Wednesday, December 19, 2018

John Lennon - 1972 - Sometime In New York City

John Lennon
1972
Sometime In New York City


01. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World 5:15
02. Sisters O Sisters 3:46
03. Attica State 2:52
04. Born In A Prison 4:04
05. New York City 4:29
06. Sunday Bloody Sunday 5:00
07. The Luck Of The Irish 2:55
08. John Sinclair 3:26
09. Angela 4:06
10. We're All Water 5:18
11. Cold Turkey (Live Jam) 8:34
12. Don't Worry Kyoko (Live Jam) 15:40
13. Well Baby, Please Don't Go (Live Jam) 4:28

CD Bonus Tracks
14. Listen The Snow Is Falling 3:06
15. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) 3:34

Album Released on Released: 15 September 1972 (UK), 12 June 1972 (US)
Recorded: 15 December 1969, 6 June 1971, 13 February – 8 March 1972
Producers: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector

John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Yoko Ono: vocals
Wayne 'Tex' Gabriel: electric guitar
Gary Van Scyoc: bass guitar
Adam Ippolito: piano, organ
John La Bosca: piano
Stan Bronstein: saxophone, flute
Richard Frank Jr: drums, percussion
Jim Keltner: drums
George Harrison: electric guitar
Frank Zappa: vocals, electric guitar
Eric Clapton: electric guitar
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Billy Preston: organ
Jim Pons: vocals, bass guitar
Bob Harris: vocals, keyboards
Nicky Hopkins: piano
Delaney Bramlett: electric guitar
Don Preston: Minimoog
Ian Underwood: vocals, woodwind, keyboards
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Jim Price: trumpet
Andy White: drums
Jim Gordon: drums
Keith Moon: drums
Aynsley Dunbar: drums
Bonnie Bramlett: percussion
Mark Volman: vocals
Howard Kaylan: vocals


Some Time In New York City, the follow-up to John Lennon's Imagine, was inspired by radical left-wing politics of the early 1970s. A critical and commercial failure, it featured two discs containing 10 studio songs and six live performances.

The album was borne of the vitality Lennon felt after moving to New York City. He had previously spoken of his love of the city and of America in interviews, and finally moved there with Yoko Ono in September 1971.

Well nobody came to bug us, hustle us or shove us
So we decided to make it our home
If the Man wants to shove us out we gonna jump and shout
The Statue of Liberty said, 'Come!'
New York City
Some Time In New York City

New York rejuvenated Lennon, both personally and musically, and he swiftly wrote a number of songs about his experiences. They were initially acoustic guitar-based, but took on a more traditional rock 'n' roll sound once studio work began.

"America is where it's at. You know, I should have been born in New York, man. I should have been born in the Village! That's where I belong! Why wasn't I born there? Like Paris was in the eighteenth century or whatever it was, London I don't think has ever been it. It might have been literary-wise when Wilde and Shaw and all them were there. New York was it! I regret profoundly not being American and not being born in Greenwich Village. That's where I should have been. But it never works that way. Everybody heads towards the centre, that's why I'm here now. I'm here just to breathe it. It might be dying, or there might be a lot of dirt in the air, but this is where it's happening."
John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenne

Lennon had become interested in political issues while touring with The Beatles in the mid 1960s. At first unsure of whether to speak out against the Vietnam War, and discouraged from doing so, it wasn't until 1968's Revolution that social commentary began to take centre stage in his music.

As a solo artist Lennon used his songwriting increasingly as a way to chart what was occurring in his life, whether personal or political. Working Class Hero and Power To The People were key songs of his in the early 1970s, and he and Yoko Ono had spoken out in support of British Black Power leader Michael X, convicted A6 murderer James Hanratty, and the editors of Oz magazine.

Although he encountered resistance from Nixon's administration, Lennon found a New York ally in political activists Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. He embraced the counterculture movement in New York, aligning himself with the politics of the New Left and their various causes and campaigns.

Richard Nixon saw John Lennon as a threat to his administration: an official memo stated that "radical New Left leaders plan to use Mr Lennon as a drawing card to promote the success of rock festivals, to obtain funds for a 'dump Nixon' campaign." The FBI tapped his telephone, monitored his public appearances, and attempted to assemble a case for deportation.

