Review Summary: Good, not great, there could have been a lot of great opportunities for John, which seem to be wasted, and avoid Yoko songs on this album
Some Time in New York City... This album was not kicked off with a good start. After John and Yoko moved to New York, they started to get involved in anti-war protests, and protests to get John Sinclair out of prison. All of these were followed with Richard Nixon's attempts to deport John Lennon, which would last for around 5 years afterwards. The original album was, and still is, a double album, filled with mostly songs of a political nature, and some that would cause an about face with Lennon fans who were expecting something like off his Plastic Ono Band release or the Imagine album that was released a year ago. What did people get? Mostly a bunch of half-baked ideas, and the ones that are fully-baked were the ones that caused John major controversy.
The album kicks off with one of the more controversial songs off the album , "Woman is the N****r of the World", which, contrary to its song title, is about sexism rather than racism. All the fuss about the n-word aside, the track is pretty strong, and really needs a better social climate to listen to it. Just be careful if your friend asks to see your iPod and ask what you're listening to. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is also really good, mostly based off the Bloody Sunday Troubles in Northern Ireland, and you can see where John's sympathies lie, and it is a surprisingly upbeat. The other track that stands out for the recorded set is "New York City", a Chuck Berry inspired piece about John and Yoko's new home in the Dakota and Manhattan. It may get a little repetitive, but it's a rockin' song, so I guess I could let it slide. Basically, stick with all the Lennon tracks, as they are the strong parts of this whole record.
The other gems on this record are all live, and they comprise of everything after track 10 (which I'll get to in a little bit), and they come from two different concerts, one of them the live UNICEF jam from 1969, the other from a Fillmore East gig featuring Frank Zappa (yes, that Frank Zappa) on guitar from 1971. The sound quality from the UNICEF jam is a little bit on the poor side, but it does show Lennon's prowess in a live setting. The later tracks are in better quality, but most could be indifferent about what the tracks contain, especially with Zappa.
Now, I have to talk about the bad parts of the album, and unfortunately, it comprises a lot of the album: Yoko.
Let me clarify my stance on Yoko in this album, because this is an interesting case. I think her songwriting is some of her best on this album, because she had gotten better before this album. Unfortunately, her voice is just really annoying on this album, like many reviewers at the time liked to point out. The song contents of "Sisters O Sisters" and "We're All Water" are really good, and it forces a reader of the lyrics to really think. When a person listens to them, however, it makes you want to eat your least favorite food for about a week and then spend a night near the toilet. Even the two Lennon songs about the Troubles, including "Luck of the Irish", are simply spoiled by Yoko's screechy voice, which is a shame because these songs are pretty good, but why did Yoko have to be on the most sentimental songs of the whole album??!!
On the whole, like most John Lennon albums, the good stuff is really good. The opening song is great, the back-to-basic song is great, the live jams are really good. There could have a lot of opportunities to make this album one of his greatest, but a lot of opportunities were wasted for what they are.
"Woman is the N****r of the World"
"New York City"
P.S. Not only is this the first review of this album, but my first review on the site