Starpeace is Yoko Ono's 1985 concept album, designed to spread a message of peace around the world as an opposition to Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars"missile defense system. As with most Ono albums it did not chart extensively but the single release of "Hell in Paradise" reached #16 on the US dance charts.
In 1986, Ono set out on a world tour to accompany the album's message. The CD reissue by Rykodisc in 1997, includes a live recording of "Imagine" from the sellout Budapest show of the tour. An a cappella version of "Now or Never" from the same show was also a bonus track on A Story. Words, music, concept, and vocals by Ono.
The 1984 video documentary release Yoko Ono: Now & Then includes footage of the recording sessions for Starpeace. Over the end credits, Ono performs an unreleased song apparently entitled "Rainbow Time".
A 12" promo single was released for the song "Cape Clear", featuring a re-edit of "Walking on Thin Ice" on the flipside.
|The New York Times||Favorable|
|Rolling Stone||(not rated) |
The album was generally poorly received by critics. Sounds gave it a one star (out of five) review, calling it "a slab of pretentious AOR offal". Spin writer Armond White called it "a Sesame Street album for children who think My Weekly Reader has been withholding the truth", and said that "the album's placidity and earnestness make embarrassing claims on our emotions". Allmusic writer Richie Unterberger gave it two stars, stating that the tracks were "often imbued with a kind of sappy utopianism". Peter Buckley, in The Rough Guide to Rock, described the album as "a rather bombastic error of judgement, laden down by pseudo-comic philosophizing". Rick Shefchik, in the Charlotte Observer called it "the same old '60s hippie drivel".
On the other hand, Robert Palmer of The New York Times gave the album a positive review, calling it "splended" [sic], viewing it as "the most balanced album Miss Ono has made", and describing it as "state-of-the-art pop music for 1985". Rolling Stone also reviewed the album positively, with Anthony Decurtis writing that "Starpeace seamlessly fuses artistic daring and accessibility... there can be no denying that this fifty-two-year-old pop star now fully deserves to be reckoned with on her own demanding terms".
The poor response to the album and low ticket sales on the world tour led to Ono withdrawing from making music, later saying "After Starpeace I was totally discouraged...by the fact that there was no kind of demand for what I was doing, to put it mildly!". She returned to music with the critically acclaimed Rising in 1996.
All songs written by Yoko Ono.
- "Hell in Paradise" – 3:27
- "I Love All of Me" – 3:53
- "Children Power" – 2:15
- "Rainbow Revelation" – 3:21
- "The King of the Zoo" – 3:01
- "Remember Raven" – 2:49
- "Cape Clear" – 5:08
- "Sky People" – 3:37
- "You and I" – 2:50
- "It's Gonna Rain (Living on Tiptoe)" – 4:00
- "Starpeace" – 3:14
- "I Love You, Earth" – 2:45
- Bonus track
- "Hell in Paradise" (7" with instrumental version, 12" with remixes) (Reached #16 on US dance chart)
- "Cape Clear" (Promo 12" with re-edit of "Walking On Thin Ice")
- Produced by Bill Laswell and Yoko Ono
- Recorded and mixed by Rob Stevens
- Keyboards - Bernie Worrell, Jeff Bova
- Guitar - Eddie Martinez
- Violin - Shankar
- Bass - Robbie Shakespeare
- Percussion - Sly Dunbar, Tony Williams, Aïyb Dieng, Daniel Ponce, Anton Fier
- Whistle - Tony Levin
- Background Vocals - Bernard Fowler, Yolanda Lee Lewis and Nona Hendryx
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In 1986 Yoko set out on a goodwill world tour for Starpeace, mostly visiting Eastern European countries that she felt were in need of her message of peace. Ono refused to tour with a corporate sponsor and personally financed the endeavour herself. The media were largely unfair in their coverage of the tour, accusing Ono of "ego-tripping" and ridiculing her for underselling venues. In one case, a photo of Ono rehearsing to an empty hall before the show was printed as if nobody had come to the actual concert. A German DJ was also encouraging people to turn up and throw glass bottles at her.
However, the fans loved the shows, critics widely praised her for her performances, and she filled a venue of 15,000 in Budapest. That said, planned US tour dates were postponed and eventually cancelled due to disappointing ticket sales. Rykodisc's 1997 CD reissues of Ono's albums made available live versions of "Imagine" and "Now or Never" from the tour. The Starpeace setlist usually consisted of:
- "Midsummer New York"
- "Give Me Something"
- "Kiss Kiss Kiss"
- "It Happened"
- "Walking on Thin Ice"
- "Death of Samantha"
- "Goodbye Sadness"
- "Never Say Goodbye"
- "Hell in Paradise"
- "Sky People"
- "I Love All of Me"
- "I See Rainbows"
- "Dream Love"
- "Now or Never"
- "Imagine" (encore)
- "Give Peace a Chance" (encore)