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SOMETIME IN NEW YORK CITY
Released - 1972 on Apple Records. Produced by John Lennon, Yoko Ono & Phil Spector
John Lennon - Lead & Backing Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitars including Slide Guitar
Yoko Ono - Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals, Vocal Harmony &
Elephant's Memory -
(Note: Solo Yoko Ono songs are not rated for this review)
This is the one John Lennon album that is perhaps forgotten by most of his fans and considered his only real failure as far as anything he ever put out. Too bad, since it really isn't that bad of an album, in fact, it has to be one of the greatest protest albums ever made. Every Lennon penned song on here is a true, hard nosed protest song, so this LP really captures John doing what he did best.
Yes, perhaps it was because he shared the album with his mate, Yoko Ono, that so many disliked Sometime in New York City. I do not rate the Ono solo songs on here since they are not really rock and not the kind of songs I dig or can even listen to long enough to give a rating to. Yet I will note that her song "We are Water" is excellent, well written, and the only one of her songs on the album that I don't skip over when I play the LP, such a true song indeed!
There might not be any tens on this LP, but all of the songs are well written and if I was to just go with the lyrics alone, there would be several tens. John was filled with anger when he wrote many of these songs, anger from all of all the unjust acts against human rights that was taking place in the early '70s by the establishment.
The best studio number found on Sometime in New York City is "Attica State", a protest song about how the prison upraising there turned into a bloody, deadly riot, thanks to the mishandling of the situation by the officials in charge. Next best song is "New York City", which isn't really a protest song, but more reflects the mood of the Lennon's at the time of this recording and explains what they were up to at the time.
"Woman Is the Nigger of the Word" is another excellent number with great lyrics - lyrics which back in 1971 were so true, even if not as true today. Woman have made up so much ground today to their brothers (in the Western world, anyway), but back when this was written, there were few men like Lennon who helped to call attention to their mistreatment, since most men turned a blind eye on the woman's movement, but John was different and did speak out.
Finally we have "John Sinclair", the last of the great songs on this album. Sinclair managed the hard-edged '60s punk band MC5, and was also the leader of the radical White Panther Party. The US government hated him and in July of 1969 Sinclair was sentenced to 9-1/2 to 10 years in prison for simply giving two joints to a undercover narcotics officers. The cops had set him up, having an undercover agent harassing Sinclair for some weed, which at first he would not supply. Finally to get this asshole off of his tail, he handed him two joints and was then busted on the spot. Lennon wrote this song in protest to the insane sentence ("They gave him ten for two, what else could the bastards do"). Thanks to John and many others who supported him, Sinclair's sentence was finally overturned 3 years later.
It should be noted that the original LP release of Sometime in New York City, included a second LP with a live jam with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Only a part of this is included on this CD release, plus a fine live version of Cold Turkey, with George Harrison helping out on guitar, which also showed up on the original album. The CD today also includes two bonus songs, the single "Happy Xmas (War is Over)", and Yoko's "Listen the Snow is Falling".
- Keno 2007
To listen to some soundclips from SOMETIME IN NEW YORK CITY, or to purchase it, click on: Sometime in New York City (CC Music). To purchase the original double LP with Frank Zappa, click on this: Sometime In New York City (Double LP - Live)