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Unfinished Music #2: Life With The Lions Import

2.8 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, June 3, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

From the Label

Life With The Lions creeps sideways into the details of Yoko's miscarriage.

Yoko & John's second release of sound art. "I make sounds to look at. This I know from Yoko. I live in her shadow."--THURSTON MOORE (Sonic Youth)

Recorded 1969.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Cambridge 1969
  2. No Bed For Beatle John
  3. Baby's Heartbeat
  4. Two Minutes Silence
  5. Radio Play
  6. Song For John
  7. Mulberry


Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 3, 1997)
  • Original Release Date: 1968
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Imports
  • ASIN: B0000009RF
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,885 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
While John and Yoko's first album "Two Virgins" got plenty of attention because of its nude album cover photos, their second album "Life With The Lions" only got scant attention. The album is a continuation of John and Yoko attempting to present their lives together as art.
The opening track "Cambridge 1969" was recorded live at Cambridge University during an unusual avant-garde jazz concert. For 26-minutes, Yoko is heard screeching, screaming, cackling, howling and doing who knows what else while John Lennon brutalizes his electric guitar with atonal feedback behind her. This piece continues in this fashion for much of its duration. It's only towards the end that some additional help comes along. Percussionist John Stevens and Sax player John Tchicai join John and Yoko during the last six minutes. After Yoko shuts up and John turns off his amplifier, the two other John's continue playing alone as the piece fades out.
The second half of the album was recorded at Queen Charlotte Hospital in London where Yoko was pregnant but ultimately suffered a miscarriage. "No Bed For Beatle John" consists of Yoko (with John in the background) putting various press articles on the couple to music. It is sung in a the style of a Gregorian chant.
This is followed by "Baby's Heartbeat", a five-minute tapeloop of the heartbeat of John and Yoko's unborn child who was miscarried shortly after this recording was made.
Next up is the self-explanitory "Two Minutes Silence". This was obviously influenced by composer John Cage's piece entitled "4:33" which sounds exactly like "Two Minutes Silence" only longer.
The album closes with "Radio Play" which is 12 and 1/2 minutes of someone rhythmically shutting a radio on and off while playing with its tuner.
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Format: Audio CD
The second of John and Yoko's self indulgent and experimental LPs is a bit of a painful experience. Originally released on the less than short-lived Apple imprint Zapple, this was reissued in 1997 on Rykodisc with two 'bonus' tracks, and it must be the first time I've ever bemoaned the addition of extra songs on anything. It meant I had another ten minutes of suffering.

CAMBRIDGE 1969: The first solo performance by a Beatle must have left the audience rather traumatised. Clearly having no idea on how to accomplish this, it's John extracting feedback whilst Yoko doesn't disappoint with her caterwauling. Towards the end, the pair are joined onstage by a saxophonist and a percussionist for what can only be described as some kind of free form jazz. Very free form.
NO BED FOR BEATLE JOHN: It sounds as if Yoko is making it up as she goes along. In the background, John can also be heard reading things from a variety of newspapers.
BABY'S HEARTBEAT: Five minutes of a cassette recording of their unborn baby's heartbeat. It's a good cure for insomnia but it's followed by...
TWO MINUTES SILENCE:...and it's actually quite striking as the rapid 'boom boom' is abruptly replaced by silence; hearing life and then hearing the finality of nothing (and, as it happened, that's how it turned out). Maybe that was the idea all along. He re-recorded a very brief version of this later in his career with 'Nutopian National Anthem'.
RADIO PLAY: A chopping sound is actually a radio dial being turned, complete with a bit of static. It all makes you want to scream at her to find a sodding station and keep it there. Meanwhile, in the background John makes a phone call. It's a relief when it suddenly stops.
SONG FOR JOHN: Guitar strumming but at least there's some semblance of a melody.
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Format: Audio CD
What do you hear when you put "Life With the Lions" in your stereo? Well, first comes "Cambrige 1969", an extraordinarily long jam with John simply abusing guitars to produce feedback as Yoko screams and yells for about 26:30. The you hear a soft ballad, sans-instruments, about John losing his hospital bed, and various other things going on in the lives of John and Yoko. Then "Baby's Heartbeat", wisely followed by "Two Minutes Silence." Finally (for the old version) "Radio Play" a piece where John speaks in the background as Yoko flips through the various stations on the radio, producing one-nanosecond bursts of sound along the way. Two bonus tracks follow on the new version, "Song for John", and "Mulberry". "Song for John" is as close to a normal song you will find on "Lions," where "Mulberry" is more of the Avant Garde. When you know the story of the album, it is so much more interesting. Basically, Yoko is pregnant, due in February. She goes to the hospital for observation with John at her side the whole way. (He loses his bed and has to lie on a sleeping bag, however.) Well, Yoko's baby is miscarriaged. I do not know when it happened, that would change a lot about track #3, "Baby's Heartbeat." Laughing at the beginning of the track would suggest that the baby was alive at the time of the recording, but either way, it is a very sad, touching expirience. They may have had so much hope for the baby, only to have it flushed away. "Baby's Heartbeat" may have become a gift for the baby, instead it stands as a memorial. This CD is a lot of noise, however it was definitely structured.Read more ›
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