|1||Steel And Glass - Acoustic Guitar|
|2||You Are Here|
|3||Rock 'N' Roll People (Take 6)|
|4||Meat City - Electric Guitar Version 2|
|6||Intuition - Piano Take 3|
|7||Radio Spot 1 - Featuring Tony King|
|8||I Know (I Know)|
|9||One Day (At A Time)|
|10||I Know (I Know) - Acoustic Guitar Take 3|
|11||Call My Name - Acoustic Guitar For 'Clock' Film|
|12||Meat City - Electric Guitar Version 1|
|13||Rock 'N' Roll People (Take 5)|
|15||Bring On The Lucie (Freda People)|
|16||Rock 'N' Roll People - Piano|
|17||I Know (I Know) - Dbl. Trk. Acous. Gtr. Take 6|
|18||Free The People - Acoustic Slide Guitar|
|19||I Know (I Know) - Dbl. Trk. Acous. Gtr. Take 2|
|20||Just Because - Acoustic Guitar Part 1|
|22||Call My Name - Acoustic Guitar|
|23||Call My Name - Electric Guitar|
|24||I Know (I Know) - Dbl. Trk. Acous. Gtr. Take 1|
|25||Tight A$ - Electric Guitar|
|26||Out The Blue|
|27||Shoeshine - Acoustic Guitar|
|28||I Know (I Know) - Acoustic Guitar Take 4|
|29||Radio Spot 2 - Featuring Tony King|
|30||Nutopian International Anthem|
|32||Rock 'N' Roll People - Electric Guitar|
|33||Here We Go Again - Acoustic Guitar Take 2|
|34||Make Love, Not War - Piano|
|35||I Know (I Know) - Dbl. Trk. Acous. Gtr. Take 3|
|36||Intuition - Piano Take 4|
|37||I Know (I Know) - Dbl. Trk. Acous. Gtr. Take 4|
|38||Out Of The Blue|
|39||I Know (I Know) - Acoustic Guitar Take 2|
|40||Just Because - Acoustic Guitar Part 2|
|41||Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)|
|42||I Promise - Piano|
|43||Rock 'N' Roll People (Take 7)|
|45||I Know (I Know) - Dbl. Trk. Acous. Gtr. Take 5|
WEEEEEEELLLLLLL...as promised last time around, here's the latest installment from the Lennon archives. This time we're spotlighting 1973's Mind Games. Released in the States on the 2nd of November, (on the 14th in the U.K.), Mind Games served as John's contribution to the Beatles' chart domination of 1973. Delivered to the shops concurrently with Ringo's self-titled LP, John's first ever solo production just couldn't compete with Ritchie's assembly of infectious, upbeat pop songs, and stalled at number 9 on the charts. The sessions took place over eight weeks in New York City at the Record Plant East during August and September, 1973 while John was packing for an extended vacation on the West Coast. He enlisted the musicians also used by Mrs. Lennon on here Feeling The Space LP, including guitarist David Spinozza who was reportedly giving Yoko a little more than creative input. The roster reads like a who's-who of the cream of New York City's session man pool. Without further delay, let me introduce the Plastic U.F.Ono Band...
Sneaky Pete Kleinow - Pedal Steel
Undoubtedly best known for his work with the Flying Burrito Brothers, Sneaky Pete has also contributed to albums by Joe Cocker, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon. John retained his services on Harry Nilsson's Pussy Cats LP, and two years later he appeared on Ringo's Rotogravure. Like the rest of the core group of musicians, Sneaky Pete also worked with Yoko on here Feeling The Space LP.
David Spinozza - Guitar
David's first session with an ex-Beatle was on Paul and Linda McCartney's Ram LP. It was an experience he didn't relish, according to a sniping tell-all interview published shortly after the album's release in Hit Parader magazine. As mentioned previously, he worked extensively with Yoko and her next two album projects - Feeling The Space and the previously unreleased A Story. The latter album finally saw the light of day, first in parts on the Rykodisc retrospective Ono Box and later, in 1997 as a full fledged CD. A consummate musician, David has appeared on countless releases, some of the notable ones being those by Paul Simon, James Taylor, Carly Simon and Ringo Starr. He also served as musical director of the Saturday Night Live Band.
Ken Ascher - Piano, Organ, Mellotron
Ken also worked with Yoko on Feeling The Space and A Story, and like Sneaky Pete, worked on the Pussy Cats LP, providing orchestrations as well as keyboard work. He continued his association with John, working on both the Walls And Bridges and Rock 'N' Roll albums. Traveling in the same musical circles as his aforementioned associates, Paul Simon, James Taylor and Carly Simon have all utilized Ken on their releases. He also went on to contribute to Johnny Winter's John Dawson Winter III LP, a connection we'll investigate later.
Gordon Edwards - Bass
Not quite well known as some of the other musicians, Gordon too had contributed to albums by Carly Simon and Paul Simon besides providing bass on Yoko's Feeling The Space and A Story. He also worked on projects with the jazz fusion group "Stuff" and vocalist Joe Cocker.
Arthur Jenkins - Percussion
Arthur has turned up on a number of John and Yoko's solo projects, in fact most of them. Besides supplying percussion on Mind Games, Feeling The Space, and A Story, he worked on Walls And Bridges, Rock 'N' Roll, Double Fantasy, Milk And Honey and Season Of Glass.
Jim Keltner - Drums
Undoubtedly the most familiar of the Beatle sidemen, Jim (a.k.a. 'Lightning') has kept time for many a solo Beatle project. He has provided drums for nearly every George Harrison album as well as performing live at the Concert For Bangla Desh and on George's 1974 North American Tour. Beside being a part of Ringo's 1989 All-Starr Band, he drummed on the Ringo, Goodnight Vienna, Rotogravure and Stop And Smell The Roses LP's. Jim's association with the Lennon's started in 1971 on the Imagine and Fly LP's, and continued through the Rock 'N' Roll album. Stops along the way included the Some Time In New York City LP, the "One To One" benefit concerts, Mind Games, Feeling The Space and Walls And Bridges.
Rick Marotta - Drums ('Meat City' and 'Bring On The Lucie (Freda People)')
Rick was brought in to complement drummer Jim Keltner on two tracks from Mind Games and went on to handle drumming duties for Yoko on her Feeling The Space LP. Albums by Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Carly Simon and Paul Simon are among Rick's recorded contributions.
Michael Brecker - Sax
One of the more in-demand session players around, Michael has contributed to projects by Elton John, Eric Clapton, Todd Rundgren, Bruce Springsteen, Julian Lennon, Carly Simon, Lou Reed, Bob James, Billy Joel, The Average White Band, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon and James Taylor just to name a few. Michael also appeared on Yoko's Feeling The Space, A Story (with brother Randy) and Season On Glass, while also soloing on Ringo's Rotogravure and Ringo The 4th LP's.
Mind Games and Absolute Elsewhere
Mind Games, the album, can be summarized as being a collection of leftover political statements from the Some Time In New York City LP, fleshed out with love songs/apologies to Yoko with a pair of rockers thrown in for good measure. Not quite up to one's expectations, but certainly a step in the right direction after the previous year's offering. Twenty plus years later, one can't help but wince at some of the dated production techniques and the lack of dynamics on the commercial version.
All of the studio tracks included here with the exception of 'Rock 'N' Roll People" are the backing tracks of the commercially released recordings. Therefore, the differences lie in the stage of the overdubbing, editing and mixing when these recordings were committed to tape. A close comparison with the commercial CD will indicate how the "wide stage" backing tracks were reduced almost to mono on the final mixes, with just the vocals and a little instrumental sweetening panned off-center. In addition, John, having learned a few bad habits from Phil Spector, slashed away the high and low ends, leaving only the murky middle. The versions appearing here are pre-production recordings and although they show a few signs of their age, they exhibit few of the detriments present on the commercial release.
Evolution of the Music:
Mind Games first surfaced as two distinct compositions on a late 1970 piano demo tape recorded at John's Tittenhurst Park residence. Make Love, Not War was John's attempt at putting the anti-war slogan to song. It comprised the melody which eventually became the chorus of Mind Games (there were no true verses); you hear John give the original lyrics a nod as the track fades away. The middle eight "love is the answer...", was taken in whole from I Promise - apparently John was already apologizing to Yoko in song - long before the split. As you can hear, John's vocals weren't the best of shape at the time - fortunately he recovered. It resurfaced during the June, 1971 Imagine sessions, where during a break in the recording of Oh My Love, John can be heard re-styling the middle eight to the reggae-tinged version heard on the commercial release. The studio version appearing here is a rough mix of the released version with a guide vocal. Note that the precision of Jim Keltner's drumming is no longer lost in the wash of slapback echo present on the commercial version. John recalled the session with the BBC's Andy Peebles on December 6, 1980: "That was a fun track because the voice is in stereo and the seeming orchestra on it is just me playing three notes with a slide guitar. And the middle eight is reggae. Trying again to explain to American musicians what reggae was in 1973 was pretty hard, but it's basically a reggae middle eight if you listen to it. But it was hard telling these, you know, they didn't know what reggae was then." He expounded on the impetus of the single and album for David Sheff a few months earlier: "It was originally called Make Love, Not War, but it was such a cliche that you couldn't say it anymore, so I wrote it in the obscure - mind guerrillas, mind games, it's all the same story though as Imagine or anything else. I was thinking in terms of guerrilla warfare, only instead of a physical guerrilla, a mind guerrilla, a conceptual guerrilla. It's a nice track though, I always liked the sound of the track. In a way it was trying to express whatever we were saying in the sixties, all of us, not me, or me and Yoko, but all of us about love and peace again, without saying the words love and peace. I wanna make love not war, 'cause that was the original, I know you heard it before, love in a flower, you gotta let it grow. But how many times can you say the same thing over and over? So this is another attempt to say it. When this came out, in the early Seventies, everybody was starting to say the Sixties was a joke, it didn't mean anything, those love-and-peaceniks were idiots. 'We all have to face the reality of all being nasty human beings who are born evil and everything's gonna be lousy and rotten so boo-hoo-hoo. We had fun in the Sixties, but the others took it away from us and spoiled it for all of us'. And I was just trying to say: 'No, just keep doin' it'. The Mind Games single is fine, there's just no energy to sustain through the album, and there was no clarity of vision, there's a few pieces all right, but as a whole piece, there's no clarity. The title was taken from a book that was out at that time period called Mind Games, by somebody from Houston, (Robert Masters and Jean Houston) I think who used to be an LSD experimenter so then found out how to do it without LSD and it was a very interesting, impressive book and I used their title, course anybody who wants to know what mind games really are should buy the book - play a few. The cover art is sort of like a prediction, there's me, Yoko lying down like that, and there's me walking away with a briefcase, and after that is when we split so it's sort of apparent in the Mind Games period, although it wasn't apparent on a conscious level."
Tight A$ was described by John in 1973 as being a stream of consciousness composition, i.e. "tight as this, tight as that". Apparently John's appreciation of the tune waned over the past seven years as he described it to Playboy's David Sheff in September of 1980 "Just a throwaway track. I just felt like doing that kind of song. Sun records, early... whatever you call it, Tex-Mex or whatever sound which they're actually all doing now if you listen, you could play that now and it would be au courant, but I don't think many people were doing it then". Three drastically different rough mixes of Take 4, the commercially released version, appear here prior to editing and overdubbing of the final vocal. All feature a slick, extended guitar solo from "Spinozza", not to mention some inspired steel from Sneaky Pete. On these rough mixes of the basic track, you can hear drummer Jim Keltner lose his stick, but not the groove. And groove it does. If you don't get the urge listening to this track, your feet must have been nailed to the floor. The electric guitar demo on this collection opens with the lick from the Walls And Bridges instrumental, Beef Jerky.
Aisumasen (I'm Sorry) first appeared in 1971 as "Call My Name", several different demos of which are featured on this collection. The first features John on solo electric guitar while Yoko conceptualizes with an unknown associate in the background. The second comes from the soundtrack of 'Clock', which was recorded in John and Yoko's suite at the prestigious St. Regis Hotel, shortly after their September, 1971 arrival in New York City. The final demo, on acoustic guitar, finds the composition near completion. The song apparently made the transition to 'I'm Sorry' following John's reported indiscretion at Jerry Rubin's apartment while watching the 1972 Presidential Election returns. John commented to David Sheff in 1980 and Tony Prince in 1973: "Aisumasen means excuse me or I'm sorry, that's the actual translation. It's my first attempt to speak Japanese, and the first word I learn is I'm sorry Yoko. That's another I call your name Yoko - a message to Yoko because I couldn't say it in real life maybe, I don't know. I mean not real life, records are real life but, but I could express it in song. Of course anybody that lives together you're bound to tread on each others toes now and then right? So that was just one occasion and instead of just keeping it to myself I just made a song out of it." Two rough mixes are included here in addition to the collection of demo recordings.
One Day (At A Time): "Well, that's just a concept of life, you know. How to live your life, one day at a time. You can only deal with one at a time no matter what you think. I don't wanna spend too much time on the future or the past, the future you can plan for, but there's nothing you can to about it until you get there. It was Yoko's idea for me to sing it in falsetto, I wrote it and recorded it and then I could hardly reach the notes, so she said sing it in falsetto." The rough mixes appearing here thankfully lack Yoko's suggestion and the annoying background vocals which all but ruined the commercial version. In July of 1974, while leaving his mark on Elton John's cover of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, John also contributed guitar to the B-side, Elton's own rendition of One Day (At A Time).
Bring On The Lucie (Freda People) is undoubtedly a leftover from Some Time In New York City, and first appears here as a dobro demo from 1971. Titled "Free The People", it consisted simply of anti-establishment sentiments chanted over an endless, repeating chord pattern. He recalled the track as "just another throwaway attempt. It didn't really work - the sound of the track's not bad, I mean I wasn't clear in my mind on Mind Games. There's some nice sounds on it, but obviously I'm not thinking as clearly as I was before". And just what the hell is a Lucie anyway? "Well it could be anybody, sometimes I just come up with a non-sequitur title, it could be any of those political hacks or leaders that are messing around with our lives." The rough mix consists of little more than the basic track before overdubs and lacks Sneaky Pete's distinctive pedal steel, John's final vocal and the vocal talents of "Something Different".
Side one of the Apple LP closed with the Nutopian International Anthem, John and Yoko's inoffensive musical theme for their conceptual nation. In keeping with the theme of the alternate album, we have chosen to simply include the basic track in stereo.
Side Two opens with Intuition, of which this collection features two demo takes on piano in addition to the rough mix of the basic track. David Sheff had to prompt John with the lyrics, as the track obviously had a lasting impression its composer. "Well what's it say I can't remember." "My intentions are good I use my intuition, it takes me for a ride" "'Cause I was gettin' confused, you know" "yeah it seemed like suicide, as I play the game of life I try to make a better each and every day. And when I struggle in the night the magic of the music seems to light the way" "well it didn't did it? I had to get away from the music to, to get some light into my life then" "But then it says Intuition takes me there, so in a way was it music you were talking about then?" "Yeah, well and my intuition. I have a good intuition which has saved me from many a disaster just, and so I was talkin' to myself really, 'cause I was a bit confused then, and I was thinking well I'll just have to rely on my intuition to get me out of this confusion".
Out The Blue is probably one of John's most overlooked and underrated ballads. This collection is graced with three rough mixes, two of which contain an extended instrumental coda which was excised from the commercial release, the third being quite similar to the commercial version. Ever humble, John simply remembered the track in 1980 as "just another kinda love song. Nothin' special". At the time of the album's release, he described Aisumasen and Out The Blue as "two aspects of one relationship. People tend to think oh he's just always singin' about Yoko, but if somebody else sang it, it would be about another woman."
Only People followed next on the LP, and is represented here by two distinctly different rough mixes. The first lacks the overbearing backing vocals and displays the strength of the melody. A strength John was obviously aware of, as he commented to David Sheff in 1980: "That was a failure as a song. It was a good lick, but I couldn't ever get the words to make sense. It had possibilities of being a good hit record, but I could, I never got it to work - it didn't work". One must wonder what John expected with lines like "we don't want no pig brother scene". If one listens carefully, traces from an earlier Lennon composition, Sally And Billy, can be picked out.
I Know (I Know) "It's sort of complicated but sometimes you say things, but it's not really what you meant to say. If I say something to you and you hear it different from what I've said it, and you answer back and we're not really getting down to it. I'm really talking like that you know. Like somebody says 'do you want ice cream?' and I'll say no, and actually I meant yes. You find yourself saying the opposite of what you mean. This happens to me quite a lot. I speak a lot, but what I say in not always what I mean." He later described it as "Just a piece of nothing". One wonders if he really meant it. Three single tracked acoustic guitar performances appear here, and are followed by a lengthy demo sequence as John double tracks his lead vocal. Listen for the "Beatlesque" harmonies present on the earlier takes. Five rough mixes of the released take in various stages of completion are also included, with slight but effective differences.
You Are Here lulls us into a relaxing mood, and John's recollections of the track were equally hazy: "I sort of attempted a Latinesque song in a ballad tradition". This unedited rough mix of the keeper take contains an additional, albeit unfinished verse which was cut before release: "From mystical to magical...From temple scenes to village greens, let there be light". Once again, the dissonant "Something different" has yet to be added, and the lack of this additional production only emphasizes the strength of the composition.
Meat City also has its origins in 1971, first appearing as Shoeshine (aka: Just Go To Get Me Some Rock 'N' Roll). This one-off recording nonsensically combined football pools and rock 'n' roll in an incomplete lyrical mess. The melody was re-worked with an equally obtuse lyric as Meat City in 1973. A demo sequence consisting of two performances on electric guitar appears here. John remembered the track as "A piece of garbage, it's just an expression I picked up from somewhere and tried to make a song out of it. Trying to play around with words and rhythm, it's got a peculiar rhythm on it. We all go through different trips in our head. We think 'well it's if I was in the countryside it would be better'. Then when you're in the countryside you think 'well I miss the city, if I was in the city, that would be better'. It's sort of saying I've been all over the place and it's all the same. The grass is greener." Almost as groovy as Tight A$, an outstanding rough mix appears here, and features a slick harmony lead vocal from John. The lyrics are actually discernable as the vocals have yet to be bathed in echo. Also appearing on this collection is the American single mix, a shocking reminder of the muddy production with a subtle difference.
Rock 'N' Roll People as performed by its composer first appeared on the 1986 release Menlove Ave. The commercially released version was a heavily edited composite of back to back takes recorded on August 4, 1973. Five takes of "the one left in the can" appear here. The first evidence of the track comes from a piano demo recorded in late 1970 and found on the same tapes as the Make Love, Not War and I Promise demos appearing on this collection. An electric guitar demo recorded in 1973 along with the demos for Tight A$ and Meat City is also included. We then zoom ahead to Friday, August 1, 1973 and present two takes from that session. The first, Take 6, can't break down for trying, and lacks David Spinozza's lead guitar overdubs which appear on the second - Take 7. Three more takes, from Monday the 4th follow, the last two (Takes 6 & 7) being used for the Menlove Ave. release. The tune first appeared commercially on the blues guitarist Johnny Winter's late 1974 LP, John Dawson Winter III which incidentally was produced by Record Plant Engineer Shelly Yakus. John apparently never went on record about this composition, and judging from his comments towards the tracks he chose to release it's probably for the best.
Also included are a few bits of studio nonsense generated by former Apple A & R man, Tony King. The two off the wall radio spots didn't do a whole lot to generate sales, but they are certainly entertaining. Another Menlove Ave. track, Here We Go Again, also dates from this era. This Lennon-Spector composition was committed to tape towards the end of 1973 during the self destructing Rock 'N' Roll sessions. This collection presents take 2 of John's acoustic guitar demos (Take 1 was a false start), introduced by John as "Here We Go Again, again". And wrapping things up are two takes of a previously unheard Lennon composition titled "Just Because" which was found tucked away at the end of the double-tracked demo tape for 'I Know (I Know)'. The composing sequence consists of two "takes", the first relying heavily on the lyrics of the Elvis Presley standard , while the second nearly hypnotizes the listener with its repetitive workings. Just as we're about to drift off, John shifts direction and begins work on the chorus of a more familiar title, the likes of which will fill our next volume from the Lennon archives.
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