"Unfinished Music No. 2 - Life with the Lions" was the second of three avant-garde albums by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was released May 9, 1969 (UK) and May 26, 1969 (US).
Please add a review if you are familiar with "Unfinished Music No. 2 - Life with the Lions". Tracks are also available.
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Mar 1, 2014
Others say not for everyone, but why should it be? This music does have antecedents. Yoko's singing sounds to me like a cross between free jazz saxophones and animals, which is beautiful. The idea of a piece with extreme vocalising and feedback was done in 1964 by Robert Ashley ("The Wolfman"). The difference between that piece and "Cambridge 1969" is that a) the extreme vocalising is a woman, and b) the tape effects are a guitar. Yoko would have certainly heard it, and Cambridge 1969 sounds to me like a pop version of the Ashley piece. I challenge anyone to sing along with the first four minutes of the piece with the long held tones at full power for as long as she holds them -- this is physiologically demanding to a woman (not being sexist, pointing out differences in physiology), and that Yoko sustains the power with no audible gasp for breath is nothing short of amazing to me, and earns much respect. It also shows that her delivery was well thought out and developed. "No Bed For Beatle John" sounds like improvisation, the sort that songwriters do when they are searching for word combinations for songs. "Baby's Heartbeat"/"Two Minutes Silence" show you their pain, and I find it very powerful. I'm listening to "Radio Play" as I type this, and it reminds me of collage work. I can hear melody in it, as well as the language of gesture common in free jazz and process music, which leads me to my overall point: this is garbage to so many people because they don't know the antecedents; they don't even know they exist. Knowing where they got it de-mystifies it, the strangeness wears off, and I can listen to it like any other album. In fact my collection contains hundreds of albums like this in the abstract industrial/cassette culture genre (probably the most famous act from that genre is Nurse With Wound), and I don't find it strange or unlistenable at all.
Apr 5, 2009
This is a true masterpeice. If you like Avant-Garde music you'll definally like it, but if you like rock you'll say this is a peice of crap. Cambridge 1969-Is a very strange peice of just Yoko screaming out of order and John Lennon producing Electric guitar feedback. It also is VERY long, so long it takes up the whole side 1 (total: 26:30). No Bed for Beatle John-A lovely peice of Yoko singing a soft ballad of John losing his hospital bed. Baby's Heartbeat-A recording of John Ono Lennon II's(Yoko's unborn baby's) heartbeat. Two Minutes silence-A song for John and Yoko's unborn baby. Radio Play-A 12 minute track of Yoko flipping the radio on and off and John making a telephone call in the background. BONUS TRACKS-Song For John-A short lovely song about John sung by Yoko. Mulberry-A strange song of Yoko screaming and saying "Mulberry". So, I rated this album a 5.0 because it's one of my favorite album's by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Oct 26, 2008
John's second album with Yoko is better because their are more tracks. In this way, the songs don't seem to drone on and on forever like on the first album. It's more diverse! Wooo hoo! Unfortunately, it's still avant-guard which John is just not really that good at. Only reason people listen to this is because it's John Lennon. Again, you don't have to be John Lennon to do an album like this. And it doesn't even have the shock of "Whoa! John Lennon does an experimental album!" like the first album had. That one just came out of the blue and was a huge surprise: this was hardly a surprise, after that. Hell, people probably expected John to make nonsense like this for his whole career, after three albums like this. On the plus side, John shows great command of feedback on Cambridge 1969. Sonic Youth, but in 1969. That's pretty cool, and really the only thing that's even a bit ahead of it's time. No Bed for Beatle John is at least heartfelt: you can tell there's a reason for this, you can feel John and Yoko in the song much more than any of the ramblings on the first Unfinished Music album. Baby's Heartbeat and Two Minutes of Silence are the same: conceptually, they make sense. The baby's heartbeat is, of course, the poor miscarriaged baby of John and Yoko and it makes sense to be on the album. The two minutes of silence is the same: a lament for their lost baby. They're not easy to listen to, but they at least make sense. The rest doesn't matter.
Aug 6, 2007
i just recently got life with the lions, (summer 2007). i have been a beatle fan all my life, with the relationship between john and yoko always terrifying and confusing me as a child. beatles were happy, right? after seeing the cover of two virgins in a fanbook my dad owned, the thrill of their relationship always spoke to me on some level. who was this wild woman? why did everybody hate her so much? if she was as bad as everyone said, why did john defend her so vehemently? was john brainwashed? i d heard friends play yoko ono records for me over the years, mostly to show me how unlistenable they are and what annoying sounded like. i took their word for it and never got the yoko or the john/yoko collaborations. as i hit middle age (37 now) the yoko and john/yoko records sound really good to me and im not sure why. like i said, i was always fascinated by their relationship, so is this an extention of that? why am i so interested? i guess i mostly only have questions. life with the lions has a few interests for me. 1. its a riot to play loud for almost everybody. their reactions are almost always the same, and immediate. my 7 year old daughter, the second i put on "no bed for beatle john" (i didnt realize she was in the room) immediately put her hands to her ears and said "oh i dont like this!). hilarious.. 2. as part of the mythology of the beatles/john lennon story. even if beatles/lennon fans hate his music or collaborations over the years, they mostly still seem to love to write and talk about how much they love/hate/dont care about any of it. me too.. 3. an interesting perspective on their relationship and how a creative, famous, couple with a great deal of resources collaborate and operate together. 4. its kind of like a book, an audio post card if you will, with so much to see and hear and think about as if it were a short story, it contains a great deal of information.. 5. yoko has something wild and organic about her. she seems lethargic but her voice is a cat's cry, a wild animal, a connect with an instinctual and powerful side of femininity. its honest, i think. she's honest. as a truth seeker john lennon probably saw that and responded. john is called a visionary, and rightly so, i believe, and probably knew the difference. 6. yoko's voice: one last point about her voice. it is what it is. the noises she makes, the howls, the warbles, the screeches and moans are hers. she can do them. why not do them? is there any doubt that they are unique? i doubt she would be able to be anything but what she is, so why not commit fully? like it or not that is what she has done.. "bless you for your anger, its a sign of rising energy" -yoko
Apr 20, 2007
This is a tough one to listen to, and I'm a Lennon's fan.Side A is basically a live Yoko performance with John support on feedback.It's far from being commercial and very far from being a pleasant experience.Side 2 starts with a Yoko (agin supported by John) singing accapella an almost gregorian chant (best track on the album), followed by an over amplified baby 's heartbeat +two minutes silence.Very conceptual indeed.Last track (on LP)is Radio play, where someone (presumably Lennon) changes a radio frequency waves non stop, it's long and unpleasant as can be.
Jul 2, 2006
by the way, the psudonym Sissy Spacek used was "Rainbo" and her song was called "John Lennon, You Went Too Far This Time". so long folks!!!
Jul 2, 2006
to answer the question about the actress who wrote the song about J&Y it was SISSY SPACEK
Nov 26, 2005
hey, for all of you esquire bitches out there, the answer is Jane Fonda.
Nov 18, 2005
have a question about this album -- who was the actress (using a pseudonym) that recorded a song protesting the nudity on the cover? Does anyone know? I've searched and searched, but all I can find are reviews on the album itself. sounds to me like the "songs" should have been protested instead of the cover!! Please write if you can help
Oct 9, 2005
instant karma 311
part 2 of the non sense recordings, but still good to listen to for some laughs, this has too much yoko on it, so that's the bad part.
