Mind Games

John Lennon

Apple Records, 1973

http://www.johnlennon.com

REVIEW BY: Kenny S. McGuane

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/10/2008

Whether you favor McCartney, Harrison, or Starr’s post-Beatles solo work, there’s no getting around the fact that John Lennon’s solo career was certainly the most remarkable, even if at times it’s the messiest. Though Lennon’s work was often tainted with the angering -- and phenomenally unpleasant -- addition of Yoko Ono’s “creative” input, his post-Beatles output still stands out among the others. This might have mostly to do with his persona, which often infected the recordings both musically and lyrically, but one could also argue that Lennon was simply the most talented of the bunch.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The jury’s still out on that one.

Nestled between 1972’s highly criticized and politically-charged Sometime In New York City/Live Jam and 1974’s spotty Walls And Bridges is 1973’s Mind Games. An album recognized both upon its release in 1973 and retrospectively as a return-to-form for Lennon, Mind Games is about as solid a pop record as one could have hoped for in the early ‘70s.

And a “pop” record it sure as hell is.

Great songs aside, one of the best features of Mind Games is the absence of any Yoko Ono input whatsoever. In fact, upon the album’s release, Lennon and Ono would embark on a fourteen-month separation from one another (what a brilliant and liberating idea). Also absent is Phil Spector, who had produced the first three solo Lennon records, and although it’s clear Spector sat this one out, the record’s quality doesn’t suffer as a result.

Mind Games’ best tracks are also some of the best of Lennon’s career. The strength of successful hit singles like the title track and “One Day (At A Time)” do a fine job of making the record worthwhile, but other finely crafted tunes like “Aisumasen (I’m Sorry),” “Intuition,” “Out The Blue,” and “Only People” push the album into the category of Lennon’s most focused and cohesive efforts.

While not his most stunning nor his most bizarre (or annoying), Mind Games is perhaps one of the better showcases of Lennon’s powerful songwriting capability and definitely a display of his pop sensibilities. There’s nothing offensive or unpleasant here, and the tracks that don’t make the cut as his best are still utterly enjoyable and utterly John Lennon. 

Rating: B

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© 2008 Kenny S. McGuane 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 Apple Records, and is used for informational purposes only.