Monday, November 14, 2011

'Walls and Bridges'

Last time I wrote about the Imagine album. Along with Walls and Bridges, they are my two 'go to' Lennon albums. They are the most accessible, and not surprisingly, the best sellers (as I mentioned before, Double Fantasy is 'officially' the best seller, but that's because the record sold like crazy after Lennon was murdered a few weeks after it's release. Initially, the sales were so-so.).

Walls and Bridges isn't as strong as Imagine, but it's a very cool album. Recorded during his separation from Yoko, it's got a few songs about his feelings about the loss and break-up but not too many. And unlike Plastic Ono Band, which, face it, is a one-note wallow of his fear and anger, Walls and Bridges has a wider range of styles and emotions.

His Yoko songs are 'What You Got' a pissed off rocker, 'Going Down on Love' the matter-of-fact opening bluesy number with nice percussion and 'Bless You', an interesting point-of-view choice where he's singing to 'whoever' is Yoko's new partner (not that there was one, but it's a neat idea for a song).

The best song on the LP is '#9 Dream', which I suppose you could say is about Yoko, but not in an obvious way. It's haunting, dreamlike and best of all, very Beatleish.

What I also dig about this album, is that while he mopes about Yoko in some songs, he also sings about dealing with it and his 'new' woman, May Pang. 'Whatever Gets You Thru The Night', a big hit at the time, is a nice change of pace for Lennon. Instead of 'feeling your own pain', he's telling us to relax and that 'it's all right'. Elton John plays piano and sings harmony. Some critics claim the reason the single went to #1 is because it 'sounds' like an Elton John song. But I disagree. In fact, I think they have it backwards. Elton John sounds (or sounded) like The Beatles, which is one of the reasons he was so popular. He came along when they broke up, and like The Beatles, he was a Brit doing American-style music. He filled the void they left.

"Surprise, Surprise' is another May Pang tribute with my one of my fav lines: 'I was blind, she blew my mind'.

'Beef Jerky' is interesting in it's own way as it is (as far as I can recall) the only time Lennon did an instrumental (not counting a chorus shouting 'Beef Jerky' at the breaks). And I love the title. Very much in keeping with his infatuation with food images like strawberries, cranberry sauce and mustard.

The only two 'weak' songs, 'Old Dirt Road' and 'Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out' are still nice tunes and redeemed with clever lyrics.

I wish Lennon had done more albums like Imagine and Walls and Bridges. That is, albums that weren't as self-indulgent as Plastic Ono Band  or Sometime in New York City. Don't get me wrong. I love those albums, and Plastic Ono Band is his masterpiece. But it lacks the energy and excitement of a Beatles album. Something that Imagine and Walls and Bridges gives me if I decide to take them for a spin.


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