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Author Topic: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins  (Read 5162 times)

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Bobber

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Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« on: September 27, 2012, 03:12:52 PM »



Whenever a cover is more popular than the record it's holding, there is a problem. Two Virgins was Johns first solo record and before writing this Microscope I had listened to it only once. In order to write a proper Microscope I decided to listen to it once more. My mind has not changed. It's still unlistenable. I promise you I will never listen to it again.

What's on this record? It's just noises, some little snippets of conversation and Yoko screaming, whining and attempting to sing. Is it the sound of Yoko's orgasm? If so, it's not even erotic. It's plain painful to the ears and embarrassing at best. The best part of the album is John's voice at the end of side 1. He's saying: Excuse Me. That was the only sensible thing to put on a record like this. How did this ever get on vinyl in the first place and what on earth was John trying to accomplish with a commercial release? Compared to Two Virgins, Revolution #9 ánd What's The New Mary Jane? are masterpieces.

So why a Microscope thread on Two Virgins?
To prove that John Lennon's solo output was not an overall success. John-fans tend to point towards McCartney II and Paul's 80's stuff to say they don't like Pauls music. But this (and I will be reviewing Life With The Lions and The Wedding Album as well) is a John Lennon record, commercially released and usually neglected by all fans.

Did anybody on this forum ever listen to this album? I challenge you all to have a listen yourself and try to prove me wrong on all accounts.  ;D  Good luck.
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Kevin

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2012, 05:10:57 PM »

Hi Bobber.
First, no, I've never listened to it. But I'm not sure that's the point.
Lennon seems to have been a man who needed a muse (the less charitable might say he was easily influenced by others, or that he needed to be led.)
Stu and Brian were dead and he wasn't trying to be Dylan any more. So he fell under the spell of Yoko. Bagism, instant music, avante garde, sound collages blah blah were more her than him.
And I think this album was more a statement of intent by him regarding his new life than a seriuos release he expected you to listen to. Least I hope so.
So I won't bash it too much.  I'll save that for Mind Games and Double Fantasy.
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Hombre_de_ningun_lugar

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2012, 09:30:16 PM »

So why a Microscope thread on Two Virgins?
To prove that John Lennon's solo output was not an overall success. John-fans tend to point towards McCartney II and Paul's 80's stuff to say they don't like Pauls music. But this (and I will be reviewing Life With The Lions and The Wedding Album as well) is a John Lennon record, commercially released and usually neglected by all fans.

Did anybody on this forum ever listen to this album? I challenge you all to have a listen yourself and try to prove me wrong on all accounts.  ;D  Good luck.

I've never listened to this record and I'm not interested to listen to it. But I don't think it's fair to judge John's solo career on base of experiments like this. I prefer John's solo career because I like his 1970-75 albums more than Paul's. I don't judge Paul's solo work from his supposedly "bad" albums, I just don't like most of the stuff he did, even in the 1970's; I would only save Band On The Run as a good piece of work (an oasis in the desert). I think that Plastic Ono Band and Imagine are better than anything Paul did after the Beatles, and give me Mind Games, Walls And Bridges and Rock 'N' Roll before sappy records like Ram and Red Rose Speedway. I admit that Paul worked harder than John, obtaining a more refined sound; but give me John's songs all the time, at least he had something to say lyrically.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2012, 09:46:27 PM by Hombre_de_ningun_lugar »
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tkitna

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2012, 01:42:55 AM »

Good lord, you were serious. I really didnt think you were going to go there. I've heard pieces of it, but never indulged in the torture it would be to listen to the entire thing. I never saw any reason. My hats off to you for doing so though good man. It must have been tough.

Yeshelloitsmehereagain

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2012, 03:46:10 AM »

I've not heard it entirely either. At least you can say that it gets better from here on in.

I think probably Sometime in NYC and Mind Games are John's weakest albums.
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Hombre_de_ningun_lugar

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2012, 04:26:46 AM »

I think probably Sometime in NYC and Mind Games are John's weakest albums.

