|Studio album by John Lennon|
|Released||29 October 1973|
|Recorded||Record Plant Studios, New York City, July – August 1973|
|John Lennon chronology|
|Singles from Mind Games|
Mind Games is John Lennon's fourth album, and was recorded at Record Plant Studios in summer 1973, and released in November of that year. The album was Lennon's first self-produced recording without help from Phil Spector. Like his previous album, the politically topical and somewhat abrasive Some Time in New York City, Mind Games was poorly received by music critics upon release, but its reputation has improved since release in some circles. It reached number 13 in the UK and number 9 in the US, where it went gold.
The album was recorded while Lennon was having difficulties with US immigration and at the beginning of his 18-month separation from Yoko Ono. The title track was released as a single at the same time as the album. The album itself was later reissued several times throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
By the start of 1973, John Lennon began distancing himself from the political and social issues he had embraced in the previous 18 months. It was also around this time that he and his wife, Yoko Ono, were going through marital problems. As Ono was completing her fourth album, Feeling the Space, Lennon decided he also wanted to record a new album, and liked the studio musicians that their assistant and production coordinator May Pang had assembled for Ono's album. Shortly thereafter, he asked Pang to book them for his sessions. Wanting to produce an album that would be more accepted than his previous politically charged commercial flop Some Time in New York City, Lennon began writing and demoing a few songs for Mind Games in his Greenwich Village apartment. He began composing after a period of almost a year of not writing any material.
Amid frequent court appearances battling to stay in the US, Lennon became stressed, a situation that was only worsened by constant surveillance by the FBI, due to his political activism. Lennon said "I just couldn't function, you know? I was so paranoid from them tappin' the phone and followin' me." All this combined made Lennon begin to feel emotionally withdrawn. Lennon put his suffering aside to write the songs for Mind Games, writing all the songs for it in a week.
Under the moniker of "The Plastic U.F.Ono Band", Lennon engaged the services of session drummer Jim Keltner, guitarist David Spinozza, Gordon Edwards on bass, Arthur Jenkins on percussion, Michael Brecker on saxophone, Ken Ascher on piano and organ, and the vocal backing of a group called Something Different. Difficulties between Lennon and Ono became more and more noticeable around this time. Just as the sessions were to get under way in June at New York's Record Plant Studios, John and Yoko separated. At Ono's urging, Pang became Lennon's companion and lover in what would become an 18-month relationship later renowned as Lennon's 'lost weekend'.
Recording and content
Mind Games was recorded between July and August 1973 in Lennon's characteristic quick fashion, and was mixed over a two-week period. Lennon produced the album by himself, following after a previous two-year partnership with Phil Spector. When the album was remixed in 2002, many audio anomalies hidden in the original mixing were uncovered. Some rough mixes appear on bootlegs and on 1997's John Lennon Anthology. The album continues Lennon's previous attempts to chronicle his life through his songs. The tone of this album is a range of mixed feelings from sombre and melodic songs directed to Ono ("Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)",[nb 1] "One Day (At a Time)",[nb 2] "Out the Blue",[nb 3] and "You Are Here"),[nb 4] to more light-hearted and optimistic tracks ("Intuition",[nb 5] "Only People")[nb 6] and a few that indulge Lennon's affinity for pure rock 'n' roll ("Tight A$"[nb 7] and "Meat City").
The title track (with its "love is the answer" refrain and call to "make love not war") was begun during the Beatles' Get Back sessions under the name "Make Love, Not War",[nb 8] Lennon recorded demos of the re-titled "Mind Games" on 28 and 29 December 1970 at his home studio, Ascot Sound Studios. "Bring on the Lucie (Freeda Peeple)",[nb 9] "Only People" and the three-second silent "Nutopian International Anthem" were the only political tracks on the album. The latter referred to "Nutopia: The Country of Peace",[nb 10] a conceptual country which the Lennons had announced at a press conference in New York City on April Fool's Day 1973. "I Know (I Know)" features lyrics in which Lennon apologises for his thoughtlessness and discusses the causes of his insecurity. On some of the rough mixes that have appeared on bootlegs, the time-consuming overdubbing on the song is apparent, as Lennon gradually refined the arrangement. The Mind Games closer, "Meat City",[nb 11] contains a Lennon curse, "Fuck a pig!", sped up and backwards, while the mix used on the "Mind Games" single B-side gives the same treatment to the phrase "Check the album!".
"Rock and Roll People" was also recorded during the album's sessions and given to Johnny Winter for his John Dawson Winter III album. Lennon's version wasn't released until 1986's posthumous Menlove Ave. album.
Release, reception and aftermath
|Rolling Stone (1974)||(unfavourable)|
|Rolling Stone (2002)|||
Tony King, vice president of Apple Records in Los Angeles at the time, convinced Lennon to promote Mind Games, arranging interviews for Lennon with Billboard and Record World. He also persuaded Lennon to do a television commercial in which King dressed up as the Queen of England and waltzed with Lennon (the commercial session can be seen in the 1988 film Imagine: John Lennon). King reprised his role as the Queen for several radio spots.
The title track was released as a single on Apple Records on 29 October and 16 November 1973, in the US and UK respectively.[nb 12] The single reached number 26 in the UK, and peaked in the US at number 18. The album was released on 2 November and 16 November 1973, in the US and UK[nb 13] respectively, around the same time as Ono's Feeling the Space. The album charted at number 13 in the UK, while in the US it peaked at number 9. The album sold better than Lennon's previous album, Some Time in New York City.
Lennon created the Mind Games album cover himself, hand-cutting the photos. The front and back covers are similar; on the back sleeve Lennon is more toward the foreground, representing his symbolic walking away from Ono and her apparent mountainous influence on him.
