Simultaneous release of
Julian and Sean's albums

The London Times - 9 May 1998

Photograph Smile

flowers.gif (5111 bytes)

THE rivalry between John Lennon's two sons will break into open warfare in the record shops this month when half-brothers Julian and Sean release solo albums on the same day. May 18 will herald the most closely watched chart race since Blur beat Oasis to Number One when they both released records in August 1995. Julian Lennon, a star with several hits to his name, has in the past suggested that a "camp" around his half-brother has been trying to undermine his career. Sean, 12 years his junior, an unknown force in music, has chosen to record his first album for a label run by the Beastie Boys, a band notorious for their tasteless stunts. The debate over which son has inherited the talent of their father, the former Beatle shot dead in New York in 1980, will be resolved by the British record-buying public.

So far, reviews of the two albums suggest that the boys are neck-and-neck. Q says Julian's songwriting has come on, although his Photograph Smile is "almost relentless in its mid-paced rock balladry, which can be wearing". Select says of Sean's Into The Sun: "The whole thing is drenched in lovey-doveyness, but the odd moment of slop seems to be in keeping with the author's slyly tongue-in-cheek intentions." Julian was on a promotional tour yesterday of southeast Asia. His spokesman said his album had always been scheduled for release on May 18. For the two records to come out on the same day was "very unusual in that they are two brothers". Sean has had seven years since Julian's last album release to issue his own debut. EMI, which is distributing Sean's record for the Grand Royal label, insists the clash of release dates is "pure coincidence". A spokesman said it had arisen because Sean was available to promote the album in Britain only this week and was playing his first British gig this week in London's Camden Town. Sean, who had been largely forgotten by the public, attracted worldwide headlines three weeks ago when he told New Yorker magazine that the United States Government had killed his father because he was a dangerous revolutionary. At the same time, Julian was in Germany launching the international press and publicity campaign for his record. He believes the comment may have been timed by Sean's camp to distract the world's attention from the more-famous Lennon son's new music. Julian says he was amazed that Sean was releasing an album at the same time. He says Sean's management group has visited all the people and companies that Julian has been working with. "And whatever I was doing, almost exactly, Sean would be doing the week before me," Julian told The Scotsman. "I don't think it'll do him any good with the album, because what they should have learnt - not only from my experience but other people's - a name will only last so long, but if you haven't got the talent it'll fall through. You're not going to last."

Julian is the son of Lennon's first wife, Cynthia. He was born in Liverpool in March 1963, the month the band had their first Number One record, Please Please Me. While Lennon was absent, it was left to Paul McCartney to teach Julian to play the guitar. McCartney wrote Hey Jude to comfort Julian when his parents were about to split. Lennon moved to New York with his bride, Yoko Ono, and lavished attention on their baby Sean, writing the song Beautiful Boy for him in 1980. Yet he had been so worried about the reaction to the lullaby Goodnight, written for Julian in the 1960s, that he asked Ringo Starr to sing it on the White Album. The first song on Julian's new album includes the line "Daddy's work is never done." The record is dedicated to Roberto Bassanini, Cynthia Lennon's late second husband. With a subtle use of punctuation, Julian hints that he regarded the Italian as his real dad, describing him as "my 'step'-father". Julian's album sleeve also has a message to Cynthia: "Mum - I love you." There is no overt reference to his brother