Bagism: Albums & Singles

Reviews: Some Time in New York City


"Some Time in New York City" uses a newspaper as metaphor for delivering songs. Almost every song focuses on specific events or people in the news at the time. The album came with a second disc from a live performance of John and Yoko with Frank Zappa. It was released June 12, 1972 (US) and Sept.15, 1972 (UK).

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Rating: 4.5
Sep 11, 2012
Old Dirt Road
I don't know if it's just that I'm a huge Lennon fan, but I love this album very much. The protests in these songs are pretty powerful, even if some of the issues are about 30+ years old. First I'll analyze songs mainly written by Yoko: 1.'Sisters O' Sisters.' It's a really great arrangement, and Yoko does an average job with the vocals. Phil Spector's production is definitely the saving quality of this song, though; Without it, it would definitely be skippable. The lyrics and meaning of the song have aged quite well, too. 2.'Born in a Prison' is just a great song! The lyrics are very true depending on who you ask and the music and vocals themselves are stunningly beautiful; Yoko does a okay job singing with John providing backup vocals, but it's the lyrics that make this song so great. 3. 'We're all Water.' Not a fan of Yoko's singing on this one, especially when she starts howling, but the lyrics are bold and state that we're all the same, so it's no use arguing (or something along those lines). Next, 'John Sinclair' and 'New York City' The story of 'John Sinclair' is one of the government's more scumbagiest moves, so the lyrics have a lot of passion behind them and the song itself is good. 'New York City,' is a pretty good Chuck Berry style tune. Finally, The Rest! 'Woman is the Nigger of the World,' was such a great song, but it had so much controversy come from it after its release that people probably just write it off as trash. 'Sunday Bloody Sunday,' and the 'Luck of the Irish' are songs that sympathize with the Irish's hardships, and are also very powerfully written. 'Angela' is a song about Angela Davis, a political activist, and 'Attica State' is about a riot in Attica State Prison that resulted in the massacre of inmates. Anyway, I think all of the songs are really amazing, and although Yoko's singing isn't always spot on, she does a relatively good job. This is definitely an unfairly overlooked album in Lennon's career.

Rating: 2.5
Sep 4, 2011
johnny harrison
Sometime In New York City...pretty sad album. Woman Is the Nigger of the World, New York City, John Sinclair, Cold Turkey, and maybe Well (Baby Please Don't Go) are the only tolerable songs. Yoko Ono completely ruined Sunday Bloody Sunday, Well (Baby Please Don't Go), and any other song with her vocals except possibly Sisters O' Sisters. The only reason I will give this any stars is for the badass version of Cold Turkey (even though the second half isn't so good). Should you buy? If you are really that big of a Lennon fan/ you have $16.99 to blow at Best Buy or hack iTunes, yes. Otherwise LAY OFF.

Rating: 3.0
Feb 21, 2010
KPC
I have owned this album for about 25 years. I must say I play it just as frequently as any other JL/YO album. Yes, the issues are a bit dated today, but the messages they send shouldn't be forgotten. I actually really like "Sisters, o sisters" -- it's one of my favorite Yoko songs. Today Yoko's vocializations are classic, truly pre-dating & influencing the punk era. As far as the live set goes, "Au" is actually my favorite track from it! The feedback is quite amazing, and Yoko's vocals fit with it perfectly. It's actually one of the few official recordings of their live feedback sets from this era. Modern drone artists are making music much like this today. I will agree that if one is a casual Beatles fan, they won't enjoy most of this record. But if you have an open mind & enjoy all types of "rock" music, or if you're interested in socially conscious music at all, you will find something you enjoy on this.

Rating: 1.0
Jan 20, 2010
mike campbell
I read somewhere once: "The question is not so much; Why was the album done poorly, but rather; Why was it done at all"

Rating: 1.0
Aug 15, 2007
Paul Panetta
Billboard charting the sales and the position of this 1972 release says it all,WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING JOHN LENNON??!!It's a political album(maybe a 1st)and it has the messages behind most of the songs and obvisly try to make a point on each tune it's just a terrible,boring album. Probally New York City and Luck of the Irish and even John Sinclair are the highlights of this mess. All even throw in Yoko's toe tapping Sister O sister song THAT'S IT!The Jam on the 2nd record makes a good frisbee! What a waste.While McCartney did no better of release of WILD LIFE, and Harrison & Starr hung low in '72,I agree with one of the reviewers that 1972 was not a great solo Beatles year,but that would all change in 12 months.

Rating: 4.5
Jul 20, 2007
Andy Jones
This album is one of the best examples of a man and woman being criticized for doing something unexpected. The lyrics by both and John and Yoko cohesive and poetic, and the music on the album shows strong roots in rock and roll with an avant-garde tinge. The songs on the album are all meaningful on some kind of level, whether it be political, such as "Woman is the Nigger of the World" or "Angela," or spiritual such as "We're All Water." This type of direct, cause-related music is comparable to the later work of bands such as The Clash and Rage Against the Machine. But if you disagree with the politics (which I don't) you may have trouble enjoying some of the songs. However, to insult the album artistically because of this is ignorant. The songs are strong and well-written, regardless of whether or not everyone agrees with the politics, with often having solid instrumental sections such as the amazing sax part of "Woman is the Nigger of the World." Additionally, the album has an avant-garde tinge, which could put some listeners to discomfort, but I personally believe there is a lot to get out of this album that make it worth listening to. In my honest opinion, this album is the prime example of a man being criticized and chastized by people claim to be fans, who often don't have any viable or unbiased sense of what is good music or art. In other words, a lot of people in ignorance, cling to the mantra, "If it ain't like the Beatles, fuck it" when it comes to John Lennon.

Rating: 3.0
Apr 21, 2007
Philippe
Obviously, there is a problem with this one.First I think it comes from the second album (first side a damn good "Cold turckey" and a much too long "Don't worry Kyoko" almost cacophonic) and second side a good start with zappa with "Well", followed by an avant garde series of screams sympathetically supported by the mothers of invention. Right, now let's talk about the album "some time in NYC".Well, we're back to the rawness of "Plastic Ono band", exept that the songs are not all up the standard.Actually "Woman is the nigger of the world,"New york city and "The luck of the irish" stand for themselves, but the rest of the lot is often too rapidly written and weak, and for the first time John & Yoko share the writing and singing, wich I suppose was a good enough excuse for many fans to trash the whole album, perhaps with reason.

Rating: 1.0
Mar 17, 2007
Frank
Well where do you start with this one. It's a disaster and a complete failure. He could not have done it any worse. If you want to know why the Beatles broke up, this album almost tells you. Listen to the whole album and you can see what John Lennon's problem was. The only word that discribes this is "stupid". John Lennon was a man of great talent, but had no moralisic fibers in his system at all. He cheated on and finally left his first wife. After the Abbey Road album with the Beatles he left them. The naked cover album "Two Virgins" shows more lack of maturity and character. But he wasn't done showing what an idiot he was. He comes out with this album. Naked pics of Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon on the cover? What is the deal with John Lennon here? After his first studio album and Imagine he is threatening to take over the 70's like he did the 60's. Imagine was a spec- tacular album. "Sometime in NY City" was so damaging to his career that it hurt the sales of his next album "Mind Games. This 1972 album was the roots to his retirement in 1975. Woman is the N of the World is terrible. I still don't get what singin about John Sinclair is either. "Baby Please Don't Go" could have been great without Madam NU chortling and screaming in the background. The rest of the ablum is so terrible it's not worth mentioning it. Considering who John Lennon is, this album is a real atrocity. Keep the receipt.

Rating: 4.5
Feb 28, 2007
Andrew
This album really rocks in places, and if you remove yoko's bad singing, you can hear an excellent band. the instumental music is just great.

Rating: 1.0
Feb 4, 2007
Arlo
there are only three notable songs (Woman is the Nigger of the world, New York City, and John Sinclair) and the rest is god awful Yoko crap. AVOID UNLESS YOU ARE A DIEHARD JOHN LENNON FAN.