"The infamous San Diego meeting that got us all into all the immigration problems was really a nonexistent situation. There was this so-called meeting with Jerry, Abbie, Allen Ginsberg, John Sinclair, John and Yoko, where they were trying to get us to go to the San Diego Republican Convention. When they described their plans, we just kept looking at each other. It was the poets and the straight politicals divided. Ginsberg was with us. He kept saying, 'What are we trying to do, create another Chicago?' That's what they wanted. We said, 'We ain't buying this. We're not going to draw children into a situation to create violence – so you can overthrow what? – and replace it with what?
But then the story went out that we were going to San Diego. That was enough to get Immigration on us. They started attacking us through the Immigration Department, trying to throw us out of the country. But it was all based on this illusion, that you can create violence and overthrow what is and get communism or get some right-wing lunatic or a left-wing lunatic. They're all lunatics."
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Lennon's visa expired on 29 February 1972. Although the authorities cited his 1968 conviction for cannabis possession, an extension to his visa was granted while he appealed the deportation order. His green card, granting permanent residence, was eventually issued on 27 July 1976.

It was against this backdrop that Lennon began writing his most political set of songs. He and Yoko Ono appeared at a range of benefit events or rallies, including the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Attica State Benefit at the Harlem Theater in Harlem.

Lennon became infatuated by the freedom and vibrancy of New York City culture, including the music of David Peel and the Lower East Side. He also recruited a local rock band, Elephant's Memory, as his backing band for numerous live appearances and the recording sessions for Some Time In New York City.

Lennon had previously been working on a set of acoustic songs, but changed styles after meeting the group, now renamed the Plastic Ono Elephant's Memory Band. Following a week-long residency on The Mike Douglas Show, the group entered the Record Plant East studio to begin work on the album, with Phil Spector producing.

Lennon had been documenting his life in song as far back as I'm A Loser, Help! and Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). He generally disliked extensive studio production, preferring instead to record quickly and simply, and by 1969's The Ballad Of John And Yoko and Cold Turkey he had adopted an instantaneous style of form and content which owed as much to newspaper journalism as it did to rock 'n' roll.

The process was refined further on John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, his first solo album from 1970, in which production was pared back to its most basic level to bring the lyrics to the fore. Indeed, he once revealed that the secret of songwriting was simply to "say what you want to say, and put a backbeat to it".

Of the studio recordings on Some Time In New York City, only two songs – John Sinclair and New York City – were solo compositions by Lennon. Three were written by Ono – Sisters, O Sisters, Born In A Prison and We're All Water – and the rest were co-written by the pair.

Ono's influence on Lennon's writing was perhaps most acute on Woman Is The Nigger Of The World. The title was a phrase coined by Ono in an interview with Nova magazine which was published in March 1969, in reference to the chauvinism of the London music scene: "When I went to London and got together with John that was the biggest macho scene imaginable. That's when I made the statement 'woman is the nigger of the world'."

Two songs were written in support of the republican movement in Northern Ireland. Sunday Bloody Sunday was a response to the British Army massacre of 30 January 1972. The Luck Of The Irish was written before the event, and was inspired by a protest march in London that Lennon attended in August 1971.

Lennon's interest in United States civil rights issues manifested itself in two other songs. Angela was written about Angela Davis, a Black Panther supporter who was tried and eventually acquitted for suspected involvement in the murder of a Superior Court judge Harold Haley in California in 1970. Attica State, meanwhile, was written about the prison riot of September 1971 at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York state, in which at least 39 people lost their lives.

Lennon's intention to document his life in 1972 was distilled on the song New York City, a heartfelt celebration of the city he now called home. The song followed the diary style he had first adopted on The Ballad Of John And Yoko, and detailed the recruitment of Elephant's Memory into the Plastic Ono Band, his film-making with Yoko Ono, and the couple's joy at being free to wander the streets of the city.

"The Jerry was Jerry Rubin. The bloke with a guitar was David Peel. You see how the album's represented as a newspaper. Well, the song's a bit of a journalese, like Ballad Of John And Yoko. It tells the story."
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

A second disc, titled Live Jam, was also included with the album. Side one contained Cold Turkey and Don't Worry Kyoko, recorded at London's Lyceum Ballroom on 15 December 1969 with a backing band which included George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Billy Preston

The second side contained recordings from a different concert. Lennon and Ono had appeared onstage during the encore of The Mothers Of Invention's show at the Fillmore East in Manhattan in June 1971. They recorded four songs: a cover of The Olympics' Well (Baby Please Don't Go), followed by the largely-improvised Jamrag, Scumbag and Aü.

Some Time In New York City was issued in a gatefold sleeve with printed inner sleeves, a postcard of the Statue of Liberty, and – in the US only – a petition against John Lennon's expulsion from the country. Early pressings had a message etched into the inner groove area of the vinyl: "John and Yoko forever, peace on earth and good will to men 72".

