Saturday, March 19, 2016

Yoko Ono - 1981 - Season Of Glass

Yoko Ono 
Season Of Glass

01. Goodbye Sadness 3:49
02. Mindweaver 4:23
03. Even When You're Far Away 5:20
04. Nobody Sees Me Like You Do 3:33
05. Turn Of The Wheel 2:43
06. Dogtown 3:23
07. Silver Horse 3:03
08. I Don't Know Why 4:17
09. Extension 33 2:45
10. No, No, No 2:44
11. Will You Touch Me 2:37
12. She Gets Down On Her Knees 4:14
13. Toyboat 3:32
14. Mother Of The Universe 4:26
Bonus Tracks
15. Walking On Thin Ice (Single Version)
16. I Don't Know Why (Previously Unreleased Version) 2:11

Baritone Saxophone – Ronnie Cuber
Bass – John Siegler (tracks: 2, 14), Tony Levin
Conductor – Anthony Davillo
Drums – Andrew Newmark
Guitar – Earl Slick, Hugh McCracken, Anthony Davillo (tracks: 10, 13)
Jew's Harp – Hugh McCracken (tracks: 6)
Keyboards – George Small, Anthony Davillo
Percussion – Arthur Jenkins, Jr., David Friedman
Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – George "Young" Opalisky
Tenor Saxophone – Michael Brecker
Tuba – Howard Johnson
Vibraphone – David Friedman
Vocals ["a Little Story"] – Sean Ono Lennon
Vocals, Backing Vocals – Yoko Ono
Guitar, Keyboards – John Lennon(15)

Track 15 recorded at The Hit Factory, mixed at Record Plant, N.Y.C. 11/80 to 12/80.

Track 16 recorded at home on cassette, December 9, 1980.

I recall very clearly the day John was killed. I had been a Yoko fan from day one (a very rare being)- however besides the world's loss I also knew it was something horrific for her (I had also worked in the Dakota so it was a bit personal). When Yoko released "Walking On Thin Ice" and I read that they were mixing that the night of his murder I was chilled. That is a rock and roll masterpiece. The album, "Season Of Glass" was highly anticipated - the cover alone was almost a japanese haiku. The material within is still to this day remarkable for it's depth, power and relativity to not only the tragedy of John's murder but life itself. Yoko never sang as touchingly - granted - she usually shrieked. However here she is angry, hurt, pained, resigned and reflective. The power of "No, No, No,", the sorrow of "I Don't Know Why" and the utter beauty and thought behind "Goodbye Sadness" are outstanding. This is an overlooked masterpiece by an overlooked artist who happened to be married to one of the most famous and talented musician's in history. Linda McCartney? Rest in peace, but honey - she couldn't create music like this in a lifetime. Yoko's eulogy is apt for all.

Yoko Ono - 1973 - Approximately Infinite Universe

Yoko Ono 
Approximately Infinite Universe

01. Yang Yang 3:52
02. Death Of Samantha 6:23
03. I Want My Love To Rest Tonight 5:11
04. What Did I Do! 4:11
05. Have You Seen A Horizon Lately 1:55
06. Approximately Infinite Universe 3:19
07. Peter The Dealer 4:43
08. Song For John 2:02
09. Catman (The Rosies Are Coming) 5:29
10. What A Bastard The World Is 4:33
11. Waiting For The Sunrise 2:32
12. I Felt Like Smashing My Face In A Clear Glass Window 5:07
13. Winter Song 3:37
14. Kite Song 3:19
15. What A Mess 2:41
16. Shiranakatta (I Didn't Know) 3:13
17. Air Talk 3:21
18. I Have A Woman Inside My Soul 5:31
19. Move On Fast 3:40
20. Now Or Never 4:57
21. Is Winter Here To Stay? 4:27
22. Looking Over From My Hotel Window 3:30

Yoko's essays "The Feminization of Society" and "Approximately Infinite Universe" are printed inside and on the back of the album sleeve.