Rating: 1.5
Sep 4, 2006
grey
"Sometime in New York City" is the album of Johns' that marked the new direction of "mediocraty". From "the beatles" to "Plastic Ono" to "Imagine" John Lennon had finally began to rest and slip in his songwriting. I am a John Lennon fan but most of side one of this album is garbage. Side two which is from 1969 is better because it was from 1969. Like the other beatles, John Lennon found it hard to survive musically in the Seventies, John and Yoko sound so unfocused on this album that they should have called it " LOST IN NEW YORK CITY"

Rating: 5.0
Apr 2, 2006
richard banker
Anyone listening to John's solo 'mother' LP and Imagine found, as I did, the 'Some Time" album a logical consequence. it isn't comfortable or easy listening but this is the point of it. From an artist who, in his Beatles heyday was limited in how he could express himself in the wider field, this is John let off the leash."Women is the nigger of the world" features John asking hard questions of the 70's scene while Yoko's take 'sister Oh Sister' bookends feminist politics against a Ronettes backing. The political issues of the day 'John Sinclair' 'Attica State' attract bluesy backing against trenchant lyrics. 'New York City' is his sole personal note set to a Chuck Berry backing. 'Angela' is Yoko at her most melodic while 'Water' veers towards her more extreme vocal stylings yet poetic lyrics. The second album consist of two heavily jammed concerts which I like as it is unconventional. Just listen to it with open ears. At a time when the music culture was dropping out of politics, John was on the right track.Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin (in his better days) are in the background and a lesser known but very real influence, Phil Ochs.

Rating: 5.0
Oct 25, 2005
lennon lives on
this is a really great album. I skip over yoko's songs, but all of lennons are great. 72' was a great year for lennon to express politics and whatnot. my favorite song on the album is "woman is the nigger of the world" which couldn't be said any better than he put it. All of John's albums have meaning to it. You just have to understand John at the time to understand his meaning for each album. a must have if you are a Lennon fan

Rating: 1.0
Oct 13, 2005
Stough
Awful. Easily his worst. The best songs( Women are. and NY City) are subpar Lennon songs. 1972 was a bad year for ex-Beatles and Lennon led the way.

Rating: 3.5
Sep 1, 2005
Matthew Stead
This album isn't that bad, it's unfocused, it's rough around the edges and it's sometimes annoying but there are some good ideas on here (somewhere). Woman Is The Nigger Of The World deserves to be on any Best Of Lennon collection as it is a part of history being the first feminist song. It may be slow and sluggish but it also has real bite to it. Sister Sister is just annoying, I don't like it, it's just an unfocused Yoko trying to keep in tune with some horrid music. Attica State is great to sing along to, but is still a complete shambles. Born In A Prison is actually quite a good song from Yoko, it's slow, soothing and quite seductive. New York City is a good Lennon rocker but the words get lost in the middle of it and you don't really give a toss about it when it's over. Sunday Bloody Sunday is rough on the ears but it has quite a good melody to it if you really listen for it. The Luck Of The Irish sounds very Irish at least, but it's rather bland and you can't wait for it to end. John Sinclair's tune is a classic from Lennon, but the lyrics close it off from a mainstream audience. Angela has a great swinging tune to it, but again the politics get in the way of one of the few tracks where there is actually good music. We're All Water is a great Yoko song, with typical Yoko lyrics that seem to pack a favourable punch. Maybe it is a bit long but it still rocks! When I first listened to this album my sister thought I was listening to the Rocky Horror Show soundtrack, but that was through a wall. Basically there are some stinkers but some good ideas are here if you're patient enough to find them.

Rating: 2.0
May 17, 2005
Aqualung
I have only "Live Jam" in a bootleg version and I don't think is very good. I'm a big Zappa fan. The song "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)" is good, but Yoko ruins it with her ugly screams! Then it comes "Jamrag", oh well. This is Zappa's "King Kong" and it's in a mediocre version! "Scumbag" and "Au" sucks because they are both ripetitive. The first one is danceable, and "Au" is a nightmare!!!! Yoko Ono isn't an artist! The two song written by Lennon/Ono are a. "Cold Turkey" is very good, but "Don't Worry, Kyoko" is absolutely empty. I don't reaccomand it.

Rating: 3.5
Sep 27, 2004
Rick Jackson
no matter what john put out i bought i didnt care,thats what a true lennon fan did, take the rain or shine, being a drummer/leadsinger and lyricist myself in a band i look at all aspects, this album is more like stories of the news, things that we're going on in the world,things that john was trying to help. i have my fav songs like luck of the irish, sunday bloody sunday about the killings in ireland, every fan should know that lennon didn't try to hit #1 on the charts, he was a man of peace and thats what he sang about, if some lyrics sound simple or the music is not solid acid tongue in cheek, thats because he didnt want it that way. he was trying to help people not trying to please every stupid ignorant reporter or rock magazine or fair weather fan.

Rating: 1.0
Sep 16, 2004
burning man
Yoko's firmly back in the mix a la Unfinished music 1&2, and the quality of the music takes a nose dive. This album is as inlistenable as any of the first three "experimental" albums, but for completely different reasons. Where as those first three collaberations had very little to say, and said it over and over, STiNYC tries to say too much and ends up tripping and stumbling under its own bombastic, portentious weight. The brief moments that do shine through, such as parts of "Luck o' the Irish" and "John Sinclair" are positively steamrolled under by the shear self importance of the tone. This is amature hour, both musicaly and lyricaly. The elephants memmory are a third rate bunch who add nothing to the enjoyment of listening to this album, and I suspect enjoyment was not a pre-requesit for these sessions. The live stuff is redundant and adds nothing to an understanding of any of the artists involved. This simplistic and niave record should be left well alone. You have been warned.

Rating: 3.5
Jul 3, 2004
Lennologist
This album shows John at an interesting time in his life. He had just came off the brilliant success of 'Imagine' and had moved to New York. His marriage to Yoko was faltering slightly and he had hooked up with various leftists and started hanging out at political rallies and the like. This album is his way of telling the world what he was up to at that time but it seems that what he was up to at that time wasn't always the most interesting. Certainly, it's an interesting album because of it's involvement in 70's radical politics but if it is actually good music is a completely different matter. A lot of these songs were actually written for protests that John and Yoko were doing with activists like Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman which means the album can be uneven in some places but, in the end, the album isn't as nearly as bad as some people think. Yoko's music is excellent here, bar Angela (although that's actually co-written with John), and she is really starting to show what a good song writer and surprisingly good singer she is. She would further prove her talents with her solo albums and later with 'Double Fantasy' and 'Milk and Honey'. The opening track, 'Woman is the Nigger of the World', sounds shocking until you realize it is not at all about blacks but about women and how they are being treated. It's a flawed track and a little too long but it's a nice way to kick off the album. Most of the rest of the album is listenable but not as notable with the exception of 'New York City', similar to 'The Ballad of John and Yoko', in that it tells you what they have been up to for the past year or so. It contains some good solos and proves that the backing band, Elephant's Memory, can work well when given the right material, although when they played other songs from previous albums with John at live appearances, the results were never too good. Like I said, the songs are all mostly political and many don't work well but 'The Luck of the Irish' is probably one of the best tracks on here because i is fierce, despite being a slightly slow and quiet track, and manages to get a good point across. After going through all this first disc, it isn't as bad as expected, the only real bad tracks being Angela and Sunday Bloody Sunday. The bonus disc that comes with this album, also known as 'Live Jam', is taken from two live concerts. The first two are taken from the UNICEF concert that the Plastic Ono Band did in 1969 while the rest are taken from John and Yoko's appearance with Frank Zappa at the Fillmore East in New York. There are three different versions of this concert. John and Yoko's version, appearing here, Frank Zappa's version, appearing on the album 'Playground Psychotics' and the version that was actually recorded there that night. John and Yoko and Zappa both took copies of the concert in the agreement they would come out with their own version of it, although Frank was about two decades too late. It's a good concert and presents some good Yoko tracks for the Yoko lover like me although it loses steam towards the end when all they do is just make weird noises. Now, the 'Live Jam' LP is a huge bonus but it can't take away from the fact that this album is uneven and occasionally very bad, although some tracks are worth listening to.

