Yoko Ono: Yes, I'm A Witch

Yoko Ono
Yes, I'm A Witch
Astralwerks

Is there really anyone left who thinks this woman is guilty of crimes against rock 'n' roll? Any people who actually pay attention to new music and don't spend all their time muttering to themselves and stroking vinyl in their basements? Didn't think so. Let's consider this album a fresh start for a musician who deserves a chance with young ears. On Yes, I'm A Witch, 16 artists each pick an Ono vocal track and provide it with a new backdrop, to varying degrees of success.

In some cases, the collaborators' degree of involvement makes all the difference. Chan Marshall (a.k.a. Cat Power) and Ono trade lines of cynic-countering wisdom on "Revelations," a simple, poignant piano ballad. Yet somehow Robert Schneider's nasal backups at the end of the Apples in Stereo's "No One Can See Me Like You Do" feel unnecessary and a bit intrusive. The Polyphonic Spree apply their usual formula with great results, restraining themselves during Ono's meekly delivered verses but turning the chorus of "You and I" into another sun-bursting-through-the-clouds sing-along. (Given the unfortunate slot immediately following the Spree, Spiritualized's barrage of guitar feedback and wind chimes sounds less grand by comparison.)

Most artists choose to highlight Ono's often overlooked talent for delicate melodies, particularly Antony and the Johnsons' lush but never overbearing accompaniment to "Toy Boat." But DJ Spooky's laid-back beat and record scratch scribble integrate the experimental vocalese that earned her a spot as an MST3K punch line. Those ululations and grunts have a place in pop music after all.

 
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