Sunday, September 21, 2008

John Lennon Yoko Ono - Remember New York City

Label: His Master's Choice, HMC 003

CD 1

1. New York City [takes unknown] 8:39
2. New York City [take unknown] 3:58
3. New York City [takes unknown] 1:13
4. New York City [take unknown] 2:30
5. New York City [take unknown] 1:06
6. New York City [take unknown] 4:15
7. New York City [take unknown] 4:48
8. New York City [take unknown] 1:55
9. New York City [take unknown] 4:43
10. New York City [take unknown] 3:52
11. New York City [take unknown] 4:29
12. New York City [takes unknown] 2:36
13. New York City [take unknown] 3:28
14. New York City [takes unknown] 0:46
15. New York City [take unknown] 3:04
16. "Let's Ride" [improvisation] 0:43

CD 2

1. Remember [takes unknown] 4:00
2. Remember [takes unknown] 9:03
3. Remember [takes unknown] 9:28
4. Remember [takes unknown] 3:30
5. Remember [takes unknown] 4:33
6. Remember [takes unknown] 8:49
7. Remember [takes unknown] 2:15
8. Remember [takes unknown] 5:15
9. Remember [takes unknown] 3:20

All tracks written by John Lennon.

Liner Notes

John Lennon and Yoko Ono moved to New York City in September 1971 and found themselves confronted with fiercely political issues. Living initially in Greenwich Village, they were quickly contacted by activists Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, appeared at benefits for John Sinclair, spoke about situations such as the Women's Liberation movement, the problems in Northern Ireland, the Attica Prison riots and the jailing of Angela Davis.

At the same time, problems were beginning to occur regarding John and Yoko's visa statuses; Senator Strom Thurmond had written a memo on 4 February to John Mitchell, President Nixon's Attorney General, advising him of the fact that the Lennons had been taking part in some demonstrations which were unsavory to Mr. Thurmond's way of thinking. Since the Lennons' visas expired on 1 March 1972, on 29 February extensions were granted for both, but were abruptly cancelled on 6 March, in the midst of the LP sessions. Deportation orders came ten days later on the 16 March, but John and Yoko won a delay on these proceedings, managing to have them postponed until April. On 18 April, deportation proceedings began and John & Yoko appeared at the INS hearing before Judge Ira Feldsteel (in reference to this issue, a petition was inserted in the initial copies of Some Time in New York City for concerned purchasers [along with their friends] to fill out to keep John and Yoko in the U.S.).

Throughout May, and throughout the next four years, John spent much time, energy and would sacrifice much of his sanity in a bitter fight to stay in the U.S. John's paranoia was only beginning regarding his highly visible activities and the Nixon Administration's dim view of said actions. Thus, there was a rather highly charged atmosphere for recording. It was to this background that Lennon and Ono hired Elephant's Memory to back them musically, with the assistance of studio drummer Jim Keltner, to record an album John described as "the first pop/rock record we have made together... done in the tradition of minstrels who sang about their times and what was happening". Their agenda was to protest against the social injustices they saw in the U.S. Phil Spector co-produced the new studio album along with the Lennons in February and March 1972. With most of the gatefold cover space taken up by printed lyrics and photographs, the album credits appeared on the first disc's inner sleeve.

Seeking to make the package more attractive, Lennon and Ono's 15 December 1969 live performance of Cold Turkey and Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For A Hand In The Snow) at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, from a UNICEF charity show with Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Keith Moon, among others, was unearthed. In addition, a sampling of performances with Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention from a Fillmore East gig in June 1971 was added, in effect creating a bonus live album for the Lennon/Ono faithful. The inner sleeve for the second disc featured Lennon's doodling over the cover of Zappa's album Fillmore East - June 1971, adding his credits and commentary to Zappa's.

The opening song of the studio album, Woman Is The Nigger Of The World (a phrase Ono had coined in the late 1960's), was intended as a negation of sexism and was also issued as a single in the U.S. to controversial reaction, and - as a consequence - little airplay and much banning. The Lennons went to great lengths (including a press conference, attended by staff from Jet and Ebony magazines) to explain that the word "nigger" was allegorical and not an affront to African-Americans. While many understood their intentions and considered the gesture a brave one, it was simply too taboo to be accepted by the masses. The dismissal of Woman Is The Nigger Of The World, as a result, proved to have a detrimental effect on Some Time in New York City's commercial appeal. Lennon's other tracks include the biographical New York City, an engaging Chuck Berry-styled rocker that details the Lennons' early months in their new home, as well as John Sinclair, his musical plea for Sinclair's release from a ten-year sentence for giving two marijuana joints to an undercover policewoman.