The cover concept continued Lennon's desire to present his music as a newspaper or diary. Inspired by the New York Times, the artwork printed the lyrics to the studio songs, along with photographs, montages and drawings, and the parody motto: "Ono news that's fit to print".

One of the images, to illustrate Yoko Ono's song We're All Water, featured Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong dancing naked together. The montage made many US retailers nervous, particularly in the wake of Lennon and Ono's 1968 album Unfinished Music No 1: Two Virgins.

"You see how they banned the picture here. Yoko made this beautiful poster: Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon dancing naked together, you see? And the stupid retailers stuck a gold sticker over it that you can't even steam off. At least you could steam off that Beatles cover [Yesterday... And Today]. So you see the kind of pressure Yoko and I were getting, not only on a personal level, and the public level, and the court case, and the fucking government, and this, that, and the other, but every time we tried to express ourselves, they would ban it, would cover it up, would censor it."
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Some Time In New York City was critically panned upon its release. Reviewers were disappointed by Lennon's abandonment of the pop music he had embraced on Imagine, and the mainstream press had little sympathy for Lennon's broad-brush sloganeering and simplistic treatment of political issues. The reaction of Rolling Stone magazine was typical:

"Throughout their artistic careers, separately and together, the Lennons have been committed avant-gardists. Such commitment takes guts. It takes even more guts when you've made it so big that you don't need to take chances to stay on top: the Lennons should be commended for their daring. What is deplorable, however, is the egotistical laziness (and the sycophantic milieu in which it thrives) that allows artists of such proven stature, who claim to identify with the 'working class hero', to think they can patronise all whom they would call sisters and brothers."
Stephen Holden
Rolling Stone

The reception was a blow to Lennon, who subsequently suffered self-doubt about the quality of his songwriting. None of his later works had the vitality of his first two solo albums, and he increasingly followed musical fashions rather than creating his own standards.

"Most other people express themselves by playing football at weekends or shouting. But here am I in New York and I hear about thirteen people shot dead in Ireland and I react immediately. And being what I am I react in four-to-the-bar with a guitar break in the middle. I don't say, 'My God, what's happening, we should do something.' I go: 'It was Sunday Bloody Sunday/And they shot the people down...' It's not like the Bible. It's all over now. It's gone. It's finished."
John Lennon, 1972
New Musical Express

Lennon later admitted the public reaction to Some Time In New York City had an adverse effect on his work.

It almost ruined it. It became journalism and not poetry. And I basically feel that I'm a poet. Then I began to take it seriously on another level, saying, 'Well, I am reflecting what is going on, right?'
John Lennon, 1975

Chastened by the reviews, Lennon began to adopt a lower profile. In the United Kingdom the single Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was finally released in November 1972, almost a year after it had been issued in America. Lennon and Ono moved into the Dakota building early in 1973, and he spent more than a year away from the recording studio before returning in 1973 with Mind Games.

The release
Some Time In New York City was issued in the United States in June 1972, and peaked at number 48. Three months later, following a copyright dispute over Yoko Ono's co-writing credits, it was released in the United Kingdom. Despite numerous imported copies having been sold, it reached number 11 in the UK charts.

Sales of the album were additionally affected by its high price. Although the Live Jam disc was intended as a free bonus album, it was given a separate catalogue number which pushed up the price of the package.

Critics savaged Some Time in New York City, and fans apparently agreed. The project barely cracked Billboard's Top 50, marking the worst post-Beatles showing for one of Lennon's original albums. Chastised, he quickly turned back toward the kind of conventional songwriting that made 1971's Imagine a double-platinum smash. Lennon would score three more Top 20 hits over the next couple of years, including the chart-topping "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," before retiring to focus on family.

Still, like even the least of the Beatles' solo projects, Some Time in New York City wasn't without its small-scale charms. "New York City" served as a Chuck Berry-esque mash note to Lennon's new hometown, an effortless romp in an album sorely lacking such moments. A steel-stringed Dobro imbued "John Sinclair" with a delightful rootsiness. Driven along by a nasty slide, "Attica State" was one of Lennon's more purposeful rockers – never an easy thing to accomplish among producer Phil Spector's legendary clutter. "Woman is the N----- of the World," the latest in a string of sloganeering attempts that went back to "Give Peace a Chance," built to a dark and thunderous conclusion.




