Friday, June 12, 2009

Julian Lennon: Valotte

Scott Muni, the legendary DJ and Rock ‘n Roll Professor, always started his show with a Beatles or John Lennon song, and would usually get to another before the end of his shift. It was during one of those that he unveiled the elusive “Leave My Kitten Alone”, a good twelve years before its official release on Anthology 2, and Everybody’s Dummy was hoping to hear it again one day when Scottso announced the new single by Julian Lennon. It was hard to catch the title in the phonetics (it sounded like “The Lot”) but it was the title track to his debut album, and from the first note it was something special.
Valotte sounds enough like his father to impress anyone, but it was a hit on its own, as nothing his father ever did sounded like “Too Late For Goodbyes”, which got all the airplay but hasn’t aged well at all. But of the rest, it’s the bluesy “On The Phone” and “Lonely”, the dreamy “Space”, the Merseybeat-meets-game-show bounce of “Say You're Wrong” and, of course, that title song that make the album much better today than it deserves to be. Some of it sounds well entrenched in the decade that spawned it, particularly in the Simmons drums and synth sounds producer Phil Ramone remembered from his work with Billy Joel. But even 25 years on, it evokes the freshness that was such a nice surprise when “Valotte” appeared on the radio.
Julian himself said that every new artist puts all of his best stuff into his first album, but only has a few weeks—a fraction of a lifetime—to create the second. The less-than-stellar followup (1986’s The Secret Value Of Daydreaming) and the drastically different third album (1989’s Mr. Jordan) were bought by fewer and fewer people each time. 1991’s Help Yourself got airplay in England with a rewrite of “Strawberry Fields” called “Saltwater”; the few that invested would have gone repeatedly back to “Other Side Of Town”, a gorgeous duet with Paul Buchanan of the Blue Nile. Since then Julian has laid low, releasing the occasional album and striving to thrive in not only his father’s shadow, but that of his half-brother. It is a burden he will never be able to shake off.

Julian Lennon Valotte (1984)—

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