Picks and Pans Review: Mr. Jordan

UPDATED 04/17/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/17/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

Julian Lennon

Clever title, that. Here Comes Mr. Jordan was the name of a delightful 1941 film in which Robert Montgomery played a boxer who was plucked up to heaven before his time had come by a bumbling heavenly agent. The boxer raised holy hell until the higher powers that be gave him a shot at another life. Well, a lot of people were saying Lennon's career was dead after his second album, The Secret Value of Daydreaming, in 1986. Mr. Jordan, produced by Madonna's muse Patrick Leonard, proves that those rumors were premature. It's an unexpectedly striking and vigorous piece of work—at least parts of it are. "Now You're in Heaven," for instance, swaggers while it rocks. It's a song with a cocky gunslinger's attitude. "I Get Up" is pseudorockabilly, wound up tighter than a cheap watch. On "I Want You to Know," Julian even doffs his cap to his father, John, with a melodic homage to the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus." On these and a number of other tracks, Lennon's voice is deeper, more mature and more forceful than it's ever been, recalling at times latter-era David Bowie. All three of the aforementioned songs Lennon co-wrote with guitarist John McCurry. The songs he wrote by himself, such as the vapid "Mother Mary," and, as a matter of fact, all the songs with slower tempos, are marred by Lennon's inclination for maudlin self-indulgence. Still, for a while Lennon has things cooking. If he acquired a little more consistency, he might one day put out a really top-notch album. Go get 'em, Julian. Heaven can wait. (Atlantic)

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