I think Mind Games is quite underrated. I'm not saying that it's a great album, but it has some enjoyable moments at least. On the other hand, I was never a big fan of Double Fantasy, and I'm not even taking into account the Yoko songs.
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Bobber

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2012, 08:35:35 AM »

And I think this album was more a statement of intent by him regarding his new life than a seriuos release he expected you to listen to.
He presented us an out of tune howling woman, who let us hear her voice almost continuously for half an hour. I understand all the muse-thing, but John and Yoko could have made a more acceptable first impression.

Quote
Least I hope so.
I don't know. It was commercially released so I guess he intended to reach a large audience.
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Bobber

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2012, 08:36:42 AM »

I've not heard it entirely either. At least you can say that it gets better from here on in.

I hope so. I admit I have never listened to Life With The Lions and the Wedding Album up till now. It can hardly be worse.
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Snoopy66

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2012, 08:37:32 AM »

Stu and Brian were dead and he wasn't trying to be Dylan any more. So he fell under the spell of Yoko. Bagism, instant music, avante garde, sound collages blah blah were more her than him.
And I think this album was more a statement of intent by him regarding his new life than a seriuos release he expected you to listen to.
Good point; I absolutely agree  :)

I've never listened to this album (mostly because I can't stand Yoko's voice  roll:)), otherwise I'd give it a try. Anyway, I see the whole thing as purely experimental, nothing more and nothing less.

Snoopy
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Bobber

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2012, 08:41:04 AM »

I prefer John's solo career because I like his 1970-75 albums more than Paul's.

I'm not trying to create another John vs Paul thing here. But in fact John's solo carreer started with Two Virgins, followed by Life With The Lions and The Wedding Album. We're not letting Pauls solo carreer start with Ram and skip to Band On The Run, are we? I am not judging John's solo carreer on base of experiments (if it is an experiment in the first place) like this, but I'm judging it as a complete catalogue.
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Bobber

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2012, 08:42:19 AM »

Good point; I absolutely agree  :)

I've never listened to this album (mostly because I can't stand Yoko's voice  roll:)), otherwise I'd give it a try. Anyway, I see the whole thing as purely experimental, nothing more and nothing less.

Snoopy

And why should this be regarded as an experiment? Just because it is a unlistenable album?
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Snoopy66

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2012, 09:09:01 AM »

And why should this be regarded as an experiment? Just because it is a unlistenable album?
Again: I haven't listened to this album. But as far as I know, it contains more sounds and musical pieces on it, rather than "real" songs. So what's wrong with calling this "experimental" ?

Snoopy
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Snoopy66

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2012, 09:11:08 AM »

I admit that Paul worked harder than John, obtaining a more refined sound; but give me John's songs all the time, at least he had something to say lyrically.
Absolutely; I see it that way too.

Snoopy
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Bobber

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2012, 09:23:18 AM »

Again: I haven't listened to this album. But as far as I know, it contains more sounds and musical pieces on it, rather than "real" songs. So what's wrong with calling this "experimental" ?

Snoopy

Well, it puts us into a debate of what's experimental and what's not. But experimental has the tag of 'don't expect too much from it', or 'let's not take this all too serious'. And I refuse to accept that particular tag. It was a commercial release. Quote from Bruce Spizer: "The February 1, 1969, Rolling Stone reported that Tetragammaton ordered 200,000 copies of the album. Company president Arthur Mogull stated that he would be 'stunned if it didn't sell a couple of million'.
What I'm trying to point out that I find it remarkable that John fans let his solo carreer start in 1970 with the release of Plastic Ono Band, completely neglecting the three albums he released before. I'm not sure whether John regarded these albums as experimental.

On a sidenote, also from Bruce Spizer's book: "When EMI head Sir Joseph Lockwood warned John that the cover would ruin the Beatles image, Yoko told him it was "art". Sir Joe replied, "Well, I should find some better bodies to put on the cover than you two. They're not very attractive." ha2ha
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Yeshelloitsmehereagain

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2012, 12:34:08 PM »

To be fair to John Lennon he was in two bands at the time. When was this? 1968? He was also doing the 2 LP thing and it wasn't too long until Cold Turkey. I will listen to it (eventually) but I doubt I'd have bought it in 1969 either. I mean it has a couple of not particularly great looing Heroin users naked on the front cover, in this day and age that is a reason not to buy it. In 1969? Bloody hell. people probably bought it for the purpose of having something to diss or laugh at, it's another stunt, more controversial publictity. It is artistic expression. It's raw, painfull to hear perhaps. I think John and Yoko loved each other in numerous different ways, that was a pretty complex relationship there. If you don't like it why are you going on about it? I think compulsive is a good word.