Rating: 4.0
May 30, 2004
Morozov Dima
As for me, ths album is OK. There are very nice songs like "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World", in which you can find interesting double-tracked guitar solos, "The Luck Of The Irish", "New York City", "Sunday Bloody Sunday", and "Born In A Prison". I think that the visit card of this album is a fact that all songs here are different political signs, each with it's idea. I also like the songs on the "Live Jam" disc, especially "Cold Turkey" and "Baby Please Don't Go". I would recomend this album for people who want to discover John Lennon not just as the great musician, although it's quite possible to do in this album to, but as important political leader of the 70th.

Rating: 3.5
May 9, 2004
Kelvin
I suppose it's hard to actually review an album like this now. Anything, be it film, music or book, regarding 1970's politics is usually horribly outdated now and although 'Some Time in New York City' isn't exactly an exception to that now, it has probably dated a bit better than the other ones. Lennon provides us with some of his most intelligent and angry lyrics since 'Plastic Ono Band' and songs like 'Woman is The Nigger of the World' and 'The Luck of the Irish' display this perfectly. If the lyrics have aged, at least they're still catchy tunes. Songs like 'John Sinclair' and 'Attica State' have an almost pop like atmosphere to their tunes which makes them all the more easier to listen to. Other songs like 'Angela' and 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' aren't as memorable though. Yoko's contributions to the album help greatly although 'We're All Water' really isn't the most impressive song, 'Sisters O Sisters' (which Yoko played a great live version of at the One to One concert) and 'Born in a Prison' show that, in fact, she was almost as talented a song writer as John was (what can I say? I'm a john&yoko fan, not a John fan). The second disc is actually better than the first in many ways as it has a great live renditions of two Lennon/Ono classics, 'Cold Turkey' and 'Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For Her Hand in the Snow)'. These two are followed by some much less impressive numbers although they're still very listenable thanks to that raw energy that John always had when performing live. Wrapping this review up, I can't say much more about this album, although it's not nearly as bad as some very bitter people would like to make it out as. It may not display the beautiul writing of the 'Imagine' album, but it makes up for it with catchy tunes.

Rating: 5.0
Sep 14, 2002
BluJay "We're all Water from different R
Sorry about the break of a few days since I begain writing this review (Ok, so maybe it was a bit longer) but, honestly, I can't remember what I was writing so I'm going to start again. STiNYC is, as many people have already said, an audio newspaper of the New York John Lennon moved into, and the major political events of that time, for this reason, many people see it as dated, but, I'm going to make a bold time-defying step here, there's very little on that album that isn't still happening nowadays: Criminals are still kept in tiny rooms without the ability to express themselves, as one of the BBC's latest reality TV experiments demonstrated. Children are still enforced upon and forced into lifestyles by fascist teachers, parents-doing-what-they-think-is-right and people with genuine and quite general forms of megalomania enforcing thier religous political whatevrs onto kids, as is mentioned in the first verse of BORN IN A PRISON. NEW YORK CITY is very similar to the BALLAD OF JOHN AND YOKO (the Beatles last single release as a band) in that it is chronicling the recent events in Johns life (meeting David Peel, the Philmore and Apollo concerts, and moving into Grenwich Village. BLOODY SUNDAY and LUCK OF THE IRISH are just as applicable to a modern audience, LUCK OF THE IRISH more so because it doesn't feature any recent (to 1972) events, but there's still people disagreeing and killing each other cos there from different cults who worship-the guy-who-got nailed to a tree for spreading a worship of himself in the name of peace (aka. Mr J Christ, 1 Heaven Mews, all contacts via various churches). JOHN SINCLAIR hasn't aged brilliantly, and is a bit repetitive, but that to me really enphasises the rest of the song (and, anyway, who am I, 30 years on to complain about something which was totallly sucessful in it's aim to free John Sinclair. ANGELA shows how John and Yoko's voices really really blend well together, especially in the last verse with Yoko melodically singing the vords and John's deeper harder voice echoing and repeating. WE'RE ALL WATER could be made more relevant by singing more modern people in the places of Richard Nixon, Chairman Mao, Queen of England, Eldridge Cleaver, Hall of People etc. The Live Jam disc can be enjoyed even now as most of it is zanny instrumental and stage banter, and feedback. I really recomend 'SCUMBAG' and AU as the greatest pointless songs written by Lennon!

Rating: 4.0
May 26, 2002
Thomas Birch
This album is preceded by its reputation, but its reputation (as a terrible record) is undeserved. The album proper, "Sometime in New York City", is possibly the most straightforward broadsiding of the Lennons' career. Fairly credited to both John and Yoko, John's solo compositions are the enjoyable rock 'n' roll number, "New York City", and the slide-guitar blues protest, "John Sinclair". Both are excellent. Yoko's solo pieces, the feminist "Sisters, O Sisters", the self-explanatory "Born in a Prison", and the lengthy, cacophonic and philosophical "We're All Water" are also of a high standard. The best tracks, though, come from when the couple write together. "Woman is the Nigger of the World" has been accused of banality, but it is this very heavy-handedness which so successfully indicts the misogynists which the Lennons rail against. "Attica State" and "Angela" both deal effectively with the United States' justice system, and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "The Luck of the Irish" are respectively funky and dreamy ruminations upon the troubles in Ireland. Sugar-coated this isn't, but what it is is a powerful reflection of the times in which it was produced, much as the early Bob Dylan albums were. Musically, Phil Spector gives the band, Elephants Memory, the huge sound one would expect, and the album veers from full-on orchestrations to gritty rock 'n' roll. As to the second disc, "Live Jam", the first two tracks are from December 1969 in London, and comprise a superb "Cold Turkey" and a lengthy, wailing, grinding rendition of Yoko's "Don't Worry Kyoko". Musical support comes from, among others, Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Keith Moon. The remaining four songs were recorded with the great Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, at the Fillmore East in June 1971. A grooving cover of the blues number "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)" precedes three freeform numbers, "Jamrag" (which, despite the Lennon/Ono writing credit, has Zappa's hallmarks all over it), "Scumbag" and, finally, the squalling feedback and Yokoisms of "Au". While not the most accessible of material, this is loud, bracing and, if you're so inclined, unbeatable stuff. Do yourself a favour: open your mind, buy this album, and listen to the Lennons expressing themselves, making art, and commenting on the state of the world they lived in.

Rating: 3.0
May 21, 2002
Steve Andrisevic
Sometime In New York was an audio newspaper. At the time John and Yoko were hanging out with Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. A true artist as John was reflects what is going in his life through his art. Having said all that I would say this is a historically important album. It is also an album that a person( like myself) who has to have everything recorded by John and Yoko has to have. The fact that it hasnt aged well is just the point. Newspapers are old the day after they are printed. Musically I would have to say that John has had better back up and Iam going out on a limb here by saying that Yoko should never sing rock and roll. Just listen to "Oh Sisiters" and youll know what I mean. The song that gained this album notice was a little ditty called" Woman Is The Nigger Of The World". Many people felt it was too heavy handed and in fact it is,but, it is also one of the better songs on the studio side of the album. The real turkey on this album is "We're All Water". There may not be much much difference between Yoko's singing on this song and a wounded hound dog if we give Yoko singing lessons. The true treasure as I see it is the live stuff. I love the all star treatment of Cold Turkey and The Mothers Of Invention jam at The Fillmore. Overall I would suggest that if your interested in hearing but havent bought it yet, check and see if someone you know has a copy you can listen to. This is not a throw away it just isnt essential Lennon

