Milk And Honey

John Lennon

Polydor, 1984

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


For those of you who were really freaked out by Yoko Ono on Double Fantasy, you can breathe easy because she wisely tones it down and cuts out the excesses on the follow-up, Milk And Honey. Here, she is much warmer and dare I say it, cuter? At times she even sounds like Cyndi Lauper, who was HUGELY popular at the time of this album’s release.

Ono’s edgy closer “You’re The One” has been a favorite of mine for years and should have been a single. As for those rumors that this album sounds unfinished, don’t believe them -- they simply aren’t true.

This song cycle, or “Heart Play” as it’s called in the lyric sheet, starts off on a dark note -- not by Yoko Ono, but by her husband, John Lennon, who had been murdered four years earlier. The first line of “I’m Stepping Out” is printed as “Woke up this morning, blues around my head,” but I swear, he’s saying “noose around my head.” In either case, Lennon doesn’t exactly sound like a man who knows he’s got the rest of his life ahead of him. Foreshadowing perhaps? Or maybe it’s meant to be ironic, especially when you take the song’s happy tone into account. I appreciate that it is left up to the listener to draw their own conclusions. That’s what makes this material so intriguing and, yes, completely heartbreaking.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

John and Yoko stretch themselves more on Milk And Honey by delving into some light reggae music on tracks like “Don’t Be Scared” and “Borrowed Time.” Needless to say, both tracks are winners. The execution is perfect and both artists make their respective songs their own. This album really finds this duo at the top of their game. One can only “Imagine” where they would have gone from here.

Two other well-known Lennon cuts to be found within this package are “Nobody Told Me” and “I Don’t Wanna Face It.” What makes the latter such a classic is the incredible guitar work, which must have been influential for contemporaries like Lindsey Buckingham. Two songs that could possibly be considered filler are the half-spoken “Your Hands” and the meandering “My Little Flower Princess.”

Just a warning, you better get out that box of Kleenex because the next two songs are real tear-jerkers. Yoko somehow pulls it together to deliver a soul-stirring kiss goodbye to John on “Let Me Count The Ways,” while a basement tape of John’s “Grow Old With Me” is dusted off and delivered as is. “God bless our love,” he sings. What more powerful statement does one need to leave behind?

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


This reviewer has no credibility.

Describing Lindsay Buckingham as an "up-and-comer" at the time of the Milk and Honey/Double Fantasy sessions in 1980 is half-assed, ignorant "expertise" that could have been easily avoided with a few Google keystrokes. As the reviewer should know (if only because he freaking reviewed Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" himself this past summer!), Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac OWNED the charts, Grammys, and airwaves in 1975-77 with "Rumours" and its predecessor, the (second) "Fleetwood Mac" album. If anyone was being influenced by a signature guitar sound, it was Lennon.

This kind of lazy, misinformed "background information" appears in other reviews by the same writer (which are apparently published without benefit of editorial review). It -- and the seeming fact that he and other writers here never deign to address comments posted about their reviews -- cast doubt on his opinions, and all of DV's commentary by extension. I know no one gets paid here, but that doesn't mean the writing should be worthless.
Jim, a couple of things.

First, yes, we should have caught the erroneous Buckingham reference and didn't. What can we say, the holiday madness affects us, too. It will be fixed shortly. But then, unlike Rolling Stone, we have never claimed to be the fount of all musical wisdom, just a group of fans willing to write for nothing.

As for your broadest-possible-brush generalization that one error casts doubt on the entire enterprise here, it's kind of like saying The Beatles's entire catalog is worthless because John put out a few (if you ask me, more than a few) questionable tracks during his solo years. Let he who has achieved perfection in his own life cast the first stone.

This isn't an isolated error. See Michael's factually challenged reviews of Revolver and the Stones' Emotional Rescue (and my evidently disregarded comments on them). He doesn't know what he's talking about.
That being your opinion, you may want to skip Michael's reviews from now on.

© 2008 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Polydor, and is used for informational purposes only.