Yoko Ono: vocals, piano, writer, arranger, producer, artwork
John Lennon: guitar, backing vocals, producer, artwork
Wayne Gabriel: guitar
Adam Ippolito: piano, organ, harmonium, trumpet
Stan Bronstein: saxophone, flute, clarinet
Gary Van Scyoc: bass, trumpet
Daria Price: castanets
Richard Frank: drums, percussion
Ron Frangipane: orchestration

In the 1980s, young (mostly white) college-age kids in the West prided themselves on having "discovered" a cool, hip kind of music they called "New Wave," a more commercialized offshoot of punk rock. The only thing was, this so-called "New Wave" was really an old wave that had been pioneered some years before in great part by an avante-garde performance artist who was a person of color and a woman. Yes, it was Yoko Ono.

This double record, "Approximately Infinite Universe", has little of the avante-garde screeching and wailing style for which Yoko was known in musical and performance art circles at the time (including on "Some Time in New York City", the album which she recorded just before this one with her partner, John Lennon). What "Approximately Infinite Universe" does showcase is Yoko's delving into more mainstream pop-rock styles, and she handles the transition well. This album is a brilliant record of an artist who was then at the top of her game in the early 1970s.

The backup band that Yoko and John used during that period, the New York-based Elephant's Memory band, kicks a** throughout this album, especially on driving numbers like "Yang Yang", "Kite Song", "What Did I Do!" and "Move On Fast". Yoko's occasional anti-male/pro-feminist rants on the album are guaranteed to both repel and attract listeners, but at least she had the guts to speak her mind and was not afraid to hit where it hurt: On the taunting tune "What a Mess", for example, she sings: "If you keep hammering anti-abortion / we'll tell you no more masturbation for men...So how do you feel about that, brother?" But to balance things out, she does show her more gentle side toward men on songs like "I Want My Love to Rest Tonight" and "Winter Song", as well as on the melancholy "Song For John", featuring very Japanese-sounding piano work.

On the acoustic ballad "Now or Never", Yoko does her best Bob Dylan impersonation when she sings: "Are we gonna / keep sending our youths to war?...People of America / when will we stop?" The Vietnam War, obviously, was on her mind but this song could well have been written today. My favorite lines by Yoko also come from this song: "Dream you dream alone is only a dream / but dream we dream together is reality". John Lennon would cite these very same lines in the famous Playboy magazine interview done just before his death in 1980.

The title track, "Approximately Infinite Universe", is by far my favorite on this album, with its haunting guitar work and sweeping strings propelled by a strong, marching-style drum beat and Jim Pepper-style saxophone phrasing. Yoko explained in the album's liner notes at the time how the title of this song came from a conversational mind-game that she and John had played on the topic of (quote-unquote) "astral identity". I also really like the photos in the album jacket of Yoko and John strolling arm in arm on the New York City waterfront in the early 1970s.

The lyrics on this CD are pure Yoko throughout, and oftentimes the great music on the album doesn't seem to quite fit Yoko's lyrics, which can get corny and abstract at times. Also, Yoko seems to be slightly off-rhythm in several songs -- but then again, that was probably her style, given her avante-garde background. The only song in which Yoko does her famous vocal acrobatics is on the song "Is Winter Here to Stay?", a bluesy number, but even then you get the feeling she is really holding herself back for fear of stepping outside the mainstream pop-rock boundaries she carefully set for recording this particular album.

I had always liked Yoko Ono as an outspoken artist who was never afraid to live her art to the fullest and express her views on various issues affecting the world, but listening to this album "Approximately Infinite Universe", I fell in love with Yoko all over again. By all means, check out this pioneering work by a woman of color who was at the top of her game some 35 years ago -- and who would have a clear influence on the so-called New Wave music "boom" that had western white kids all excited just a few years later.

