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Secretly Canadian/Chimera Music (LP, CD)

3 Stars

By Gillian G. Gaar

It was, John Lennon explained, a way for everyone to be able to celebrate his marriage to Yoko Ono. The wedding itself, on March 20, 1969, was a small affair, only attended by those who happened to be in the British Consulate on the island of Gibraltar where the couple exchanged vows. But the release of Wedding Album later that year gave everyone the opportunity to share in the experience.

Wedding Album is the third in what might be called John and Yoko’s “audio verité” releases, offering a snapshot into their lives. “Amsterdam” was recorded during the couple’s subsequent honeymoon in that city, when they famously stayed in bed for a week, speaking about peace to the press. Improvisational musical interludes — Ono singing acapella, and later singing to Lennon’s guitar accompaniment (borrowing from the melody of “Because”) — are mixed in with interviews and random chat.

The other piece is more conceptual; Ono and Lennon repeating each other’s names, over a tape loop of their own heartbeats, for 22 minutes. It’s actually more dramatic than it sounds, as they wring every possible emotion from how you can deliver the two words.

This latest reissue is faithful to the original release of the album; unlike the 1997 CD reissue, there are no bonus tracks. But it’s the first major reissue of the vinyl album, which comes in a specially designed box with replicas of the original artifacts: a fold-out poster with pictures of the wedding and honeymoon; a second fold-out poster with drawings documenting the events; a booklet of press cuttings; a packet of souvenirs (including a photo of a slice of wedding cake); and a copy of the wedding certificate, glued on the inside of the box. Oh yes, and the album, on white vinyl (a clear vinyl edition is already sold out).

The CD packaging is pretty sparse by comparison; the CD’s in a cardboard sleeve, with a booklet reproducing some of the visual material of the vinyl box. You’ll want it if you’re getting all the new Ono reissues, but collectors may prefer to opt for the vinyl edition (a digital download is available as well).

Likely not an album you’ll listen to much, but certainly an invaluable document of “a day in the life.”

— Gillian G. Gaar