Bruce's Blog

a handful of dimes and a jukebox

Yoko Ono has released a new remix of Double Fantasy, the album she and John Lennon released less than a month before his death, called Double Fantasy Stripped Down.   Normally I’m opposed to these kinds of revisions.  Even when the remixes sound fine — what’s the point?    Is someone going to re-cut Casablanca so that Rick and Ilsa go off together and Captain Renault and Victor Laszlo set up housekeeping in Tangier?

And what Yoko has done with this is pretty extreme.   To me, this remix feels like someone who has removed 30 layers of paint from an old table to reveal a magnificent piece of craftsmanship beneath.  She has stripped off  layers and layers of overdubs.  Gone is the chorus of voices in (Just Like) Starting Over that, to be honest, always bugged me.  I am persuaded to think that the overdubs stemmed from some insecurity, that he was self-consciously burying his voice in the mix.

The lead vocals are OUT THERE now, clear and really quite beautiful.   Even (forgive me, please) Yoko’s vocals.  Personally I think her songs need to be listened to in the context of the album.   When you listen to them on their own, they don’t work very well, but hearing Kiss, Kiss, Kiss between Starting Over and Cleanup Time — I don’t know, it just suddenly pops into focus for me.

“This one’s for Gene and Eddie and Elvis…and Buddy!”

One of the controversial things Yoko did was to add things like John’s comment above to the beginning of (Just Like) Starting Over.  Personally I like it, and I think John would have liked it too.   It sets up the retro mood of the song, with it’s decidedly 50’s style.

There are places where the album sounds like many of the Beatles out-takes, not only because of the stripped down nature of the mix, but because Yoko has put back in some of what were “cleaned up” vocals from the original, removed fade-outs, etc.  And really — it is VERY John sounding to my ears — much more than the original production.

“Change the rhythm now and do something a little more slow…”

Yoko added this introduction by John to Beautiful Boy.  When I first listened to this song casually, I thought, “Oh, she didn’t change this one very much.”  Then I listened to the original and the new mix again.  WOW!   I always thought this song was perfect, but I really love this version.  It’s pure Lennon.

“Where we goin’ fellas?”

John used to tell about how when the Beatles were still struggling, he’d do this thing to cheer everyone up.  He’d say, “Where we goin’ fellas?” and they’d say, “To the top, Johnny”.  “And which top, fellas?” and they’d answer,  “To the toppermost of the poppermost!” (i.e. the top of the pops) and then they’d all laugh.  Yoko added this quote by John as the introduction to Woman, and it feels a little funny to me, like he sort of expected all the guys in the studio to respond, “To the top, Johnny”, but nobody knew the joke.  The fade-out is gone from Woman, and it may be a little jarring to some.

I didn’t intend to write a complete record review, and I guess I’ve succeeded in not writing one.  🙂  But I just wanted to send out some thoughts on this wonderful remix.

Thank you, Yoko.  Thank you, Sean.  Thank you, John, and Happy Birthday.

And Happy 30th birthday to my daughter Nicole too! 🙂

Categories: Music

One Response so far.

  1. MichaelC says:

    Wow! I may have to obtain this album. It would be just like starting over….

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