Wednesday, July 25, 2018

New Yoko Ono LP

Yesterday Yoko Ono announced the release of a new album due out on October 19th of this year. Titled Warzone, the recording follows her 2016 remix record, Yes, I’m a Witch Too, which featured updated versions of her songs by Sparks, Cibo Matto, Tune-Yards, Moby, Death Cab for Cutie and others.

Warzone also features remakes of earlier material, but by Ono herself, produced by her son Sean Lennon, whose label, Chimera, will release the disk. The record seems to share less in common with her five previous remix releases (dating back to Rising Remixes in 1996, which featured contributions from Tricky, Thurston Moore, the Beastie Boys, Ween and Perry Farrell) and more in common with something like Kate Bush's Director's Cut. On that 2011 title, the singer revisited and updated songs from her back catalogue that suffered from bad or dated production values.

That seems to be the agenda here, given that almost half of the tracks come from Ono's much-maligned 1985 LP Starpeace. Despite being recorded by legendary producer Bill Laswell, the record was poorly received at the time, and hasn't exactly aged well in the thirty-three years since.

Spin magazine called it "a Sesame Street album for children who think My Weekly Reader has been withholding the truth." Peter Buckley, in The Rough Guide to Rock, described the album as "a rather bombastic error of judgement, laden down by pseudo-cosmic philosophizing." Ono herself said "After Starpeace I was totally discouraged by the fact that there was no kind of demand for what I was put it mildly".

She did not release another record for eleven years, when she returned with the acclaimed Rising, which provides this new compilation with it's title track and "Where Doe We Go From Here". Other albums are represented by single tracks only: Between My Head and the Sky ("I’m Alive"), Approximately Infinite Universe ("Now Or Never"), Plastic Ono Band ("Why"), and Feeling The Space ("Woman Power").

The remade tracks from Starpeace include "Hell In Paradise", "I Love You Earth", "It’s Gonna Rain", "I Love All of Me", "Children Power" and "Teddy Bear" (which I assume is a remake of "Cape Clear", which opens with a young girl crying about her lost teddy bar).

The 1997 CD reissue of Starpeace featured a live version of John Lennon's "Imagine" from a sold-out performance in Budapest. Warzone, too, will feature Ono revisiting the Lennon classic, which she  — 46 years later — finally received songwriting credit for, last year.

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