Walls and Bridges (1974)


 
1. Going Down on Love 2. Whatever Gets You Thru the Night 3. Old Dirt Road 4. What You Got 5. Bless You 6. Scared 7. No. 9 Dream 8. Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox) 9. Steel and Glass 10.Beef Jerky 11.Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out) 12.Ya Ya

 

This is probably my favorite John Lennon album. I didn't say it was his best. No, that distinction goes to Plastic Ono Band, but this one is my favorite - probably because it's much easier to listen to and enjoy. I must point out that most don't agree. This album usually gets classified by reviewers as one of John's "mediocre" releases. So be it. I like it. I like it a lot.

It's a bit of a puzzler since the setting for the album doesn't really match what I thought it would music and lyricwise considering his personal situation at the time. John and Yoko had split up temporarily during this time in his life. He basically bolted to California for several years during his famous "lost weekend". The same guy that sang about love, peace and "imagining" everything beautiful was out getting drunk, embarrassing himself, heckling comedians and punching out waitresses. Sad in retrospect, yet the music is generally upbeat, or at least not too down, as Lennon was prone to wear his heart on his sleeve unlike anyone else.

There are two songs that stand out among the rest in terms of notoriety. There's the number one single Whatever Gets You Through the Night that he recorded with friend Elton John. Elton told Lennon it would go to number one during the recording session. Lennon didn't believe him, they made a wager, Elton won and Lennon had to come on stage with Elton at a Thanksgiving show at Madison Square Garden. To be honest, I'm a bit surprised it rocketed all the way to number one, but it does deserve merit. The other well known piece is the very Lennon like No. 9 Dream. This song seems to typify what an average (i.e. incredible) John Lennon song should sound like. Very dreamy and surreal, and it works brilliantly.

The album does have a very slicked feel on many of the songs, yet I think they all hold up very well and deserve credit, if not for production, then definitely for songwriting and performance. Yes, Bless You sounds like something you'd hear at a Holiday Inn lounge, but the tune is beautiful, so whereas many fans write it off, I give it a "pass". Same could be set for Old Dirt Road and maybe even Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out), yet I can't help but hum along to these tunes as well. As mentioned, it helps somewhat that these songs don't seem too personal. This could be why many don't hold it in as high regard as Plastic Ono Band or Imagine, and I can definitely see rewards going either way, yet I don't think anything on this album is fake, yet just written in a way to where more people find it accessible.

Another criticism of this album is that it sounds too "all over the place", yet I find the variety quite appealing. He rocks a little bit harder on songs such as Steel and Glass and Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox) complete with brass sections, and where neither song would fall into the "classic" category, they provide more goods than bads. I really dig the Asian sounding strings on the former song. Same could be said for Scared, although the werewolf introduction is kinda stupid. The only song on here that I could really do without is Beef Jerky. I'm not sure if it's intentional, but it sounds like an intentional rip-off of the George Harrison tune written for The Beatles' White Album "Savoy Truffle".

So criticize it for it's variety, or unfocusedness or maybe because it doesn't sound as good as Imagine, or maybe you were just tired of the guy making headlines with too many things other than music, but I'll bet for all of those who are unfamiliar with it would find more to like than not.

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