Sunday, May 01, 2011

Essential Albums of the '80s: John Lennon & Yoko Ono - Double Fantasy (1980)

Double Fantasy was released November 17, 1980, just 3 weeks before John Lennon was murdered. Although some initial reviews regarded the album as rather self-indulgent, as Lennon's final musical statement, it was critic-proof, becoming a major hit album and winner of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

As its title suggests, Double Fantasy is a double album of sorts, an apparent collaboration between husband and wife, although they never perform together on any song--half the songs are written and performed by him and the other half by her, with the tracks generally alternating between them. Thus, they form a sort of "call and response," most evident on Lennon's "I'm Losing You" followed by Ono's "I'm Moving On," as well as "Beautiful Boy" (Lennon) and "Beautiful Boys" (Ono).

Although their intention was to showcase their happy marriage, the result really shows what an amazing pop talent Lennon was (and Ono was not). His knack for pop songcraft shines on #1 hits like "(Just Like) Starting Over" with its bright '50s bounce, and "Woman," a layered tune that's a rather sweet love song ("woman, I know you understand the little child inside your man"). Although clearly sentimental, even his "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" comes off not as sappy but as sweet and even a little sad when you consider it means he never got to see his son grow up.

In contrast, Ono's more avant garde style refuse to be turned into good pop music, and many of her songs come across as off-kilter filler. "Kiss Kiss" features her weird babble and finishes with her reaching orgasm. While his "Beautiful Boy" is lovely and melodic, her "Beautiful Boys" sounds kind of creepy (and what mother muses that her son will feel empty at age 40?). Her only entry that I kind of like is "Give Me Something," which, while a bit brash for this album, has a good bass beat with layered acoustic and synth melodies.

Best: (Just Like) Starting Over, Woman, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), Watching the Wheels, Give Me Something

No comments: