Whatever one thinks of Yoko Ono — sorceress/ saint, dabbler/genius, bearer/exploiter of her late husband's legacy — this album sounds more vital, varied and with-it than anything recently released by any other ex-Beatle recently. And make no mistake about it, Yoko Ono is an ex-Beatle, perhaps The Ex-Beatle, toiling in the Fab Four's shadow every bit as much as Paul, George or Ringo.
Every Man Has A Woman was originally conceived by John as a fiftieth birthday gift to his wife, with other artists covering Yoko's material in an attempt to get her music across to an indifferent or hostile public. The result is at once a celebration of the woman and her man, an often emotional potpourri that showcases Yoko Ono's underrated skills as a lyricist and musician, skills previously obscured by people's prejudice against the singer.
The LP's major highlight, of course, is John Lennon's title track, originally sung by Yoko on Double Fantasy. Like his posthumous songs on Milk And Honey, Lennon's living, breathing vocals are almost too much to bear. But the healing sets in quickly with Harry Nilsson's version of "Silver Horse" (from Season Of Glass), one of three Nilsson covers and a moving tribute to his old drinking buddy.
The rest of the record offers marvelously eclectic interpretations, from Eddie Money's AORave-up on "I'm Moving On" through Rosanne Cash's gently faithful crooning of "Nobody Sees Me Like You Do" to Elvis Costello's TKO Horn-punctuated soul reading of the dynamic "Walking On Thin Ice." Yoko's avant-annoying side is also given full rein on the synthetique concrete of "Dogtown," submitted by a novice L.A. artist named Gui Manganiello under the name Alternating Boxes, along with a robot manqué version of "Wake Up," performed by the Klaus Voorman-recommended German loonies, Trio. And while the album first summons the memory of Yoko's late husband, it ends very much in the present, as son Sean's improvisatory rap on "It's Alright" reaffirms life in the wake of loss.
If anybody still takes the spirit of what the Beatles and John Lennon represented seriously, it's the much maligned Yoko Ono. "A dream we dream together... is reality," sings the all-children Spirit Choir on "Now Or Never." No, the dream isn't over; thank Yoko for keeping it alive.