John Lennon/Yoko Ono
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Rock - Released May 9, 1969 | Secretly Canadian
This album, subtitled UNFINISHED MUSIC NO. 2, is linked to its predecessor (TWO VIRGINS: UNFINISHED MUSIC NO. 1) by name only. Though both offer recordings that found John Lennon happily stepping into the avant-garde world of his paramour, this album departs from the sound collage approach of their debut and instead offers a range of real time recordings. The improvisational 26-minute "Cambridge 1969" is from a live performance and primarily features Yoko Ono's vocals and Lennon's feedback guitar. Four subsequent pieces (originally comprising side two of the album) were recorded at the Queen Charlotte Hospital in London. Yoko occupied a room there at a critical juncture in a difficult pregnancy (ultimately suffering a miscarriage) and John took up on the floor beside her. This documents their desire to draw poetry and emotional resonance from their life together as well as to make art from their surroundings. The five minutes of "Baby's Heartbeat" followed by the "Two Minutes Silence" may not be a riveting traditional listening experience, but it is conceptually moving.
Rock - Released November 11, 1968 | Secretly Canadian
Subtitled UNFINISHED MUSIC NO. 1, this was the first of a series of recordings that were released near the beginning of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's relationship. Ono, a member of the Fluxus art movement, was a respected artist and had been producing pieces in non-traditional media (sound, video, conceptual) throughout the '60s--in fact she met Lennon when he came to one of her gallery exhibitions. With the Beatles in often-fractious circumstances at that time, Lennon poured his energies into collaborations with her. The two long pieces which comprise the bulk of this CD were originally a side each of a vinyl record (the bonus track, a lovely song called "Remember Love," was the B-side to their "Give Peace a Chance" single). They're both sound collages which incorporate found sounds, bits of other recordings, some keyboards and other instruments, as well as Lennon and Ono variously talking and vocalizing. This was the public's first glimpse of Yoko's particular style of singing which included whoops, warbles, and shrieks. The verbal exchanges between the couple are often quite charming and amusing.
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