Rating: 2.5
May 15, 2002
Tom Tuerff
"Some Time in New York City" may have some merit now as a historical documentary of what was concerning John and Yoko circa 1972, but other than that, this collection of songs doesn't hold up any better now than, say, Vaughan Meader's JFK-based comedy albums. First of all, many of the songs on this album just aren't very good. "Woman is the Nigger of the World?" Did John really think anyone would take a song with a title like that seriously? "Sisters Oh Sisters" just pounds the nails in a little harder; it's basically Yoko saying the same thing John just said, but in a more sing-songy way. The only song that works for me here at all is "New York City," a song that actually ROCKS. Sort of a "Ballad of John and Yoko Part 2." Now, on to the "Bonus" Disc. Side one features a live performance for a fundraiser in '69 featuring Yoko and half of the Beatles (John and George) and a pile of other famous musicians. Both cuts are pretty damn good; even "Don't Worry Kyoko" benefits from the brass section and it's a nice jam. Flipping the record over (see how I'm dating myself?) you have John, Yoko and Phil's mix of the Lennons's appearance at a 1971 Frank Zappa show. While this was the album that initially turned me on to Zappa (I'm a diehard fan of the man to this day), it wasn't until years later, when Zappa mixed the tapes himself, and released them on 1992's "Playground Psychotics," that we get a chance to hear exactly what was going on. The specifics of what J&Y and Spector did to the tapes are covered on this site by somebody else a little further down this page so I won't rework them here. However, I do want to bring up something interesting. All three ex-Turtles in Zappa's band, Mark, Howie and Jim Pons (on bass) have been nearly completely edited out of their mix. Makes me wonder--did Spector have something against the Turtles? John had always been good friends with the band, who tried very hard to fashion themselves as the American Beatles, with much encouragement from the Fabs themselves. Seems odd that they would be taken out of the mix, with Pons's bass replaced by Klaus Voorman. Also, it's interesting that on "Playground," Zappa renames Yoko's end piece, "Au," as "A Small Eternity with Yoko Ono." I think that sums it up a lot better.

Rating: 1.0
Jul 3, 2001
Mr. City Policeman
Bleack! Some Time in New York City really finds John in a songwriting rut. Whereas there are fine bits of songs from Lennon here throughout, very few songs are worth addition into Lennon's songwriting cannon. John focused a little too hard on making this "journalist rock protest" music, rather than real, heartfelt, rock and roll. The results are a collection of mediocre songs, with unusually poor lyrics from one of the greatest lyric writers in Rock and Roll. The highlights are few and far between on either disc, but if I had to list a few it would be "Luck O'The Irish" which compiles a fine lyric to a good pub lyric and singing by both John and Yoko. Easily the best of these "journalistic protest" songs and the best on the disc. "Attica State" also has some fine guitar playing which makes the song somewhat salvagable, but combine that with some poor melody and naive--hippy lyrics "Free all prisoners everywhere", and John nearly ruins the song. The rest of the studio album is well, boring. Woman is the Nigger of the World" is one of those songs that was created to cause controversy. Wheras most people at the time missed the message about treating women equally, the song is terrible anyway. "New York City" serves to be the typical Lennon rocker on the album, but like much of the album is poorly played, by the amateurish Elephants Memory, and suffers therein. Finally "John Sinclair" could very well have been a classic on here, except for the incessant repeatings of "Got to got to's" throughout. Overall the studio album receives 1 star due to lack of strong songwriting, poor playing by Elephant's Memory, and John trying to force too many songs in an unusual--for him--style. The live album is not too much better. Yoko shines however in Don't Worry Kyoko--perhaps her best "screaming song", and "Cold Turkey" is also finely recorded, but the Zappa--Lennon-Ono material of Scumbag isn't worth all the press it has received over the years, and the live album is also, if not more than the studio album, shoddilly played. Overall, avoid this album, let it suffer it's fate as the worst Beatles solo album, and an amateurish one at that. Even for Yoko fans, this one is not worth the money!

Rating: 1.0
Nov 22, 2000
laurie marks
The unfortunate feature of this album overall is the extent to which John Lennon allowed fame and self-indulgence to overshadow his work. From the opening track of the studio album, "New York City", we are treated to a glimpse of what might have been if a similar level of musical self-discipline had been applied as is evident on other Lennon albums from the 1970s. Philip Norman, biographer, perhaps summed it up best when he said that "even superstar John could not make an album like this sell". While commerciality is not everything for an artist, even a 'popular' arttist, it is often a good indication of the quality of a work compared to what the same artist produces before and after. The chosen single, "Woman is the Nigger of the World", grinds along with preachy lyrics and a dirge-like backing, yet still has its moments of sax solo or a clever line which show that with a little more hard work a real gem could have emerged and not a dull rock. Other songs suffer from irrelevant lyrics three decades later, making them suffer - honestly, who but a history student cares that John Sinclair was jailed for possession, leaving behind a song with no stronger hook than innanely repeating the "gotta gotta" line over and over. "Luck of the Irish" is another track that could have been a real classic had Lennon not felt obliged to let his loving wife add her piece to it, as if letting her fill up the album with embarrassing dross was not enough. The less said about Yoko's own tracks the better, although once again, a track like "Sisters O Sisters" in the right hands and properly polished up could have become listenable and not a cringe to hear. Even Lennon at time on the circa "LIve in New York" video looks awkward about this effort. The live disc continues in much the same vein. "Cold Turkey" is the best version of the song going around and at moments on "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Scumbag" some of the Lennon talent lurches to the fore amid the bevy of noise surrounding him. Little wonder that Lennon never made another album like this again - it stands as little more than a historical document, the Lennon equivalent of McCartney's Wildlife album - a glimpse of what slacking off can do even to the outpout of someone really talented. An album to buy to collect the set, listen to once in a blue moon and be reminded why it was a low point in the musical career of one of the greats. At least witht he CD you can programme to skip the most embarrassing trax, ie. Yoko's.

Rating: 3.0
Sep 15, 2000
Nick W
Lennon's most overtly political album is far from his best work but it's not without it's merits. Disc Two is packed full of absolute gems. The live version of Cold Turkey brings home the raw horror of the subject matter far more successfully than the tamer studio version. And what about the rollicking version of Well (Baby Please Don't Go)? Quite superb. The larking around with Frank Zappa, surprisingly, also works because the participants, as well as being absolutely barking mad, are so obviously having a whale of a time. If the whole album were as good as the off-the-wall Disc Two it might be more memorable - sadly it isn't. Disc One is full of cringing political agitprop which hasn't stood the test of well. Luck Of the Irish and Sunday Bloody Sunday are particularly irksome. Both are nakedly pro-IRA and paint a naively simplistic picture of the situation in Northern Ireland. Credit to Lennon for even having a go at writing songs about such a complex issue but he got it badly wrong on this one I'm afraid. "The world would be one big blarney stone" (from Luck Of The Irish) has to be a contender for the worst lyric ever. On the plus side Woman Is the Nigger Of the World is a conscience stirrer worth hearing again and New York City rocks along at a fair old pace. Yoko's We're All Water isn't bad either and hats off for the slide guitar on John Sinclair. The newspaper-style album cover also works with its naughty pictures of Nixon and Mao and it's mysterious declaration that "there are no birds in Vietnam". Overall Sometime In New York City proves that Lennon was better off dealing with the wider issues (as in Give Peace A Chance or Imagine) rather than getting involved in the sort of rent-a-cause mayhem on offer here.

