Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band - Let’s Have a Dream (1974 One Step Festival) Music Album Reviews

Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band - Let’s Have a Dream (1974 One Step Festival) Music Album Reviews
Released for the first time, a recording of the opening night of Ono’s 1974 Japanese tour captures her at her mischievous peak.

Yoko Ono took flight. In August 1974, she touched down in Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to mobs of fans and a constellation of flashbulbs. She was arriving to perform a run of six shows ostensibly pegged to her most recent album, 1973’s uncharacteristically slight Feeling the Space. But the nine months since its release had been a time of upheaval and artistic renewal. Separated from her husband, John Lennon, who had eloped—with her blessing—with a lover, she quietly recorded a new album, A Story, with a blistering centerpiece titled “Yes, I’m a Witch.” Though the album would remain unreleased until 1992, due to problems at her record label, Apple, Ono had been galvanized by its creation process. “When I wrote the song ‘Yes, I’m a Witch,’ I was ready to scream,” she said in 2007. “I think it was important that I came up with that in 1974. I needed to shout it for the good of my mental health.”

Fifty thousand fans showed up to hear Ono let rip on the opening night of the tour, a live performance at One Step Festival in Koriyama, Fukushima; the recording has now been released for the first time, by Light in the Attic, as Let’s Have a Dream. On stage, Ono banters with the crowd in Japanese before flipping to English to figure out the setlist with her specially assembled Plastic Ono Super Band, which includes the Brecker Brothers and Steve Gadd, the drummer behind the iconic drum fills of Steely Dan’s “Aja.” In the surviving video footage of the performance, she blows kisses to the crowd, struts across the stage in towering platform heels, wiggles her waist, and squats on her haunches while dramatically warbling. As the crowd screams its applause, she stands with arms aloft, like a homecoming Olympian showing off her gold.

On Let’s Have a Dream, “Angry Young Woman” is hardly recognizable from its origins as an earnest message song. Communing with Steve Khan’s intuitive, bluesy guitar, Ono sounds beautifully melodic as she descibes a woman with “three children and two abortions” who rejects mothering for a new life. It’s a remarkable thing to hear a ’70s crowd cheer for a song with such thorny themes; 50 years on, the topic of mothers who reject parenting remains a taboo touched by few. Feeling the Space’s baroque piano and folksy choir always felt like a mismatch for “Woman of Salem,” a parable about the pack-mentality sexism Ono knew all too well. Here she is resplendent and raw, expelling a torrent of female stereotypes as if acid were burning a hole in her throat and the mic were a spittoon. As the song reaches its climax, Ono’s voice curdles. “Help! Help!” she shouts, before her band splinters into carnivalesque disorder, with a flute that flouders like a cartoon bird in a snowstorm. She screams, invoking a murderous mob. “Must kill! Must kill! Must kill!”

Ono’s abrasive vocalizations were inspired by dissonant Schoenbergian opera, Tibetan and Indian singing, and hetai, a Kabuki technique. “It gets to a point where you don’t have time to utter a lot of intellectual bullshit,” she explained. “If you were drowning [...] you’d say, ‘Help!” but if you were more desperate you’d say, ‘Eiough-hhhhh,’ or something like that.” On a storming reimagining of Fly’s “Don’t Worry Kyoko,” her ululations and screams thrillingly clash with piercing brass and the Plastic Ono Super Band’s “Green Onions”-esque R&B, before an arresting climax—“Kyoko! Kyoko! Kyoko!”—where Ono appears intent on expelling every last bit of breath from her lungs.

Just as she seems about to spin off her axis, Ono shifts gears. Two Japanese-language rarities, debuted at One Step, are rockers to rival the best moments on Approximately Infinite Universe. The previously unreleased “One Way Road” is a jazzy strut with smooth sax and woodwind glissandos that make Ono’s singing feel particularly fantastical—at one point, she glides up to the highest point of her register to mimic the flute’s airy vibrato. And “Yume O Moto,” a hopeful ballad previously only available as a Japan-only 7" and in remixed form on 1992’s Onobox, presents a list of impossible wishes that brings to mind the logic-defying invitations of Ono’s foundational Fluxus work, Grapefruit. “I want to caress the New York skyline,” Ono sings in Japanese, “I wanna be blown by the willow in Ginza.” Her voice is sonorous and sincere, coupled with echoing guitar lines that seem to reach skyward.

Reviewing a then-recent Ono residency at the East Village club Kenny’s Castaways, a New York Times critic panned her show as “abrasive” and “confrontational”—as if that weren’t the intention all along. But Let’s Have a Dream shows that’s only half the story, proving Ono’s bizarre genius as well as her warmth, charisma, and downright lovability as a performer. Given that, after her Japan tour, Ono took a break from music until 1980’s Lennon collaboration Double Fantasy, the album feels like a triumphant cap to her early-’70s imperial period. Her music would turn to graver concerns and would, at times, retread familiar ground. Let’s Have a Dream is the sound of Yoko Ono at her mischievous peak; you can’t help but marvel at her renewed rage and feel captivated by her joy at a time where the universe felt approximately infinite, and she couldn’t help but share it.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band - Let’s Have a Dream (1974 One Step Festival) Music Album Reviews Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band - Let’s Have a Dream (1974 One Step Festival) Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 15, 2022 Rating: 5


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