Mar 15, 2005
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Sep 27, 2004
this installment of lennons support on experimental music, keep one thing in mind, john was keeping bedside vigil with yoko who was carrying johns baby, whom they lost, the heartbeat that was recorded was their baby inside yoko,thier way of dealing with death of their child again. he was tired of being a beatle and wanted a fresh start as with the likes of a new beginning like adam and eve. two virgins, this is more of a chapter being closed and a new one beginning. have a little compassion, god knows i do.........
Sep 15, 2004
Here we go again. The second installment of "the sonic world of John and Yoko". Moving from the warm fuzziness of their first attempt at a collabaration, we move swiftly into the nightmare their lives had become. Yoko by now had completley hijacked Lennons creativity and there was no going back. John takes a back seat in this car wreck as Yoko takes control of the dials, quite literraly on the radio track. This pile of misguided garbage is not even interesting on an "eperimental" level. Steer well clear of this nasty piece of work. It is worse than unpleasant, it is boring, and for any piece of "art" that is the greatest crime.
Jul 1, 2004
The late 60's was a strange and interesting time in John and Yoko's life. They had just gotten together and went through drug busts, miscarriages, hatred and three very strange and unique albums. This is the second of those three albums and perhaps the most painful to listen to (although Yoko's 26 minute screaming track is actually the least painful one on the album). Before I get into this review, I'm going to say that I am a very big Yoko fan and enjoy her music. Sure, it's not exactly toe tapping, hand clapping pop, but I understand the meaning behind all that screaming and feedback (it's all about expression, folks). Now, the first track is called 'Cambridge 1969' and was an avant garde jazz concert that John and Yoko did using Yoko's screaming and John's guitar playing feedback. I found myself actually really enjoying this track and have listened to it quite a few times, although it does give me a head ache sometimes. It's almost like a vicious battle between John's guitar and Yoko's lungs and, at the same time, shows how in touch with each other they were. The second track was recorded while John and Yoko were in hospital and Yoko was experiencing a miscarriage. It's called 'No Bed for Beatle John' and is simply them singing the headlines about their life at the time. It's beautiful to listen to as Yoko's voice can be really soft and relaxing, and it's a total flip-side to the 26 minutes of noise we just experienced. It's followed by 'Baby's Heartbeat', by far the most painful track to listen to on the album. It is the sound of John and Yoko's unborn child, shortly before it died and I felt the 'Two Minutes Silence' which follows it was time enough to let you try and put together in your head what you have just listened to. Finally, 'Radio Play' is the last track and is just someone (Yoko?) flipping the radio dial while John talks on the phone in the background. It's a jarring track after the silence, just as it was probably intended to be, and a nice way to end off the album.
Apr 15, 2004
I wouldn't call Unfinished Music No. 2 - Life With The Lions music at all. It's crap put together on an album that is slapped with the name "Lennon". The first song, "Cambridge 1969" is excruciating and very painful to listen to. It's 26 minutes of torture with Yoko screeching "AAAAEEEEEEUUUUUUHHHHH!" and John playing some insane feedback. It sounds like some kind of Indian chant. Her throat must have been soar after the 26 minutes were over!! I can make a better song that lasts twenty-six minutes. Although, this song would be fun to perform on stage. I guess if you need a good laugh then listen to it all the way through. Next is "No Bed For Beatle John" sung by the "lovely" Yoko. She sounds like a little child and her vocals in this song makes you want to run yourself over with a car. Now up is "Baby's Heartbeat". My life is complete! A sound of a baby's actual heartbeat! How pleasant...NOT! "Two Minutes Silence" is my favorite off the album. No noises at all. Your ears can relax for two minutes before more painful noises. "Radio Play" is Yoko turning a radio knob and John talking on the telephone. Something we all wanted to hear, not. We can make our own "Radio Play" cover now! Bonus songs! Are they trying to kill us? "Song For John" is somewhat of a relief after all the really abysmal songs. It's not good, but atleast it is extremely short. Last, (Yes!!) is "Mulberry" is 9 minutes almost! Yoko attempts to sing but it fails. This album is not worth anyone's time. I repeat, do not get this album if you are looking for lovely little ballads or pure rock and roll songs. It's just a whole bunch of junk placed together to make an album.
Apr 1, 2004
I listened to John's first three albums with Yoko, and John's 'Plastic Ono Band', all in a row and found it a very strange experience. They all show different emotions and this one may be the most difficult to listen to. The first track 'Cambridge 1969' starts with Yoko's voice in a very nice, hypnotic tone before going into very violent, nasty sounds. It is backed up by the sound of John's guitar giving feedback. To be honest, I have to say that I absolutely love this track. I've always been a big fan of Yoko's and I think these early expressive concerts were some of her best. You can tell her and John are having fun, and giving off serious emotions as well. 'No Bed For Beatle John' is a beautifully sung piece with Yoko singing various newspaper pieces. The fact that these newspaper articles obviously aren't designed to be sung makes it all the more fun to see how they will do it. 'Baby's Heartbeat' is a truly sad piece hearing the actual sound of their lost son's heartbeat. It made me very sad and the 'Two Minutes Silence' that follows it is a perfect memorial to the loss of life. The final track is 'Radio Play' which is just someone flicking through radio stations for 12 minutes. I quite like the way this starts after the previous track. Throwing us from a world of silence, to a world of this constant sound and movement, it's the best transition between tracks on probably any album. Overall, 'Life With The Lions' is my least favorite John/Yoko CD, not because I don't like the stuff on it, but because it is such a painful and heartfelt album with lots of strong emotions coming through.
