Rhythm & Views


As one of those rare critics who'd prefer to bask in the primal-scream therapy of Plastic Ono Band than any number of Lennon/McCartney advertising jingles (in other words, the entire Beatles catalog), I harbored no ill will toward Yoko. Moreover, I figured her new collaborative album with first-rate artists like Cat Power, the Flaming Lips and Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) would be a fascinating curiosity at worst and a compelling novelty at best.

Having listened to Ono's Yes, I'm a Witch, my opinion has changed dramatically: She must be stopped.

If Ono's critics believe she ruined Lennon, wait until they hear what kind of black spots she manages to affix to the careers of people like Peaches. OK, Peaches has always been a one-trick pony, but listening to her team up with Ono on "Kiss Kiss Kiss," with what sounds like a warmed-over Run-D.M.C. beat, is truly disappointing. Ono's voice remains weak, tuneless and untrained. It doesn't help that Witch veers from hard-core electronica (with Hank Shocklee and DJ Spooky) to faithful folkisms (Porcupine Tree). Cat Power's contribution, "Revelations," is maudlin junk, and Antony's assistance on "Toyboat" is a tawdry effort that wouldn't even make the cut on a children's record.

It's sad to think that so many of today's artists were allowed to choose their favorite Ono track to duet with Ono. Except for the Lips' "Cambridge 1969/2007," the artists don't seem to be having any fun at all. It's as if Ono blackmailed them into participating in an effort that sounded good on paper, but should've been shut down the moment she warbled. Witch, indeed.