennon flame alive. And it does a pretty good job of summarizing Lennon's work from 1970-1975. Which is Not Easy. For example, 'Mother' from the first album sounds hopelessly out of place on Any Compilation. It is too God Damn personal for that. Or to quote Lennon in his historic Playboy interview in September 1980: 'I hate that phrase, please replace God Damn with 'F***ing', more appropriate to the magazine we're dealing with!'
But this album is important at least for the singles 'Cold Turkey' (1969), 'Instant Karma' (1970), and 'Power To The People' (1971) which were previously unavailable on an album. And they flow pretty well with the other classics we all know and love.
But being a compilation from a man who produced several stunning solo albums, I can bring myself to give this album no more than 4 stars. If you Must purchase a compilation then this is the one my friends. And yes, the front cover artwork is admittedly superb, not that you can see it too well on a CD!

Mind Games
Mind Games
Price: £8.45

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly Flawed But Still Powerful Mind Games, 5 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Mind Games (Audio CD)
Before we say anything let us say that this album is mostly memorable. Certainly a relief after the third party rants of 'Some Time In New York City' from the previous year which with its Headline Grabbing material which became dated within a year or two and more importantly with its largely pointless extra live album effectively doubling that albums's price!
This album is 100% Lennon and although it does not contain many really standout tracks like his first two solo albums (Plastic Ono Band 1970 and Imagine 1971), it flows well as an album and is ultimately a personal statement, which is where Lennon is undoubtedly at his best.
The title track is for sure a bona fide classic. Heavenly strings actually helped significantly by a three note Lennon guitar solo which sounds like a string backing! A Masterpiece. The second track 'Tight As' is a cheeky upbeat and infectious Lennon rocker in the best tradition of 'Ballad Of John And Yoko' (Beatles 1969) and 'Crippled Inside' (1971). Perhaps the best song on the album, aside from perhaps the title track. The album becomes less brilliant for a while: 'Aisumasen' is a decent ballad but lacking the melody to be up there with Lennon's best ballad work. Despite a great guitar solo which allegedly was played by Lennon himself.
'One Day At A Time' is a regrettable attempt at a falsetto vocal ballad. Annoyoing female accompinament from a bunch of ladies callled Something Different. Well sorry Ladies you should not have bothered. You are annoying on this track. And even more so on 'Out The Blue' which is so obviously a great song. When you hear a track like this it does tempt one to think what Paul, George and Ringo could have added to this track to make it he bonafide classic it certainly is. Paul once said he would never have female choirs on a Beatle record. Well he let Linda loose on a few of his solo tracks and here Lennon inexpicably allows these female singers to truly take the edge off what is a great song. Unbelievably the same comment can be made for the next track 'Freda The People'. Great song. Which could have been so much better with a punchier arrangement, and with No Backing Vocals.
'Intuition' at least is free of this and with its wondefully philisophical lyric and hypnotic tune and rhythm section is a certain highlight of the album. The other tracks are varied: 'Only People' is Weak, not just on account of the annoying backing vocals but mainly because it is pretty weak in the first place. A couple of supreme ballads come to the rescue late in the album: 'I Know (I Know)' and particularly 'You Are Here' are superb in their imagery, melody and delivery. The latter actually benefiting from the arrangement for once. 'Meat City' is an enjoyable romp of a rocker, if ultimately disposable as a song.
So the word I would use for this album is Frustrating. The song quality is there, for the most part. The personal emotional lyrics are also there. And there are several very fine songs. Must have come as quite a relief after 'Some Time In New York City'. But despite its abundant qualties I must refrain from giving it the full 5 stars. It loses a star because it is not as passionate as other Lennon solo albums and because of those annoying female backing vocals which in my opinion should not have been allowed within a hundred miles of his album.
But it was a return to form for sure. And the next album 'Walls And Bridges' would continue this to greater effect. Lennon himself would probably describe this album as Treading Water, as some crytics did for sure, some even saying that he had 'embarrassingly little to say'. Well that is patently Not True. It's just that it could have been so much better. Still well worthy of investigation. If only so we keep on playing those Mind Games. I am only raising minor objections to the production but at the end of the day this still remains a Fine Album.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 3, 2014 9:02 AM BST

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