Sunday, July 9, 2017

"Valotte" by Julian Lennon

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  2095
Date:  10/20/1984
Debut:  64
Peak:  9
Weeks:  19
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Julian Lennon was the son of John Lennon and his first wife Cynthia. John and Cynthia later divorced after John took up with Yoko Ono. Julian didn't have much to do with his father until the late 70s when they began to see each other more often. Julian took up music when encouraged to do so by his father. Songwriting came later, but he didn't necessarily think of a career in music until after his father's death in 1980. A few years later, Lennon assembled some demos and began shopping them around. He ended up getting picked up by the Charisma label in the UK followed by Atlantic in the US. Lennon needed a producer and wanted to work with Phil Ramone. Ramone agreed after hearing some of Lennon's demos. Work began on the album and by the fall of '84 it was completed. The LP was named Valotte and the title-track became the first single released in the US. It did very well reaching the Pop Top 10, #2 Rock, and #4 AC.

ReduxReview:  It had only been less that four years since John Lennon's death, so the memories of him still lingered heavily, especially since the posthumous single "Nobody Told Me" had reached the Top 10 earlier in the spring. So when news hit that his son was doing a solo album, there was considerable excitement. There was a whole "carry on the legacy" type thing going on and what fed into that was how much Julian sounded like (and resembled) his dad. It's hard for any kid of an artist to break out of their parent's shadow, but it had to have been truly difficult for Lennon. Inevitable comparisons were gonna happen and trying to live up to them would be nearly impossible. However, I think Lennon handled it well and did fine. Yes, some of his songs, like this single, had a Beatles flare to them, but that is to be expected. Plenty of other non-relative artists copped the Beatles, so why should Lennon ignore his actual heritage? While the album was not particularly outstanding, it was a capable debut and this lovely first single did well in bridging the musical gap between father and son.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Both the single and the album were named for the place where Lennon wrote most of the songs for the album. After securing a record deal, Lennon and a couple of friends holed up at a ch√Ęteau in France called Manoir de Valotte. The tranquil place provided inspiration for the song. Despite being the name of the song, the word "Valotte" does not appear in any of the lyrics. Although this is not uncommon in general, it was a bit rare at the time for a song to reach the Top 10 where the title was not part of the song's lyrics.


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