Yoko Ono - 1973 - Feeling The Space

Yoko Ono 
Feeling The Space

01. Growing Pain 3:50
02. Yellow Girl (Stand By For Life) 3:13
03. Coffin Car 3:29
04. Woman Of Salem 3:09
05. Run, Run, Run 5:07
06. If Only 3:40
07. A Thousand Times Yes 3:00
08. Straight Talk 2:50
09. Angry Young Woman 3:51
10. She Hits Back 3:48
11. Women Power 4:50
12. Men, Men, Men 4:01
Bonus Tracks
13. I Learned To Stutter / Coffin Car 6:51
14. Mildred, Mildred 3:36

Yoko Ono: vocals, backing vocals, producer, writer, design
John O'Cean: guitar
David Spinozza: guitar
Sneaky Pete Kleinow: pedal steel guitar
Kenny Ascher: piano
Jeremy Steig: flute
Don Brooksharmonica
Michael Brecker: saxophone
David Friedman: vibraphone
Bob Babbitt: bass
Gordon Edwards: bass
Andrew Smith: drums
Jim Keltner: drums
Rick Marotta: drums
Arthur Jenkins: percussion

Finding herself increasingly romantically withdrawn from the all too close relationship she shared with John Lennon,it would seem to me that the pair were finding themselves still peripherally involved in the others life while on very different life paths. To hear Yoko tell it? Her musical/art career began to regain serious power during the mid 1970's,while John's lifelong emotional insecurities got the best of him during his self named "lost weekend". Yoko found herself as an empowered woman on a serious mission. And with access to an all star band of musicians such as David Spinozza and Michael Brecker? She was able to continue realizing her vision.

Songs such as the flute powered "Growing Pain","Run Run Run" and "Angry Young Woman" are soulful,electric piano led ballads while "Yellow Girl (Stand By For Life)" and "Man Man Man" both have stomping,swinging cabaret jazzy blues rhythmic flavors about them.
"Coffin Car" has a grinding blues/rock vibe that is repeated on the cooler "She Hits Back" while "If Only" is a harmonica led country/blues type ballad. "A Thousand Times Yes" is a rhythmically clean jazz-funk number not too far from something the Crusaders might've done at this time while "Straight Talk" updates the rock 'n soul shuffle of "Instant Karma" from her viewpoint. "Woman Power" is a stomping,percussive funk rocker with a rapped vocal from Yoko.

"I Learn To Stutter" is a live spoken intro to a verision of "Coffin Car" where Yoko talks of how the press attack that accompanied her marriage to Lennon deeply effected her emotionally. "Mildred Mildred" is a swinging nightclub friendly piano ballad. Primarily this album finds Yoko having totally made up her mind about her thematic and musical direction for that time period. She positioned herself as a jazzy soul/funk oriented artist with a lot of blues and popular song structure. As for her take on femininity? She was now totally confident that people both in and out of her position had every articulation to allow their voices to make a difference. In a way? This is something of the graduation from the school of being Yoko Ono in a way. She was in a personal transition in an marriage on hiatus. Yet her art surely wasn't suffering for it. One of Yoko's most powerful and musically adept releases.

Yoko Ono - 1971 - Fly

Yoko Ono 

101. Midsummer New York 3:50
102. Mindtrain 16:50
103. Mind Holes 2:46
104. Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow) 4:52
105. Mrs. Lennon 4:10
106. Hirake 3:31
107. Toilet Piece / Unknown 0:30
108. O'Wind (Body Is the Scar of Your Mind) 5:22

201. Airmale 10:43
202. Don't Count the Waves 5:22
203. You 8:57
204. Fly 22:48
205. Telephone Piece 0:30
Bonus Tracks
206. Between the Takes 1:56
207. Will You Touch Me 2:45