Yoko Ono, very much a feminist supporter, responds musically with Sisters O Sisters, tackles the lacking education system with Born In A Prison, and celebrates a culture of one in We're All Water. In fact, this album is generally seen as the beginning of Yoko's emergence as a songwriter after her rather challenging previous two releases. Together, Lennon and Ono lament police brutality in Attica State, the hardships of war-torn Northern Ireland in and Sunday Bloody Sunday and The Luck Of The Irish and pay tribute to Angela Davis with Angela. Some Time In New York City was packaged like a newspaper of the events covered in the album, causing even more consternation with an altered photo of Richard Nixon and Mao Tse-Tung dancing nude together (the photo was stickered over on many of the issued copies, with a non-removable seal).

They finished the LP on the morning of their third wedding anniversary, 20 March 1972, releasing it three months later in the U.S. However, a publishing snafu regarding who would claim the copyrights on the tunes caused the LP to not be issued in the U.K. until several months after the U.S. release, making it even more outdated in that region. In addition, the inclusion of a parody of Britain's Sun tabloid newspaper on one of the inner sleeves had to be replaced, which may have contributed to the delay. Its release in the U.S. was apparently also fraught with problems for the same reason, with Maclen, John and Paul's publishing arm in the U.S., claiming rights along with John and Yoko's company, Ono Music. On 22 January 1973, Northern Songs (UK) and Maclen sued John over these assignments. Perhaps the most important factor in the LP's issue was the fact that John's manager, Allen Klein, didn't want the LP to be issued at all! A clause in the Beatles' renegotiated contract with Capitol in the U.S. stated that the group would be entitled to a royalty increase if the last two records released by any of the four by 31 August 1972 achieved minimum sales of 500,000 by 26 January 1976, the last day of the Beatles' recording contract with EMI.

The last two LPs released prior to Some Time In New York City (Paul's Wild Life and The Concert For Bangla Desh) both exceeded the magic 500,000 number. Klein thus tried to prevent release of the album, knowing there was no way the album would do that well (he also stalled the previously announced release of the Live Jam LP, originally to be issued on its own at the end of 1971). This ended up being the big issue in the lawsuit brought against Capitol years later by the Beatles: could Some Time In New York City be considered a Beatles LP? Capitol could and did deny the increase since it sold less than 200,000 by 1976. This example of commerce over art enraged John, who was furious at this intrusion on his "art," referring to Klein as "Alice Klien" in the liner notes (among other reasons, this was a primary factor in John not renewing his contract with Klein when it expired in March of 1973).

After all of these hassles, Some Time In New York City was considered overly radical in its political slant by critics, while many of Lennon's fans stayed away from the double set in droves, causing it to merely limp to #48 in the U.S. Although the U.K. release managed a healthy #11 peak, Lennon was devastated at its commercial failure and would not record any music for almost an entire year.

On 30 August 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono performed two charity shows at Madison Square Garden for the mentally challenged at friend Geraldo Rivera's request; the event was called One To One, and New York mayor John Lindsay declared the date "One To One Day". Both performances were filmed and recorded, with the evening show broadcast on ABC Television, and the earlier matinee show compiled for release as the 1986 live album and video "Live In New York City". It was one of the few times any material from Some Time In New York City was performed by the duo. Some Time In New York City was remixed, remastered and reissued in 2005 as a single CD, removing, in the process, several of the live jam cuts, while adding on Happy Xmas and Listen, The Snow Is Falling.

John & Yoko
Plastic Ono Band with Elephant's Memory and Invisible Strings

John Lennon
Yoko Ono
Jim Keltner
Stan Bronstein
Richard Frank Jr
Gary Van Scyoc
Adam Ippolito
Wayne Gabriel


John and Yoko
and Phil Spector
John and Yoko
String Orchestration:
Ron Frangipane
Roy Cicala and
Danny Turbeville

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A new John Sinclair video is posted today actually. Just to let you know, 2008 Concert of Colors in Detroit video at My Damn Channel here: