By this point, John Lennon had struck up a decent solo career despite having some clear personal issues in his own life, going through his breakup with Yoko Ono, dubbed his “lost weekend”. Still, with this album he powered on all the same, with it being self-made and self-produced. This is his fifth solo album and hopefully it should be a good listen here, so let’s take a listen and hear what we have.
We begin the album with Going Down On Love which has some reused melodies from an earlier John Lennon song I Found Out before launching into a gorgeous and wonderful Pop/Rock number that sounds gorgeous and wonderful. It has piano, horns, bongos and some excellent singing by John Lennon. A really cool song with attitude, John Lennon delivers a wonderful listen for those who have stayed faithful to him over the years and after The Beatles. Clever and catchy, this is a really awesome listening experience here and it sounds fine and pretty. Nice tune to begin this album with. It has a super long fade out.
Next along is Whatever Gets You Thru The Night which begins with some excellent saxophone and a real 1970s sound here which is really cool and excellent. This is a great listening experience that sounds uplifting and energetic, and very danceable too. Really gorgeous and classy, this is a great Pop/Rock piece that is headbanging and good fun. A wonderful and energetic listening experience, this does sound really great. Excellent tune here, it still sounds fresh, inspired and joyful today. John Lennon was a true genius of Pop/Rock music, and this is clearly shown in songs such as these. Energetic.
Old Dirt Road begins with Led Zeppelin-esque piano and strings, along with slide guitar here that sounds wonderful. It’s a slow and gorgeous ballad that shows John Lennon at his imaginative best: a true visionary and crafter of 20th century gems. A really cool and listenable piece that is a masterpiece of music, with a clock ticking and harmonies towards the middle, before launching back into the music here. There is a really fine piano solo here, and some wonderful strings sections here, too. This is truly amazing, and John Lennon shines wonderfully on this song, which is a majestic journey through sound. A genuinely nice listen, this is a very romantic piece of music, with another elongated outro. Excellent.
What You Got begins with some drum rolls, a proto-Disco sound and some funky New York feeling sounds here. A really excellent, quirky and cool piece that sounds very 1970s here, this is awesome and different, with John Lennon doing some raspy screaming here. A really cool song all the same, this is awesome and different. This is an incredible song which, although some may not consider it that good given its time of release, it is actually really good. Great stuff here.
Next along is Bless You which has some tranquil electric guitar sounds, bongo beats, acoustic guitars and some gorgeous melodies here. John Lennon sings a lovely melody here, before launching into a very excellent song that is somewhat akin to a musical lullaby, but still sounds amazing and brilliant today. A fresh, beautiful and uplifting piece of music, this sounds really top decades later. There is a horn solo here in the second half which fits this piece of music perfectly. It didn’t need a loud, roaring guitar solo, just what is on record is perfect here. A really great sounding song, this is a great piece of music from John Lennon from around this time. Excellent sounding song.
Following is Scared which begins with a wolf howling, which is a little eerie, before launching into a decent Pop/Rock piece that sounds really like John Lennon is baring his soul onto record here, he sings about getting older and being afraid of things. It has some great lyrics in the chorus, and despite being one of his lesser known pieces, still sounds really good. Definitely worth repeat listens, John Lennon delivers a very good song here that sounds truly incredible with his borderline screaming in the second half, followed by a saxophone and acoustic guitar solo. A grand piece of music that still sounds great today, the horns and guitar mesh nicely at the end, with a touch of piano in the background. Awesome stuff.
#9 Dream is a reference to the infamous John Lennon number nine here. It is a 1970s sounding piece that sounds really awesome and fine here, with some incredible melodies and singing from John Lennon. The string section here sounds a little eastern, in fact, which is odd. Excellent acoustic guitar playing is here, with a sweepingly dramatic midsection that sounds just gorgeous. This is an inspired and great listen here that is awesome, beautiful, melodic and a Pop masterpiece in an album of Pop/Rock brilliance. It ends with some melodic chanting by John Lennon which is really catchy. Great effort.
Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox) which is okay, but seemingly is a weaker number from John Lennon here. Still, it is awesome music but this seems like a bit of a throwaway number here. A really fine and artistic listen all the same, it has the usual mesh of excellent instrumentation and melodic beauty here that sounds awesome. It’s about a girl that one loves, likely John Lennon’s own Yoko Ono. It has a catchy outro here, too.
Next here is Steel And Glass which begins with some quiet acoustic guitar riffing, before gradually becoming louder. John Lennon sings wonderfully here, and this piece has some gorgeous string sections and other instrumentation that is reminiscent of How Do You Sleep? here. A really cool piece of music all the same, this is a great listen here. There is a treated trumpet solo here, before returning to the uber-dramatic singing by John Lennon. Really touching music, this is very catchy and dramatic listening here. A very 1970s song that is wonderfully played, executed and delivered, this sounds amazing, even today. Great effort.
Following is Beef Jerky which begins with a keyboard intro that sounds like trippy spacecraft entering, before launching into a wonderful and Jazzy sounding tune. This sounds ridiculously good, and is an awesome instrumental by John Lennon and co, sounding not unlike a typical New York piece here. The song title is chanted here, before launching back into the mayhem. A cool piece of multi-sectioned music, this is a grandiose instrumental. A good listen from start to finish, it concludes with a long fade out and the spacecraft sounds, once again.
Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down And Out) begins with some soft acoustic strumming, with John Lennon singing nicely about the realities of the world here. A really lovely sounding piece of music that is likely the best song from this album, it does sound really fine and well played. Everything about this song is well delivered, from the soft vocal to the string and horn section here is pure John Lennon goodness. A great piece of Pop/Rock beauty and melodicism, this sounds amazing, even today. A great slide guitar guitar styled solo is here, before launching into a more furious set of sections here. A really cool piece of music all the same, it has some nice whistled melodies and brass sections to finish off, all the way through to the fade out. Brilliant tune.
Ya Ya is last here, being only a minute long. It is a rather throwaway piece of music that doesn’t really fit this record, and is a minimal piece of music with John Lennon singing, piano and marching drums. Anyway, listening is optional here.
This was not as well received as some of the other John Lennon solo albums. However, looking back, this is undeniably great listening and although some may say that it wasn’t good enough, that is a popular misconception here. This is a decent album from one of the musical greats of the 20th century. For anyone who liked The Beatles and other John Lennon solo efforts, do seek this out. A good listen.
If you liked the article and would like to support the author in his musical review quest, please donate to show your support. Thank you for your consideration. Chris Airey
Hey Chris, great to see you doing this album. I don’t want to say much except there are 2 points I feel that I should clarify/correct….Sweet Bird of Paradise(Paradox) is actually about May Pang, the woman Yoko Ono tasked to look after John when they separated(during which time this album was made). Make of that what you will.
Second, the outro track “Ya Ya” was included because a young Julian Lennon is playing the drums.
Keep up the good work man, Cheers