Personnel: John Lennon (acoustic guitar); Yoko Ono (vocals); John Tchicai (saxophone); John Stevens (percussion); Mal Evans.
Reissue producers: Yoko Ono, Rob Stevens.
Recorded live at Lady Mitchell Hall, Cambridge, England on March 2, 1969 and at Queen Charlotte Hospital, London, England on November 4 & 25, 1968.
This album, subtitled UNFINISHED MUSIC NO. 2, is linked to its predecessor (TWO VIRGINS: UNFINISHED MUSIC NO. 1) by name only. Though both offer recordings that found John Lennon happily stepping into the avant-garde world of his paramour, this album departs from the sound collage approach of their debut and instead offers a range of real time recordings. The improvisational 26-minute "Cambridge 1969" is from a live performance and primarily features Yoko Ono's vocals and Lennon's feedback guitar.
Four subsequent pieces (originally comprising side two of the album) were recorded at the Queen Charlotte Hospital in London. Yoko occupied a room there at a critical juncture in a difficult pregnancy (ultimately suffering a miscarriage) and John took up on the floor beside her. This documents their desire to draw poetry and emotional resonance from their life together as well as to make art from their surroundings. The five minutes of "Baby's Heartbeat" followed by the "Two Minutes Silence" may not be a riveting traditional listening experience, but it is conceptually moving.
Rolling Stone - "Opening with a screeching, live 26-minute suite that's mostly Ono's spiraling onomatopoeia and Lennon's colorful flower bursts of guitar feedback, it's Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix as Jackson Pollack and Mark Rothko....Entire swaths of violent yet lighthearted avant-rock starts right here."
Spin (9/97, p.157) - "...Lennon's feedback textures sound startlingly contemporary--the way he plays against Ono's mantric form-warbles, sinking into free-jazz gush, could be mistaken for something newly struck by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore..."
Melody Maker (6/28/97, p.58) - "[This] is, assuming you're relatively strong of stomach, fantastic...for all its improvised imprecision, it actually sounds subtle, structured even....tremendously listenable."
Pitchfork (Website) - "Corporate tussles between the Beatles and their record label provide some of the inspiration for 'No Bed for Beatle John,' a piece recorded in Ono's hospital room, following a miscarriage."