She's really back; one of the most gloriously influential and notorious women in the history of rock has returned with a new album at the age of 76, and thank goodness. With Between My Head and the Sky, Yoko Ono has courageously and outrageously revived the Plastic Ono Band moniker; a group she and husband John Lennon formed together; only this time, instead of the late John, it's with the couple's son Sean Lennon. Audacious? Oh yeah, but wait until you hear it! On 2007's Yes, I'm a Witch, Ono gave a bunch of her old tracks to artists like J. Spaceman, Chan Marshall, DJ Spooky, and the Flaming Lips, to name a few, and re-recorded them. This time out, she surrounded herself with New York studio players, Sean's own band, and guests such as Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto, and members of Cornelius. The end result is a stunning collection of 16 wildly diverse tracks that were written in six days and recorded very quickly. The centerpiece is an electronic-cum-acid rock spoken word peace called "The Sun Is Down," with screaming guitars, crisscrossing beats and breaks, and Honda offering sung vocal support drifting entrancingly in the backdrop. Then there is the funkier material, such as the wonderfully surreal "Ask the Elephant," with some stellar feedback and heavy guitar work by Sean, and the overtly rockist title track, where Ono speaks more emphatically than she has in decades. This isn't just rock as spoken word, it's got groove, crunch, noise, and vulnerability as well as authority, and in places, yes, her trademark ululating wail. "Watching the Rain" is a midtempo ballad with shimmering blips and beats, her singing voice is expressive in its limited range, and her words are deeply moving. The shamanistic, trance-like quality of "Moving Mountains" melds acid folk and new production styles with a beautiful layer of horns -- trumpets mainly -- in the background. Come to think of it, there are a lot of trumpets on this record. Ultimately, however, Between My Head and the Sky is perhaps the most accessible album she's recorded, and yet the most forward looking, too, because it is ultimately contemporary in that it takes the past into account while pushing its margins to the breaking point and pointing to the known -- check the jazzed-up funky reggae in "Hashire, Hashire." This set is not full of ballads; there is little of the fragility of Walking on Thin Ice here, though its desire to heal individuals and the world is ever present, and has none of the overt self-conscious excesses of Plastic Ono Band projects of the past. This is a deeply focused, wonderfully colorful, and deeply expressive work that showcases a collaboration between mother and son and displays depth, strength, creativity in spades, and intense beauty.
Performance CreditsPlastic Ono Band Primary Artist
Yoko Ono Vocals
Erik Friedlander Cello
Yuka Honda Organ,Percussion,Electric Piano,Sampling
Sean Lennon Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Percussion,Piano,Drums,Electric Guitar,Keyboards
Michael Leonhart Percussion,Trumpet,Vibes
Daniel Carter Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Shahzad Ismaily Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Drums
Indigo Street Guitar
Technical CreditsYoko Ono Composer,Lyricist,Producer,Illustrations
Sean Lennon Producer,Cover Art,Booklet Design
Chris Allen Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Between My Head and the Sky based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
astonishingly adventurous and emotional music ... and it's by a 76 year old grandmother!?
Give this amazing CD a listen! Yoko (with son Sean and other members of the YOPOB) issue forth a mutlifaceted recording that pulses with originality, energy, and other-worldliness!
BETWEEN MY HEAD AND THE SKY is a mostly very solid piece of work, considerably better than 2001's BLUEPRINT FOR A SUNRISE. Some of the tracks here sound half-finished, with vocals and lyrics that are an awkward fit to the music (I read somewhere the songs were all written very quickly, which may account for the sketchy nature of some of the material). But, when BETWEEN succeeds, as it does much of the time, it's quite a heady listening experience. The title track is classic Yoko: funky, fierce, and darkly funny. And I imagine even longtime Yoko detractors could come away from touching ballads "I'm Going Away Smiling" and "Higa Noboru" feeling their hardened hearts at least a little softened. -DSF September 09