Oct 12, 2003
I was 10 when I spent my allowance on this 8 track tape in 1969. I was numb by the end of it. As at Oct. 2003, no album has left me so cold as this one. As time passes, I keep looking for sense out of this project. The guitar sound of Cambridge 1969 is jolting, and the wailing,tortured screaming is perfect compliment, creating a very uncomfortable, even scary, atmosphere. I cannot listen to this alone in the dark! Thus my 3 stars. The flipside is just unbearable for me. The CD I since found has bonus trax that should have come out in place of the stupid Radio Play - Mulberry especially. It is a lengthy acoustic guitar/voice combo - a flipside to Cambridge 1969's terrifying atmosphere. I am now 45 and, looking back, this album did change me. I bought it on name recognition alone. How could one go wrong with a member of The Beatles, who were still at the top of their game? I felt so hurt, that a Beatle could do this to us. On the bright side, it made me a better shopper for all things - names and brands now meant nothing. As for SOLO PROJECTS from musicians whose original band would continue to exist, I still have no trust, all because of the wretched Beatle SOLO projects during the l960's. (George Harrison and his Electronic crap now comes to mind). Hmmm, based on the quality of most SOLO projects I have encountered via radio and friends thru the decades, the suspicions created by my John and Yoko experience has saved me plently of money (minus, of course, the cost of Life With The Lions): another good thing. Rare exceptions such as Phil Collins' solo career away from GENESIS has been worthwhile for me. But RADIO sold those albums to me, not the mere name recognition that sold me John and Yoko. As time progresses, my LOVE/HATE relationship with this album becomes evident. Because Yoko is still very much alive and producing, I have stayed in touch with her work. FLY has that Joe Jones Tonedeaf Co. on side three that is as equally unique and ominous as Cambridge. Her voice on IMA, with son Sean, is awesome. I find myself looking much closer for value and meaning in the music I buy, and courtesy of Life With the Lions, I say that I make good assessments, whether it being good, or rubbish. The album gave me some logic I could give to myself as to John Lennon's frustration with The Beatles, his dream come true ("I've been the Elvis"), as an entity. He no longer felt that he was a person. He was BEATLE John. It wasn't the music that generated interest, it was merely the Beatle brand. "Well, from a Beatle, here is something for ya!!!" (My imaginary quote). From these projects, perhaps he felt that any future interest in his career would be independant of the Beatle name, where he perhaps felt that his music was bought sight unseen - as in stick a Beatle name on anything and it will be perceived as a valuable musical statement; the acceptance of Revolution 9 being a type of proof. There would be wariness from the public due to the John and Yoko stuff; people would listen first, then decide whether to buy or not; he would have his anonymity back so to speak. Any new work would have to sell itself, not just ride the overwhelming reputation of the Beatles. He would be working again, just like in the days prior to Ed Sullivan. My thinking in this manner is what gives these avantegarde experiments meaning for me, and how I make the effort to look deep for value. Perhaps the word "Atmosphere" is explanation enough. Certainly, Cambridge is no piece of music, but it does create an atmosphere. Radio Play, on the other hand, does NOT. It is just toying with a radio dial. Why John Lennon put this out alongside the Beatle product is unknown to me. He's said that he enjoyed the freedom of it all. Whatever. Musically, I find no meaning anywhere on the three albums John and Yoko did, other than the harrowing atmosphere created by Cambridge 1969. And it took a lot for this 10 year old to find any sort of value in all of that wailing. Life With The Lions does demonstrate The Beatle mystique: the high level of interest and respect we had in them, and still do. Yep, put a Beatle name on something and I considered it alongside the rest of their work as legitimate. Our discussion of the merits of the John and Yoko albums confirm Lennon's frustrations of feeling presold. 'Even garbage is good, as long as it has a connection with the Beatles!!!!!!!!!!'(another imaginary quote of mine) As for the rest of the album, 2 minutes silence is the only bearable track. It has a purpose of mourning and honour for their lost child. Okay. Radio Play is inexcusable, especially since Mulberry was available at the time, according to the CD. If I had been a tad larcenous, Radio Play sounds like a defective recording and perhaps I could have gotten my money back. Oh well, I am not larcenous. Blecchh. No Bed For Beatle John is annoying. Yoko's later work is unbelievably better, even as early as Side Three of the FLY album. To repeat, I will never forget how cold I was when program 4 of my 8 track switched back to program 1. I leapt out of bed and tore the cartridge out of the player and stared at the picture on the cover: A Beatle did this to me?? How?? Why?? I was so numb. After 6 months and about 8 plays of this album, I took the cartridge outside and ripped the tape out of it. I then crunched it and tore at it, then put the pile of useless tape in the garbage. I used the cartridge for many years with other tape inside of it. Uncanny though, that when I saw the CD, I bought it, just to confirm whether this was still the coldest and worst album I have ever heard in my life. It is. But, 3 stars for the atmosphere of Cambridge 1969. I do wish I had been in that auditorium to hear that first hand and to see it done.
Oct 4, 2003
firstly - if you are new to lennon's work and you are looking for songs here, don't. buy something else. this is an abstract sound collage work following on from the Revolution 9 piece on the White album and the previous JoKo LP Two virgins. ok. secondly, i like this album a lot - it's hard for me to break my responses down track for track in a non creative way - the sonic landscape is just something that inspires me as a whole. i have a similar reaction to Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band. both albums have given me source for writings, songs and art work. how good is it? well i have had 3 copies stolen off me by working musicians - i know of a hell of a lot more who claim it guided them to other atonal works from Sonic Youth (and the NoWave in general) to E.N.D to stockhausen, craig? and cragesmure et al. it influenced diverse artists in its time from CAN to NIRVANA. ok. thirdly it is HARD to listen to - the noises are mainly feedback, yowl, a heartbeat, muttered conversation. it is pain sound. i find it cathartic. fourthly (?! is that a word?) it captures the time with remarkable immediacy - like a Goddard film, it is a DOCUMENT of a year (or a few months, wotever, 1969) in the lives of the famous couple but by extension the 60's itself since Lennon was such a decade definer and most post-60's babies (i was born 1972) can only access that decade through a medium. that decade is therefore individual (non consensual) open to myth, fantasy, etc but... so what? i don't LIVE the 60's 'dream' as JOhn wouldve put it. lastly, all the arguments about 'peole only like this coz it's john' are nonsense - most Lennon fans i know HATE the damn record. those people i know who are unmoved (in the main) by the 'cult of lennon', (often musicians, artists, writers, i have played it to) find it interesting. on the search for a new copy now, arnold
Sep 5, 2001
I'd just like to add a few comments to my previous post. Excuse me John it was Yoko who was using her incredible talent to turn that radio dial back and forth for over twelve agonizing minutes, while John is yammering on the phone. I can't believe what some of the other reviewer's of this self indulgent, worthless, pile of refuse had to say in support of it, and that is has any merit to support. Listen to the other reviews that tell you what a joke and travesty this "thing" really is. I suppose this kind of crap is cherished in someplace like France, but anyone who could and does suggest that there is even one moment of anything of interest is either lying to themselves, has a share of the marketing rights to this "recording," or is seriously in need of some kind of guidance. They must be the kind of people who have no sense of self worth and aren't worthy of being taken seriously. Please do not insult your intelligence, or give any monetary reward to whomever is profiting from it. Yoko imitating feedback? The feedback is not even cohesive, coherent, or worthy of addressing, let alone mimicking. The only value of this horrid exercise is to show someone where not to go and what they should not do, even if they have the backing to do so, and that includes one of the greatest musical innovators of all time. This work is as sad and pointless as John's tragic death. Enough said!
