Yoko Ono is a marketing genius. Plus some life-changing musical works.

So with yesterday’s release of “Power To The People” this makes 7 albums of original, non-experimental music in his lifetime, and 14 compilation albums. 14. You COULD argue 6 albums of original material, since half of “Some Time in New York City” was half Yoko, half meandering, heavily-edited jam session, and “Double Fantasy” was half Yoko.  Not since The Who has so much rehashing been done for cynical blackmail of fan’s wallets. When does it stop? There are fools out there who have bought or will buy every one. But I’m here to tell you, friends, as I said before, Lennon was just not the same man once he stupidly rid himself of his one true motivating factor in favor of another, somewhat less talented manipulator. You could and should jettison all that stuff for one pristine copy of “Leave My Kitten Alone”.

Here, now, as well as I can remember, are some of the most transcendent moments of musical discovery in my life, in no particular order:

Le Sacre Du Printemps – Igor Stravinsky (1913)  – I first heard this in my college library on one of those primitive old school record players. It showed me that I needed to open up my mind to all the things that classical music could be, not just what I had been taught that it was. It is the first progressive rock piece. All the dissonance, all the poly-rhythmic mayhem, so new and fresh even now. I soon got into what is known as the Second Viennese School, combining Romanticism with Schoenberg’s tonal mathematics, somehow the music I was born to listen to.

Close To The Edge – Yes (1972) -Dan. Paul and I huddled around Paul’s brand-new record player and gigantic speakers. I don’t remember who had just bought this, probably Paul, and why I do not know. But the volume was turned up and the intro grew and grew in intensity. Then that opening with that slinky guitar and crushing bass speaking almost diametrically opposed languages, yet one. I think the thing about it now is that it was somehow instinctively plausible to us that these sounds, these aggressive scales and grace notes COULD have come from our instruments, but the instruments themselves were now suddenly in the hands of men whose imagination and power far exceeded our own. Listening to The Beatles, for instance, it was easy to imagine one’s self coming up with those chords and playing those notes. Now, with this song, there was now a real possibility that no matter how easy the sounds were to approximate, we were clearly in the presence of gods.

Random Brainwave/I Pity Inanimate Objects – Godley and Creme – (1979)- Is this the first use of auto-tune? Since both of these fellows are among the finest singers in rock at that time, it was not a mere gimmick. It was a leap forward in technology and music. And the first time I heard it was on WZIR 107.7, Buffalo New York, in 1980, and it scared the living shit out of me.

Larks Tongues In Aspic (Pt. 1) – King Crimson (1972) -I had never heard of King Crimson, but upon hearing this for the first time on WZIR, I called the DJ, Gary Storm, who called his show “Oil of Dog”.  It was and is a powerful introduction for me to all things progressive, particularly the virtuosity aspect of it. I have heard everything by King Crimson, but this was the first, which is special.

I Want To Hold Your Hand – The Beatles (1963) – There’s a swing to this record, an amazing rhythmic funkiness that caught my ear in almost a primal sort of way. Paul Rinedoller exposed me to The Beatles, and this is possibly the first song he played in my presence. Listen to the powerful vocals, the dynamic guitars, and despite the nice-nice lyric, a universality in the message. Can you imagine what it was like in America hearing this for the first time? Truly there was nothing like it to warn of its coming. And in my world, there was nothing to get me ready for the love affair that began in Paul’s house in 1972 and has not abated one bit since then.

I’m BAD – Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers – (1987) This was on Black Entertainment Television ONCE.  It might have been another live performance, then again, it might have been this one. It swings so fucking hard, for a young man like me, it was simply too much to comprehend. It made me want to do this kind of music, even though I didn’t understand it or the Go-Go scene in general. But can you imagine being in this audience? CAN YOU IMAGINE BEING IN THIS BAND?!?!?!?! What does it mean when I saw it once 23 years ago and it hasn’t left my mind in that time?

The Entire “Innervisions” Album – Stevie Wonder – (1973)  It is still my favorite album of all-time, and the only album I can listen to wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, and never come upon a song or moment that doesn’t resonate inside in a positive way. I am an atheist, but Stevie Wonder is the best argument I’ve seen for faith. If you don’t have it or have not heard it, I PROMISE you that you will like it. I can’t even say that about “Abbey Road”. Here, listen to this, and try not to be smiling or moving by the end. That’s one man making all those noises. One fucking brilliant man.

That didn’t work? Try this:

No? You have no fucking soul and I want you to kill yourself.

Bad Man’s Song – Tears For Fears – (1989)  Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith were matinee idols for the last half of the 1980’s due to their good looks, above-average musicianship, and eye-friendly videos. But no one was prepared for what came next, and that’s why they’re struggling to keep even their own website up as we speak. Aside from the Beatles paean, “Sowing The Seeds Of Love” which I found excellent and entertaining,  the rest of the album is deep and amazingly well-produced and well-played. Session players like Manu Katche and Pino Palladino along with ringer Phil Collins (on “Woman In Chains”) make for an exponentially more diverse pallet of sounds than their big coming out record, “Songs From The Big Chair”. But the star of the record is Oleta Adams, my favorite female singer of all-time. A unique, earthy voice, reaching low “F”(2:40 of the clip here) and four octaves higher, and simply cutting her contemporaries to pieces. it’s unfortunate she wasn’t bigger longer, but I will always have this, my favorite song from my #2 album of all-time.



2 thoughts on “Yoko Ono is a marketing genius. Plus some life-changing musical works.

  1. Mike says:

    Tupac has released countless albums of original material from the grave…how is that possible?

  2. I’m thinking his estate has a virtually inexhaustible source of other people’s beats to mine, and plenty of him just saying shit into a mic. Combine the two and voila!

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