Tuesday, January 28, 2014

John Lennon and Yoko Ono - Milk and Honey

Yesterday (January 27th) marked the thirtieth anniversary of Milk and Honey, the final album release of John Lennon and Yoko Ono from the 80's. It was culled from the final record sessions after 1980's Double Fantasy release; it took Ono three years to be able to complete their final work together. This posthumous 1984 record went to number 34 in New Zealand, number 20 in Germany, number 16 in Italy, number 15 in Canada and Switzerland, number 12 in Austria, number 11 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 10 in France, number 7 in Norway, number 4 in Australia and the Netherlands, and number 3 in Japan and the UK.

The tracks alternate between those performed by Lennon and those performed by Ono. As a result, the album gives us six from each of them.

Side one starts with "I'm Stepping Out", a song that celebrates the New York City night life scene. As the third single, it only got to number 88 in the UK and number 55 on the US Billboard Hot 100. I like the light percussion and the very straightforward arrangement.

"Sleepless Night", the B-side to the third single, goes down a sexual route, complete with Ono’s orgasmic moans and groans.

The mid-tempo "I Don't Wanna Face It" is up next.

"Don't Be Scared" has a very cautious rhythm to it.

"Nobody Told Me", the first single, hit number 55 in Germany, number 6 in Australia and the UK, number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 4 in Canada. Lennon had initially intended for the track to be used by Ringo Starr for his 1981 album Stop and Smell the Roses. This one is easily my biggest memory from the album; I recall hearing this one a lot on the radio back in 1984 as well as the video being in heavy rotation on MTV. The light and bouncy tempo can easily get stuck into your head.

The very brief "O'Sanity", the B-side to the first single, encourages us to embrace our moments of madness. I actually would have liked to see this one expanded a bit more; it ends very abruptly.

Side two begins with "Borrowed Time" which contemplates the fragility of human life. Released as the second single, it stalled at number 108 on the US Billboard chart but got to number 32 in the UK. The song has a light, tropical flavor to it which is apropos since Lennon was inspired to write it on a sailing trip down to Bermuda.

The B-side to the second single was "Your Hands", a song sung mostly in Japanese (with some English sub-titling).

"(Forgive Me) My Little Flower Princess" features a light, jazz-like rhythm to it.

"Let Me Count the Ways" and "Grow Old With Me" were written by Ono and Lennon for one another. They were inspired by poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, verses of which appeared on the original album‘s liner notes. Both of these tracks are presented in demo form, giving them a raw and personal touch.

The closing track "You're the One" looks at the couple’s relationship both from the public viewpoint and their own. In 2007, a remixed version of the song went to number 2 on the US Billboard Dance chart.

A majority of Milk and Honey was new to me with this review. I definitely enjoyed all of Lennon’s tracks, and I was surprised how many of Ono’s I found myself liking as well (her avant-garde style of music was not something I ever got into much).

1 comment:

HERC said...

Huge Beatles and Lennon fan and this one is the least played of Lennon's solo stuff.

Do like "Nobody Told Me" enough to slip it into Double Fantasy playlist as a ringer, though.