Sep 5, 2001
This is the worst recording of all time. How bad is it? Well, the best song, by a light year, on this horrid spectacle is two minutes of silence, and that is just what it is. Two minutes of total silence, and you are so glad by the time you get to this "song" that you need to play it over and over again for at least ten times before you finish listening to this montage of horror. This album isn't avant-garde, for it's to crappy to be filed under that dubious classification, it is just simply as bad a thing that a person could consciously create. Side one is composed of just one "song" entitled Cambridge 1969 and was recorded live at Cambridge in 1969. It is just a little over twenty-six minutes of Yoko shrieking in an unholy cacophony accompanied by Beatle John's twiddling about on an electric guitar not playing any notes or chords, but just providing nothing but erratic feedback and horrendous distortion. Yes, over twenty-six minutes of Yoko shrieking eeeeeeeehhhhhhhheeeeeeehhhheeeeeeehhhhhhhheeeeehhh, and these words do her caterwauling justice, accompanied by nothing but John's wretched feedback and nonsensical distortion. The only thing that is even humorous about this "creation," is the fact that a bunch of psuedo-intellectuals actually listend to this monument to bombast, and even applauded when it was over. There is no statement made, no purpose, no joy, no emotional release, except for that of the listener after this aberration finally ends. There is no drug powerful enough to dull your senses to the point that this "movement" can become merely something which is only mildly annoying, rather than over twenty-six, yes you'll begin counting every one of those minutes very shortly after beginning this putrid concoction of sheer torture. The only pain and suffering is felt by the listener and it is akin to having a root canal performed upon you without any Novocain. This is the most creative piece on the album, and except for the two minutes of silence, the caliber and the quality of this sprawling morass of self indulgent drivel continues into its nascent descent which is driven deeper into the cankerous bowels of something created under the guise of artistic freedom. Side two begins with a "song" called No Bed for Beatle John, and it is nothing but five minutes of Yoko mumbling atonally about there being no bed for beatle John and I suppose there are some lyrics to this "thing" but any three year old would be deemed slow or mentally challenged if they uttered such meaningless gibberish. Yes, the next "piece" is even worse and it is a delightful five minute number entitled Baby's Heartbeat, and that is just what it is. Five minutes of a microphone strapped to Yoko's womb listening to the heartbeat of the baby, that eventually would die from a miscarriage, and the wonderful and very welcome song two minutes of silence, which is nothing but two minutes of silence, in what I suppose is some sort of reverence to the still born fetus, however, it is the listener who is thankful for these two minutes of silence and perhaps you are thinking that maybe the unfortunate fetus is enjoying where ever it may be at in the cosmos, much more than you are who is that still listening to this messy exercise in banality. The last song on this album is called Radio Play and it is just twelve minutes of moving a radio dial from one end to the other. I presume that it was John who provided us with his prowess of being able to turn the dial of a radio from one end to the other for over twelve minutes. Is this life imitating art or vice versa? No, if anybody's life were this dreary and droll then they would probably just end it. I've seen where they have added a couple of bonus tracks to the CD of this embarrassment which is somehow considered a recording. Why they would want to punish the listener with two more inane and monstrous pieces of "material" and waste another eleven minutes of our lives is beyond my comprehension. Maybe somebody who is a pain afficianado who likes to mutilate themselves in some manner might get something out of this truly unbelievable collage of rotting fecal matter, if you are not one of these twisted souls then please do not, and I know by saying this it's like saying don't look at the one hundred foot white elephant standing behind you, but please do not subject yourself to this torture. It is unequivocally the worst thing ever recorded and distributed on a mass level. Do not give Yoko any royalties for this and I wish I'd have thought of this many years ago. I would have gone up to her and said that people adore your two minutes of silence, Yoko, and they want you to adhere to this concept on a longer and more dedicated level. Yes, then we would keep buying albums of her doing nothing but being silent and prodding her to keep up the good work. Perhaps, we could have even talked to the Nobel commission into giving her a special lifetime achievement award if she kept it up for over ten years. While Yoko was basking in the success of her silence, then we really could have enjoyed John making some serious music without any intervention from her. I may very well write a short story on this for it would not only be cathartic to me, but would make millions of fans of John's smile and hopefully laugh a little, too. No charge folks I'll do it because Yoko has earned it. Hell, in my story she's going into the rock and roll hall of fame, because her album, Live silence at Montreaux sold over 10 million copies alone. Who wouldn't have paid a little money to keep her quiet, and off of any subsequent music that John created? Hell, maybe her next double album Silence: My Gift of Love to You will even out sell the White Album, in my story? Yes, this album is that horrible and horrific. In reality I think I'll ask the British Government for that MBE that John returned to them out of protest for having listened to it over three times. Yes, it took great stamina and courage to do so, but I needed to know that no matter what I may go on and create I'll never, ever, stoop below a certain level in the name of anything, ever. Rest in peace John, for you were part of the most productive and creative musical force ever known. Yoko, I do not know one productive or enjoyable thing you have ever done. Oh yes I do; thanks for the two minutes of silence. Seriously! To rate this album properly it would have a negative number that is say, equivalent to the energy of that of a Black Hole. It is a stunning achievement of just how unproductive, useless, meaningless, and off track people can go in the name of art, if they try hard enough. I do not believe in censorship but they might be justified in banning this thing as a waste of time, or perhaps forcing every person to listen to it just once to see if their conscience and soul are still intact. It is as bad as it gets! If you do not believe me then listen to it for yourselves, but do not say you weren't warned. Hell, the Surgeon General should put some kind of warning label on it! Peace.
Nov 23, 2000
I must be growing old or the drugs are wearing off, since I could not bear to listen to this insult to aural intelligence without seeing my pen fill with bile. Some famous people think the public should be interested in their every little movement, bowel or otherwise. It must have something to do with ego. When you think that the best part of this album is the "two Minutes Silence" for its sheer relief from the assault on the senses found continually elsewhere, you know you're in for a real treat listening to this one. Excuse me, but this album does not even justify having it to complete the collection - along with Two Virgins and The Wedding Album. Some marketing people must be off laughing themselves crazy somewhere at the though that people are once again buying this album on its remastered CD format, parting with serious after tax dollars to listen yet again to the majesty and beauty of John mumbling in his drugged out state on "No Bed For Beatle John" or Yoko squealing away on "Cambridge". To say that this is a moment of history worth rehearing in order to get to know the true John lennon, is a bit like taking a photo of a puddle of vomit for the sake of posterity ("Man, did we enjoy that beer race !"). I would rather listen to nothing than listen to this foolish behaviour - accepting of course that for 2 minutes I can do both at once ! How very witty of John and Yoko ! In fact, if the choice fell to listening to it again or bashing my forehead against a brick wall then the wall would start to look mighty tempting. The awful part about fame going to your head is that you forget that everyone else has a crap and a shave every morning as well - just because you're famous doesn't make it an 'event'. When I think of all the real talent that has been buried and yet this gets a gig ! As Yoko herself once screeched - "Why ?"
Sep 29, 2000
Well, I got Life with the Lions about 3 months ago. I was intoduced to it by a few friends of mine late one evening while we were lounging about. My initial reaction can be summed up in two words: "What the...?" I had no idea what I was listening to. I have been a Beatles fan for years now, and John had already emerged as my personal favorite. I had yet to experience any of Yoko's recordings, so I only had teh opinions of everyone else to fall back on. This was something else. One friend begged to turn it off, but I couldn't stop listening to it. It amazed me that someone had the sack to put this out as an actual recording. The album starts off with(actually, the whole first side is) a 26 minute track called "Cambridge 69". Innocently, Yoko announces "This is a piece titled Cambridge 69", and then this noise starts. That noise is Yoko. I firmly believe that the one note she starts off with and holds for a few minutes is the most chilling, dissonant, annoying, repulsive note I have ever heard. I didn't think modern instruments are built to make such a note, that is until John starts bringing in his feedback noise, and it hits me. Yoko is singing feedback. For a few moments, Yoko drone and John's feedback are in the same pitch, creating a very etheral tone. It is a long track, but I can listen to it the whole way through. It doesn't change much, but it changes just enough to keep my interest. The second half was something else entirely. "No Bed For Beatle John" is a monk-like chanting piece that is rather pretty and relaxing. Yoko seems to be chanting the words straight from newspaper clippings, as John (too quiet, most likely from sitting on the floor instead of next to Yoko) improvises words with a vaguely Christian-like chant lilt. This is one of the only "musical" pieces on the album, and stands out nicely, I feel. "Baby's Heartbeat" literally brought me to tears. Their dying baby's heartbeat is recorded though ultrasound for nearly five minutes. I think this is the MOST musical piece on the album. It is such a natural rhythm, with many different textures thoughout, I was amazed. The music that they could have produced with electronic instruments or other contraptions doesn't hold a candle to something so innocent, so natural, so real. Maybe I'm reading way too much into just a simple heartbeat, but there is nothing they could have made artificially that would have sounded half as beautiful as this one fetus' heartbeat. Then, as suddenly as it starts, it stops, replaced by "Two MInute's Silence". Pretty easy to describe a song with that title, it's two minutes of silence. (duh!) Is it a requiem to their lost baby? Is it for world peace? Or is it just John and Yoko being John and Yoko? I think it's a very good possibility that is is a requiem, but by putting it on an album, it is also very much them just being John and Yoko. "Radio Play" comes next, and doesn't really thrill me too much. I can listen to Two Virgins, I can listen to Rev. #9, I can listen to Cambridge '69, but I can't deal with this track. Yoko switching the channel on an old transistor radio while John sits around, calling people on the phone. This track definitely brought my rating down to the 4 that it has now. All in all, my recommendation for the album is not to buy it until you hear it. Many people won't like it. It is not a music album. John's beautiful writing and musicality are no where present, so don't plan on jamming out to it. If you want to be taken to a very specific place in time in the life of a very talented and beloved man, buy it. There's no production value, no hit songs, nothing that would make you think the man responsible was a Beatle. It is John utterly in love with Yoko, telling the world "This is us, would you like to listen?" No pretentions, just a very stark album. I don't think you can appreciate John as a man or an artist unless you appreciate this album and the other 2 unfinished works. Good luck to you all.
