Some Time In New York City

John Lennon

Apple, 1972

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


John Lennon released Some Time In New York City (1972) on the heels of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970) and Imagine (1971).

I have to admit that I had not played this album in years or probably decades when I agreed to review it for the Daily Vault. After playing the original release several times, though, I came to realize why it has remained on the shelf.

I am old enough to have lived through John Sinclair, Angela Davis, and Attica State. They may have been important in their day, but now they are frozen in time. The same can be said for Some Time In New York City. It was a political and social statement by John and Yoko and as such suffers as a lasting document. A further issue is that many of the songs contain lyrics that are weak and border on the ridiculous at times. I don’t doubt Lennon’s passion and commitment here, but the final result may be his weakest solo album. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The only real enjoyable track is “New York City.” It is good rock ‘n’ roll and has a Chuck Berry feel to it.

The Yoko Ono songs, “Sister O Sister” and “We’re All Water,” are fairly good tracks. Ono keeps her excessive impulses under control. This is about as melodic as she will get during her career. Having said that, when the second and third best tracks on an album are by Yoko Ono, that should signify a problem with the disc itself.

“The Luck Of The Irish” has a beautiful melody that is completely spoiled by the vocal duet. Such songs as “Attica State,” “John Sinclair,” and “Angela” all are political message songs that suffer from the aforementioned poor lyrics.

There was also a bonus disc included although I seem to remember that I paid double album prices. Side one consists of two live songs recorded at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on December 15, 1969. “Cold Turkey” at eight-plus minutes and “Don’t Worry Kyoko” at more than sixteen minutes both exhibit some stellar guitar work and feature such guest artists as George Harrison, Keith Moon, and Eric Clapton. Here Yoko’s yelling, wailing, and gnashing of teeth really ruins what could have been memorable tracks.

The second side finds Lennon and Ono on stage with Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention at the Fillmore East. The agreement between Lennon and Zappa was that they would both have the rights to the music. What Lennon did not tell Zappa was that he would edit the tracks and take writing credit for his “King Kong.” Zappa later released the unedited tracks on his Playground Psychotics album.

It seems that even John Lennon was surprised by the negative reaction to this release. He quickly left the album behind and moved in other musical directions. And now, Sometime In New York City returns to my shelf.

Rating: C-

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