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Julian Lennon Reissued


08/07/2009
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(conqueroo) When a son of John Lennon announces his own musical career and shows up looking and sounding very much like his iconic dad, critics and listeners alike are bound to react with arms firmly folded. But Julian Lennon's gifts as a songwriter quickly broke down skepticism and sent the young artist soaring up the American album and singles charts.

Three of his original Atlantic Records albums have long since fallen out of print, only to be reissued by Noble Rot, a subsidiary of Collectors' Choice Music in the Infinity Entertainment Group. The albums The Secret Value of Daydreaming, Mr. Jordan and Help Yourself will hit retail on September 8, 2009 (the day before the remastered album catalog of his dad's group appears in stores). Author Gene Sculatti wrote the liner notes.

Lennon's first single, "Valotte," and "Too Late" from his 1984 Phil Ramone-produced Valotte album notched the No. 9 and 5 positions on the Billboard pop singles chart. The platinum-certified album received a Grammy nomination, and Sam Peckinpah directed the videos. With much to prove, Lennon released his follow-up, The Secret Value of Daydreaming, also produced by Ramone, in 1986. Billy Joel sat in on piano. With both the single ("Stick Around") and the album both attaining the No. 32 spots on their respective charts, the album showed Lennon to be a songwriter of considerable versatility.

If echoes of John Lennon permeated Julian's first two albums, the 1989 album Mr. Jordan found him singing in a voice more reminiscent of David Bowie in the '80s. Rolling Stone praised the album as one that "goes a long way to salvaging his credibility." Mr. Jordan is certainly more aggressive than its reflective predecessors, in part due to Lennon's recruitment of producer Patrick Leonard (Madonna, Bon Jovi, Elton John, Jeff Beck). The album's highlights include the rock radio hit "Now You're in Heaven" (which references, like the album's title, the 1941 reincarnation comedy Here Comes Mr. Jordan), "Mother Mary," a playful cross between early Elvis and Wham, and the ballad "Angillette," which addresses a suicidal lover. Guests on the album include The Tubes' Fee Waybill, Eagle Timothy B. Schmidt, singer Fiona Flanagan and, guitar soloing on "Second Time," Peter Frampton.

On Lennon's fourth and final Atlantic recording, 1991's Help Yourself, the singer channeled the sound and soul of his father more than on any other. "Overall it was sort of like self-help, like a self-therapy routine," Lennon told an interviewer. According to annotator Sculatti, "Here he reconnects with melody and soundly conceived and executed compositions, several of them disclosing humanitarian concerns." Highlights include "Saltwater," which was a plea for ecological responsibility; and "Other Side of Town," with Blue Nile singer Paul Buchanan guesting. "Get a Life" is a raucous rocker, evoking the spirit of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." And on "New Physic Rant," on which Lennon raps (kind of), he receives help on the chorus from Girl Scout Troop 592 from Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. All told, Lennon sounds comfortable with the music he presented here. And that's good therapy all the way around.



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