Tuesday, April 01, 2014

CD Review: She & Him - Two Virgins [Record Store Day release]

She & Him
Two Virgins
(Marge) mergerecords.com

It's rare that I get around to reviewing something before it comes out and even more rare to get my hands on a Record Store Day release in advance, but somehow the fates have played into my hands for what must be the most unique full-album tribute ever made.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono made the original Two Virgins album in 1968, shocking the public with a record that few people heard because they couldn't get past the front cover (if they actually got a hold of it at all), which showed the two of them in the buff. Had the sounds on that record come in any other type of sleeve, they probably would have been forgotten as soon as they hit the record store. What one heard was little more than Lennon and Ono noodling around with tape loops and piano, and none of it happening in any linear fashion. The tape recorder was turned on and they just went about their business, or they didn't, since there are several patches where nothing is really happening. It's a perfect example of you-had-to-be-there.

So why release an complete "tribute" to such an amorphous recording? The answer seems to be, why not? Zooey Deschanel has been a career out of showing how to be an eccentric in the spotlight, so kudos for her. Her partner in crime M Ward seems to put more effort into making their Two Virgins a tad more compelling than the original too. Though it follows the same sonic arc as the original, his guitar and her ukulele give the performance a bit more musical quality which sounds a little more interesting. Their use of a grapefruit on the record label, instead of an apple, seems like a tip of the hat to Yoko Ono (who published a book called Grapefruit), so they seem serious about the entire homage.

And, of course, there's the cover. The advance copy, alas, didn't have one, but it can be seen here. It's impressive that Deschanel and Ward took it to the extreme and posed nude without making goofy faces or doing anything ironic to set off the album. Coupled with the fact that it's limited to 421 copies for Record Store Day, that makes it a release to seek out, even if you'll only play it once.

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