Some Time In New York City
From Zappa Wiki Jawaka
|Released August 1995|
| See also:|
Fillmore East, June 1971
Humo Spoke With Zappa!
The FZ Interview Picture Disk, pt.2
Rolling Stone Interview, 1988
My Time With FZ
Disc One (studio)
Disc Two (live jam)
2005 Remastered CD
2010 Remastered CD
At the end of 1971 they had enjoyed universal success with the "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" single which was destined to become a seasonal standard. The start of 1972 saw the release of the agitprop single "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World/Sisters O Sisters" which would not enjoy the same success.
At the time Lennon and Ono were exploring the idea that an album could be like a newspaper (explaining Some Time In New York City's newspaper cover): quick, rough, and dealing with what is happening right now. Those ideas carried through onto this album - the quality of the recording is less than that of previous albums such as Imagine.
By January 1972, the FBI had opened a file on Lennon, fearing that he would try to humiliate President Nixon, with the expressed intention of finding grounds to deport Lennon. He and Ono would be tailed for several months by the FBI, and their every move was documented. It was to this background that Lennon and Ono hired the group Elephant's Memory to back them, along with studio drummer Jim Keltner. Their agenda was to protest against the social injustices surrounding them through their greatest weapon: Music. Phil Spector co-produced the new studio album along with the Lennons from late 1971 to its 20 March 1972 completion date (coincidentally, Lennon's and Ono's third wedding anniversary). With most of the gatefold cover space taken up by printed lyrics and photographs, the album credits appeared on the first disc's inner sleeve.
Seeking to make the package more attractive, Lennon and Ono's 15 December 1969 live performance of "Cold Turkey" and "Don't Worry Kyoko" at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, from a UNICEF charity show with Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Keith Moon, among others, was unearthed. In addition, a sampling of performances with Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention from a Fillmore East gig in June 1971 was added, in effect creating a bonus live album for the Lennon/Ono faithful. The inner sleeve for the second disc featured Lennon's doodling over the cover of Zappa's album Fillmore East, June 1971, adding his credits and commentary to Zappa's - a requital for Zappa's We're Only In It For The Money cover.
Notably, "Jamrag" is actually just the Mothers' instrumental standard King Kong with an added improvization by Yoko Ono.
The album was remastered in 2005, cutting off parts of Yoko's songs and removing all of the live disc except Cold Turkey, Don't Worry Kyoko (which still lost 11 minutes in length), and Well (Baby Please Don't Go).
It was 1971, and we were working at the Fillmore East, and we had a recording truck set up out there, because we were doing an album. And we'd played one night until about three in the morning, and I was sound asleep the next afternoon when I heard this knock. I opened the door and here's this guy from The Village Voice, with John Lennon standing next to him and this microphone aimed at my face, waiting to record my first gasp of whatever. I said, "Come on in." And the first thing John said to me was, "You're not as ugly as you look in your pictures." I thanked him very much and offered him a chair. I told him we were working at the Fillmore East and, you know, "How'd you like to come down and sit in?" I thought it'd be good for a few laughs. So he said yeah, and they did. Now the horrible part of the story. During our time onstage, a number of pieces were improvised, but a number of pieces that were played were absolutely written compositions that had already been on other albums -- namely, a song of mine called "King Kong." The deal that I made with John and Yoko was that we were both to have access to the tapes and could deploy them any way we wanted. They got a duplicate copy of the master, and they mixed it their way. I had a copy of the master, and I was gonna mix it and put it out as part of this Mothers album. They put out this record and took "King Kong" -- which obviously has a tune, and a rhythm, and chord changes -- and they called it "Jam Rag," and accredited the writing and publishing to themselves. Take a look at the album.
I talked to Yoko last year, and I said, "By the way, you remember that 'Jam Rag'?" She said, "Well, we have a problem with Capitol Records. We are suing them, you know." I can't imagine that album really sold a lot, anyway. It's the principle of the thing, you know? The other thing that was kind of sad was, there's a song on there called "Scumbag," but the way they mixed it, you can't hear what Mark and Howard are singing. There's a reason for that. They're singing, "Now Yoko's in the scumbag, we're putting Yoko in a scumbag."