When presented with a piece of unlistenable dreck like John and Yoko’s Wedding Album, a critic has two choices. Either go after the culprits with guns blazing, or bend over backwards to find something to be positive about.

Richard Williams, who had been assigned by the British music weekly Melody Maker to review Wedding Album, chose the latter course. In the issue published today, he praised two particular pieces, which he took to be minimalist drones:

Constant listening reveals a curious point: the pitch of the tones alters frequency, but only by microtones or, at most, a semitone. This oscillation produces an almost subliminal, uneven “beat” which maintains interest. On a more basic level, you could have a ball by improvising your very own raga, plainsong, or even Gaelic mouth music against the drone.

The only problem was that the “pieces” he was reviewing were not anything John and Yoko had made. Williams had received a test pressing consisting of two LPs, each of which contained one side of the album backed with a side of test tones (which did not, in fact, vary at all). It was these test tones that Williams took a shine to, preferring them to the actual content.

John and Yoko found this amusing and responded by telegram:

DEAR RICHARD THANK YOU FOR YOUR FANTASTIC REVIEW ON OUR WEDDING ALBUM INCLUDING C-AND-D SIDES. WE ARE CONSIDERING IT FOR OUR NEXT RELEASE. MAYBE YOU ARE RIGHT IN SAYING THAT THEY ARE THE BEST SIDES STOP WE BOTH FEEL THAT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME A CRITIC TOPPED THE ARTIST. WE ARE NOT JOKING. LOVE AND PEACE STOP JOHN AND YOKO LENNON.

Give them some credit for a sense of humor, at least. But no credit for what they have wrought here. This morning I screwed up my courage and tried to make it through one side of the album, at least. I chose the “Amsterdam” side. (The other side is just John and Yoko calling each other’s names for 20 minutes; I’ve heard about 90 seconds of that, which is more than enough.)

But I made it about two minutes into “Amsterdam” before I had to fast-forward. Yoko is singing some awful keening gibberish about peace that, paradoxically, makes one feel violently angry. Is this cognitive dissonance possibly intentional, making some artistic point about the duality of man? Somehow I doubt it.

That goes on for about five minutes. Then we get audio verité from the Amsterdam Bed-In — some conversations with journalists, some incidental sound. If you’ve ever wanted to hear John Lennon order toast from room service, this is the place to do it.

The snippet of “Good Night” comes at the very end. It’s not worth it.