Review Summary: Bake the cake and eat it too.
US immigration and marriage problems, it's safe to say that Mind Games was made in a troubled period of John's life, being recorded in two weeks during the 18 months of separation from his wife, the so called 'Lost Weekend'.Although separated from Yoko Ono she still has a big influence on this album with a number of songs that have her as the central theme or are dedicated to her.
The albums has the ability to take you through different stages as John is able to express different emotions.We have slow tempo love songs like 'Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)' and 'Out the Blue', optimistic uplifting anthems like the title track and 'One Day (At A Time)' and also rock 'n roll songs like 'Tight A$' and 'Meat City'.To sum up, 'Mind Games' is the result of a combination between the rawness of 'Plastic Ono Band' and the softness of 'Imagine'.
The album opens with the title track and while the political stuff was toned down since the last album the theme of peace is still present, this song being an anthem of peace, 'Love is the answer' 'Make love not war' and all that good stuff, making this song the 'Imagine' of this album.The song is really up-beat and dreamy (courtesy of the slide guitar) with a bridge sounding a bit reggae,so it's a great way to get into the album.Aparently the song was intended to be a protest-song, like Give Peace a Chance, and was originally called 'Make Love not War', however Lennon abandoned the idea so the line apears in the song only during the fade out.
The production is really different than the previous albums.While Imagine had that big wall of sound created by Phil Specter, Mind Games was produced by Lennon himself and is fairly stripped although the songs sound really big as a result of the large numbers of instruments used on some of them.The album has a really nice atmosphere, the rocking songs sound really raw and the mellow ones have a really calming quality.However the thing that resembles the production of previous albums is the effects that John used on his voice.Aparently he wasn't really fond of his voice and it made him feel more safe when using those effects.It's not really distracting but you can hear that they're there, the best example of the heavy delay that he used on his voice being the beginning of 'Bring on the lucie'.The choir that accompanies John during a number of songs is really beautiful and the fact that it's just not on one song is even better because at some point you become familiar with it so it's easier to accept it as opposed to an album that has a different singer for every song.
Mind Games does have its fillers, the album's lowest point in my opinion being 'You are here', however it's not enough to drag it down too much.The album has some really great melody lines, some thought-provoking lyrics and is complex enough for you to realize that you're not listening to the same song for 40 minutes.
Bring On the Lucie (Freeda Peeple)
Out the Blue