Take Me To The Land Of Hell
Her heart is dancing and her mind is bouncing. She’s 80 – but it’s been that way for her entire artistic life, she even says so – literally using those words – on Bad Dancer, one of the 13 excellent tracks on this great new album. Yoko Ono’s been accused of many things, from killing off The Beatles to murdering vowel-sounds, but she’s certainly always had her way with a tune – an always unconventional way, meaning she can blur and blend and bend spoken word into disco vamps, she can hustle street poetry alongside fragments of found sounds and siren/banshee-wailing.
When she’s good she’s really good – and Take Me To The Land Of Hell reminds of those wonderful moments across her career, the best of her contributions to Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey, to the work with Lennon before that; the killer single Walking On Thin Ice and various “returns to form” across Season Of Glass, Rising and Between My Head And The Sky. Actually, Take Me To The Land of Hell carries on from Between My Head with only her collaboration with Kim and Thurston of Sonic Youth, the first thing released after their break-up (also a very good album). The more you dig, of course, the more you see that Yoko’s music has often, maybe always, been great – certainly been worth hearing. Ah, but isn’t it easier to take a 15 second sound bite of her screaming while John Lennon plays rock’n’roll guitar and simply decide it must all be awful?
Well 2007’s remix album Yes, I’m A Witch fixed a lot of that – introduced her to a new audience too.
Land of Hell has gorgeous piano ballads with strings attached (the title track), it has cool dancefloor groove pieces (7th Floor) that remind of the early Talking Heads, it has proto-raps that remind of The Tom Tom Club (Bad Dancer); it has, at almost every step of the way, the feel that suggests it could have been kept in storage since the late 70s/early80s daze of New York City, forever the huge influence on Yoko’s music.
Whatever it is – it’s worth your time. She’s a great artist, one that deserves so much more than the short change she’s often been given. And this is one of her best albums – in a career of a handful of really great albums.