April 02, 1984 12:00 PM

John Lennon/Yoko Ono

It’s hard to suppress a shudder listening to lines like Lennon’s “The future is brighter and now is the hour/Living on borrowed time…” or Yoko’s “They’re a lot of lonely people/Out there, you know.” But the overwhelming impression given by this album—composed of songs partially or completely recorded during the Double Fantasy sessions in the fall of 1980—is of life. It’s there in Lennon’s impish asides and studio banter, in the way he counts off I Don’t Wanna Face It: “Eins, zwei, hickle, pickle…” It’s there in the vigorous rock ‘n’ roll glint of Lennon’s six songs, a welcome balance to the tender ballads of Double Fantasy. As always, Lennon’s music is direct and personal: putting his domestic seclusion behind him in I’m Stepping Out, expressing ambivalence about his reemergence in I Don’t Wanna Face It, reflecting on his chaotic youth in Borrowed Time. Yoko’s voice—well, Barbra Streisand she’s not. But her songs easily keep stride with Lennon’s. They range from reggae to dance rock to an almost nursery-simple ballad (Let Me Count the Ways) to a song sung half in Japanese to a Japanese-sounding melody (Your Hands). Alternating his with hers, the songs complement and often seem to comment on each other, as when Yoko’s Don’t Be Scared follows I Don’t Wanna Face It. The ultimate matched pair is Let Me Count the Ways and John’s Grow Old With Me. The latter is one of his prettiest melodies. It’s the kind of song you can imagine people singing some day as they hold hands around a camp fire. (Polydor)

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