Album Review: ONO – Yes, I’m a Witch, Too

It seems that Yoko Ono is a little like Marmite – you either like her or you don’t. If you’re an open-minded, free-spirited sort of person then you’ll love her. Don’t forget that she’s the woman who became John Lennon’s rock and by his own admission brought him down from his directionless flight and allowed him to find himself. Without Yoko there may well have been no ‘Woman’, no ‘Give Peace A Chance’, no ‘Imagine’. Just contemplate that.

Yoko Ono, or ONO as she has chosen to become known as is an icon. Artist or musician she is one of a very rare breed – a true original – she has no beginning and no end. She is genius.

On her new album, and the word ‘new’ is used semi-loosely, she follows up 2007’s Yes, I’m A Witch with a quite stunning collection of seventeen collaborations and mixes with some of today’s most established and/or rising stars. Some of the artists need no introduction and neither do the tracks, album opener ‘Walking On Thin Ice’ (Danny Tenaglia) is one such beast. It is stripped back completely to an orchestral beauty.

The album showcases the versatility of Ono vocals as the eighty-three year old is often inserted into new backing tracks with just her original voice remaining. It shows how adaptable she is and how open also to new ideas and arrangements.

‘Mrs Lennon’ (Peter, Bjorn and John) sees the track roll away from the original piano only piece with an incredible cacophony of a guitar solo and screech. It builds and builds into a mammoth electrifying sound mass before crashing back down again. The conventional rock of ‘Give Me Something’ from Double Fantasy has been replaced with a characteristic Sparks overture arrangement with vocals slowed down to find the Mael brothers impending doom sound a perfect match.

With tracks from many pinpoints during her career, a story unfurls not only of Yoko, or the Beatles, or even John, but also of how she has never stood still in any walk of life and has constantly adapted. Death Cab For Cutie has a successful stab at trip-hop, and Sean Lennon updates the hypnotic ‘Dogtown’ into a manic triumph.

‘Warrior Woman’ from the early 70s is given an amazing percussion and bass heavy mash-up by tUnE-yArDs and stands as one of the album highlights despite being disappointingly short at less than three minutes long. Currently sitting at the top of the Billboard Dance Charts with Andy Bell, Dave Aude provides a modern day dance remix to ‘Wouldnit’, as does Penguin Prison (‘She Gets Down On Her Knees’), and Moby ends the album with a slightly tedious version of ‘Hell In Paradise’ which barely features Ono at all.

With furthers appearances from the likes of Miike Snow, Automatique and Jack Douglas alongside Portugal The Man, Cibo Matto and Ebony Bones, Yes I’m A Witch Too is not only a triumph but also a superb album and one which sets the standard for remix albums very high indeed. /
Review by Paul Scott-Bates

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