Some Time in New York City (1972)


 
Disc One 1. Woman is the Ni**er of the World 2. Sisters, O Sisters 3. Attica State 4. Born in a Prison 5. New York City 6. Sunday Bloody Sunday 7. The Luck of the Irish 8. John Sinclair 9. Angela 10.We're All Water Disc Two 1. Cold Turkey 2. Don't Worry Kyoko 3. Well (Baby Please Don't Go) 4. Jamrag 5. Scumbag 6. Au

 

Along with George Harrison's "Dark Horse", this ranks with the very worst of anything that any Beatle did as a solo artist. Not surprisingly, in retrospect, this album has basically become forgotten. It's not just that it's bad, it's horrible. And it's not just horrible, it's outright offensive. Not offensive necessarily in its political overtones - and there are many, but in how John chooses to deliver his message.

First, let's get the ugliest out of the way first. Yoko Ono. Sadly, John's love for her seemed to be so overwhelming that he felt that he had every right to impose her will and her obvious lack of talent on the unsuspecting public. He might have thought she was "beautiful" in every way, but the rest of us didn't want her singing (if you could call it that) throughout his albums and at his concerts. This justifies my above comment about this record being "offensive". I'm happy this woman brought him so much love, but it becomes somewhat apparent why many look at her with disfavor. Her songs are awful, her singing is awful and when she appears singing (or caterwauling) background on John's songs, they only make bad things worse.

Had the non-Yoko songs been o.k., then this album may have somewhat been redeemable. Sadly, when Lennon handles these songs without his wife, things aren't much better. As mentioned, this is a political album. Politics are fine in music - if delivered the right way, it can be delivered in a way that's moving, yet not so blatantly offensive to those who may oppose a particular point. What also is necessary is that the politics must be accompanied by good music and delivered in good poetry. There is some good music here, but it's buried behind Lennon's offensive delivery in a manner to where the music basically becomes inconsequential.

Lennon had been angry and somewhat disgruntled during his brief solo career, yet he did a better job expressing his emotions on his first two solo albums. His anger on those albums seemed more personal, and therefore more justified. On this album he's basically pissed off at the whole world, and his anger is so bitter that it sounds like he never took time to craft his anger into actual songs that would generate the appropriate response. In other words, Lennon doesn't sound like a singer with a purpose, but rather like a spoiled 15 year old whose mad that his father won't let him borrow the family car.

It's always a bad sign when the very first song is awful (Woman is the Ni**er of the World) and yet ends up being the most easily digestible thing on the whole album. The only song here that's mildly "good" is Angela about activist Angela Davis. Sadly, around the time we hear it, it's far too little and too late.

The second "live" disc isn't much better. In fact, the jam session with Elephant's Memory and Frank Zappa that was included on the original double album was "gone" until the remastered version of this CD appeared in 2010. The music on those songs isn't too bad, but like the studio album, it's still unbearable with John and Yoko basically screaming and grunting throughout. This is one of those releases that makes you glad your cd has a fast forward button...or a skip button....or better yet, an "off" button.

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