Double Fantasy

John Lennon

Geffen, 1980

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


John Lennon has never been a favorite artist of mine, but no one can deny his talents. His solo career, unfortunately, lacked when compared to his best work with the Beatles, with the exception of a few highlights, most notably his first two albums. Unfortunately, due to the events of December 8, 1980, Lennon was never given the chance to see if he could scale his previous heights.

Double Fantasy was supposed to be the start of Lennon’s return to the rock landscape, but turned out to be the last proper album of his career. Because of that, critical opinion has given this disc more favor than it is worth. This is a poor album, not coincidentally due to Lennon’s obsession with his wife.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Yoko Ono is a poor excuse for a musician; after “Revolution 9” the courts should have dictated she stay at least 50 yards away from a microphone. However, because she was Lennon’s wife, John insisted on her claiming just as much as he did on records. This was a huge mistake and is nowhere else as evident as on Double Fantasy. Any momentum the Lennon numbers build is completely torn down by an Ono number. Some point to the experimental nature of tracks like “Kiss Kiss Kiss” and how they were the beginning of New Wave. Guess what, folks – experimentation does not ensure quality. Ono’s vocals are grating, more deserving of a worst of American Idol special.

And most disappointing is the relative poor quality of John’s work. While it would be wrong to expect bitter, angry, cynical pop for every number, the sense of posterity that had descended upon Lennon renders his material somewhat ineffective. I would expect a song like “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” to be a McCartney tune, not Lennon. The production is also decidedly different, sounding much more like an 80s album than I had expected. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is somewhat off-putting given my previous experiences with Lennon’s catalog.

That being said, this is John Lennon, and not even he could fail to come up with a few good tracks. “Beautiful Boy” may be schmaltzy as hell but is quite touching. The Asian/reggae tinged production is a thing of beauty to listen to. “Watching The Wheels” is another highlight, capturing an Imagine vibe with a typical Lennon lyric.

This was a tough listen. This was Double Fantasy, John Lennon’s last album! It has to be good, right? If Yoko had been removed from the proceedings, the listening experience might have improved. However, when you combine Yoko and some poor songs from John, it makes for a bad swan song. Of course, Lennon is totally blameless in that regard.

Rating: D

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© 2006 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Geffen, and is used for informational purposes only.