Sunday, February 28, 2010

John Lennnon - I'm Stepping Out

(Polydor, 1984)

Once more to the well! Here’s further doodly-doo from the archives, a partner/sequel of sorts to “Watching the Wheels” where John addresses the big-city bored-dude itch that comes along with his decision to squirrel himself away as a daddy for five years. It’s a stiff straight-rock-combo performance, clearly not intended to be a final take, but it’s strong enough as far as outtakes go (though maybe not worthy of release as a single). Yoko’s alien-croon funk come-on “Sleepless Night” adds little… beyond “Walking on Thin Ice,” the post-Double Fantasy years aren’t her most exciting musical period. Fashion commentary: the cover of this record reminds me once again that our friend John was bizarrely thin back in ’80. What was that about? Was he skiing the Bolivian slopes, wink-wink? HEY, SEARCH ME!

John Lennon - Borrowed Time

(Polydor, 1984)

I know what you’re wondering: How’s stuff going with my shower? Well let me tells it to you straight by informing one and all that I fixed it my own damned self by bellbottoming down to the local plumbing supply store and simply buying a new shower head, which I then “installed” WITHOUT the recommended thread sealing tape. Problem solved, body cleansed. None more handy than this guy right here, and none more rebellious (re: thread sealing tape). I DO WHAT I WANT.

And what of John Lennon? Baggy white-dude reggae butter from him here with “Borrowed Time”… it’s a very swell simp-Caribbean groove-thingy that ambles along inoffensively just as it should. His DF/M&H sessions were loose, and this pulls that vibe off as well as anything else on those oft-slight tapes, even if, as a whole, Milk and Honey goes a bit far in the anti-slick direction and, perhaps inevitably, feels at times unfinished and patched together. Uh. So?

Monday, February 22, 2010

John Lennon - Nobody Told Me

(Polydor, 1983)

I’m all out of sorts. Not only do I have some weird head-congestion situation that’s rendering me half-deaf and three-quarters off-balance, but my shower is also busted. Water pressure problem? Utility company tomfoolery? Wish I knew. Washing and shampooing in the kitchen sink is a skunk-rotten scene even after a single day. These aggravations have left me grouchy, and I’m sulking around the pad tonight with a grimace, a glare, and both fists a-shaking. What is that that deceased fellow from the Beatles sang in his big posthumous hit? “Nobody told me there’d be days like these!” Darn straight, Johnny! ’Cept he’s doling out a wryly bemused helping of whatchoo-gonna-do bafflement that has little to do – moodwise – with the pissy self-pitython that I’m busy rocking. Still, my anger hasta melt a smidge thanks to the goofy looseness of this simple pop ear-pleaser, a song whose rock-combo lightness of touch is refreshing after the off-putting gloss of Double Fantasy. Continuing the “dialogue” structure of DF, Yoko tacks her jarringly short “O’ Sanity” onto the B, wasting wax that woulda been better grooved with, if not a stronger Ono track, one of the many, many Lennon demos or outtakes from the post-’75 period – thematic whatsis is great and all, but this is just self-indulgent, poor-choice silliness. And that’s FACT, not my judgment-impairing sickness and uncleanliness talking.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

John Lennon - (Just Like) Starting Over

(Geffen, 1981)

Just in time for the American hardcore explosion, Geffen fires a doubled-sided NUTTIN BUT HITS 7” – “(Just Like) Starting Over” b/w “Woman”!! – up the ass of a nation that will never and CAN NEVER be the same after the dropping of this INSANE VINYL. These two fuckers were straight BANGERS in Lennon’s life, and things haven’t changed since death came creeping. Yeh, “Starting Over” still makes me feel like I should check on ye olde rockin’ prostate, and “Woman” calls to mind drunken fetal-position sobbing for/about mummy: Talk about maxxing out the Intensity Card after driving your Wildguy Minivan down to the Grocery Store of Madness! Has there ever been a back-2-back KRAZIER party offered by the major-label budget bin? I think I heard a 10cc 45 once that came close, but buddy the answer’s nope!

Monday, February 15, 2010

John Lennon - Watching The Wheels

(Geffen, 1981)

HEY! I’m off to see Yoko Ono play at BAM tonight! She’ll be appearing with a star-studded cast of thousands, including Sean Lennon, Cornelius, Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner, and some of the Sonic Youth-ers! I’m keeping my gentle fingers crossed, though, that she doesn’t perform “Watching the Wheels” B-side “Yes, I’m Your Angel,” which engages in atypical-for-Ono cutesiness and thus sinks under its jaunty old-timey Disneyisms – the McCartneys would’ve been slaughtered for releasing novelty lamb-poop like this.

