There was a pile of recently reissued Yoko Ono albums released on Secretly Canadian this year, which were received with a mix of joy and apprehension. I had been searching in vain for a copy of Fly for about 15 years, after I reluctantly passed up on a copy at a little used record store. I only had so much money that sad day and I thought I needed to buy some underground hip-hop records that would go out of print – whether in hindsight this was a blessing or a mistake remained unresolved until a reissue of Fly appeared in the new bins at my local shop three weeks ago.
First scanning the back to make sure it wasn’t a dodgy “4 Men with Beards” product – I snapped it up without a consideration to the price. It features a nice gatefold sleeve, poster and white vinyl pressing with a defiantly grapefruit label design. Great package.
I’ve been slowly playing one side of this record per day for about three weeks now. So much so my partner told me this morning that she could put up with 6 months of only listening to the Fall, but will not put up with 6 months of Yoko: Then she said: “I like her as a visual artist, but her…”
(a strange yodel shriek leapt from the speaker)
“Oh, Come on! See what I mean?”
And while I agree somewhat with her statement/review, there is actually a lot to enjoy on this record. Each side presents a different side of “Yoko the musician” – from her John Lennon associated rock and roll on side A (interestingly much of the record was recorded simultaneously to Imagine and features Ringo Starr, Klaus Voorman, etc.),* to the avant garde tracks composed on custom Fluxus instruments (bringing to mind Harry Partch), then almost proto electronic ambient music (the aptly named track “Fly” is just that, a buzzing fly vocally interpolated by Yoko for about 22 minutes). As a whole, it is a strange but occasionally very listenable record, one that lands somewhere between Can‘s Tago Mago and the No-Neck Blues Band‘s Intonomancy.
And while those comparisons are two bands I adore, I am not sure it is anywhere near as good as either. This record is certainly better than her later efforts like feeling the space or Double Fantasy… so when my partner is not home I am going to keep listening to this record because I feel like there is still something wonderful waiting to be found.
*I still like to insist that Yoko broke up the Beatles, if only for the irony that Love might have destroyed them, especially in an age where baby boomers have proven time and time again that all you need is greed.