Aug 22, 2000
This is yet another review of all three unfinished music albums, and they happened to change my life. They opened up my ears to the idea of everyday sounds in and of themselves as music. I'm personally intrigued by reactions to these albums, especially "Life with the Lions", where people complain it's just screeching, noise, not music. Yet sections of all three albums get stuck in my head and play over and over just as pop music sometimes does. And as strange as it seems I can envision musical charts for these records. I'll start the review proper with "Two Virgins" ... I think of it as one piece, and it sounds like two people having a lot of fun together, joking, laughing, and indulging in things that they like to do. It's not far from Hafler Trio or Zoviet France or something like that. I read somewhere where John had said the idea was "this is us, do you want to share it?" and there are parts of it that still make me laugh (Yoko: "AAAAAWK!" John: "That's right dear, spit it up." Yoko: "That's TRUE!" John, deadpan: "It *is* true dear, you've won a major fight!"). Aside from the humour, Yoko's ability to hold a note (check out some of the long extended tones she sings at the beginning of side two) extends longer than just about anyone I've ever heard. As for "Life With The Lions", anyone who thinks "Cambridge 1969" is nothing but screeching is hereby challenged to make those sounds and have his or her voice hold up. Smart money says no pundit can last 26.5 minutes. I find it amazing, and when I first heard it, I thought "my god, she's imitating the feedback!" When I listened to it with that perspective, it immediately became interesting. This is by no means the most extreme music I've heard (that honor goes to Merzbow, Controlled Bleeding, and Namanax, and no one ever says *those* people are talentless). "No Bed For Beatle John" is interesting because you wonder how Yoko and John felt when they read newspaper articles about themselves. "Baby's Heartbeat" is interesting, and it's not unchanging -- if you listen closely you can hear the timbre shifting as Yoko moves with the microphone pressed on her belly. It does maintain interest if you listen closely enough, though, and unlike one person who found it too long, I find it too short! "Two Minutes Silence" almost seems like a shared vigil for the lost baby, and the moment "Baby's Heartbeat" segues into it has to be one of the most aurally jarring experiences I've ever come across. "Radio Play", with John and Yoko's every day life in the background while the radio static in the foreground crackles and pops, is a wonderful pun. I find the track interesting because it's almost as though you get to see John and Yoko in everyday life, but a barrier's in the way. The pun is cool, too. As for the Wedding Album, "John And Yoko" caught my ears the first time I heard it. I was intrigued by what the sound was in the background ... it was a couple of listens before I discovered it was their heartbeats! When I hear it nowadays, I think of it as an extended call-and-response piece, something like James Brown! One utterance rises, and the next one matches it, and the next pair varies them, and the next pair varies that, and so on. "Amsterdam" is like listening to a broadcast of a documentary like VH1 might show ... it's very interesting to hear them presenting themselves as a documentary. If you were going to present you and the love of your life as a documentary, how would you do it? I find these albums cornerstones in opening up my ears to more timbre oriented forms of music, and as such they'll always remain some of the more favorite albums in my collection.
Feb 4, 2000
I heard this album the same day I heard "Two Vigins". To begin with, I have to say that this album is much more avant-garde than "Two virgins". It ventures deep into Yokos way of creating fantastic illusions of avant -garde & is combined John's own rock & roll roots & his own style of avant-garde. "Cambridge 1969", is my favourite piece on the record. I love how it just went on & on & on. I love Johns feedback. I have always liked the use of feedback in music. It is really exposed & used well in this piece. It also shows how amazing Yoko is......I mean, how can you carry on like that for 26 minutes. "No Bed For Beatle John", is a fair piece. Frankly, I would have enjoyed it more if Johns voice was more heard then it is on the track. The tape recorder they were using was obviously right there with Yoko & John must have been across the room. If it was the opposite, I would of liked it better. Dont get me wrong, it still is an interesting track. "Baby's Heartbeat".................it sounds cool.....its neat......BUT IS TOO DAMN LONG!!!! I mean through the first minute your thinking, "Wow,, this is neat" The second minute "Ok, the sounds probably gonna change soon". The third minute "This is getting annoying". The fourth miunute "Ok, that's enough". The fifth minute "STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I mean, even if they changed the speed or the pitch of the sound, it would have been much more cooler. "Two Minutes Of Silence' is probably the most conceptual piece on the whole record. I have heard that this track was intrigued by some composer who makes pieces out of silence. Hey, it also gives us time to cool down from the anger that "Baby's Heartbeat" gives us."Radio Play", is a neat track. Alot of people say that it is overdone, which maybe it is. But I personally think that is a neat avant-garde piece. I also liked how around the middle of the track you can hear John make a phone call to someone. It was good of them to add some background to it rather then just having the radio sound of it. Overall, this album is & will always be a masterpiece of avant-garde art. I like the cover too. It shows the exact moode they were in when they made the second side. A few months later, after I heard the album, I heard the CD version of it with the 2 bonus tarcks. "Song For John", is really good tune. The writing on it is great. I believe Yoko wrote it. The guitar work on it is also good......but dont you think it sounds similar to the guitar riff of "Julia" by The Beatles. "Mullberry", is probably my least favourite thing they have done together. Yoko's screaming is nowhere near as energetic as it was in "Cambridge 1969". John's guitar sound FX are kind of cool. It kind of reminds me of Sonic Youth's way of making guitar noise. ***** Thanks for reading
Aug 21, 1999
I am giving this album a 4.5, as I agree that is "Radio Play" is the only track that is overdone. I love Cambridge 1969. This avant-guard tour de force of Yoko's trademark screeching and John's freeform feedback is one of the '60's most important statements of "rage against the machine", for all of the lies and other crimes of the Establishment. You can fine the roots of the punk movement here. And until the last track, Side 2 is a narrative inspired by the style of John Cage. After Ligiti's "Atmospheres", "Life with the Lions" was my introduction into the world of the avant-guard and I want to thank both Kubrick and the Lennons for opening my eyes to this brave new world.