Rating: 2.5
Dec 30, 1999
Ward
Oh gosh. Where do I begin? Hoo-boy...anyway, this album was lambasted when it came out, and if you don't know the events behind some of the lyrics, they may confuse you. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World was banned from airplay for the title alone, which perhaps drove the point home even further. John noticed among his radical friends that they may have wanted freedom, but that didn't necessarily apply to their wives. The strings are downright sinister. Sisters O Sisters is pleasant reggae, with a charming if silly vocal by Yoko. Attica State is an angry rocker, with John and Yoko yelling along. Born In A Prison isn't about to convert anyone into thinking she's a poet, but the bridge has a nice melody with John joining in. New York City should have been the single; it's an updated Ballad of John And Yoko, and it might have sold the album. Sunday Bloody Sunday actually has some passion to it, for it got John's Irish up; this continues on the slightly softer Luck Of The Irish which used to get played every St. Patrick's Day on WNEW-FM in New York. John Sinclair is fun for trying to sing along with all the "gotta gotta gotta"s in the chorus. Angela had the potential of being a classic had the lyrics been about something other than a revolutionary figure most people don't remember 25 years later. And Yoko drags it all home against its will with We're All Water, further proof that not all poetry makes good songs, and not all sentences make good poetry. But wait! There's more! You paid for 'em, you might as well listen to the second disc, the "long awaited" Plastic Ono Supergroup performance from December of 1969. Any excitement at hearing 2 Beatles live on stage together for the first time in years is trampled by the plodding version of Cold Turkey and the relentless horror of Don't WOrry Kyoko. (I could swear the riff is backwards from the version on the Toronto album, but I haven't the patience to compare them.) The Zappa side starts out promisingly with Well (Baby Please Don't Go), but degenerates into more shenanigans that perhaps should have been left inside a bag and not miked. Once you've studied Zappa a little more it's interesting to hear what Yoko does all over King Kong; then your opinion is affected by how much you liked the Flo and Eddie era. If you don't listen to side 2 of the Toronto LP that much, you probably won't go back to this either. So how did history treat the album? Well, the immediate result was John did a couple of TV shows and concerts with Elephant's Memory as his backing band. They may not have been the best choice, but boy, were they glad to be there. Woman is the Nigger made it onto Shaved Fish, 'cos it was a single. No other compilations used these songs except the 1990 box set which put Well in its chronological spot (right before the Imagine album) and also highlighted WITNOTW, New York City, and John Sinclair (tho' I would have used Luck of the Irish since its less dated, and well, prettier.) At least the packaging was unique. Yippee. Yoko managed to go back into the studio with Elephant's Memory and record more feminist diatribes; John watched and waited, scared of what the government was doing to him.

Rating: 4.0
Dec 2, 1999
W1
I think " Some Time In NYC " is the most underrated & underappreciated album John Lennon has ever recorded with its straight ahead rock-n-roll songs with politically radical lyrics like " Woman Is The Nigger Of The World, New York City, Sunday Bloody Sunday. " I think the album is a collage of songs about what was happening in 1972 politically with no direction artistically. I think " Sisters O Sisters " is the one song Yoko stands out on her own. " The Luck Of The Irish " could be interpreted as John's answer to his former bandmate Paul McCartney releasing " Give Ireland Back To The Irish " the same year about the same situation. The live performances of " Cold Turkey " from 1969 & " Well " from 1971 that he does with Frank Zappa is great. The album is musically, lyrically, artistically a disaster. I think " Some Time In NYC " will never get the recongnition from the general public. If you are a Lennon fan like myself, you can accept the flaws from this legendary artist.

Rating: 5.0
Aug 13, 1999
Nutopia
I find that Some Time in New York City is one of the best albums bu John Lennon. The album has enough 'heavey' songs (i.e. New York City, Attica State) but also contrasts them with light, mellow songs (i.e. Luck of the Irish, Born In a Prison). I think that many people didn't understand that the album was supposed to sound like it had rough edges and was never perfected. John says in his last interview (The Last Word), that it was made to act as an edition of the newspaper, quick and too the point. I also like how John is always very truthful, and on this album it shows. He wasn't afraid to publically say what he thought. Not many people would ever say the things John said about such subjects as from the Attica State prison riots, and John Sinclar's conviction, to the sad song Luck of the Irish. John Lennon deserved better for this album than what the public gave him.

Rating: 3.5
Feb 2, 1999
The Anti-Elephant
This one's kind of an "eh" effort, it's okay, but nothing to write home about. The songs are often very good, they were just recorded in a kind of crappy manner. "Woman is the * of the World" sounds more like it was recorded in a studio as a live cut on the "Anthology" than it does on "NYC". Same goes for "Luck of the Irish". Melodically, there is a lot to be desired on many of the tracks, and though I am a fan of Yoko Ono, some of her stuff just sucks. "We're All Water" drags on way too long at the end. Still, there is a lot of merit on the studio disc, and "NYC" as a whole sums up John's "Street Politician" phase. If this one was recorded with a better band than the ultra-garage Elephant's Memory, it'd break four apples for sure. As for the Jam disc, it's good for a collection, but it's not really that good for listening music. "Cold Turkey" is pretty good, "Well" could have been better (and it is on the "Anthology") Yoko should have shut up during "Well" IMHO. "Don't Worry Kyoko" sucks, get Yoko's "Fly" for that one. All in all, "NYC" is a good album, but it could have been much much better. In a perfect world, Elephant's Memory would be in prison now for ruining this album.

Rating: 4.5
Jan 3, 1999
Howard Sauertieg
STUDIO SIDES 1-2: Woman Is The Nigger Of The World is a remarkably gutsy and very cool song. Lennon earned my undying admiration by releasing this as a single, knowing full well that it would shock and disgust many people. Sisters O Sisters kicks off with studio patter (just like an Anthology song!) about a "male chauvinist pig engineer," then pops into a catchy singalong for the ladies. Attica State is irresponsible rabble-rousing ("Free all prisoners everywhere, all they need is love and care" my foot...) set to very good rock and roll. Born In A Prison is quite poetic and tuneful. New York City is a high point of the album, Lennon and Elephant's Memory rocking out on a song most listeners can get behind. Sunday Bloody Sunday is shrill and perversely exciting, a great party song too because most people associate "Bloody Sunday" with U2. Luck Of The Irish is more irresponsible rabble-rousing (actually, most of this album seems to be irresponsible rabble-rousing!), accusing the English of practicing genocide in Ireland and hoping for the world to become "one big Blarney Stone." John Sinclair criticizes the judge and the "they" who put a man in prison for possession of a small amount of marijuana; the "got-ta got-ta set him freeeeeeee" chorus is one of the more playful moments on this album. Angela, for Angela Davis, pinches a line or two from the old blues tradition, showing how Lennon worked sometimes to fit his music and lyrics to the subject matter. The closer, We're All Water, is pre-New Wave insanity with clever lyrics about how people are all alike. SUMMATION: This has always been one of my favorite Lennon / Ono albums because 1) the band is great, and 2) the songs are offensive in a way Lennon rarely was before or afterwards. If the image of Lennon as Mr. Sensitive, Hurt and Angry and Loving... etc. is not your cup of tea, try this album and hear Lennon having fun with activist politics about which he knows no more than you and me. It's a side of Lennon that not many people like to see, but it's definitely real. The bonus disc is a gas, too! - Scumbag, Jamrag and Au are unique in the Lennon / Ono catalog... Yoko's performance on these tracks once inspired my Jack Russell terrier, who doesn't much care for music, to sit under one of my elevated stereo speakers and stare up at it for 5 minutes with one ear standing bolt upright. Get the message?

Rating: 3.5
Nov 30, 1998
Philco
Considering the album is political, and nothing but that, theme wise, I can't really say its a "Bad" album. The political statements to me are irrelevant when listening to this CD. I think the melodies are very well crafted, and sometimes breathtaking (ie.."Luck Of The Irish"). Yoko deserves a fair amount of credit too, I think her jaded voice made songs like "Attica State", and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" better! My favorite on the album is "John Sinclair", a great..even modern day sounding tune (With the slide guitar). Its not Lennons best but It deserves more credit that it got. Also the live CD it now comes with isn't too impresive. "Cold Turkey", and "Baby Please Don't Go", were Rockin', and would of been perfect if it hadn't been for Ono's annoying and unecessary screeches (They just don't belong in classic rock songs).

