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John Lennon

By Eliot Wilder  |  January 4, 2006
3.0 3.0 Stars

John Lennon’s last solo album of new material before his fallow “househusband” years arrived near the end of his “lost weekend” period, which found him drunk and out of control in Hollywood (with co-conspirator Harry Nilsson) after separating for a time from Yoko Ono. Although this 1974 disc is not up there with, say, Imagine, it demonstrates that he had regained not only his footing as a songwriter but also his ability to express heartfelt emotions — surprising given the chaos that was ruling his personal and professional life. Or perhaps that’s what makes Walls and Bridges so compelling. He really was a mess when he wrote lines like “Somebody please, please help me/You know I’m drowning in a sea of hatred” (“Going Down on Love”). And despite the rather routine El Lay musical accompaniment, this is pretty much the same Lennon of the landmark 1970 Plastic Ono Band: truth seeker, truth teller. On the dirge-like “Scared,” against the sounds of a howling wolf, he himself howls, “Hatred and jealousy, gonna be the death of me.” Then there’s the pensive “#9 Dream,” which is every bit as affecting as “Strawberry Fields Forever.” “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” still grates, the instrumental “Beef Jerky” is purposeless, and his voice often sounds weary and distant. But the high points, and there are many, are better than you might remember. For this reissue, Yoko has remixed most of the tracks, brightening up the original aural murk, and tacked on a few bonuses including a stark, acoustic reading of “Nobody Loves You (When You Are Down and Out).”

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