Won­der wo­man

Mojo (UK) - - Filter Albums - Yoko Ono

“IF THERE’S [one] at­tribute of Yoko’s that can even be com­pared to her lyri­cal id­iocy,” said Nick Tosches, in his March 1973 Rolling Stone review of Ap­prox­i­mately In­fi­nite Uni­verse, “[it’s] her to­tal ob­nox­ious­ness…” It’s al­ways an ed­u­ca­tion to trawl ’70s mu­sic journalism and marvel at the ca­sual sex­ism and racist ep­i­thets, but lit­tle pre­pares you for the vit­riol meted out to Yoko Ono’s third solo al­bum. Her pre­vi­ous LP, Fly had an eas­ier ride. Re­leased back-to-back with Imagine, in Septem­ber 1971, Fly re­ceived full sup­port from John, who co-pro­duced the LP and as­sem­bled Ono’s crack back­ing band: Eric Clap­ton, Klaus Voor­mann, Bobby Keys and drum­mers Jim Kelt­ner, Jim Gor­don and Ringo Starr. He also pro­moted the LP on The Dick Cavett Show, in­cred­i­ble for a record that de­votes two of its four sides to avant-con­crète film scores and sound­scapes. Sides one and two, how­ever, cre­ated the per­fect union of Yoko’s Fluxus po­etry and her scream-soul de­liv­ery, Len­non’s band bol­ster­ing Ono’s un­guarded art-vo­cals with free grooves (Mid­sum­mer New York), mo­torik rever­ies (Mind Train) and, for the pri­mal ul­u­la­tions of Don’t Worry Kyoko, a Len­non/ Clap­ton slide-blues dust-up. With Mid­sum­mer New York (“Woke up in the morn­ing/My hands cold in fear”) and torch song Mrs Len­non, Don’t Worry Kyoko’s pain paved the way for Ono’s near-mas­ter­piece of art/rock, Ap­prox­i­mately In­fi­nite Uni­verse Aban­doned by Len­non mid-pro­duc­tion af­ter the com­mer­cial fail­ure of Some Time In New York City and the One-To-One Madi­son Square Gar­den con­cert, Ono was left at New York’s Record Plant with the STINYC band, Ele­phant’s Me­mory. She blends fu­ri­ous at­tacks on Len­non with de­fi­ant calls for a women’s rev­o­lu­tion. Stand­outs in­clude bro­ken soul bal­lad, Death Of Sa­man­tha (writ­ten af­ter Ono wit­nessed Len­non screw­ing a groupie at a party for Nixon’s 1972 elec­tion vic­tory), the proto-punk I Felt Like Smash­ing My Face In A Clear Glass Win­dow and de­spair­ing pi­ano bal­lad What A Bas­tard The World Is; a power-syn­the­sis of fem­i­nist art­protest and white male rock’n’roll. Self-pro­duced dur­ing Len­non’s ‘Lost Week­end’, and “ded­i­cated to the sis­ters… un­able to sur­vive in male so­ci­ety”, Feel­ing The Space should have been Ono’s ul­ti­mate howl of de­fi­ance, but apart from Cof­fin Car’s doom-blues and the Beef­heart soul flash of Wo­man Power, Ono is be­trayed by a band who ster­ilise her po­tent songs with cock­tail jazz ar­range­ments. What­ever smoth­ered Ono’s ‘Wo­man Power’ in 1973, the LPs lived on, in­flu­enc­ing ev­ery­one from The B-52’s to Sonic Youth. Th­ese beau­ti­ful reissues pre­serve them as is­sued 45 years ago, with one dif­fer­ence. The Bea­tles’ Ap­ple la­bel is re­placed by Yoko’s own trade­mark fruit, the

grape­fruit. As an artis­tic de­ci­sion, it’s per­fectly ex­e­cuted. As a sym­bolic ges­ture, it’s ev­ery­thing.

Yoko re­mas­ters part two: three LPs pair Krautrock with stri­dent fem­i­nism. By Andrew Male.

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