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on November 6, 2005
Note: The Lennon songs alone deserve a five star rating.

While "Double Fantasy" was meant to be Lennon's comeback album, it ultimately served as his sweet farewell.

John Lennon was a very proficient artist throughout most of the 60s and throughout the first half of the 70s. Between 1963 and 1975, a year didn't pass by in which Lennon didn't release an album, first with the Beatles and then as a solo artist. The second half of the 70s, however, saw no new music from Lennon. Indeed, he virtually disappeared from the limelight.

In the early-to-mid 70s, before his musical hiatus, Lennon indulged in his infamous "lost weekend." During this time Lennon was separated from Yoko and indulged in drugs, alcohol and general excess. After this dark phase, Lennon took the second half of the 70s off to find himself. In that time he reconciled with Yoko, became a father, and worked on new music.

November of 1980 saw the release of "Double Fantasy." It was Lennon's first album of original material since 1974's "Wall and Bridges." Although it initially received mixed reviews from critics, it was a hit, achieving gold status within a few weeks. The album's first single "(Just Like) Starting Over" also proved to be a hit single. With a new world tour planned for 1981, Lennon was poised to make a strong comeback and take the 1980s head-on.

But then came December 8, 1980, a night in which the world was robbed of one of its biggest talents.

After Lennon's death, fans went to the record stores in droves to pick up "Double Fantasy." It became one of 1981's top sellers and earned a Grammy. Although it had initially received mixed reviews from critics, it is now regarded by fans and critics alike as one of his finest solo offerings. The album proved to be a sad-but-sweet farewell.

Because "Double Fantasy" was released so close to Lennon's death, it's hard to listen to it and take it out of that context. It's a rather paradoxical listen. The nature of the album is celebratory and positive, yet it was released in the wake of such a tragedy. It's so unfair that a man who was so gifted, so optimistic about the future, should have it all taken away. All this makes "Double Fantasy" a very bittersweet album.

John Lennon's music has always been autobiographical. After the demise of the Beatles, when Lennon was coming to terms with his life and fame, he released his brutally honest masterpiece "Plastic Ono Band" (1970). It was an album of letting go, a total catharsis, a release of all his pent up demons. In 1974, when he was separated from Yoko, lost, and didn't know what to do with his life, he released the confessional "Walls and Bridges," which was a diary of that dark time in his life.

In 1980, Lennon was as happy and fulfilled as he had ever been, and "Double Fantasy" is a testament to that. He was happily married, had a young child, and was eager to get back into world affairs, tour, and make a statement.

"Double Fantasy" sees a joint John Lennon/Yoko Ono collaboration. Both sing and pen every other song, so each artist is surrounded by a song of the other. Often the songs are a response to one another, like a dialogue.

Lennon's last few albums before his hiatus had been brilliant, if unfocused. "Double Fantasy" sees Lennon's best work in years. With Jack Douglas producing and backed by top-notch studio musicians, Lennon came up with a stellar collection of mature and polished, yet rocking songs.

The Fats Domino-esque "Just like Starting Over" gets the album off to a great start. The mid-tempo "Cleanup Time," with its infectious horns has a great hook and keeps the momentum going. The downdraught insecure "I'm loosing you" is reminiscent of Lennon's work from "Walls and Bridges." Lennon's tribute to his son Sean, the new age sounding lullaby-like "Beautiful Boy" is both sincere and gorgeous, without sounding corny. The album's big hit, the mid-tempo "Watching the Wheels" offers an explanation as to Lennon's absence from the music world for the preceding few years. Lennon shows his masterful pop-sensibility for the stunning "Woman." The up-tempo "Dear Yoko" is a good, if not spectacular pop song. The horns add a nice touch. The 2000 remaster addition includes a rough demo of the hymn-like "Help me to help myself," which shows Lennon's desire to keep on the straight-and-narrow path.

Although the format of the alternating John/Yoko songs is an interesting idea for a middle-aged love story concept album, in all honesty, it would have been better if John and Yoko each released their own songs on separate albums. Yoko Ono is creative and a gifted songwriter, but her songs just seem out of place next to John's. That said, there are some good Yoko songs to be found on "Double Fantasy," like the disco-esque "Kiss, Kiss, Kiss," the cabaret-like "Yes I'm your Angel," and the infectious club-beat of "Every man has a Woman who love him."

I never actually listen to "Double Fantasy" as is, per-se. Rather; I have a CDR of all the Lennon songs from "Double Fantasy," and all the Lennon songs from the posthumous follow-up, "Milk and Honey," (1984) which was done in the same John/Yoko alternating format. This makes for a far more consistent and enjoyable listen.

