Monday, December 28, 2009

John Lennon - Cold Turkey

(Apple, 1969)

I must say that it’s funny to hear the usual pants-wetting Beatlefan crybabies bleat about Yoko Ono using the Plastic Ono Band name on her latest album, considering that the conceptual non-group was always intended to be whomever John and(/or?) Yoko surrounded themselves with at any given session. Check “Cold Turkey,” which features an entirely different cast of characters than those on “Give Peace a Chance”: This time, it’s John, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman, and Ringo Starr, and they’re offering up a far different sound than the jangly street-chant of the previous single, here laying down a hard claustro-rockin’ tale of heroin withdrawal and general misery over some tense, jagged skree. I don’t believe that Lennon ever nastied it up guitar-wise as effectively as he does on this disc, and in terms of overall hot-rock performance, probably only “I Found Out” (which also features Voorman on mean-burblin’ bass) comes at all close to such intensity in the Lennon songbook. Further marrying an ever inward-looking tendency with a raw, Beatle-baggage-free take on the pop/rock setup, “Cold Turkey” – lyrically, musically, vocally – certainly paves the way for the similarly uncomfortable John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band LP of 1970. Just as satisfying, B-side “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand in the Snow)” features the same group jamming in a driving, almost-unhinged blues-rock style as Ono provides the shrieking, ululating vocals for which she’s long been (unfairly) mocked. Ground zero for the Yoko musical template, this song, as with John’s, clearly points towards work undertaken in 1970 – her own P.O.B. album, though, jumps further into crazed, jazz-informed, free-rock mindblow that thumps far harder and far freakier than any solo Beatle effort out there. Shit’s NUTS. Seriously: if you don’t own it, reconsider soon.