John Lennon Some Time In New York City on 180g 2LP
Remastered in 2010 from the Original Analogue Tapes by Yoko Ono & Team of Engineers from Abbey Road Studios in London and Avatar Studios in New York
Cut from the 24bit/96k HD Digital Transfers by Sean Magee at the World Renowned Abbey Road Studios
Is pop and rock music art? Of course it is, and it is arguably the most admired art form in the world. John and Yoko thought so too and their 1972 album, Some Time in New York City was a genuine and heartfelt attempt to make the art of popular music vital and meaningful in a way that few contemporary artists attempt to do. It was their notion that music should be like a newspaper, reporting and commenting on contemporary issues and to get their music heard in a way that drove the narrative and made a difference.
This album is John and Yoko unbridled, challenging – attacking, even – and it is a whole lot better than critics and fans said it was during the summer of ’72 upon its release. If Plastic Ono Band was a soul laid bare, and Imagine was some more of the same, with “chocolate coating” then Some Time in New York City is pure politics, with almost no one spared the Lennons’ wrath. Now all this makes it sound like a serious record, and it is, but it is also a record that has great tunes, half of which are written by John and by Yoko together.
And it is one that is to be explored and in turn may well have you exploring the themes that it espoused. There’s female oppression ("Woman is the Nigger of the World"), women’s solidarity ("Sisters, O Sisters"), prison riots ("Attica State"), class and oppression ("Born in Prison"), The Northern Ireland situation ("Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "The Luck of The Irish"), drugs and police corruption ("John Sinclair"), The Black Panthers ("Angela") and equality ("We’re All Water").
"Woman is the Nigger of the World" was released as a single in April 1972, ahead of the album’s release and proved highly controversial with radio stations refusing to play it. "New York City" is the one song on the album that is not political, and it is also the story of the album itself – arguably "The Ballad of John & Yoko" part 2. Among their early friends in NYC were the activists Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman who persuaded John and Yoko to appear at a rally for John Sinclair, who had been jailed for possession of two marijuana joints. John’s song of the same name was written at the St Regis Hotel where they stayed when they first arrived in Manhattan. Along with "New York City," it is one of the two songs that are solely his creation. "New York City" is classic Lennon, clever, witty, and it rocks in tribute to those he would pay homage to on his Rock N’ Roll album a few years hence.
Aside from these two John solo compositions, Yoko wrote "Sisters, O Sisters," "Born in Prison" and "We’re All Water." Unless you look at the credits you might think that John was involved in writing them, as they seem to have his DNA all over them, and that of course is what makes this album and its two predecessors work so well – that John and Yoko are so telepathically a team, a partnership, a ying and yang and completely as one. Much of the album’s sound is raw and visceral – and so it should be, given the subjects they sang about – there was little or no room for “chocolate coating” here.
The second LP features two live performances, on side 1 of the LP - "Cold Turkey" and "Don’t Worry Kyoko" - that were recorded in London at the Lyceum on December 15, 1969, for a UNICEF charity concert. Aside from John and Yoko the band included Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon, George Harrison, Nicky Hopkins, Bobby Keys, Keith Moon, Billy Preston, and Klaus Voormann. The second side of the second LP features four tracks including "Well (Baby Please Don’t Go)," a cover of the 1958 Olympics’ single, recorded live at Fillmore East on June 6, 1971. John and Yoko perform with Frank Zappa and The Mothers having been encouraged to do so by DJ Howard Smith and artist Andy Warhol. John and Yoko saw the second LP as very much a ‘free bonus’ record to accompany the studio recordings.
There may be flaws in this album, but they are genuine, heartfelt flaws of conviction. It is a record born of a conviction to try to make music that was vital and important to two artists that have never been afraid to use music as a medium for their message. And as a bonus there are some really great tracks that you will find yourself coming back to again and again.
John Lennon Some Time In New York City Track Listing:
1. Woman Is the Nigger of the World
2. Sisters, O Sisters
3. Attica State
4. Born in a Prison
5. New York City
6. Sunday Bloody Sunday
7. The Luck of the Irish
8. John Sinclair
10. We're All Water
1. Cold Turkey
2. Don't Worry Kyoko
3. Well (Baby Please Don't Go)