Review Summary: Seriously, fuck you Yoko.
We may never know what drove Mark David Chapman to do it. Many theories abound regarding his primary inspiration for murdering John Lennon in the most cowardly form imaginable, but regardless of the underlying component of madness raging within, the action itself will always stand as a tremendous shame and an undeniable scourge on rock history. Perhaps Chapman, a complete failure in life, was pissed about undoubtedly being hung like a field mouse, as anyone who would shoot an unarmed man in the back mere hours after receiving an autograph and having a brief conversation with his child unquestionably either suffers from chronic impotence or the pangs of possessing a cock that makes the baby on Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album cover look like Ron Jeremy. Maybe Chapman read “The Catcher in the Rye” one too many times, and simply connected too deeply to the Holden Caulfield’s penchant for abject failure, consistently whining about the fact he sucked ass at sports and couldn’t land or please a woman with an 8 million dollar payoff and a roadmap to the clitoris. Or perhaps his potent combination of rage, self-loathing, and latent homosexuality finally boiled over when the self-admitted Lennon superfan’s ears were initially graced with the greatest Beatle’s first album in over 5 years.
When “Double Fantasy” was released in 1980, the primary method of enjoying music was still dominated by vinyl, the format that rewards listeners of “entire albums” because it’s a total pain in the ass to skip songs. Chapman was probably pleased when the needle first struck side a, track one, and Lennon’s rock/doo-wap hybrid “Just Like Starting Over” came barreling out of the speakers with a subtle grace and undeniable catchiness. At this point Chapman was probably doing something aimless in his living room, maybe preparing himself for more Lennon awesomeness in a rad rock out stance. Probably unsuspectingly, his joy most certainly turned to an explosive cocktail of homicidal rage when instead of being greeted with another classy Lennon number, he was met with Yoko Ono’s “Kiss Kiss Kiss,” almost certainly the worst song in recorded history. Perhaps readying himself to fling the LP cover across the room, Chapman figured it out, noticing how Ono and Lennon are photographed in a “two as one” concept and actually turning the cover over to see that Ono had not 6, but 7 songs on this album. In an even more crushing blow, Yoko’s “songs” were track-listed in an “every other” format with Lennon’s, making it almost impossible to listen to the album without either putting in a great deal of work or fighting off the urge to reach for a straight razor and pine for the sweet release of death.
It’s an unmitigated train wreck disaster that Lennon’s final work is marred this thoroughly by Ono, who sounds more like a diseased yack than an actual professional performing artist. To say that Yoko’s songs are tremendously awful is akin to saying that George Michael lubes up and bends over in rest area bathroom stalls; it’s not opinion, it’s an undeniable fact. The aforementioned “Kiss Kiss Kiss” is so reprehensibly awful that it cannot even be enjoyed ironically; its rotting, pungent stench actually transcends the notion of ironic unintentional comedy, something which is almost impossible to do. Like any sadomasochist however, Yoko doesn’t just stop here. “Give Me Something” sounds like a B-52’s song if their lead singer resembled a braying, dying goat. “Yes I’m Your Angel” resembles a “piece” that would have been on a late 50’s edition of “The Mickey Mouse Club,” only about 4,732 times more atrocious, and “I’m Moving On” manages to fail indescribably hard despite the fact it entirely rips off the Lennon classic “I’m Losing You” that comes right before it. There is not a single second of Ono’s work that can accurately be labeled as “music,” it is hyperbole removed more appropriate for replacing waterboarding as the primary interrogation tactic at Gitmo Bay. It is absolutely, unequivocally, and inarguably that insidious.
What a pity, because despite Lennon having a few missteps likely stemming from the insanity of being domesticated with the Japanese soul-killing machine for 5 years (“Dear Yoko” is easily the worst song he ever wrote and “Beautiful Boy” is just entirely too sappy to be on a rock album), the man was so talented he could still piss out a few drops of excellence with dehydrated kidneys and a tourniquet tightly draw across his urethra. He was just that good of a songwriter. His excellence shines through most predominately on the absolutely fantastic “Watching The Wheels” and the aforementioned “Just Like Starting Over,” but “I’m Losing You” and “Clean up Time” position themselves as worthwhile additions to his body of work. "Woman," despite carrying the unfortunate position of being a tribute to Ono, was a solid single and 80's rock ballad.
It’s difficult to say if Lennon’s moments here are enough to save an album that is weighed down by an artist who would be improved by an advanced case of down-syndrome, and for Lennon fans, it’s a bitter pill to swallow that this is in all actuality his final piece of work. In a great piece of irony, the closing song is Ono’s “Hard Times Are Over,” an homage to Motown soul that would have benefited from a circular saw subtly destroying a chalk board acting as replacement for lead vocals. Perhaps Mark David Chapman took that song title as a sign of vindictive direction, as he most certainly had been pushed to the brink long before it.