Walls and Bridges
John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Rating (Original 1980): ****
Rating ("Stripped Down" 2010): ****
Today would've been John Lennon's 70th birthday. On Tuesday, eight albums were reissued from Capitol Records in celebration of this milestone. The albums were remastered and remixed by Yoko Ono and the same team of people who worked on the Beatles remasters last year. Honestly, I don't think the albums needed to be remastered. They had already been remastered and reissued from 2000 to 2005. I doubt these new remasters would sound any different from those. Therefore, I'm only getting what I don't have. For my first purchase, I got Walls and Bridges and Double Fantasy. I do already own Double Fantasy but my version is so old. Plus, the new Double Fantasy has a remixed version of the album.
Walls and Bridges is a really good album. I really think it's overlooked and underrated. The album's big highlight might be John's duet with Elton John, "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night". There are so many other great songs on here. "Going Down on Love" and "What You Got" are both funky and catchy. "#9 Dream" is also pretty neat. It almost sounds spacey and reminds you of George Harrison, in some way. "Steel and Glass" is another great cut. The song is supposedly about the Beatles' last manager, the infamous Allen Klein. Klein had put the Beatles in a financial crisis and was also known to have stolen money from his acts (such as The Rolling Stones. According to sources, Klein had Mick Jagger running through a hotel lobby yelling at Klein "Where's my f**king money?!"). Much like Lennon's mean attack at Paul on "How Do You Sleep?", "Steel and Glass" attacks Klein (and for the record, the bastard died in the summer 0f 2009). All the songs off this album are great. The only weak spot is the last song "Ya Ya", which features an 11 year old Julian Lennon on drums. Julian doesn't make the song bad at all, it's just that the song is annoying.
Lastly, there's Double Fantasy. The original album is great. Some of John's best songs are on here and Yoko's songs are good as well. If you're a fan of the original album, you'll love the new "Stripped Down" version that comes with it. Yoko and the album's original producer Jack Douglas remixed the album. For Beatlemaniacs like me, you may remember 2003's Let It Be...Naked, which is a stripped down version of the Let It Be album. This stripped down version of Double Fantasy is amazing. There's much more focus on John's vocals and they sound so rich and raw. Yoko's songs are about the same but like John's, her vocals are more up front. You'll even get to hear the dialog before and after the songs too, which can be amusing sometimes. For example, John says some silly things at the end of "Cleanup Time" and "Dear Yoko" that weren't heard on the original.
If you don't own any of John's solo material, get it now! I highly recommend the Plastic Ono Band album. Personally, it's my favorite Beatles solo album. Imagine is great as well. John's 70th birthday will be followed on December 8 this year with the 30th anniversary of his tragic murder. I'll have something on that. If I get the other two reissues I need (which, at that point, I'll have all of John's solo material), I may review them as well.
Happy birthday, John!