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Take Me to Land of Hell CD
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Following her hugely successful run as curator of London s Meltdown Festival, this album continues an astonishing bout of creativity for Ono, who is celebrating her 80th birthday with major museum retrospectives around the world, her 10th #1 hit on the Billboard Dance charts, a sequel to her instruction book Grapefruit, winning 'Digital Genius' MTV O Award, and spearheading the activist effort against fracking in her home state of New York. A career retrospective book will be published by Genesis in Autumn followed by reissues of her '60s-80s albums in 2014. 'My new album comes at a very special time for me. The energy I have right now, and the desire to continue to make as much great work as I can, is really moving me forward all the time. This album is the culmination of a lot of ideas I ve been having over the last few years and I feel proud to release it at such an exciting time of my life. Take Me To The Land Of Hell was recorded in New York and produced by Yoko, Sean Lennon and Yuka Honda. Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band includes members of Cornelius and Cibo Matto, plus special guests for this album tUnEyArDs, ?uestlove, Lenny Kravitz, Nels Cline and Andrew Wyatt. The album includes remixes by Mike D & Adrock and Keigo 'Cornelius' Oyamada.
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Of course, you can also expect some interesting, off-the-wall lyrics. In "Moonbeams", the commonly accepted concepts of winter and spring are turned upside down. "In Winter", Yoko sings, "the snow protected us/Covering our pain/Now I hear ice cracking/Slowly in my brain/My heart is ruminating/your sweet words/While my hand's strangling the birds"; and she continues, "Spring is here again/Your heartbeat is calling me". Apparently the frozen isolation was preferable to whoever or whatever is coming in spring. I like the "Cheshire Cat" in track 2, although I can't say for sure whether he is benevolent or hostile. (I think he was also just as exasperating to Alice when she was trapped in Wonderland.) "Tabetai" seems to be about greed, perhaps imperialistic greed. Many tasty foods are mentioned ("Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme"), and at the end of the song Yoko says, "There's nothing to eat/Let's go to another COUNTRY." "7th Floor" alternates between curiosity ("I was standing on the 7th floor/And I saw a body on the pavement/Is that me?...It was not a body at all/It was just a shadow.") and violent reaction ("Don't cut my hands - can't strangle you/Don't cut my legs - can't walk out on you/Don't cut my tongue - can't spit on you/Don't cut me off - I'll kill you.") In "N.Y. Noodle Town", you can "watch people drink and dance/Their minds are bombed/Like their lands". Perhaps this is a reference to immigrants, or refugees? "Leaving Tim" has very amusing parting lyrics ("Let's throw that past/in the biggest trash can...Just call me in your dream/And I'll get it, I'll get it/It's hard...so hard...but ok."). And in "Shine, Shine", the townspeople and The President come to view "the house that is reaching out all the way to the sea". Soldier Woody, "smiling for the first time since he came back" arrives too. Yoko's companion turns invisible, a minor glitch. The main idea seems to be that everyone and everything must "shine".
I always welcome a new album from Yoko. I am very happy that she and her colleagues continue to create this unusual, thought-provoking material for serious music lovers to experience, enjoy, and ponder.
For this album, Ono has collaborated with artists who are familiar with electronic music. In recent years, Ono has been able to nab several #1 hits in the Billboard Dance Charts. The collaborations actually pay off. Even with the collaborations, it still sounds like a Yoko Ono album. Ono's genre of music would be best described as experimental rock or avant garde, which this album certainly is.
The album's opener, "Moonbeams", isn't the strongest song but it opens the album perfectly: the futuristic sounds mixed in with Ono's spoken word poetry sets you up for what you're about to hear. Once you hear Ono's traditional scream, you know what you're in for. This is followed by the pleasantly psychedelic "Cheshire Cat". It has an impressive bass line that drives the entire song in this stoner rock rhythm. "Tabetai" is collaboration with tUnE-yArDs and it's a very good one: the track is catchy and has great drumming/percussion work. The most interesting of the collaborations would have to be the bouncy "Bad Dancer", which features the surviving members of the Beastie Boys. I really like this one and the strangest thing is that I have no interest in the Beastie Boys whatsoever.
Ono also has the chance to shine with several ballads. The self-titled track and "Watching the Dawn" have pretty melodies. The former uses violins while the latter is piano-oriented. While Ono isn't known for having the greatest voice, she knows how to use it when it comes to ballads. It isn't much but I think she knows it works. Ono leaves time on the album for the autobiographical "NY Noodle Town", the funky spoken word "7th Floor" and the surprisingly jazzy "Leaving Tim".
Overall, Take Me to the Land of Hell is a very good album from Yoko Ono. It's impressive that she can pull this off at her age. However, I can't say I'd recommend the album. Obviously, Yoko's music isn't for everyone. I'd say if you happen to appreciate some experimental music (i.e. Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, and/or Tom Waits), give Yoko's music a chance. If you're already a fan of Yoko's music, this is a no brainer: you must get it.
Further, this album makes use of a variety of styles of music, something that is not so common these days. Instead of the same thing from beginning to end, one song you get a ballad and the next you are boogieing to some heart thumping beats! I love the humor and the occasional giggles. The music rocks hard at times and almost whispers other times. It has a consistent spacey feel that works both as a club sound and as relaxing chill to which you can imagine beautiful things.
I must also add that Yoko gives class to aging. If you've still got it, there's no reason to stop! I hope that she inspires others to keep going and making being an elder woman cool! She provides wisdom both in her lyrics and music. Her current sound connects past, present, and future into an eye and mind opening experience!