Rolling Stone magazine assessed the album as "his worst writing yet" and found Lennon to be "helplessly trying to impose his own gargantuan ego upon an audience ... waiting hopefully for him to chart a new course". Writing for Allmusic, critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote of the album: "While the best numbers are among Lennon's finest, there's only a handful of them, and the remainder of the record is simply pleasant."
The album was reissued in the US on Capitol Records in 1978 and 1980, with the latter being a budget reissue.[nb 14] In the UK, the album was reissued on EMI's budget label, Music for Pleasure (MFP), on 28 November 1980, featuring a different album cover.[nb 15] After Lennon's death in December 1980, the album, along with seven other Lennon albums, was reissued by EMI as part of a box set, which was released in the UK on 15 June 1981.[nb 16] It was first issued on CD on 3 August 1987, this time on the Parlophone label,[nb 17] and several months later on 22 March 1988 in the US on the Capitol label. In 2002, a remixing of Mind Games for its remastered reissue, containing three previously unreleased demo recordings,[nb 18] was overseen by Allan Rouse, which was released on 21 October 2002 in the UK,[nb 19] and almost a month later in the US, on 5 November 2002. It was reissued again by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2004 on CD[nb 20] and LP.[nb 21] In 2010, the original mix was remastered as part of the re-release of the entire John Lennon catalogue, the album was available separately[nb 22] or as part of the John Lennon Signature Box.[nb 23]
All songs written by John Lennon.
- Side one
- "Mind Games" – 4:13
- "Tight A$" – 3:37
- "Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" – 4:44
- "One Day (At a Time)" – 3:09
- "Bring on the Lucie (Freeda Peeple)" – 4:12
- "Nutopian International Anthem" – 0:03
- Side two
- "Intuition" – 3:08
- "Out the Blue" – 3:23
- "Only People" – 3:23
- "I Know (I Know)" – 3:49
- "You Are Here" – 4:08
- "Meat City" – 2:45
- Bonus tracks
|Bonus tracks on 2002 reissue|
|13.||"Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" (Home version)||3:35|
|14.||"Bring on the Lucie (Freeda Peeple)" (Home version)||1:02|
|15.||"Meat City" (Home version)||2:37|
- John Lennon – lead, harmony and background vocals; rhythm, slide and acoustic guitar; clavinet and percussion.
- Ken Ascher – piano, hammond organ and mellotron.
- Jim Keltner – drums.
- Rick Marotta – drums on "Meat City" with Jim Keltner.
- Gordon Edwards – bass.
- David Spinozza – lead guitar.
- Arthur Jenkins – percussion
- Sneaky Pete Kleinow – pedal steel guitar.
- Michael Brecker – saxophone.
- Something Different Choir – background vocals.
- Roy Cicala, Dan Barbiero – engineers
- Tom Rabstanek – mastering
- Dennis – disease
- Yoko – space
- Bob Gruen – mountain
- Originally titled "Call My Name". In "Call My Name", Lennon was offering to comfort someone, but in the final version of the song Lennon is the one asking for forgiveness.
- While Lennon was recording the song, singing in his normal vocal register throughout the recording, Lennon adopted a falsetto when attempting a vocal overdub. Lennon sings about his devotion to Ono.
- "Out the Blue" is one of several songs on Mind Games devoted to Yoko Ono. Ironically, it was recorded at a time when Lennon and Ono were separated, and reflects Lennon's resulting self-doubt. "Out the Blue" moves through several musical genres, starting with a gentle, melancholy acoustic guitar and moving through gospel, country and music portions.
- "You Are Here" was the title for Lennon's one-off art exhibition at the Robert Frazer Gallery. By the time of recording it for the album, "You Are Here" had gone through several different themes, the final version combined the themes of love and peace. The original master take of the song featured an extra verse, that was about Japan and England, later cut.
- "Intuition" has Lennon praising his own genius and about life. Lennon started demoing the song on piano in early 1973, as the lyrics were unfinished, Lennon added a few lines from two of his earlier songs, "How?" and "God".
- "Only People" revolves around his and Ono's personal philsophy. Lennon said that it failed as a song, saying that in an interview with Playboy Magazine that "It was a good lick, but I couldn't get the words to make sense."
- "Tight A$", the title of which is a pun on the expressions "tight as" and "tight ass", is in a rockabilly style with a 1950s sound, along the lines of songs that inspired Lennon in his youth.
- Lennon finished writing the song after reading the book Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space. Lennon later encounted the author in a restaurant, and when the author asked about Lennon's reaction, Lennon replied "I am one of your fans. You wrote Mind Games."
- The song dates from late 1971, starting out as little more than a chorus, after Lennon acquired a National guitar. After working on the lyrics, the song went from a simple polical slogan to a full-blown statement that hints at his earlier work, such as "Imagine" and "Power to the People".
- The album's inner sleeve featured a "Declaration of Nutopia", in which people could become a citizen of Nutopia if they spoke about Nutopia.
- The song began as boogie but by late 1971 it began to take its final form, although with improvised lyrics. By late 1972, however, Lennon had rewritten the lyrics and finished developing the melody.
- While "Mind Games" was issued as a single in other countries, "Bring on the Lucie (Freeda Peeple)" was a single in Venezuela, backed with "You Are Here". (Venezuela Apple 4AP 1844)
- US Captiol SW-3414; UK Apple PCS 7165
- US Capitol SN-15968
- UK Music for Pleasure MFP 5058
- UK EMI JLB8
- UK Parlophone CDP 7 46769 2
- One of the demos, a home demo of "Meat City", features a lyric-less melody that would later be used as a countermelody for "Steel and Glass".
- Europe EMI 7243 5 42425 2 6
- US Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDCD 761
- US Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 1-293
- US Capitol 5099990650321
- Europe EMI 5099990650925
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