Jim Gordon Drums, Tabla
Jim Keltner Drums, Percussion, Tabla
Bobby Keys Claves, Saxophone
Yoko Ono Claves, Composer, Design, Drawing, Primary Artist, Producer, Re-Release Producer, Vocals, Voices
Chris Osborne Dobro
David Spinozza Guitar
Ringo Starr Drums, Guest Artist
Klaus Voormann Bass, Bells, Cymbals, Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
Eric Clapton Guest Artist, Guitar
John Lennon Guest Artist, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Organ, Photography, Piano, Producer, Vocals

By the time Fly emerged, the battle lines had long been drawn, and those who preferred to place Ono's domestic situation rather than her music in the foreground were never going to give it a fair shake. Very much their loss -- not only is it that rarest of all beasts, a '70s double album that rewards repeated listening, but Fly also shows the work of a creative artist working with a sympathetic set of backing players to create inspired, varied songs. At points, the appeal lies simply in Ono's implicit "to heck with you" approach to singing -- compositions like "Midsummer New York" are easygoing rock chug that won't surprise many, but it's her take on high-pitched soul and quivering delivery that transforms them into something else. The screwy blues yowl of "Don't Worry Kyoko" is something else again, suggesting something off Led Zeppelin III gone utterly berserk. Meanwhile, check the fragile, pretty acoustic guitar of "Mind Holes," her singing swooping in the background like a lost ghost, while the reflective "Mrs. Lennon," as wry but heartfelt a portrait of her position in the public eye as any, ended up being used by Alex Chilton for "Holocaust," which gives a good sense of the sad tug of the melody. Perhaps the best measure of Fly is how Ono ended up inventing Krautrock, or perhaps more seriously bringing the sense of motorik's pulse and slow-building tension to an English-language audience. There weren't many artists of her profile in America getting trance-y, heavy-duty songs like "Mindtrain" and the murky ambient howls of "Aimale" out to an English-language audience. Such songs readily match the work of Can, another band with a Japanese vocalist taking things to a higher level. As for "Fly" itself, the mostly unaccompanied wails and trills from Ono will confirm stereotypes in many folks' minds, but it's a strange, often beautiful performance that follows its own logic.

Yoko Ono - 1970 - Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band

Yoko Ono 
Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band

01. Why
02. Why Not
03. Greenfield Morning I Pushed An Empty Baby Carriage All Over The City
04. Aos
05. Touch Me
06. Paper Shoes

Bonus tracks:
07. Open Your Box
08. Something More Abstract
09. The South Wind

Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, October 1970.
"AOS" is from a rehearsal tape for show at Albert Hall with Ornette Coleman, February 1968.
Track 7 previously unreleased version.
Track 8 previously unreleased. From Plastic Ono Band sessions.
Track 9 previously unreleased. Recorded on 1/4" tape in New York City.

The original UK release comes with a custom Apple inner sleeve with credits, flower illustration, dedication to John ('For John with love from Yoko, 9/10/70') and its instruction to 'Play in the dark'.

Bass – Charlie Haden (tracks: 4), David Izenzon (tracks: 4), Klaus Voormann
Drums – Edward Blackwell, Ringo Starr
Guitar – John Lennon
Trumpet – Ornette Coleman (tracks: 4)
Vocals, Design – Yoko Ono

Recorded concurrently with John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band album, Yoko's features the same musicians, namely John, Ringo Starr, and Klaus Voormann along with the Ornette Coleman Quartet on one cut. Unlike John's record, however, Yoko's is much more a "jam"-sounding record. And while there are definite songs, lyrics are mainly vocal improvisations. Still, if avant-garde is your cup of tea, then check this one out. It's good, if only to hear John Lennon really get the guitar cranking on the opening cut, "Why." The 1997 CD reissue adds three bonus cuts: a previously unreleased version of "Open Your Box" (which would be used as the flip side to John Lennon's "Power to the People" single), the previously unreleased, 16-minute improv piece "The South Wind," and a previously unreleased 44-second snippet of "Something More Abstract."