While Lennon's early death is the biggest loss rock n' roll ever faced, it is of some comfort to know that Lennon spent the last few years of his life in high spirits. "Double Fantasy" ultimately serves as an acknowledgment of that, bittersweet as it may be.
1010 comments| 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Although DF isn't Lennon's (or Ono's) best work, the strongest material holds up extremely well when compared to Plastic Ono Band and Imagine. The arrangements and ensemble playing by the studio musicians on this album are fine. I personally would loved to have seen Cheap Trick record the whole album with Ono and Lennon. The one song they have on the Lennon Anthology (I'm Losing You) has much more punch and power than the final version.
How is this version when compared to previous versions of the album? George Marino's remastering is an improvement on the first CD version of the album. I'm not surprised given the tragic circumstances directly after this album was released that Yoko chose not to remix this album as well. The Mobile Fidelity Sound version of this fine album still sounds the best. What is a bit mystifying is why Capitol and Ono didn't issue this and the other reissues using HDCD, 24 bit (for an example of the improved sound with 24 bit listen to The Very Best of Badfinger) or the 20bit K2 method. Anyone of these techniques would have enhanced an already terrific album.
For those who doubted that John had the melodic ability of McCartney, this album (along with Imagine and moments on Mind Games and Walls & Bridges) demonstrates Lennon every bit the equal of McCartney as a composer of memorable melodies.
Help Me To Help Myself shows considerable improvement when compared to the bootleg that has been floating around for the better part of a decade. Although clearly a rough draft of the song, Lennon's lyric and soulful vocal raise this fine track from a curiosity to a rare gem. Yoko's Waling On Thin Ice works very well within the context of the album (although I would have reversed the sequencing and had HMTHM last as it is the perfect coda).
The booklet (like the booklets for both Imagine and POB) shows great care and creativity was put into this project. The pictures and lyrics are great to have available. A pity that there isn't a historical commentary (like Anthony DeCurtis' in the Anthology set)on the making of the album.
Kudos to Capitol and Yoko for doing a terrific job and for keeping Lennon's memory alive.
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon November 22, 2000
Double Fantasy will always hold a place in music history as it was the last album released during John Lennon's lifetime. It was the first musical collaboration between John & Yoko since the late 60's when the released the two avant-garde Two Virgins albums. The songs represent Mr. Lennon's first attempt at recording original material since 1974's Walls & Bridges and they show his typical autobiographical songwriting nature. "(Just Like) Starting Over" sets the tone of the project and songs like "Woman", "Beautiful Boy", "I'm Losing You" & "Dear Yoko" speak of his family life while "Watching The Wheels" tells of his life for the previous five years. I'm not a fan of the "music" Yoko makes and the songs here do nothing to change that opinion. The real significance of Double Fantasy is that it showed that John Lennon could still make music that people wanted to listen to and music that still mattered. Unfortunately we all know the tragedy that happened shortly after the album's release which silenced one of the great voices of a generation. Mr. Lennon should be remember not only as a Beatle or musician but someone who took on the problems of the world head on and wore his heart on his sleeve. The music he made was not always the most artistic, some of the causes he took on don't seem worth the effort today and the messages he sent sometimes seemed oversimplistic like love, peace and the like, but as we approach the twenty anniversary of his passing, we need more artists who cared about things as much as he did and actually tried to change the world, even if it is only in a small way.
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on November 12, 2000
This new album marks what would have been John Lennon's 60th birthday and with its extra previously unreleased tracks, is even more fantastic than the original "Double Fantasy" from 1980.
The newly released "Help Me To Help Myself" discloses a chilling pointer to Lennon's tragic fate. He sings: "Well, I tried so hard to stay alive, but the angel of destruction keeps on hounding me, all around, but I know in my heart that we never really parted."
The song is one of three new tracks.
Another new track on the album is "Walking On Thin Ice", a track John and Yoko were working on the night he was gunned down. Yoko had a minor hit with the track when she released her own version in 1981, and Elvis Costello has also recorded a version.
I thoroughly enjoyed buying and listening to this CD. I had had a copy of Double Fantasy on LP but had not heard it for years. Now, playing it from CD is a joy and the extra tracks, including the private chat track at the end with Yoko and John strolling together through Central Park, is just a bonus.
I thoroughly recommend the new millenium edition to old Lennon fans everywhere.
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on October 1, 2001
I've never listened to the Beatles or John Lennon's music before and I've had limited exposure to Yoko Ono, the first thing that comes to mind is her 'Hell in Paradise' video from the early 80s. To this day thoses images are still stuck in my mind.
So when I was spending the weekend at my friend's cabin on Whidbey Island that was equipped only with a record player and old LPs from the 40s to the 80s I decided to give this a try. Boy was I surprised. This is a collection of some of the most amazing music I've heard in a long time.
'Starting Over' is a wonderful pop tune. I LOVE 'Kiss Kiss Kiss' and just had to laugh when Yoko [moans] at the end of the song and 'Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him' is just a beautifully sad song.
For me, I think the standout tracks here are the Yoko tracks. For some reason people seem to love to hate her. Before listening to 'Double Fantasy' I liked her but after listening to this I LOVE her. By far she is one of the most under appreciated over looked female artists of the 20th century. Other female artists like bjork owe a debt to Yoko.
A must listen for everyone.
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on February 27, 2002
I don't have anything to add to the discussion of the musical quality of this album, but something should be said about the sound quality. In short, it's bad. Everything has been squashed to death through overuse of compression and limiting; the result is a midrange-heavy brick of sound that is just fine if your volume is set really, really low, but that seems overly bright and will quickly induce ear fatigue if listened to at more normal volume levels. When will mastering engineers wake up and realize that the purpose of re-mastering older recordings is to get the best possible sound out of the original masters, not necessarily to apply current production techniques without regard to the type of music or source material?
Find one of the earlier issues of this album and buy it used. Your ears will one day thank you.
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on March 9, 1999
Of course, most people who bought this CD bought it to hear John Lennon's classics, "Woman," "Watching the Wheels," etc. Many others bought it because it was John Lennon's last record, (not true, "Milk and Honey" is still out of print, but the recently released "John Lennon Anthology" may trigger some interest in laying it on CD) but hardly anyone out there understands Yoko. If most of you out there would drop the pre-judgment that Yoko is awful, you might like much of her music. It is truly revolutionary. This album marked a comeback for both of the artists (both living "private lives" dating back to about 1975) and would be some of the last moments of John Lennon's career. He did not go out on any sour notes; nearly all of the John Lennon songs on this CD are also on the "John Lennon Collection" greatest hits compilation. "Milk and Honey" also boasts classics, most notably "I Don't Want To Face It." (Reissue it!!!) As mentioned before, Yoko does show her brilliance on these two albums as well, most notably with "Kiss Kiss Kiss." However, these are not Yoko Ono's crowning achievments. For any Yoko basher to truly dissolve their misconceptions, they should check out "Season Of Glass." As for John, his stuff on this is typically classic, but his BEST best would have to be the intimate "Plastic Ono Band." "Double Fantasy" is a very interesting and vital crossroads.
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on January 5, 2004
Well I must say that I have had this album for about 2 months and never listened to it all the way through until just now. At first I had to skip through all of the Yoko Ono songs because they were just too 80's sounding and corny. After listening to it all the way through with headphones I have a totally new opinion about the album. Frankly I say its one of Lennon's best. And I also have to give Yoko her credit because after all of the jokes I have heard over the years about how bad she sings, I have to say she is definately an artist. I laughed out loud for awhile hearing her vomit on key (you have to listen to find out which song) and I think she is really underrated as an artist. On her songs I think that the music is ahead if its time as far as the effects go, and they definately grew on me. As far as Sir John, well I love everything that he does. I learned that this was his final album before he was murdered and this album is just one more reason why Mark David Chapman should burn in hell for robbing the world of a true visionary. Give Yoko's songs a chance because after all if John wanted it on the album then its good enough for me. Listen to it with headphones and please drop the Yoko stereotypes. Also, some of the guitar solos are killer and the mood of some of the songs is pretty much out there. Give it a go and if you disagree then write your own review!
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on October 10, 2004
Let me start off by saying I think Yoko Ono is great. Brave, strong woman, and I treasure the beautiful songs John wrote for her, like 'Jealous Guy', 'Don't Let Me Down', 'Woman', 'Oh Yoko!', etc. She continues tending the flame of John's memory.