John Lennon - 1972 - Sometime In New York City Sessions


(2014 Misterclaudel : MCCD 403/403/404)
Unreleased Session and Demo Tracks
Record Plant, New York, February-March 1972

Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
101. Demo (1971) 3:16
102. Basic Track - Rough Mix #1 3:20
103. Basic Track - Rough Mix #2 3:33
Woman Is The Nigger Of The World
104. Demo (1971) 2:14
105. Demo (1971) 5:35
Attica State
106. Demo Take 1 (1971) 2:40
107. Demo Take 2 (1971) 0:34
108. Demo Take 3 (1971) 2:58
109. Studio Rehearsal 3:01
New York City
110. Demo (1971) 1:16
111. Rehearsal #1 6:31
112. Rehearsal #2 0:43
113. Take 1 (Breakdown) 1:08
114. Take 2 (Breakdown) 0:17
115. Take 3 4:17
116. Take 4 (Breakdown) 0:55
117. Takes 5 & 6 2:36
118. Take 7 (Breakdown) 0:57
119. Take 8 4:31
120. Take 9 4:35
121. Take 10 (Breakdown) 1:47
122. Take 11 5:09
123. Take 12 (Breakdown) 0:15
124. Take 13 3:49
125. Take 14 4:05
126. Takes 15 & 16 2:36
127. Take 17 3:29
128. Takes 18 & 19 (Breakdown) 0:47

New York City
201. Take 20 3:05
202. Let’s Ride 0:53
203. Take 21 5:29
204. Takes 22, 23 & 24 5:10
The Luck Of The Irish
205. Demo Take 1 0:46
206. Demo Take 2 1:34
207. Rehearsal #1 1:13
208. New York City/Rehearsal #2 1:04
209. Rehearsal #3 1:40
210. Rehearsal #4 1:00
211. Rehearsal #5 0:33
212. Rehearsal #6 0:41
213. Rehearsal Take 1 3:48
214. Rehearsal #7 2:29
215. Rehearsal #8 2:21
216. Rehearsal #9 4:07
217. Take 1 (Breakdown) 0:15
218. Take 2 2:41
219. Rehearsal #10 1:38
220. Rehearsal #11 2:19
John Sinclair
221. Demo 2:32
Angela
222. JJ (Take 1) 1:15
223. JJ (Take 2) 1:09
224. People 1:54
1971 Demos
225. Send Me Some Lovin’ 3:13
226. He Got The Blues 2:37
227. I Ain’t Got Time 3:09
228. She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain 1:02

‘Sometime In New York City’ - Studio Jam Session
301. Roll Over Beethoven 2:28
302. Honey Don’t 2:59
303. Ain’t That A Shame 2:28
304. My Baby-Not Fade Away 2:26
305. Send Me Some Lovin’ 2:44
306. Whole Lotta Shakin’/It’ll Be Me 5:28
307. Honey Hush 2:10
308. Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog 4:25
309. Caribbean 3:07
Attica State Benefit Concert; December 17, 1971
310. Intro 0:56
311. Attica State 3:22
312. Sisters, O Sisters 3:46
313. Imagine 3:03
POP 2; January 8, 1972
314. Bring On The Lucie (Freda People)/Attica State 1:27
315. George Jackson (Improvisation) 0:40
316. Bring On The Lucie (Freda Peopl) #2 0:28
Eyewitness News Rehearsals; August 1972
317. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World 2:48
318. Fools Like Me 1:37
319. Caribbean 1:41
320. Peggy Sue/Bring It On Home 0:57
321. Rock Island Line 1:47
322. Maybe Maybe 1:45
323. Peggy Sue 0:20

