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Sunday, 30 September 2018
John Lennon & Yoko Ono - Double Fantasy (1980)
Released November 1980
Upon this album's release a couple of weeks before John Lennon's murder, it was not well-received critically. After his death, of course, it sold by the bucketload. Retrospectively some have praised it, although many have criticised it as indulgence on both their parts - telling the world how loved-up they are and how at peace. They did, it has to be said, have an irritating quality of seeming to think the world cared about how happy they were, when, actually, before Lennon's unfortunate demise, the world had grown a little apathetic to them.
Personally, I have always quite liked it. It has an excellent sound quality, particularly on the warmer, bassier 2002 remaster. I would say, though, that the first half of the album is better than the last.
The album follows a Lennon song/Yoko song pattern. Many just programme their systems to play the Lennon material. Admittedly, the Lennon stuff is excellent, and the superior of the two, but I quite like the Yoko tracks. They are appealing in a punky, Lene Lovich sort of way, as opposed to the unlistenable screaming that is on much of her seventies material.
Lennon's late fifties pastiche "(Just Like) Starting Over" is well known as a catchy hit single. Yoko's "Kiss Kiss Kiss" has a staccato, quirky appeal, but could do without the lovemaking noises! Lennon's "Clean Up Time" is a punchy, brass-driven upbeat number with a big, thumping bass line. The punky, Grace Jones-influenced "Give Me Something" is most underrated. "I'm Losing You" is a soulful Lennon mid-paced, muscular rocker and one of his best on the album. Yoko's "I'm Moving On" is one of her best too, featuring a killer guitar riff and a convincing sound overall. No need for the monkey impersonation at the end, though, Yoko.
While "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" is a tender song from Lennon to his son, it is a bit syrupy, to be honest. Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart subsequently recorded songs like this to their young children. Not very rock 'n' roll. The Lennon/Yoko pattern is halted with Lennon's excellent "Watching The Wheels" with its typically catchy hook line. Yoko's quality unfortunately deteriorates with the throwaway, jazzy "Yes I'm Your Angel" with its awful "tra-la-la-la" part.
"Woman" was a huge posthumous hit, deservedly so. It probably would have been a success anyway. It has a great refrain and guitar riff. One of Lennon's best, despite its blissful romantic nature. "Beautiful Boys" has Yoko utilising some traditional Japanese music to back a song to her son. Her vocal is a bit discordant, however. Do we need another song to their son? Probably not. It was quite clever in the way it switches to address her for year-old "boy" though. "Dear Yoko" is an update on "Oh Yoko!", with a guitar relaxing a piano on the same catchy musical refrain. Yes, I know these songs to Yoko are somewhat irritating, but I actually like both of them, enjoying their jaunty melodies. "Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him" is another Grace Jones-ish haunting number from Yoko. I really like this one.
A poignant end to the album drives in "Hard Times Are Over". Unfortunately, as we know, they were not, tragically.
(The bonus track, "Walking On Thin Ice" from Yoko is one of her best. It was also covered impressively by Elvis Costello on his "Out Of Our Idiot" compilation in the late eighties. Lennon's stark, piano-based ballad "Help Me To Help Myself" isn't so good, however).
- September 30, 2018