I haven't bought any of Paul's Classical albums nor George's Indian albums. I have 3 Ringo albums and one of them is a "Best of".

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Kevin

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2012, 01:18:43 PM »

Quote from Bruce Spizer: "The February 1, 1969, Rolling Stone reported that Tetragammaton ordered 200,000 copies of the album. Company president Arthur Mogull stated that he would be 'stunned if it didn't sell a couple of million'.

I think in 1968  the news of a John Lennon solo album would have had most people in the industry reaching for their cheque books long before their needles actually cut into the said vinyl.. This was by a Beatle –how bad could it be? However  I’m not sure their enthusiasm would have survived the play back party.
The key question seems to be Lennon’s intent. Was it a commercial release? Obviously. Did he consider it a serious piece of work? I don’t doubt that.
But would we put Harrison’s Wonderwall under such scrutiny. It too was supposed to belong to a genre outside the familiar Beatle pop/rock (which was probably its point.) As its not a genre I understand or like or willing to buy  I’m loathe to judge it.
Likewise I wouldn’t consider McCartney’s classical works alongside RAM or Band On The Run. It was never intended by its maker to be so. As I am very unfamiliar with classical music I am in no position to judge it.
It may surprise you that I’m not a major Lennon fan, but however niaive or misguided it took balls for him to stand naked like that on the cover. I can’t imagine another major rock star doing that. He exposed himself more than in the literal sense.  Again  he was declaring intent –“this is different.”  I’ll give him a nod for that.
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Snoopy66

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #16 on: September 28, 2012, 01:32:10 PM »

What I'm trying to point out that I find it remarkable that John fans let his solo carreer start in 1970 with the release of Plastic Ono Band, completely neglecting the three albums he released before. I'm not sure whether John regarded these albums as experimental.
It's true that most John-fans (including me) let his "real" solo-career start with POP. But maybe it's also because in 1970 the Beatles were separated, which wasn't the case in 1968.

I'm not sure either whether John regarded these albums as experimental, but I guess they weren't perceived as "commercial" by most of his fans.

Snoopy
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Snoopy66

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #17 on: September 28, 2012, 01:36:19 PM »

It may surprise you that I’m not a major Lennon fan, but however niaive or misguided it took balls for him to stand naked like that on the cover. I can’t imagine another major rock star doing that. He exposed himself more than in the literal sense.  Again  he was declaring intent –“this is different.”  I’ll give him a nod for that.
Yeah, it was quite bold to stand naked for an album-cover like John did. Though it's obvious that he was under heavy drug-influence when doing so; still...  :-\

Snoopy
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Hombre_de_ningun_lugar

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #18 on: September 28, 2012, 03:09:31 PM »

I'm not trying to create another John vs Paul thing here. But in fact John's solo carreer started with Two Virgins, followed by Life With The Lions and The Wedding Album. We're not letting Pauls solo carreer start with Ram and skip to Band On The Run, are we? I am not judging John's solo carreer on base of experiments (if it is an experiment in the first place) like this, but I'm judging it as a complete catalogue.

Ok, if you want to judge their solo careers as a whole, it's fair to say that both had high and low moments; and Paul had a much longer career (even when John was alive), that's why it's easier to find painful moments in his catalog. But at the end of the day the only thing that matters is how much you enjoy your favorite albums made by them. I don't care about Two Virgins, Life With The Lions or The Wedding Album because I never listen to them, I just know that I enjoy a higher number of John's albums than Paul's, and that's how I judge their work.
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Kevin

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Re: Microscope: Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins
« Reply #19 on: September 28, 2012, 03:22:56 PM »

I don't care about Two Virgins, Life With The Lions or The Wedding Album because I never listen to them, I just know that I enjoy a higher number of John's albums than Paul's, and that's how I judge their work.

Fair enough too. I just guess that the point of these microscope threads is to give us an oppotunity to do some "serious" critiquing (sp) of their work (even for albums we don't particularly like.) It's fun and a nice change from endless favourites lists.
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