Yoko Ono

A Story

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Recorded in 1974 but unreleased at the time, this 1997 disc marks the first time A Story has been available as a proper album, although the material had already seen the light of day as part of the Onobox six-disc set. In keeping with the general trend of Yoko Ono's early-'70s albums, it marked a drift from the screeching avant-gardisms of her earliest Apple work to something that increasingly approached mainstream singer/songwriter accessibility; the Brecker Brothers even play on a couple of tracks. That's not to say, however, that this was terribly accessible or mainstream, either by the standards of 1974 or 1997. The lyrics have an odd tension between witty optimism and blunt angst (often in the same song), and the vocals, while conforming much more to standard pop phrasing, are still way too flighty and shaky for easy radio play. It may have been the most listenable of Ono's efforts at the time it was recorded, yet at the same time it was also her least distinguished. Truth to tell, she sounds like nothing as much as an eccentric singer/songwriter whose originality was too quirky to capture a wide audience and too mild to get a sizable cult one, in the mold of forgotten performers like Essra Mohawk. Yet "Hard Times Are Over" may have been her first song to carry anything resembling mainstream pop appeal, with its Harrison-esque slide guitar flourishes. The 1997 CD includes three bonus tracks of previously unreleased solo piano recital-type versions of "Anatano Te" (Your Hands) and "Extension," and a 1986 a cappella live version of "Now or Never."

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