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Here comes the son

By Julian Lennon

Atlantic Records: 1984

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This review first appeared in the November 14, 1984 issue of The Daily Aztec.

Seeing photographs in the newspaper of Paul McCartney talking with Julian Lennon was at least a little spooky. Julian looks so much like his father, it was almost like seeing Paul talking to a ghost of John.

Listening to Julian's debut, "Valotte," may not be spooky, but it reinforces the feeling that John's musical legacy encompasses far more than simply his recordings.

While the comparisons of son to father are patently unfair, they're also unavoidable – especially as Julian's voice is as similar to his father's as is his face.

His songwriting, too, mines similar territory to his father's personal, almost autobiographical approach – in "Julia," John explored his torment over his mother's early death. Julian uses "Well I Don't Know" to look at his father's equally untimely passing. And "Much Too Late for Goodbyes" is about John's leaving Julian's mother for Yoko Ono.

Although his voice is much like his father's, Julian's musical style is much closer to McCartney's. "On the Phone" is a melodic pop number that could have been a lost McCartney gem, and features a horn section that would have been at home on an early Wings album.

The title track isn't particularly strong, though, despite being the first single issued from the album. "Let Me Be," a fine little love song, is a better representation of Julian's talents and taste.

If strongly reminiscent of his father, Julian's debut is never slavish nor homage: it is simply the honest musical vision of a man fated to never fully escape the shadow of a very talented sire. Hank Williams Jr. and Arlo Guthrie will surely commiserate.