Essential Atlantic: Julian Lennon, VALOTTE
For the next several weeks (or maybe just until we decide that we want to stop doing it, since normalcy seems likely to remain on hiatus for the foreseeable future), Rhino.com will be spotlighting an album from the Atlantic Records discography that qualifies as “Essential.” And what rigorous standards and/or mathematical algorithm did we use to come up with the criteria to define “Essential,” you ask? None at all. You’ll just have to trust our instincts. But they’re really good, we swear...
Even 36 years on, you can probably imagine the excitement level that swirled around the release of VALOTTE, which wasn’t just the debut album by Julian Lennon, it was THE FIRST ALBUM BY THE CHILD OF A BEATLE. Of course, that wasn’t its official subtitle or anything, but it might as well have been. Keep in mind that this was less than four years after Julian’s dad, John Lennon, had been murdered by Mark David Chapman, and now here comes John’s kid, his dad’s DNA front and center both in looks and in voice. For Beatles fans, this was like a dream come true.
Produced by Phil Ramone, VALOTTE was met with less than glowing reviews by rock critics who’d come of age with the Beatles and were all too happy to savage the album by underlining just how much Julian was not John. Those who went into the proceedings in the hopes of just finding some catchy melodic pop, however, were not disappointed: the title track was a wonderful ballad which became a top-10 hit, as did the second single, “Too Late for Goodbyes.” The third single, “Say You’re Wrong,” was a top-40 hit, too, stalling just outside the top 20 but making it to #21, and there was even a fourth hit, albeit a minor one: “Jesse,” which hit #54 before beginning its descent.
Listening to VALOTTE now, there’s no question that it was made in the ‘80s, but that doesn’t do anything to change the melodicism or the catchiness. If it’s been awhile since you’ve given it a spin, why not fix that situation? You’ll quickly find that the hooks have stuck with you.
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