A Yoko Tribute Album Mercifully Free of the Barenaked Ladies

Holding forth on the phone the other day about his band's new song-by-song cover of Meet the Beatles!, Smithereens frontman Pat DiNizio told me that most tribute albums suck because they lack a sense of aesthetic continuity: You're hearing a dozen different acts interpreting a dozen different tunes from a dozen different perspectives inside a dozen different studios. I get the point, but I'm not convinced this is a situation that would've worried the Beatles themselves (at least not the ones who played stylistic ping-pong on the second side of Abbey Road).

It's certainly of no concern to John Lennon's widow. For her latest project, 74-year-old Yoko Ono handed out master recordings of material from throughout her career to a group of musicians that appears to include anyone who went to the trouble to ask; the result, Yes, I'm a Witch, is precisely the sort of tribute album DiNizio says he abhors. But for Ono, whose taste for sonic contrast might exceed that of her late husband, it's hard to imagine any other kind. A good number of the cuts here take up the thread she's been working lately, adding factory-floor dance beats to old vocal tracks: Le Tigre do their Fisher-Price electro-punk thing in "Sisters O Sisters," Bomb Squad vet Hank Shocklee gives "Witch Shocktronica" a fresh coat of inner-city menace, and Peaches actually makes first base sound sexier than a home run in "Kiss Kiss Kiss."

Other tunes emphasize Ono's pensive poet-of-the-universe steez, as on "Revelations" (wherein she and Cat Power bless the world's jealousy over plinking piano chords) and "Toyboat," during which Antony unfortunately focuses less on singing than on repurposing the synth sounds from Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting." The best stuff, though, resists slotting easily into either category, which foregrounds DiNizio's different-perspectives problem. In "Death of Samantha," for instance, the English prog-rock guys in Porcupine Tree surround Ono's admission that "every day I thank God that I'm such a cool chick"—as beat-ready a proclamation as I've ever heard—with hard-luck ballad guitars. So what's their deal with cool chicks?

 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
New York Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • September
  • Tue
    2
  • Wed
    3
  • Thu
    4
  • Fri
    5
  • Sat
    6
  • Sun
    7
  • Mon
    8
Loading...