Between My Head and the Sky
Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
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Time has been kind to Yoko Ono. What were once heard as unlistenable avant-garde experiments now can be heard in punk, new wave, hip-hop, dance music and even heavy metal. Rather than say “I told you so,” Ono, at the age of 76, regroups with her son, Sean, and a revolving cast of participants, including members of Cornelius, to revive the Plastic Ono Band and record in six days a musically diverse set that sounds practically normal by 2009 standards. Ono’s idiosyncratic vocals slink in and out, under and over the tracks, as the band pumps out rock n’ roll (“Waiting for the D Train”), funk (“Ask the Elephant!”), piano balladry (“Memory of Footsteps”), space-jams (“Moving Mountains,” “Calling”), funky reggae (“Hashire, Hashire”), space-rock / spoken word (“Between My Head and the Sky”), studio pop (“Watching the Rain”) and poetry (“Feel the Sand,” “Higa Noboru”). This may be Ono’s most eclectic and entertaining album ever. There are no endurance tests, no extended pieces, just concise tracks that explore whatever genre she desires. At 76, she shows no signs of slowing down.
I love Yoko.
Her new album kicks off in style with a funky rockin' freak out, “Waiting For The D Train.” When I first saw that title as the album opener, I thought that perhaps the 76 year old artist had images of death on her mind. Was this album a quiet farewell?
Nothing like. Well, something like- but certainly not that opening number. When was the last time you heard an album open like this- let alone an album by a 76 year old?
The album changes gear often, and sometimes dramatically, as Yoko wrestles with ideas of her lovers, legacy, life, and oncoming death. Stand out tracks are the danceable “The Sun is Down,” the psychedelic “Calling,” the hard hitting “Between My Head And The Sky,” and the dreamy “Feel The Sand.”
The album readies for the close with a trio of songs led by piano- an instrument that weighs heavily in Yoko's life and home. Here Yoko seems her most open and contemplative. As she invokes images of shuddering coughs, invisible walls, and those she'll leave behind- she also asks, “why is this life so beautiful?”
The last track on the album is a sweet surprise, and reminds us that Yoko is at heart an earnest, funny, soul.
Yoko is a one woman musical revolution! This is what the world needs. Enough with all the manufactured garbage. This is pure life energy! Listen to it and heal yourself! S.
we all need more YOKO!
Kind of amazing that a 76 year old makes the best record of the year or maybe even the decade. No one comes close to Yoko as a rocker, innovator, or artist—and this record needs to be heard by everyone!
Thank you Yoko for making such an amazing record. How smart to team up with Yuka Honda, Cornelius, and son Sean!
Top Albums and Songs by Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
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