Rating: 2.0
Sep 10, 1998
Soop Dog
When I was a senior in high school back in 1982, I walked into a band's gig and was surprised to hear them playing "New York City", one of the tracks off John Lennon's nearly forgotten album, "Sometime in New York City". I only knew of the song because I was a hard core Lennonite and had stumbled onto the album at a rummage sale. The reason this album is nearly forgotten by today's casual rock fan have been stated many times before - the songs are too political, making them too dated etc. In my review, I'd like to state some of the albums strengths. Number one: the music thunders! Phil Spector turns in what is probably his best solo Beatle production. The production relies mostly on the tight and creative playing of Lennon's 1972 back up band, Elephants Memory, without overdoing the Spectorish penchant for huge orchestras and tons of echo. Number two: Lennon's vocals are powerful. Lennon only had two voices - soft John and screaming John. (as opposed to McCartney's ability to mimic several other rockers) This album features plenty of screaming John but it is controlled and effective screaming. This comes across best on the "New York City" track. Number three: Yoko's contributions are the best she ever submitted. That doesn't say too much because most of her vocals still stink but her lyrics are at par with any other composer of the period. Particularly strong is "We're all Water". The words make you think and Elephant's Memory's backing propels the song to a multi-minute sonic orgasm. That wraps up the album's strengths but it's weaknesses are much too prevalent. The lyrics are John's reactions to current events of the times and are dated today. As Roy Carr and Tony Tyler once said, "John Lennon should initiate events, not react to them". Another fault is that there's too much Yoko. She just plain can't sing western civilization rock and roll. (From what I've read, Eastern civilizations aren't too keen on her translations of their works, either) Bottom line: find the album if you're a Lennon fan. Even then, you may be offended by some of the lyrics, especially if you are English or Scottish. Also, you probably won't understand the lyrics if you're not a student of early 70's world/political history. If you're not a Lennon fan, borrow the album and run it through one of those vocal eliminators. You'll love the music of Elephant's Memory.

Rating: 4.5
Aug 27, 1998
JWB
In addition to giving my opinion on this album, I am going to state some little known fact about the live disc. First off, I am quite alarmed at the number of people who just hate this album. I find it very inspired and always entertaining. The first studio disc is, in my opinon, a hoot and a hollar. John's songs are political and biting. Yoko's songs are playful and her lyrics are at an all time high here. And the songs in general sound so RIGHT, they wouldn't sound better any other way. Perhaps the people who do not like this album are looking for something a bit more tangible? I, for one, love every song on this album. I find myself spinning it frequently. Side One of the live disc is essential but not side two and here is why.... Rarely addressed facts: Side Two of the live disc was recorded 6/6/71 at the Fillmore East. Zappa and The Mothers were recording a live album and wrapping up a sold out run. Lennon, a fan of Zappa's, accosted Frank at his hotel and Frank invited John and Yoko to sit in for the encore. Songs played: Well / Hand Signal Jam / King Kong w/ solos / Scumbag / Yoko+Feedback. After the show, Zappa made a copy of the master tape for John. Frank and John both agreed that they would release their own versions of the encore. Frank put together a double album of the concerts, with the Lennon/Yoko jam on Side 4. Possibly his record company objected or he had legal problems, and the second disc was scrapped. Zappa's version of the encore didn't appear until 1992 on "Playground Psychotics". It is recommended that you borrow or buy a copy of "Playground Psychotics" after becoming accustomed to the "Sometime In New york City" version. Here is why.... Lennon and Yoko's version of the encore is a travesty. First of all, some bass was removed and replaced by Klaus Voorman. Everything was drenched in echo. Almost all of the backing vocals are mixed out, Yoko is mixed WAY UP. For all of you who complain about the song "Scumbag" being too redundant, listen to Zappa's version. There were vocals that were sung by Zappa's singers that were inexplicably mixed out by J+Y. "Well" fades out before several more wonderful solos. After "Well", the encore is intact all the way through on SINYC. Zappa's version has part of "Jamrag" (really a Zappa song called "King Kong") edited out but has a longer (but still not complete) "Well". But here is the kicker: the song "Jamrag" credited to Lennon/Ono is really a FRANK ZAPPA song called "King Kong". Also, many other tracks credited to Lennon/Ono are improvisations by Frank's band! When Frank confronted Yoko about this years later, she blamed it on the record company. This caused Frank to lose faith in the true artistic intentions of John and Yoko. All of this aside, Sometime In New York is a highly recommended album, with many essential highlights that you won't find on any crappy Greatest Hits collection. Sorry that this was so difficult to read. It wouldn't be if I had been allowed to use space HTML tags :(

Rating: 5.0
Feb 27, 1998
masha (aka sunflower)
after reading the other comments, it's very surprising to me how people reacted to this album. i absolutely adore it. of course, you got to like a bit of odd rock--which is supplied my the one and only yoko. john's stuff on this album is strong and gets the message through, talking all about the propoganda of the time. yoko's solo stuff on here is just the same, only with a little edge which she likes to add. you've got to like yoko to like this album. almost all the songs are co-written so they get well balanced out, like paul and john writing together. although, i personally think yoko's voice sounds great on its own and stands out strangely with other people singing--it makes it course (sp?). but by herself it's a strong voice and worth the attention. i love the whole album--it's definitely one of my faves. of course, i'm a freak of "two virgins" too :)

Rating: 2.0
Nov 23, 1997
Matt Carney
This album is fair at best. Nothing terrific at all about it. Some songs are just plain awdul like the terrible"Attica State" or the very weak "The Luck O The Irish". This album is the worst one by any of the Beatles in The Seventies, and it is a shame that the best Beatles would make such a poor album. There are a few good songs on here though that at least make it a 2 apple review. "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World" is a terrific song and the best on the album. THis song sounds even better on John Lennon Live In New York City though so if you want a good version of the song you shoulld go htere. "New York ity is fair and not a terrible song which makes it a stnadout on this poor album. finally "John Sinclair" shows promise but it is not great. Lennon should have worked a little harder and made this a great song and if he worked he could have made this a little better album but as it stands it is just a boring poor album

Rating: 3.0
Oct 16, 1997
RJC
Yes, it's political. Yes, it's dated. Yes, we could debate the quality of the music 'till we're blue in the face. However, the NYC album is as much of a marker in John's life as JL/POB or Double Fantasy: you have no doubt what was going through his head at the time. Besides, the rawness and rally-cry style of the music makes me want to break out my fatigues and act like I've got something important to say.

Rating: 5.0
Aug 19, 1997
Barry Barrett
This is one of John Lennon's best I rated it a 5 to make up for all the low rated reviews. This album is excellent it's songs do have very specific lyrics relating to events in the media at that time so some people say that that makes it seem "dated" or "old". I disagree the themes are universal and as long as time repeats itself they will stay strong. The songs make points using actual events kinda like the bible and things like that. Just because paul wrote songs about "Rita" and "Michelle" doesn't mean the message only applies to rita and michelle. They are just examples of the theme of love. At the bed-in John Lennon explained to someone that when he said "I" in songs it means you because when you listen to a song you personalize it for yourself it becomes yours and it is. So when you hear a John Lennon song about what happened at attic state prison know that it was partily about what happened at attic state prison but it is also about John's feelings and his feelings aren't "old" and "dated" cause the way john felt is a thing that won't expire. "Sister, there's a wind that never dies"

Rating: 1.0
Aug 2, 1997
Jim Jacobs
This album was the only album released by a Beatle in 1972. It's a shame that it had to be this one. After 2 successful albums from John Lennon,This album teams him back up with Yoko again not for an "Unfinished Music" album but for an album that is highly controversial & political. I wish I could say there is good music here but I cannot. The only decent track-New York City was overlooked as a single for the attrocious Woman Is The Nigger Of The World. The live album which came with Sometime...is a Live Jam from 2 concerts. The first one from 1969 which features a spectacular live rendition of Cold Turkey & an extended version of Yoko's Don't worry Kyoko which actually isn't that bad. The rest of Live Jam is from 1971 when Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention played Live At The Filmore & John & Yoko made a guest appearance. Again the quality of this jam is superior especially John's rendition of Well, Baby Please Don't Go. Live Jam is perhaps the only thing that saves Sometime In New York City. Adding this album is not a high priority for collecting John Lennon albums but must be included to complete the collection. A big disappointment from such a great artist.

