Saturday, February 19, 2011

No Reply

Robert Bunter: The soft musical texture that opens this vintage Lennon psychodrama is a total fake-out ... soon enough, the inevitable edgy passion will assert itself with a screamed "I saw the light" (is this the light in the lady's window, or does he mean the futility of the entire relationship has been illuminated?), and before you know it, here's the heavy "If I were you" bridge, with four-to-the-bar handclaps, assertive strumming and a subtle, insistent piano.

Richard Furnstein: I feel awful for the guy, I really do. It's a tragic tale, and Lennon sells it. The part that kills me about "No Reply" is that you hear his anguished lyrics, but it doesn't immediately register that he prefaces the song with "this happened once before." It's bad enough that John is being played as a fool, but it isn't the first time. I guess he willingly forgives the lies, but it's tough to feel too much sympathy for this repeat offender.

The very picture that you paint of the Lennon solo effort is so undeniably exhilirating that I may need a (Derek) tailor to let out my pants.

Robert Bunter: John's mopey first three songs on Beatles For Sale ("No Reply," "I'm A Loser," "Baby's In Black") set a very high bar that the album never really approaches again until "I Don't Want To Spoil The Party" on side two. Time for a fantasy: 1965 Lennon solo album. Paul, George and Ringo play backup (not unlike Grateful Dead sex symbol Bob Weir's travesty of a "solo" album Ace), just three buddies helping their old friend John in the studio, but chubby late-64, early-65 Lennon is calling the shots.  Record sleeve photo is a closeup Robert Freeman portrait of our hero in that great floppy black hat he used to wear back then, with vintage Spaniard In The Works outtake line drawings in the borders like Sergio Aragones' Mad Magazine marginalia. First three songs mimic Beatles For Sale, then we're in for some parallel universe gems.
Richard Furnstein: Wait, so you are saying that Paul would provide nothing to this solo album, and it will be completely driven by John's mopey madness? Ha, that's pretty much already the case with Beatles For Sale. Paul screamed his way through a handful of rock 'n roll b-sides and called it a day while John was trudging through the aforementioned emotional battlefields. Still, the very picture that you paint of the Lennon solo effort is so undeniably exhilirating that I may need a (Derek) tailor to let out my pants. Can we call it "Do It Yourself," after the short story in Lennon's A Spaniard In The Works? Please say yes.

Robert Bunter: Yes, of course. Yes.

Richard Furnstein: Perfect, I already made a fantasy 1965 solo Lennon album with that title. See, I even made a pretty cool cover for it! It looks like Law And Order by Lindsey Buckingham!

Robert Bunter:
Eh, I guess. I liked my idea better.


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