John Lennon's move to New York City coincided with a political shift leftward and, perhaps not coincidentally, lingering issues with immigration. The result was one of his most determinedly topical, most critically reviled and most often ignored solo projects.
Some Time in New York City, a double album released on June 12, 1972, followed Lennon's mantra that the best songs were those where you simply "say what you want to say and put a backbeat to it." He had long been obsessed with getting songs out as quickly as possible, memorably having written 1970's "Instant Karma" in the morning and recorded it later that same day. This album was the natural outgrowth of this impulse, a recording focused on the issues of that very moment in time — ripped, as they say, right from the headlines. Unfortunately, those old dailies have become yellowed and frayed.
Lennon's biggest successes at quick-turnaround songwriting so far had been distinctly personal: the Beatles' "Ballad of John and Yoko" and the early solo song "Cold Turkey." Adapting that kind of top-of-his-head commentary to issues of the day might have resonated back then, but few people remember John Sinclair (the writer and MC5 band manager jailed for passing two joints to an undercover cop) and the Attica prison riots (sparked by demands for better living conditions) now. Both were big news in 1971, and the subjects of songs on Some Time in New York City – which, fittingly, used an instantly dated newspaper mock-up for its cover image – but are nothing more than Google fodder for the most committed fan today.
Without universal themes that could resonate across generations, Some Time in New York City tends to come off as empty proselytizing. The sentiments were too brittle, and often all edge — the result, no doubt, of their rushed creation. Even Lennon eventually came to see the folly of this kind of freeze-dried creativity. "I like to do inspirational work," he told David Sheff in 1980. "I'd never write a song like ['John Sinclair'] now."
Worse, many of the sentiments sound just like what they were: songs written for instant consumption. Sample lyric from "Angela," about a jailed Black Panther supporter: "They gave you coffee; they gave you tea / They gave you everything but equality." Meanwhile, "The Luck of the Irish" – one of two songs that supported Northern Ireland's Republican movement – included lazy (reportedly Yoko Ono-composed) cliches like shamrocks, leprechauns and the hope that the world would one day become "one big Blarney stone."
The muscular, often messy backing of Elephant's Memory, a local group Lennon had fallen in with, only underscores the drive-by nature of the content.
To some degree, Lennon seemed to be focusing outward in order to avoid the looming problems in his life. As he'd become a fixture in New York City's counterculture, issues with the U.S. government began to intensify. Lennon finally received a letter from the INS earlier in 1972 demanding that he leave the country in three weeks or face deportation. Grasping at straws, they cited a 1968 misdemeanor conviction for marijuana possession. Lennon lawyered up, but the fight continued unabated until President Nixon's entanglement in the Watergate scandal. Lennon finally received his green card in 1976.
"It was hassling me, because that was when I was hanging out with Elephant's Memory, and I wanted to rock – to go out on the road. But I couldn't do that because I always had to be in New York for something, and I was hassled," Lennon told Hit Parader in 1975. "I guess it showed in me work. But whatever happens to you happens in your work."


In truth, time had already rendered some of the songs irrelevant before the album even arrived. The paper-thin lyrics to "John Sinclair" ("Free John now," Lennon sang, "if we can") were dashed off for use during a political rally on Dec. 10, 1971, in Ann Arbor – and Sinclair was promptly released three days later. (Incidentally, the FBI's lengthy surveillance of Lennon began at this rally.) Angela Davis, subject of the similarly outdated "Angela," had also been acquitted by the summer of 1972.
Worse, sometimes Lennon's sentiments simply made no sense. "Sunday Bloody Sunday," which took the side of the IRA against the British Army in the ongoing violent struggles in Ireland, served to muddy Lennon's longstanding stand on pacifism. "Attica State," written before a drunken birthday jam session in 1971, took his suddenly disorganized passions another step further: "Free all prisoners everywhere," Lennon sang. "All they want is truth and justice."
Critics savaged Some Time in New York City, and fans apparently agreed. The project barely cracked Billboard's Top 50, marking the worst post-Beatles showing for one of Lennon's original albums. Chastised, he quickly turned back toward the kind of conventional songwriting that made 1971's Imagine a double-platinum smash. Lennon would score three more Top 20 hits over the next couple of years, including the chart-topping "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," before retiring to focus on family.
"I'm pretty movable, as an artist, you know. ... It became journalism and not poetry – and I basically feel that I'm a poet," he told Rolling Stone in 1975. "Then I began to take it seriously on another level, saying, 'Well, I am reflecting what is going on, right?' And then I was making an effort to reflect what was going on. Well, it doesn't work like that. It doesn't work as pop music or what I want to do. It just doesn't make sense."
Still, like even the least of the Beatles' solo projects, Some Time in New York City wasn't without its small-scale charms. "New York City" served as a Chuck Berry-esque mash note to Lennon's new hometown, an effortless romp in an album sorely lacking such moments. A steel-stringed Dobro imbued "John Sinclair" with a delightful rootsiness. Driven along by a nasty slide, "Attica State" was one of Lennon's more purposeful rockers – never an easy thing to accomplish among producer Phil Spector's legendary clutter. "Woman is the Nigger of the World," the latest in a string of sloganeering attempts that went back to "Give Peace a Chance," built to a dark and thunderous conclusion.
A second disc of live performances was hit and miss. The first side marked an important passage with songs from a 1969 performance featuring George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Billy Preston, while the second – from a 1971 encore with Frank Zappa – was occasionally brilliantly unhinged.

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