Rating: 2.0
Jul 20, 1997
Anna of the field
Wanna hear a story? Brazil was in a dictadure during the seventies. "Palstic Ono Band", the very first John+Yoko album, was banished at my country, for being too much political ( ? ). But "Some time in New York City" that IS a political album, was not banished - it was released in 1973, and was a competely failure. To think about, isn't it? Fact is, for someone that wanted all the people to "give peace a chance", John was, as we say here in Brazil, buying too much fights. Women's Lib, John Sinclair, Attica State, IRA and relationships. Strange mixture. The first thing that let me with a strange feeling was "Women is the nigger of the world". He says: "WE MAKE HER PAINT HER FACE AND DANCE". A long and painful change from the man of 22 who dare to say that women should be seen, not heard. ( I read it on a interview ). And then, "Sunday, Bloody sunday", and "The Luck of the Irish" - er, what's your referencial of peace, John? Well, anyway, it's an album to be heard, but it's certanly not a classical. Looks like an old b&w picture of a person down at the seventies - the person, and all they're shouting for suddnely got old and sad. Like the dictadure of my country, that banished "Plastic Ono Band" with wisdon ( their wisdon, not mine ) - for talk about inner pain is a thing that touchs everyone, and will touch forever And all the demonstrations fades away.

Rating: 2.5
Jul 3, 1997
Myke Carter
This is a very odd double-album consisting of one studio disc and one live disc. For those familiar with it, just Imagine how much better it would be if the studio disc had been paired with the "Live In New York City" album instead! Anyway, the studio material, recorded in 1972, is packaged with two songs recorded live in London in December 1969 and four more live songs recorded in New York City in June 1971 with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention at the Fillmore East. Both are typical of John's & Yoko's live performances in that they begin with JohnRock and end with YokoSound - all of which is quite fun and interesting to listen to more than once, I might add. The 1971 material makes a nice companion to The Mothers' own live album made from the same show, "Live At The Fillmore East - June 1971". Frank Zappa's "Playground Psychotics" album also features some different edits and mixes of the 1971 "Live Jam" material, including a longer version of "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)" and, I think, one or two additional live tracks performed with John & Yoko which were previously unreleased. Stop. "Some Time In New York City" is undoubtedly one of the most politically charged and prison-obsessed albums ever recorded. In it, John & Yoko appear fully dressed in angry leftist regalia. Despite this, thankfully, there are a few real gems featured in this album, although one will definitely have to dig further into it than usual to find them. "New York City" is the kind of classic John Lennon rocker that everybody expected of him. It is easily the best song in this set and should have opened the album. In a sense, it is a sequel to "The Ballad Of John And Yoko" although it's lyrics don't flow quite as smoothly. Yoko's feminist anthem, "Sisters, O Sisters" is a 50s-esque thing that proves Yoko can write good melodic "pop" songs when she wants to. Also, her closing track, "We're All Water", carries with it some interesting - and thought-provoking (gasp!) - lyrics backed by a surprisingly danceable, spastic piano-&-sax-rock beat which eventually becomes a vehicle extended to accommodate her more "traditional" vocal things. The music of "Angela" is great but its lyrics are a complete turn-off while "Born In A Prison" is a typically whiny and negative liberal ballad which doesn't do much for me at all, lyrically or musically. Ditto for "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World". "Attica State" is a powerful, angry rocker that sounds good but reads poorly. "John Sinclair" is one of the better 'John' songs on this album made memorable by its great slide guitar and John's uniquely repetitive use of the word "gotta" (15x) in its chori. I'm no student of the Irish/British political situation (so email me if saying this makes me a bad guy in your opinion) but the two tracks remaining are probably the ones I am most sympathetic with: "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "The Luck Of The Irish". I really like what I know of the Irish people and too do not understand or like the fact that Britain feels the need to occupy their homeland. U2 fans should be familiar with the topic of "Sunday Bloody Sunday". Its sound and feel is quite similar to U2's 1983 song of the same title (which I'm sure is not coincidental). The lyrics of "The Luck Of The Irish" are very convincing and powerful. Can anybody challenge them successfully? Stop. This by no means should be anybody's first John Lennon album! However, it does have moments that make it worth the double-CD price if you are more than a casual listener of John Lennon's music. This album did little to impress the Nixon administration as John was attempting to obtain permanent legal residency within the United States in the early 1970s. Personally I believe that releasing such a record at such a time in his life was an incredibly foolish thing for John to do. Not only did Nixon frown upon it, an overwhelming majority of John Lennon's fans did too. Only 1 of every 10 people who purchased the "Imagine" album in 1971 purchased this album in 1972. Ironically, the unpopular, anti-establishment politics that inspired the lyrics of this album did not die with its sales figures. Instead, they flourished to become the politics OF the establishment best embodied by Bill and Hillary Clinton in the White House. Absolutely amazing! God bless the Capitalist free West for being tolerant enough to allow people with these kinds of ideas and messages to go unpunished via hard labour and/or death by firing squad!

Rating: 3.0
May 19, 1997
Jeff Blehar
By far the most maligned and summarily dismissed album in the entire Lennon solo canon, Sometime In New York City is a musical oddity, a work that seems to be Lennon's way of saying "Hey you...yeah, YOU! LISTEN TO ME!" to the protest world in a stab at credibility (which he really didn't need to make after the the credibility of his first album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band). Let me get the requisite disclaimer out of the way before I move on: this is NOT CLOSE to being Lennon's best album. That honor belongs to Walls And Bridges or JL/POB. That being said, it isn't his worst album, and it certainly has a kind of sleazeball charm to it and gutsiness that places it above the sugary sweet and carefully inoffensive Imagine, which preceded it (I know i'm in the minority here). All the songs (with the exception of Ono's "Born In A Prison") are topical protest songs, dealing with supposed miscarriages of justice or government violence, and in every case (with the possible exception of the Irish songs) the songs have been OTBE'd (Overtaken By Events). The album opens with a blast with "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World," the album's single which was wrongfully banned in many places because of the title. The song is a brave woman's-lib gospel song, the first from a major artist , and the song is given the royal Phil Spector production, with wailing saxophones, sliding stings, and echo from top to toe. This is exactly the type of idiom that Spector was made to produce, and his 'wall-of-sound' technique adds power and weight, instead of treacle, like it did with his Beatles and Imagine work. The song is complimented by one Lennon's finest, wailing vocals, a bluesy gospel sound that he never really approaced again, sadly enough (listen to him cut loose on the lyric "Woman is the SLAVE of the SLAAAAVES; AW YEAH!" That, my friend, is white soul.) What follows is Ono's first popular music release, "Sisters O Sisters," and while her singing voice just isn't up to the task (it never was made for pop), it is redeemed by a fine tune and orchestration by Spector. The next song is the angry wailing Lennon/Ono "Attica State," with a biting guitar lick, an antagonistic rise-and-fall melodic line, and a vocal that is more screamed than sung. Ono's "Born In a Prison" follows, and although the song boasts some fine sax work, Ono's voice and the repetitive musical structure and contrived lyrics drag it down. Side 1 closes with a Lennon classic, "New York City." No other song distills the spirit of the upside down haywire workings of chaotic NYC as well, except some of Springsteen's work. Unjustly overlooked in the Lennon canon, it is the best song on the album. "John Sinclair" is a catchy if lyrically strapped piece dealing with the plight of John Sinclair sent to jail for 10 yrs for selling 2 joints to a cop. Of course, he got out long ago, so it's all rendered moot. And fer cryin' out, WHY couldn't Lennon think out better lyrics? Gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta know. (If you know the song, you'll get my joke.). The remaining four songs, "Angela," "Sunday Bloody Sunday," "Luck Of The Irish," and Ono's "We're All Water," are pretty much irredeemable, and this is where the album gets its much-maligned reputation from. These songs are arch, humourless, and just plain pig-ugly (esp. "Angela." What lyrics! "They gave you coffee, they gave you tea, they gave you everything but the jailhouse key." OUCH! Come on Johnny, we expect better!) The live disc packaged with the album contains a VERY good performance of "Cold Turkey" (a song that I can ALWAYS bear to hear another version of..) and "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)" as well as some unbearable jams with Frank Zappa ("SCUMBAG, SCUMBAG, SCUMBAG!"), but the album IS worth your time, if only for the excellent songs I described above, but for the interesting snapshot it takes of a troubled American era. Preferred above Imagine.