Jan 4, 1999
Cambridge 1969, the first track on the CD and Side 1 of the LP, is the musical equivalent of someone being slowly roasted in a defective electric chair. Yoko screams, John produces feedback for 22 minutes. Towards the end a whole new sound comes in, if one makes it that far... saxophones playing something relatively musical. Side 2 begins with Yoko's No Bed for Beatle John, recorded in her hospital room when she was losing her unborn baby. It's the only song with lyrics on this album, and it's a free-flowing update on events in the world of John and Yoko: commercial problems with the Two Virgins LP cover, for instance. The next track is a few minutes of her baby's heartbeat, with natural swishing and whooshing noises, abruptly cut off by 2 Minutes Silence, the third track. The album closes with Radio Play, short bursts of transistor radio reception that communicate nothing to the listener. Overall the album is a depressing abstract documentary of a very painful period in the lives of J&Y. As such it is painful to hear, but it does make a good prologue to the more musical John Lennon Anthology or the Plastic Ono Band album.
Dec 2, 1998
The Third Virgin
This is a review for all 3 experimental albums. With the exception of "The Wedding Album" all three of John and Yoko's art albums received reviews that read "This is crap. Do NOT buy this." They elaborate but the message is clear. It is true, the experiments are not for everyone, hardly anyone in fact. But what everyone has to remember is that these are not really albums. They do not have songs, they do not have top 10 hits or radio play. What they are, in fact IS noise, and they DO have Yoko screeching. There are groups of people with the title "Noise Maven" who love this with a passion. For everyone else it is an extremely tough ride to sit down, open your heart and mind and LISTEN, listen to what John and Yoko are telling you. Two Virgins was an invitation directly into their lives. They cut a record for us, and made their first time making love a truly profound experience. The Wedding Album was a wedding gift from them to us, and also an invitation to join them to stop war, and to tell us what they believed. The interview alone is enough to persuade you to buy the album, everything else; John and Yoko's unique honeymoon and listening to them make love as they are making, not a song, but a piece of art, for us. Life with the Lions also gives their opinion, indirctly to some but directly to people who truly understand (and directly to everyone with "No Bed for Beatle John"). All three are collections of art, don't even call them records, really. Many out there will say, "Why should I be forced to listen to this crap just because some idiot thinks it's art?" These collections certainly aren't for everybody, just megafans who have them only to complete their collection. And Noise Mavens; you know who you are, the people who never, EVER push the skip button when the White Album hits "#9." Had Yoko never met John, she would be one of those "Noise Makers" of the '60s,a genre of music everyone loved, much like today's noise "Electronica" and Jazz music. (This is an opinion, BTW.) Instead, many angry fans who feel like jilted lovers look upon Yoko as the one who stole their boyfriend, blaming her for stifling and ultimately even killing the greatest musical genius in their minds.
Sep 8, 1998
Unfinished Music #2, Life With the Lions was the first of the three 'experimental' albums released by the Lennons that I had heard. The first listening of this album is something that will be shocking or annoying to many people unfamiliar with avant-garde music or concept. The first track is "Cambridge,1969" which is an improvised jam recorded in a Cambridge opera house by John and Yoko in 1969. The track begins innocently enough with Yoko announcing "This is a piece called Cambridge 1969." Immediately afterward she begins emitting noise which is soon matched by guitar feedback provided by John. At first this piece will be difficult to listen to for most people for a few reasons: A) It is a PIECE and not a SONG, many conventional rock fans will be turned off by its freeform avant-garde feel.It was made more as a piece of sound art than as a marketable rock single. B) Its length, 26+ minutes is a lot of Ono and feedback for a few people.(It took up a whole side on vinyl) However, listen to Yoko singing in this track, it is almost as though she has perfectly summed up frustration and fear and expressed it in a vocal form. There really are no lyrics when it comes to pure emotion, there is only sound. Her voice also blends perfectly at times with the feedback, and creates an unsettling but intrigung world. The next track on this album is "No Bed for Beatle John" which was recorded in Yoko's room at Queen Charlotte's Hospital. Her voice (at times backed by John) is lilting and expressive of their current situations. John's Echoing voice adds an air of mystery. Also see Yoko's ONOBOX, the first track of it is this song, remixed and given an echo affect, as though rising from the past, it sounds haunting and also beautiful. The next songs are rather self explanitory "Baby's Heartbeat" which was a recording of their child which later miscarried. and "Two Minutes Silence" which is exactly that. The Last track is "Radio Play" which is John speaking at times in the background and Yoko turning a radio up and down. Interesting maybe, but a bit long-the albums weaker point. On CD there are two Ono songs released as bonuses. the first is "Song for John" which contains a light and beautiful guitar backing by John and lyrics sung by Yoko. BEAUTIFUL song! It has wonderful imagery, its worth buying the CD just to hear it. This is followed by the track "Mulberry" which was recorded in the same way as "Song For John". Interesting listen, a bit avant-garde, but not as harsh as Cambridge. Those of you who liked Two Virgins should like Mulberry. Overall this experimental album is a very interesting listen. The cover art and liner art within the CD are priceless glimpses into the world and love of John and Yoko.
Apr 25, 1998
It is mind boggling to think that this album has been remastered for cd. This album should rank as one of the three worst of all time, the other two being "two virgins" and "wedding album". The biggest tragedy of all is the negative effect that Yoko had on John's musical career, although this album and the other two so called "unfinished" works can hardly be called music. The track listings and content have already been well documented on this page.Clearly this work would not have even been released had it not had the John Lennon name attached. If twenty six minutes of Yoko screaming is your idea of "art", then by all means by this cd. I would suggest that the reader find a copy on vinyl; the collectability of this record (and the other "Zapple" release, George Harrison's "Electronic Sound") makes it interesting in that right. "Life With the Lions" does document, with little doubt, just how far the Lennons' would go for a publicity stunt. When the best track, by far, on an album is the self-explanitory "Two Minutes of Silence", you know just how much this album reeks. I give "Life with the Lions" one rotton apple ("Zapple").
Apr 3, 1998
The first of two releases on the funky label Zapple, mostly run by John himself. He wanted to do crazy stuff on the label. And this record is CRAZY. Not almost. The album starts of with a 26:28 long jam called "Cambridge 1969". Yoko introduces it with her sweet tenderly voice. And right after starts with a long screaming that really is annoying. Most of song consists of screams from Yoko and lots of feedback from John. At the end of the so called song, there´s also a saxophone player messing about. It´s really hard to listen to whole song, I think this was the start of all the screams by John on his Plastic Ono Band. The next called "No Bed For Beatle John" feels like a made up song sung by Yoko. She sings about the reactions about the cover of "Two Virgins" and so on. And John sings a little about his former wive Cynthia. Nothing exciting really. The most scariest song must be the "Baby´s Heartbeat". It´s runs almost six minutes and consists a fast heartbeat of the baby John & Yoko were expecting. But Yoko had a miscarrige. The saddest song on the album. And I suppose John & Yoko wanted a song that sums up the loss of their child, "Two Minutes Silence". Nothing much there really, just two minutes of silence. The next song "Radio Play", I think it´s Yoko who´s messing with a radio, she turns it off and on, again and again. The biggest disappointment on the album, it´s almost childish. Now there are two bonus tracks on the album, because this is the CD version. There are first Yoko´s tribute "Song For John", it sounds just like "Julia". But it´s to John, it´s a really good song. The best song on the album. By all means. And then there´s the "bluesy" "Mulberry", a nine minute long song which consists mostly Yoko´s annoying singing and John´s craziness playing a accoustic guitar. This is album is little bit weaker than "Two Virgins", so I gave this album 3.5.
