Released on This Date in 1980 – John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Double Fantasy

John Lennon & Yoko Ono – Double Fantasy (released November 17, 1980)

john_lennon_1980Was it really a great album or did the loss of John Lennon make us grab anything he touched? “Double Fantasy” certainly was not a critical success when it was released. After Lennon’s death however many of these reviews disappeared. There was also the fact that Yoko sang half the songs. As one reviewer said “you can respect art without liking It.”

On this day in 1980 there certainly was excitement as one of the two main Beatles returned after five years of self-imposed retirement. After being inspired by some New Wave music of the Pretenders and especially the B-52’s song “Rock Lobster,” Lennon felt plugged in. He told Rolling Stone magazine, “It sounds just like Ono’s music.”

After writing some tunes he and Yoko were joined by the cream of the crop including Andy Newmark on drums, bassist Tony Levin plus Earl Slick and Hugh McCracken on lead guitar (check out the complete list below). Then everyone met at the Hit Factory, in New York City.

The concept was great considering Lennon’s relationship with Yoko – They wanted a musical dialogue – John would sing to Yoko and vice versa. It was a healing conversation-in-song about their earlier breakup and the love that brought them back.

Some who had aged with Lennon appreciated the softer side of the first single “(Just Like) Starting Over” which was released on October 20th. The title was certainly appropriate considering it was Lennon’s first single singe 1975’s cover of “Stand by Me.”

“Woman” was released as single on January 12th a little over a month after his murder. It reminded many of his Beatles song “Girl” from 1965’s “Rubber Soul.” An extra sweet love song.

Just when It seemed Lennon had completely lost that edge that made the Beatles so interesting along came, “I’m Losing You.” He might have slowed down but Lennon hadn’t lost all his angst!

By March  2009 “Watching the Wheels,” was offered as the third single. Arguable, one of the catchiest tunes on the album, it addressed Lennon’s being a house husband for five years raising his son Sean. “No longer riding on the merry-go-round,” he sings in the marvelous, contemplative “Watching the Wheels,” “I just had to let it go.”

“Double Fantasy” was nominated for three Grammy Awards. It won for “Album of the Year.”

Some say “Double Fantasy” sounds better now than it did 35 years ago while others have enjoyed the distance. – by John Beaudin

 

TRACK LISTING
1. “(Just Like) Starting Over” – John Lennon 3:56
2. “Kiss Kiss Kiss” – Yoko Ono 2:41
3. “Cleanup Time” – Lennon 2:58
4. “Give Me Something” – Ono 1:35
5. “I’m Losing You” – Lennon 3:57
6. “I’m Moving On” – Ono 2:20
7. “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” – Lennon 4:02
8. “Watching the Wheels” – Lennon 3:35
9. “Yes, I’m Your Angel” – Ono 3:08
10. “Woman” – Lennon 3:32
11. “Beautiful Boys” – Ono 2:55
12. “Dear Yoko” – Lennon 2:34
13. “Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him” – Ono 4:02
14. “Hard Times Are Over” – Ono 3:20

PERSONNEL

John Lennon – lead, harmony and background vocals; rhythm and acoustic guitars; piano and keyboards; arranger and producer
Yoko Ono – lead and background vocals; arranger and producer
Jack Douglas – arranger and producer
Earl Slick – lead guitar
Hugh McCracken – lead guitar
Tony Levin – bass
George Small – keyboards
Andy Newmark – drums
Arthur Jenkins – percussion
Ed Walsh – Oberheim synthesizer
Robert Greenidge – steel drum on “Beautiful Boy”
Matthew Cunningham – hammer dulcimer on “Watching the Wheels”
Randy Stein – English concertina
Howard Johnson –horns
Grant Hungerford – horns
John Parran – horns
Seldon Powell – horns
George “Young” Opalisky – horns
Roger Rosenberg – horns
David Tofani – horns
Ronald Tooley – horns
Tony Davillo – horn arrangements and musical associate
Michelle Simpson, Cassandra Wooten, Cheryl Mason Jacks, Eric Troyer, Benny Cummings Singers, The Kings Temple Choir – background vocals
Toshihiro Hamaya – production assistant
Frederic Seaman – production assistant
Julie Last – assistant engineer
George Marino – original mastering and remastering
Lee DeCarlo – engineer
Jon Smith – assistant engineer
Anthony Davilio – musical associate
James A. Ball – assistant engineer
Kishin Shinoyama – cover photo and photography
Bruce Replogle – publicist