Rating: 3.5
Apr 1, 1997
Sadie
John Lennnon and Yoko Ono's album, "Some Time In New York City" is a political statement of vast proportions. The album cover is brilliantly designed as a newspaper. The song's lyric's are prited as the articles, which fit since every song is a political message. Record 1, song 1 is "Woman Is the Nigger of the World" a Lennon/Ono composition. Despite its present day political incorrectness, the song deals with the oppression of women. Lennon's voice is powerful and the melody is one of his post-Beatle greats. The following song, Yoko's "Sisters, O Sisters", re-emphasizes the power to the women idea. John says "do something about (the oppression and ill-treatment of women)" and Yoko, in a refreshing, standard-pop song, says "Freedom, Thats what we fight for," a "let's unite" kind of idea. John, Yoko, and Phil Spector collectivly produced this album, and that line up was quaint. John's "Attica State" has a catchy middle eight, but the song lacks a good melody. The lyric's however, are brillianly crafted and puts the listener in a chilling trance as John relays the horror of the infamous Attica State Revolt. Following that is another Ono original, "Born In A Prison." It's lyrics are beautiful and speak againest the oppression of all mankind. However, the lyrics lack motive (except for the ever present LOVE WILL SAVE THE DAY message.) The song is repetitive, but lovely, and the middle eight proves intresting and a song-saver... it truly is pleasent and the highlight of the song. John's "New York City" is the closing number for side one... a production mishap. The song lacks what a side closer should be. It is probley the weakest track on the album. It seems as though John wrote this one in less than 10 minutes. The chord progression is ametuer at best and the lyrics are the story of John and Yoko with the "Elephant's Memory Band"... and an uninteresting story at that. "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is another song with chilling lyrics, but this one lacks the catchy chorus of "Attica State". It should not have been placed as a side opener. Then comes John's best track on the album, "The Luck of the Irish." Not only does this song have beautifully crafted lyrics, but the melody is magnificant! However, the producer placed an edge on John's voice that makes the song harsh instead of moving. "John Sinclair" was a song John was extremely proud of because Sinclair, who had been jailed for a small marajuana possesion, was released after the songs release. So, if John sole purpose in writing the song was to free Sinclair, mission accomplished. However, the song lacks productional guidance... the repetition of the phrase "gotta" is just annoying and the rest of the song is not much better as it resembles skiffle more than rock. John and Yoko's motive seemes to be the same for "Angela", but even less sucessful. This track is forgettable, at best. The album ends with "We're All Water", an Ono original, and it pulls the album back into the "good" ranking. It speaks of how we are all equal underneath, a message that needs to be sung about even today. Over all, Record 1 is good, a not-so-tastefull way of screaming about the wrongs of society. The music is good, the ballads beautiful, but the album lacks organization. One of Ono's greatest album's as all of her songs are brilliantly original and pleasent to listen to. Record 2 is even more chaotic! A live Jam recording, John, Yoko, and friends (including (as printed on the record sleve- John's wit comes out) "George Harrisong" (Harrison), "Derek Claptoe" (Eric Clapton), "Raus Doorman" (Klaus Voorman), "Kief Spoon" (Keith Moon), "Dallas White" (Danny White), "Billy Presstud" (Billy Preston), and more), this record is chaotic, but humerous. The sounds are unimpressive as John performs an eight minute "Cold Turkey" followed by Yoko's wails on a seventeen minute "Don't Worry, Kyoko". John childhood Cavern song, "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)" just leads into a bizzare jam lasting the rest of the album. During this remaining song, "Scumbag", a single phrase repeated continually, is cute, funny, and classic Lennon as he get's everyone screaming "SCUMBAG!" Well, these are my thoughts on this Lennon/Ono album. Thanks for reading. :)

Rating: 4.0
Mar 30, 1997
Jeffrey Bedard
Granted, this album is Lennon's least popular but just think of the courage it took him to release this. Here is a collection of songs with extremely clearcut opinion with no sugarcoating in lyrics or music. Protesting was becoming "unhip" at this time but Lennon, at least, did not compromise himself and continued to protest the wrongdoings of the world. Did it make him look like a fool? Well, maybe but he had said in 1969 he was willing to be the world's clown if that was what it took to get the message across. The music itself, though dated, makes for interesting history for those of us who were not alive during these events. Also, the music is still rock and roll. "Attica State" may have very topical lyrics but the music is pure rock. "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World" is one of two songs that is rivalling for my affections as best song on the album. Here is a song with a message that is still very relevant today. The other song I truly like "The Luck Of The Irish." The melody is exquisite and the Irish/Scottish tone predates McCartney's "Mull Of Kintyre" by several years. The lyrics, once again, are quite topical but the melody is absolutely beautiful. I kind of wish that Lennon had written a ballad or something a bit more palatable to fit the melody but deep down I'm glad he stuck to his guns. Actually, "New York City" is quite a commercial rock tune that seems like a sequel to the Beatles' "The Ballad Of John And Yoko." It's a great rock tune and the rapid fire lyrics are amazing and shows what a great guitarist and singer Lennon was in rock. I even like two of Yoko's songs on the album: "Sisters O Sisters" has a great little melody and Yoko's voice is quite nice. "We're All Water" is nice too but the jam ending gets old very quickly. The LIVE JAM disc is OK but there are only two songs I'll ever listen to on a regular basis from that disc, "Cold Turkey" and "Well(Baby Please Don't Go." The latter is a great song with Lennon is fantastic form but Yoko's screeching in the background takes more away from the song than can ever be realized. The cover of the album in the mock newspaper front page is great. It's creative and shows that Lennon was artistic every step of the way. This album seems to be one of the most important Lennon albums just because it seems to me that he put so much into it. I see it like cold medicine. It may be hard taking it but after you do you're glad you did.

Rating: 4.5
Mar 24, 1997
David A. Carpenter
Some Time In New York City is an excellent album for its time. You have to take the songs into context, considering they were written around 1972! Woman Is The Nigger Of The World is one of John's most militant. The songs Sunday Bloody Sunday and The Luck Of The Irish are both about conflict between the British and the Irish. This is after Lennon basically divorced himself from his British ties. Yoko has some awesome selections on it. Her Sisters, O Sisters is an excellent song about the plight of women. We're All Water is her way of saying that we all are the same. The song is slightly out of key, but still an excellent effort. On the live tracks, Cold Turkey is an excellent rendition. Don't Worry Kyoko is just a seemingly endless jam by Yoko. Well (Baby Please Don't Go) is definately an interesting song. Jamrag is (you guessed it :-) another jam. Scumbag is an angry, but simple song cowritten by Yoko, John, and Frank Zappa. Au is just noise. My advice is to purchase this album, but don't pay too much. There is not enough material on the second disk to warrant paying normal double disk prices.

Rating: 3.5
Mar 20, 1997
Keith Jones (Winston O Boogie)
This is an album based entirely on propaganda. It was the only album released by any of the BEATLES in 1972, and not a very good one. John basically took events from the news and sung his opinions about them (hence the newspaper style album cover). This was John's "radical" period, when he was under the influence of prominent American radicals like Jerry Rubin. The first song, "Woman is The Nigger of the World" is the best song on the album. It is based on a comment made by Yoko a few years before. It is the first feminist song ever written and a dandy. "New York City" is a good rocker, about the Lennons' adventures in the Big Apple. "John Sinclair" is a catchy tune, but it sounds like a broken record. "The Luck of the Irish" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday" are about Britain's attack on Ireland, co-credited to Yoko. These songs are far from hits. "Attica State", "Born in a Prison" and "Angela" are further political statements about the unfair treatment of prisoners. These aren't John's best efforts either, and are also co-credited to Yoko. "Sisters O Sisters" is a feminist song by Yoko, one of her better songs in my opinion. "We're All Water", a song about equality, is a long and miserable ending to the album by Yoko. Disc 2 is a live jam with John and Yoko performing with Frank Zappa and others. It includes John's longest (and not best) version of "Cold Turkey", and "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)", a song that John said "[The Beatles] used to do in the Cavern in Liverpool." This is brilliantly done by John, but Yoko's wailing in the background ruined it. The last three songs are pretty much instrumental garbage, with a few shouts and cheers here and there. I give the entire album a 3.5, only because no Lennon album deserves below a 3.5 But this has to be the all time stinker.

 

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