...If it prompts one Beatles fan to delve a little further into Yoko Ono’s bizarre,...
Louis Patterson 2007
A certain stripe of Beatles fan will never be able to think of Yoko Ono any other way than as the woman who split up the Fab Four - but on the experimental margins, she’s built up a firm fanbase of acolytes who know her as far more than John Lennon’s former wife.
On Yes, I’m A Witch, Yoko hands over the master tapes from her extensive back catalogue to a host of celebrity fans with carte blanche to remix them as they please. One thing’s for sure, it’s a pretty impressive list: from symphonic indie-rockers (Flaming Lips, Spiritualized) to new-wave feminists (Peaches, Le Tigre), confessional songwriters (Cat Power, Antony Hegarty) to production maestros (Hank Shocklee, DJ Spooky), Yes, I’m A Witch is a testament to the impressive scope of Yoko’s influence.
Sadly, it’s an inevitable fact that remix albums like this tend to be a little spotty in quality. Perhaps the best tracks are the ones that don’t shy away from the unusual power of Yoko’s singing voice. On "Revelations", Cat Power - aka Chan Marshall – is sure to keep the spiritual message of the original bare and stripped down, rendering it as a sparse and touching piano ballad: 'Bless you for you anger/It’s a sign of rising energy/Bless you for your sorry/It’s a sign of vulnerability'. Meanwhile, DJ Spooky’s funky, dub-tinged, "Rising", finds the Washington DC turntablist layering multiple tracks of Ono’s voice, using it both as lyrics and as strange ambient screeches that whoosh by, banshee-like, in the distance.
Many of the other tracks, however, feel somewhat redundant. Peaches’ reworking of "Kiss Kiss Kiss" simply feels like she’s dropped a knocked-off backing track under Ono’s vocal (what we’d have done to hear them duet). And you can’t shake the feeling, while listening to efforts by Jason Pierce of Spiritualized or The Sleepy Jackson, that you’d just as rather be listening to the original. Still, if it prompts one Beatles fan to delve a little further into Yoko Ono’s bizarre, adventurous career, Yes, I’m A Witch has done its job.