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Yoko Ono

Poor Yoko. Born into an elite Japanese banking family and heiress to John Lennon's estate, rock's most famous widow seems to have tried everything under the sun to cope with the trappings of wealth: high-rent seclusion, mink coats, primal scream therapy, tarot cards, waging peace from the comfort of bed, catching flies and releasing them, throwing dried peas at baffled audiences (urging them to give peas a chance?) while whipping her hair in "musical accompaniment." But hey, she's a conceptualist.

Still greeting dementia with open arms at 68, the Woman Who Broke Up the Beatles returns after five years of silence to shatter our collective nerves again -- popstyle. Yet Blueprint for a Sunrise offers precious little from the lotus flower of sweet laughter and squall. Like a one-woman karaoke machine, Ono drags herself through everything from lukewarm, psychedelic balladry ("I Want You to Remember Me "B'") to flamenco-flavored dirge ("Is This What We Do") to stuttering funk-hop with spoken Japanese verse ("It's Time for Action!"). More pretentious offerings include "Rising II," a live, avant-garde effort backed by son Sean and his band, IMA; it's nearly 13 minutes worth of hollow soapboxing with Ono advising one and all to "Have courage/Have rage/We're all together" while getting jiggy with herself, hyperventilating, and otherwise sounding like a birthing cow.

Still an acquired taste -- like head cheese -- Ono should've given up the ghost long ago and stuck to swapping casserole recipes with Courtney Love. The intensity of her earlier sound poems has only paved the way for today's disgruntled musings from a bored tourist in Jamaica ("I'm Not Getting Enough"). But what else would you expect from someone who used her operatic training to screech inside a burlap bag?

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John La Briola

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