The secret value of daydreaming is that it permits you to explore your imagination at little cost in the way of consequence or action. At least, that's the conclusion that can be drawn from Julian Lennon's first two LPs – 1984's Valotte and the newly released The Secret Value of Daydreaming.
The records differ in ways worth mentioning. Valotte was like a mental movie filmed in the mind of the great man's son as he watched the wheels go round and round. In an odd way, the pleasant escapism the album often evoked seemed earned. Much is made of how Julian's connections scored him a record deal when he had little more than snippets of songs and a few years of celebrity pub-crawling to show for himself. But growing up in the shadow of an irascible legend who divorced your mom when you were a child and whom you barely knew can't have been a nonstop laugh riot. Julian surely underwent enough emotional turmoil to counterbalance whatever opportunities his father's name provided.
Its title taken from the French château where Julian recorded his first demos, Valotte established a tone of reverie and contemplation fitting for his debut. Songs like "Well I Don't Know" hardly resolved the complexities of Julian's heritage, but they allowed us to glimpse what seemed to be the beginning of a tranquil, unhurried search for selfhood. The polite reggae bounce of "Too Late for Goodbyes" may have been a bit sappy, but the song's optimism was heartening, suggesting confidence about the happy outcome of that search. On the other, shakier hand, "Jesse," a cautionary antidrug tale written by Julian's friend China Burton, pointed out the dangers of being "a fool to yourself" and failing to answer the hard questions of identity. And if the careful production of studio veteran Phil Ramone wrapped Julian's personality in a cocoon of musical textures, there was a reason for his protectiveness. Julian virtually lived with his producer during the recording of Valotte, and Ramone became the father figure who would lead him into the world where he could both accept his legacy and establish his own place.
Unfortunately, The Secret Value of Daydreaming continues Julian's float down the stream of consciousness but doesn't carry him any nearer to self-discovery or self-revelation. Ramone is back at the board, and the cluster of virtues he represents – refinement, melody, structure and grace – are all, once again, in evidence. It may be possible simply to accept this LP as a well-crafted, ably performed collection of catchy pop tunes, but the suspicion that Valotte's amiable strategy has hardened into formula is gnawing. It may also be unfair to expect not just skillfulness but significance from Julian. But if it's small-minded to begrudge him his success, it's patronizing to assume he doesn't have to, or can't, meet the responsibilities success carries with it.
Probably in response to carping that Valotte didn't rock, each of Value's sides kicks off with a thumper. The opening track and first single, "Stick Around," finds Julian singing more assertively than he did on the first LP, his attractive appropriation of John's inflections stretched to include some of his bite. Topping the second side, "This Is My Day" blends big guitars, layers of keyboards, hot horns and a symphony's worth of melodic details to forceful effect. Again, Julian's singing is strong, but this time the lyrics say less than he seems to want them to.
In fact, the slightness and abstraction of many of Value's lyrics are the LP's most frustrating problem. In the same way that he defined himself against his father's edginess by embracing Ramone's glossy ethic of taste, Julian avoids both John's visionary power and his opinionated intensity by writing almost exclusively about boy-girl themes. That's fine as far as it goes, but the "you" to whom so many of these songs are addressed rarely takes on sufficient character to matter. Although the surfaces of these songs are quite engaging, the relationships described are only sketched out and, as a result, often fail to compel a full flesh-and-blood response. A typical example of this is the childlike "Want Your Body," where both the lust of the title and the "people" who are "so unkind" and "tear us apart" lack all definition.
Interestingly, Value often raises the emotional dilemma of simultaneously desiring and fearing self-revelation. On the dreamy "You Don't Have to Tell Me," one of the LP's most effective tracks, Julian intimates, "You don't have to tell me/You don't have to cry," equating self-exposure with suffering. In the same song, he implies that emotional pain, and the confusion that comes in its wake, may be the source of his lover's reluctance to open herself up: "Isn't life a mystery when we hit every wall?" And on the lovely "Let Me Tell You," Julian boyishly offers, "I'd like to tell you 'bout some times I've had/The kinda good ones and the kinda bad." But he quickly backs out on that offer, explaining, "But if I did, you'd know my secrets, too/Some things are private."
This guardedness turns tough and somewhat defensive on the ballad "Coward till the End?" (ironically the one song on Value that ventures beyond a personal theme). In telling the story of a soldier shot for refusing to fight, Julian asserts, "When you trust your feelings/They toss you in the pit" and "You seem so apprehensive/You question my beliefs." By the time he asks, "Why am I to blame?/Why am I put up on trial?" anybody making demands of Julian's approach to his work is duly brought up short. The potential to do important work, the expectations of others and the weight of the past can be difficult burdens, and Julian can hardly be faulted for making two albums that are merely very good. Ultimately, however, he'll have to push himself harder if he wants more than hits and teen-idol status. This may involve drawing more directly on his own experience in his songwriting, and it will almost certainly involve working with a different producer than Ramone, who's fulfilled his role and more in this career. Seamlessness has outlived its value – the edges have to start to show.
"When you're closin' the door/Don't you look back for more?" Julian asks on "Want Your Body," the final track on The Secret Value of Daydreaming. People probably will look back in disappointment this time. But maybe next time they won't have to.
В журнале Ровесник в мае 1987г. была напечатана переводная статья из этого журнала Rolling Stone http://www.beatles.ru/books/paper.asp?id=302 Статья в Ровеснике не полная и содержит неточность: ...Валотт - небольшой замок в Нормандии, который старый друг Джона Леннона, Фил Рэмон, превратил в студию грамзаписи... Уж и не знаю, насколько Фил Рэмон был старым другом Джона Леннона (у меня на этот счёт есть большие сомнения), но точно Рэмон не делал из замока в Нормандии студию грамзаписи - в замке нет студии. И в Нормандии ли сей замок? Читаем в Википедии: https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Нормандия Нормандия — регион и историческая область на северо-западе Франции. Северо-запад! Но читаем аннотацию на мелодиевской пластинке Джулиана Леннона - Валотт (запись 1984, выпуск 1987): ...Пластинка названа "Валотт"по имени местечка в Южной Франции, где Джулиан долгое время жил и готовил музыкальный материал этого альбома, ставшего, по мнению авторитетных музыкальных критиков, международным успехом 22-летнего тогда музыканта, певца и композитора... (автор аннотации В. Лишбергов) Теперь уже Юг! (чуть ниже про "долгое время жил" и "22-летнего тогда музыканта") Но глянем в той же Википедии: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valotte Lennon, with his friends Justin Clayton and Carlton Morales, started a three-month stay at a French château, Manoir de Valotte, in Saint-Benin-d'Azy, France, writing and demoing songs for what would appear on Valotte / Леннон, со своими друзьями Джастином Клейтоном и Карлтоном Моралесом начал трехмесячное пребывание во замке Manoir де Valotte, в Сан-Бенан-д'Ази во Франции чтобы сочинять и записывать демонстрационные композиции которые появились на альбоме Valotte. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Benin-d%27Azy Saint-Benin-d'Azy is a commune in the Nièvre department in central France / Сан-Бенан-д'Ази - коммуна в департаменте Nièvre в центральной части Франции. Не северо-запад, не юг, а центральная часть Франции!!!
- "долгое время жил"... 3 месяца - не короткое время, но и как-то трудно сказать что долгое время (хотя, наверное, это я просто придираюсь к словам). - "22-летнего тогда музыканта". На момент выхода альбома Valotte (октябрь 1984) ему было 21 год.