Yoko Ono

Starpeace

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Yoko Ono enlisted a lot of trendy mid-'80s talent on this release, including co-producer Bill Laswell, keyboardist Bernie Worrell, ace reggae rhythm section Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, drummer Tony Williams, and drummer Anton Fier. The result sounded overly fussy, with reggae riddims, worldbeat-isms, funk, and synthesizers bouncing around in counterpoint to Yoko's vocals. Ono made a conscious effort to provide a positive, optimistic lyrical outlook (it's already easy to forget that the title is a rebuke to the Star Wars defense scheme). The main problem, though, is not the production, but the material, which is often imbued with a kind of sappy utopianism. Ono was clearly making an effort to be more accessible to a wider rock audience; her avant-garde vocal mannerisms, although not entirely absent, are largely suppressed in favor of more conventional pop phrasing. One has to say, though, that she sounds more convincing expressing rage and catharsis than feel-good philosophizing with a touch of new age. The CD reissue adds a previously unreleased live 1986 version of John Lennon's "Imagine" that, to be blunt, does no credit to either the composer or the interpreter.

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