Yes, This Album's Good
Anybody who still holds a grudge against Yoko Ono because of all that Beatles shit is just an idiot. She has clearly proven herself a thousand times over as a wonderful artist and humanitarian, and it’s ridiculous that a romantic relationship she had over twenty years ago should still affect her career as much as it does. But I suppose she couldn’t have been half as famous as she is now if not for all that obnoxious attention. Being the widow of a famous rocker is a strange thing. No matter whether you’re an awesome artist who influenced your husband to grow (Yoko) or a hateful succubus who contributed to their demise (Courtney Love), you’re bound to be blamed for the rest of your life.
But if you’re able to put aside all that Beatles nonsense and focus on Yoko the artist, you’ll find a lot to like. Ever straddling the line between delightful and bizarre, she knows how to provoke thought and action in her audience, and that’s not an easy thing. If you’ve ever read one of her dadaesque books of instructions or listened to one of her abstract and often hard-to-digest albums, you’ll likely agree that Ms. Ono is not for everyone. But it’s hard to deny that the girl’s got something, whether it be originality or a simple refusal to give a shit what people think.
In Yes, I’m a Witch, Yoko turns her music over to a gang of popular contemporary musicians, allowing them to mix, meddle with, and otherwise fuck with her music for their own diabolical purposes. The result is 17 tracks, a mixed bag to say the least. I like about 8 of the songs, and the rest I could do without, let’s put it that way. But the 8 that I like are pretty damn good! Some of the highlights include a bouncy remix of “Sisters O Sisters” by rocker chicks Le Tigre, a nice duet version of “Revelations” by Cat Power, a clever gender mixup of “Everyman Everywoman” by Blow Up, and the dreamy “Toy Boat” by Antony and the Johnsons. The oddest entry has to be “Cambridge 1969/2007″ by The Flaming Lips, which is more real audio layered over original music than any sort of remix.
It’s always a good idea, I believe, to use odd musicians like Ono and Daniel Johnston as a foundation for cover albums by popular new artists, because even though I’d like to give the average listener credit, people are pretty stubborn about listening to experimental music. Sometimes it takes hearing a song as performed by Apples In Stereo to convince them that the songwriting has merit, and it is through this process of making the edgy palatable that we make artistic progress. Just like minimalist art had to turn into design in order to gain mainstream respect, experimental music is going to have to be covered and recovered before we can redefine it as mainstream. In conclusion, Yoko didn’t break up the Beatles. I swear.