Mar 30, 1998
Out of the three 'art' albums that john and yoko released this is by far the best. 'Cambridge 1969' at first is scarey to listen to, the first eight to ten minutes you get to thinking "what the hell i'm I listen to hear?" but after that you start to enter into a hypnotic trance until John's feedback stop's and yoko finishes leaving only the horns, which provides a nice sort of coming too period after slipping into a state of sub-consiousness. I like hearing this track when stressed out, as, by the end of it I feel totally clear headed. Side two is a conceptional side, which is interesting as John never liked the conceptional idea on the Sgt. Pepper album but possibly because of losing John and Yokos' first child he never saw it as a conceptional project. 'No Bed For Beatle John' possibly the only commercial track on the album. John and Yoko both were quite shaken up at their lose (as anyone would) and maybe the idea of reading out newspaper headlines cheered them up slightly. 'Baby's Heartbeat' always makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. To think that this 5 minute piece is all they have of their child and barely 3 weeks later their child had died. 'Two Minute Silence' providing a pause for thought after 'Baby's heartbeat. I had heard somewhere that someone in 1987 had released 'Two Minute Silence' as a single with 'Two Minute Silence (Dub)' on the B-side, I hope it was a joke! 'Radio Play' this is the reason I gave this album 4.5 instead of 5 IT'S TOO DAMDED HARD TO LISTEN TO. With Yoko switching the radio on off, on off, etc. and John on the phone, is a nice idea but not for 12 minutes. Towards the end Yoko slows down and it is possible to hear brief parts of a song and an announcer that were on the radio at the time.
Dec 25, 1997
This Album is very strange I think it unfair(to this album) to list it alongside actual John Lennon (music/song) Albums as it is something extremely different. I love "no bed for beatle john". It is obvouisly the highlight (an actual song w/ autobiographical lyrics/like: Ballad of John and Yoko/ only taken from a newspaper article). John Lennon had a way of adapting his life (legacy)/(on purpose or not)in music and this a great example. I have a different view of this album probably because I collect bootleg recordings and enjoy rare glimpses into my hero's life. This album defines John's whole state of mind during it's making and much like two virgins it has a valuable purpose(to the fan/listener): it is an audio picture of what John wanted people to see. Like many poems (including johns) it doesn't just say the point. It expresses the point through a feeling depicted by words.(only on the album(s) it uses sound). So it may not be a snappy little tune or a emotonal statement but john made plenty of those we should be very happy John made this recording at all he didn't have to even try to capture anything else on tape besides the songs he did but he had the guts to make this for us. THANKS JOHN.
Nov 25, 1997
Pure garbage, Two Virgins was one thing, this load of junk was another. I really do not understand why they would bother to rerealise this garbage, because really that is all it is. It is so bad though that I can't believe that my favorite musician would come out with it. I was curious about these so being stupid as I was I bought them all and they really are all terrible. I wanted to like Two Virgins because I got that one first but I gave up and the only reason why that one would get a 1.5 review would be that it came up first and John was really doing sonthing new and provacative so that is why it is a little better. It is stil pure crap though. This album is much, much worse. It would deserve a 0.01 review as far as being awful goes, and I am a huge John Lennon fan too so that just proves that even the biggest fans can't like this at all. This album probably took like a half hour to make, and I bet John was releasing these more as a joke to his fans. I bet he wanted to see if any of his fans would like it and I bet he was hoping that he could lessson his fans. This album is terrible and that is all that you could say. Just noise, not really experimental because it is garbage. This is not music. I could do better by myself and I am not a good musician at all. All I can say is DO NOT BUY THIS! And all those people who gave it over 1 apple, who are you kidding. This is so bad that it is funny, you people just want to like it cause there is no way that you could.
Oct 16, 1997
Once again, this album is awful. At least two Vigins was a new idea and had some sort of melody. This is complete garbage. It is actually funny that it could be so bad. It is terrible. I have had it for like 5 months now and I still have been unable to listen to it. I know that it is supposedly "art". But this is pure garbage and believe me I am a huge John Lennon fan. I do not mind Two Virgins that much it is fair, but this one is awful. THe first track is like 26 minutes. I have tried and I have tried to listen to it, but it is just terrible. All it is is yoko screeching in her high completely out of tune voice and then after a while John will come baack with some feedback on the guitar. I have gotten as far as 8 minutes of that first track but then I had to turn it off it is awful. THe only good thing about this album is that it is so bad you can laugh at it. I think that Lennon wanted to believe that this was good or else he just wanted to lose some of his fans. This is just too terrible to listen to. tHE NEXT SONG Is No bed for Beatle John Yoko is reading two articles one about their being no bed for beatle john and the other being about how they do not like her. It is boring. The next is a baby's heartbeat which first of all is not music and secondly it is depressing to listen to a dying baby's heartbeat, how could anyone like that. Then two minutes of silence, the best track because there is no sound! Then there is radio play. Nothing to that. Anyone could mess around with noises and make it sound way better. You hear John talking in the background which proves to me that they are do not really care about this"music" that they are makingSong for John has a Julia type guitar but it is still not good. Fimally Mullberry, while probably fun to make is nothing worth buying an album for. All I am saying is that if someone wants music as art buy something like The Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett still, that is way better than this garbage.
Aug 8, 1997
I recently purchased the newly released CD Master Recording of this album with three unreleased tracks added on. mastered and overseen by Yoko Ono. This album is hard to listen to. The untrained ear will only hear noise. Its not about music but rather its about art! its also about John and Yokos message(s) therin (you must decipher). My review of this avant gaurde piece is best summed up by my roomates reaction when I played this at my house. This is Tom's (my unsuspecting roomate) reaction to hearing 2 minutes of this album for the first (and only time).... "Sean, dude, what the hell is that?" (refering to the first track blaring out of my cd player in my room) "Dude, I think our fire alarm is going off!!!?," pauses, "Shit man, I think- oh? - thats our fire alarm!? what is that noise!? Damn!" well I laughed my ass off then turned off the disc to relax my bewildered roomate and put him out of his misery. this album is for the serious collector only but if you are a collector of solo Beatle albums then this is a must have!!! Sean Kennedy http://www.lone-star.net/stetson/
Aug 4, 1997
Unfinished Music #2 Life With The Lions is the 2nd collaboration of John & Yoko to be issued on plastic. Unlike the Two Virgins album, this album takes a different step for the avant garde. The 1st side is a 26+minute live performance recorded on March 2,1969 at the Lady Mitchell Hall in Cambridge England durring a jazz festival. Yoko's interpretaion of this consists of her screaming throughout the entire track-Cambridge 1969-with John playing free form guitar in front of his amplifier resulting in some very loud feedback. A sax player & percussionist appear at the end of this piece. The 2nd side of the album is a painful & tragic part of John & Yoko's early life together. The side opens with the chilling No Bed For Beatle John which consists of Yoko singing two newspaper articles,one being about John being forced to give up his hospital bed-he shared one with Yoko while she was in the hospital durring her pregnancy. This is also reflected in the albums front cover as John is camped out on the floor. The other article is about the forthcomming release of the couples Two Virgins album & it's infamous sleeve. In the background John is also chanting some articles as well but they cannot be deciphered. Only one can be at the end of the song where he cites his upcomming divorce from his first wife Cynthia. The next track-Baby's Heartbeat was originally 10 seconds long but stretched to 5+minutes for the album. This was the recording John made of the baby's heartbeat shortly before Yoko miscarried. The following track-two Minutes Silence is exactly what it is. John copyrighted two minutes of silence for his dead child. The reissue of this album on CD enables the listener to actually hear nothing for two minuts without the pops & ticks from conventional vinyl. Finally the last track-Radio Play is an out of tune radio playing in the background while John is talking to assistant at the time Anthony Fawcett. After his conversation is over, you can hear the song Ob-La-Di,Ob-La-Da from The Beatles White Album in the static. This is not a pleasant album to listen to. But it should be played at least once so that the listener can share the pain & agony that John & yoko were going through back in November of 1968. You must also have to have a great deal of patience to sit through Cambridge 1969 as well. As with Two Virgins, this album also has become a collectors item since it disappeared from the record stores as quickly as it was issued. Collectors note, This album was one of two issued on the Zapple label. The second one being George Harrisons Electronic Sounds also issued the same day as Life With The Lions. The label is the customary Apple label with a silver Zapple running across the top of it.
