Lennon Picks Up the Pieces
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 12/02/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Recovering from the critical and commercial failure of "Some Time in New York City," John Lennon tries to recapture the "Imagine" spirit with this pleasant, inoffensive album. "Mind Games" (1973) benefits from its reggae-tinged title song, the underrated ballad "Out of the Blue" and punchy rockers such as "Tight A$" and "Meat City." Too bad the remaining tracks are undistinguished by Lennon standards. "Bring on the Lucie (Freeda People)" is a sloppy rehash of "Power to the People" - while "Only People" sounds like the lightweight commercial jingle it eventually became. Though uneven, "Mind Games" would prove a step in the right direction, as evidenced by John's harder-edged "Walls and Bridges" (1974)."
A Fresh Mind-Look
Steven Haarala | Mandeville, LA USA | 12/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even though I have idolized John Lennon since he first hit the shores of America, I think that today I appreciate his wisdom and creativity even more, especially since his music has been remastered. This album is a perfect example. It's been years since I listened to the entire work. With this remastered version, I, wiser now myself, feel that I am hearing a new album. The clarity of the sound gives these tracks a vibrant richness that I didn't notice before, and "everything is illuminated".
For me, the tracks fall into 3 categories: serious/meaningful, mid-tempo and solid rock. In the first group are "Mind Games", "Aisumasen", "Out Of The Blue" and "You Are Here". "Mind Games" is Lennon in his solo eclectic prime, incorporating inspired lyrics and a beautiful melody ("Loooove iiis the answer, and you know that for sure" gets me every time), socio-political concerns, and the influence of Yoko's philosophy and conceptual art. "Aisumasen" has Lennon exposing his passion, guilt and love against a traditional blues background, complete with a nicely executed basic blues/rock guitar solo. In "Out Of The Blue", he thanks "the Lord and Lady" (equality, even for gods) for the love he has found. Allied with the cosmic lyrics ("Like a UFO you came to me") are celestial, dream-like back-up voices which comprise one of the stylistic tools of this album. A keyboard interlude, crystal clear from the remastering, adds distinction to the track. "You Are Here" has been dismissed by some as muzak, but to me, the metaphorical global references ("From Liverpool to Tokyo, what a way to go...East is east, and west is west, the twain shall meet") which represent John and Yoko's union, in a gentle melody which floats over smooth "slide" guitar, raise it far above the muzak level. And then there are those ghostly back-up voices.
Of the mid-tempo songs, "One Day At A Time" is the best. It is enlivened by John's falsetto vocal, a bouncy chorus and those eerie back-up singers again. "Intuition", "I Know" and "Only People" are good mid-tempo songs; a little on the light side, but they have their attractions. Actually, "Intuition" has a touch of early Doors, which is definitely a good thing.
The rock tracks, all strong, range from the graphic "Tight A$" ("just as tight as a dope fiend's fix, my friend"), to the politically aggressive "Bring On The Lucie/Freda People" ("Your time is up, you better know it"), to the wild abandon of "Meat City" ("People were dancing like there's no tomorrow").
I consider "Mind Games" to be in the same league with Lennon's best - "Plastic Ono Band" and "Imagine" - all 5-star albums. By the way, the 3 bonus tracks are home versions of "Aisumasen", "Freda People" and "Meat City". They are pretty stripped down, which does not appeal to me; but if you like things acoustic, there they are, with altered lyrics."