Forget who she is and to whom she was once married. Forget also that she is 83 and still resides in the Dakota Building in New York’s Upper West Side, the scene of the crime that sent shock waves through the world of popular music. Try also to check your prejudices at the door before you sit down to listen to this 17-track long player (and sequel to 2007’s Yes, I’m A Witch) that is entitled ‘Yes, I’m A Witch Too’. And why do all this? Because we live in a cynical age, because we should give any recording artist a fair crack of the whip, because we know that people have the capacity for change and, in Yoko Ono‘s case, for perhaps a final stab at laying down a record that might become the final word in a long and famous chapter of musical history.
So I tried, but by the seventh track, ‘Wouldnit’, I came to believe that I had become trapped in a washing machine on spin cycle. This is a record of remixes. Which is to say, the mixture has been restirred but without any apparent substantive change to the overall taste. The taste is Yoko’s, the sublimation of her five decade association with the music world. You either like it or loathe it, the option of not caring one way or the other not ever on the table.
On ‘Forgive Me My Love’, the lyric is clear enough to hear Yoko whisper “Let me take your hand and place it on my breast”, while on ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ (evidently no pun intended) one hears synth and strings and a breathless, tuneless voice; on ‘Dogtown’ you encounter spoken word; on ‘Apparently Infinite Universe’ you hear a nifty rock work-out that would have benefitted from being an instrumental; and on ‘No Bed For Beatle John’, Yoko sings that “Beatle John lost his hospital bed yesterday” to the strains of a synthesised orchestra, coming across as a warped nursery rhyme that unsettles the present by being so tragically mired in the past.
But still, let’s try and be fair, but this time to those young musicians slogging anonymously for a contract, for the chance to write, sing and record their work, those young men and women who are being overlooked by record companies who are more keen on playing pranks like Yes, I’m A Witch Too on the unsuspecting public. But we’re talking about John Lennon’s most famous muse here. So, we can’t. We must listen and appraise for some obscure reason. Perhaps it’s the Liverpudlian association. So perhaps this is one for the ultra-keen Beatles completists among us, and perhaps these are the empress’s new clothes. Try them on if you’re up to it, although I wouldn’t advise it.
Yes, I’m A Witch Too is out now via Manimal Vinyl Records.