Poop? Butt. Butt? BUT! Forget the lousiness of the B, for the best of the Double Fantasy A-sides is to be had here, with Lennon’s breezy defense of his “lazy” lifestyle resulting in one of the strongest singles he ever wrote/writ/wrut. Piano, instantly-memorable vocal melody, totally effortless poppiness: This is the one. Along with “Nobody Told Me,” “Watching the Wheels” is the cream of the comeback crop.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

John Lennon - Jealous Guy

(Parlophone, 1981)

A reissue intended to cash in on Lennon’s death, this French 7” rather mysteriously pairs the saccharine “Jealous Guy” with the lightly funky Walls and Bridges obscurity “Going Down On Love.” Don’t get me wrong: I’ve got no beef with either song (and “Jealous Guy” as recorded in 1971 beats hell bigtime on the awful Beatles-era demo), it’s just an odd pairing for a money-grab “tribute” release. As far as the A-side, it’s possible the label chose this one – as opposed to a more famous track – in order to ride the commercial wave of Roxy Music’s then-hit cover version. Which would of course make everything surrounding this release doubly crass, but hey, at least we get a great picture sleeve out of the deal.

And you know what it’s doing in New York City right now? Blizzarding.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

John Lennon - Woman

(Geffen, 1981)

Yeesh. Is there a sappier song than “Woman” in John Lennon’s catalog? I seriously doubt it. From the ultra adult-contemporary lighter-waving sound, to the “I loooooove yoooooou… well well” chorus, to the mommy-issue patheticisms of the lyrics, the track is a kernel of sweet sentiment wrapped in gooey layers of cotton-candy radio-cliché. Perhaps some chump asshole is RIGHT NOW dancing with his mother to this at a wedding? Bet on it.

Ono’s contribution to the single is, again, more interesting. “Beautiful Boys” is an eerie, slightly psychedelic mood piece about John and Sean Lennon that encourages the embrace of fear/danger/etc. It’s an unsettling analogue to John’s comfort-blanket lyrics in his own “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” on the same album.

Friday, February 5, 2010

John Lennon - (Just Like) Starting Over

(Geffen, 1980)

Five years later, the comeback single. For better or worse – musically speaking, that is – Lennon’s a bit of a happy sappy pappy at this point, and he hammers that home by opening “(Just Like) Starting Over” with a gentle windchime reworking of the ominous bell-tolls that announced “Mother.” The song is perky, 1950s-informed luv-fluff written by and for the middle-aged, and it would not be at all out of place soundtracking an erectile disfunction ad. It’s generally inoffensive, though, and one would be churlish to begrudge Lennon his dull domestic satisfaction after years of unpredictable nuttiness. Thing’s catchy, too, and you can’t fight city hall on shit like that, right? A semi-interesting point to make: The puke-slick production is very ELO-like (check out those backing vocals), with the reverbed outer-space ending sounding especially similar to the Lynne-produced Beatle version of “Real Love” from the 1990s. Huh!

Yoko’s back on the B for the first time since “Woman is the Nigger of the World,” and she once again shows herself to be the more progressive half of the couple, turning out a nervous, jagged pop song that straddles NYC new- and no-wave quite nicely. “Kiss Kiss Kiss” may not be as far out as some of her work from the early ’70s, but it certainly shows that she was keenly aware of what was going on around her musically at the turn of the decade – something with which the developmentally-retarded John proudly admitted as far back as 1970 he couldn’t be bothered.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

John Lennon - Imagine

(Apple, 1975)

This one was released in Europe to fluff the Shaved Fish comp (which, seeing as how it included the rote ’n’ roll “Move Over Ms. L.,” was more a 7”/non-alb round-up than a greatest hits) and it neatly pairs both sides of the marketer’s-dream John Lennon™ coin. Sweet backed with sour: utopian John gets repped by “Imagine,” and pissed John offers “Working Class Hero.” The latter is an embarrassing slice of acoustic, class-baiting poseurism lifted from Plastic Ono Band that, if nothing else, comes off as semi-convincing as long as one decides not to look into Lennon’s actual biographical whatsits. And as a bonus, unenthused credit is hereby granted to Apple for issuing the song on a single with the saucy, ain’t-I-blue lyrics intact.