Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Albums of 1973: John Lennon: Mind Games

Release Date: October 29, 1973

Produced by John Lennon

Side One: Mind Games; Tight A$; Aisumasen (I'm Sorry); One Day (At a Time); Bring on the Lucie (Freda Pepple); 

Side Two: Intuition; Out of the Blue; Only People; I Know (I Know); You are Here; Meat City

While the other three former Beatles were finding their footing in 1973, John Lennon was in the midst of personal turmoil. Separated from his wife and creative partner Yoko Ono, he was also trying to attain U.S. citizenship and dealing with FBI surveillance. Recorded hastily over the summer of 1973, Mind Games received mixed reviews and is considered a minor work in Lennon's canon. In saying that, the songs hold up fairly well and provide insight into John's state of mind at the time - and to a certain extent the emerging 1970s culture.

The classic opener "Mind Games" remains one of Lennon's best songs. A lethargic rhythm section sustains the song are buttressed by John's soulful vocal expressing post-Hippy sentiments, inspired by a New Age bestseller of the same title.

"Tight A$" goes for a more retro sound resembling rockabilly with double entendre in the lyrics. "Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" is directed at Yoko, while on "One Day (At a Time) Lennon sings in a falsetto repeating a self-help mantra in an expression of malaise. A plea for peace, "Bring on the Lucie (Freda People)" fits in well with Lennon's other peace anthems, it was famously used by Alfonso Cuaron to end his 2006 film Children of Men

"Intuition" is another New Age tract as a happy go lucky pop song. "Out of the Blue" glides through various styles, also eccentric in lyric, "like a UFO you came to me." "Only People" could be a commercial jingle for unity, "We don't want no Big Brother scene." Another confessional, "I Know" favors optimism above all else. "You Are Here" has a slight country-western vibe, an underrated track with production reminiscent of George Martin. "Meat City" ends the album, heavier guitars and more biting lyrics end the record on an exuberant note. 

An eclectic collection of songs, Mind Games explores different facets of Lennon's personality and artistic inspirations. 

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