Yoko Ono - vocals
Jimmy Rip - guitar
Mark Rivera - keyboards, saxophone
Philip Asheley - keyboards
Leigh Foxx - bass
Benny Gramm - drums
Steve Scales - percussion
Designed to spread a message of peace and as a direct oppositional response to President Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense program, Yoko Ono created the 1985 concept album Starpeace. Enlisting a roster of wide ranging talent that included funk keyboard master Bernie Worrell, the supreme reggae rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare and pioneering jazz drummer Tony Williams, this album would become Ono's most accessible to date. Although her avant-garde leanings were still present, here she was clearly making a conscious effort to reach a wider audience.
The following year Ono recruited a new touring band and personally financed a Starpeace tour that visited Eastern European countries. Although the media still had a tendency to portray Ono in a negative light, the tour was generally well attended, including a sellout performance before 15,000 in Budapest, and both critics and fans universally praised her performances. A scheduled tour of the United States did not fare so well and due to disappointing ticket sales was eventually cancelled. Until now, the only evidence of Ono's Starpeace tour was a pair of live bonus tracks included on later reissues of her albums.
Presented here is an entire performance from the Starpeace tour, when Ono and her hot new band performed before an enthusiastic audience in Hamburg, Germany, which not insignificantly was the city to first truly embrace The Beatles. Obvious influences on this music, like the Talking Heads and the underground dance scene then flourishing in New York City, make this a far more accessible listening experience than much of Ono's earlier work. Performing nearly the entire Starpeace album, as well as a few choice selections from her earlier catalogue, this recording captures this moment in time quite well. Ono prefaces many of the songs with monologues that clearly describe the thought process behind her creativity, making this an engaging and educational listen.
Although this concert culminates in a sing-a-long acknowledgment of her husband, closing with two of his songs that best convey her Starpeace concept ("Imagine" and "Give Peace A Chance") it is Ono's original material that is most engaging here.