Jun 23, 1997
"Life With The Lions" is an album of my life. I "discovered" it in late 1983 during a search for the then-elusive "Two Virgins" album. Almost immediately after hearing it for the first time, I began to record my own experimental home-recordings in direct response to the material it contains. I called my recordings "Ymphony!s". Recording Ymphony!s soon became a serious hobby for me. I still record new Ymphony!s from time to time and do also create real music too. A million thanks go from me to John & Yoko for being unafraid to record and release this album and in so doing inspiring me to also experiment with recorded sounds. Stop. "Cambridge, 1969" is a 26+ minute live performance recording made at Cambridge University in March 1969 featuring Yoko's continuous trademark vocal things and John playing feedback guitar. A percussionist and avant-garde saxophonist join them during the final five minutes. I like the additional sax and drums and wish they had been brought into the performance much earlier. The most interesting thing about this piece is the variety of textures in the feedback John was able to coax from his amplifier and guitar. Its greatest drawback is its length. I do, however, enjoy hearing this in its entirety every so often and have even gone to sleep while listening to it. Stop. Of all the tracks on the three experimental John & Yoko albums, "No Bed For Beatle John" is easily the most musical. In an almost monastic chant style, Yoko sings about current events while John in the background counters her vocals with his own impromptu lyrics. Unfortunately, many of the words John sings are unclear. Stop. "Baby's Heartbeat" is a 5+ minute recording of exactly what the title suggests. Yoko was pregnant when this recording was made and subsequently miscarried the child whose heartbeat is heard here. Stop. "Two Minutes Silence" is, again, a "recording" of exactly what the title suggests. Rather than being a funny gag, I have often wondered if this piece was intended to be a requiem for Yoko's miscarried child. Remember when, per Yoko's request, radio stations around the world simultaneously went silent for 10 minutes in remembrance of John shortly after his murder? Stop. I don't fully understand what was being done to create the sounds in "Radio Play", however, I believe it to be the product of Yoko turning the tuning knob of a portable radio back and forth across the "location on the dial" of a hapless AM radio station for about 12 minutes. John can be heard at times speaking to somebody on the telephone (?) in the background. Knowing now that Yoko was an ardent admirer of John Cage, I'm quite certain that the focus of this piece is its rhythm and perhaps even the spaces between the "notes". Of all the tracks in this album, "Radio Play" is my favourite and the one most like my own early Ymphonic recordings at least aesthetically, if not conceptually. (When I began recording Ymphony!s, I knew nothing of John Cage.) Stop. This album moves at a much slower pace than does "Two Virgins". For that reason, I cannot give it as high a recommendation, however, for those seeking "the total Lenono experience" it is equally important.
Apr 14, 1997
W Ted Rogers
UNFINISHED MUSIC NO.2 : LIFE WITH THE LIONS by John Lennon and Yoko Ono This album, one of the least known albums in the Lennon canon, requires a bit of background in order to fully understand and appreciate. It is probably the most avant garde of any of the projects done by John Lennon or John Lennon/Yoko Ono or even Yoko Ono alone. The closest analogy would in the Lennon/Ono canon would have to be UNFINISHED MUSIC NO.1 : TWO VIRGINS or the song "Revolution 9" (the latter being a Lennon/Ono project that was slipped onto the album The BEATLES. The project owes a lot to the work done by Yoko Ono with the 1960s avant garde art group Fluxus, which included seminal avant garde composer, John Cage. The album deals with John’s and Yoko’s lives together after the storm broke over their unconventional relationship. One side of the cover shows John and Yoko being escorted into or out of the same English courtroom which also witnessed the trials of Mick Jagger and Brian Jones in London. John and Yoko had been arrested for illegal possession of marijuana, a charge that was to haunt John during his early years in the United States. The other side of the cover shows John lying on the floor in a hospital room next to Yoko who is in bed. She had just miscarried their first child. The title LIFE WITH THE LIONS refers to the persecution that John and Yoko felt they were receiving because of their unconventional relationship, both from people (the drug bust, the slow dissolution of the Beatles’ partnership, fan hostility to Yoko, press hostility, racism, etc.) and from the fates (the miscarriage). A more conventional telling of the same story with some later updates is "The Ballad of John and Yoko". As such the album is full of pain, a common theme for John and Yoko in their early work. The following is a track-by-track review inasmuch as I can remember (I only have the album on vinyl and my turntable has been broke for a number of years now). "Cambridge 1969" -- This track takes up the whole first side of the vinyl recording of Life with the Lions and was recorded live at Cambridge University in England. The live performance consisted of Yoko doing "her thing all over you" while John played feedback guitar. The track was probably the sort of thing one expected to hear at a university arts event in those days but not by one of the Beatles. It is one of the best totally experimental pieces of this sort ever done by John and Yoko; the only comparable thing is the song "Fly" from the Yoko album of the same name. The vocals are similar to those on the two live versions of "Don’t Worry, Kyoko" but the music is substantially more unconventional. Quite interesting albeit painful to listen to (intentionally so, I believe). "No Bed for Beatle John" -- I do not recall this track well enough to comment on it except to say that the title refers to the aforementioned miscarriage and John’s inability to get a bed at the hospital to stay with Yoko (hence the sleeping on the floor depicted on the cover). "Baby’s Heartbeat" -- This track consists of a recording of the as of yet unborn or miscarried foetus carried by Yoko. It is quite representative of the sort of avant garde stuff being done in the sixties by people like the Fluxus group from which Yoko came. "Two Minutes Silence" -- This track’s title is self-descriptive of the content. I’d love to hear it on CD so it really would be two minutes of silence without the inevitable popping associated with vinyl (even on Japanese import vinyl). Again, a good representation of sixties avant garde artworks, owing a lot to John Cage. "Radio Play" -- Another self-descriptive title – this track really disappointed me. I expected more than just the noises you get running up and down the dial of a radio (try it on shortwave). John and Yoko should have included brief snippets and excerpts of radio programs, music, etc., to make it more interesting. Overall, if you are into Cage, Stockhausen, and other experimental musicians, this album will delight you. If you cannot stomach this sort of thing, then you will find nothing here beyond historical curiosity for Lennon fans. I personally give it 4.5 apples.
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Last updated on Nov 6, 1998