Now, to the point. I'd nearly forgotten how good Double Fantasy actually is; I usually focus on Plastic Ono Band, Imagine and Mind Games. It'd been a while since I'd heard John's non-hit single work on Double Fantasy, i.e. anything that wasn't on the Lennon Legend compilation, like the upbeat, funky 'Dear Yoko', the pleading 'I'm Losing You', and the renewing 'Cleanup Time', all of which are good, but not as great as the more well known songs. '(Just Like) Starting Over' I've always loved. John had never been so sentimental before, and I wasn't used to it, but I find it charming. Would make a great wedding song. 'Woman' is beautiful, as is 'Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)'. The latter is unintentionally bittersweet; the line "I can hardly wait to see you come of age, but I guess we'll both just have to be patient" kills me everytime I hear it. Don't worry John, Sean is a great guy, a great musician, actually. 'Watching the Wheels' is also great, John clearly enjoying his househusband role. Overall, more great songs from John, in the last year of his life.

As for Yoko's songs, I find them sometimes hit and miss. But she definately grows on you. I still can't get into 'Kiss Kiss Kiss' much, but it does make for an interesting new wave tune, as odd as that is to hear on an album with John Lennon songs. 'Give Me Something' is better, but nothing to write home about. Ditto with 'I'm Moving On'. 'Yes, I'm Your Angel' is Yoko's famous rewrite of 'Makin' Woopie', which she got sued for some years later. I think it's really good, and quite funny. John once pointed out that Yoko actually has a great sense of humour, and it's evidant in this track. I love John's (it is John, isn't it?) whistling in the background. 'Beautiful Boys' is even better, probably my favorite Yoko song on Double Fantasy. It's a nice companion piece to John's 'Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)', except it's about both John and Sean. Very good lyrics, haunting melody, arrangement and vocal. No nutso screaming here, just pure prettyness, at least to me. 'Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him' is quite good as well, as is the sadly ironic 'Hard Times Are Over'. Give Yoko a chance, listen with some patience, and you just might be rewarded. I myself am not too much into her music, but I was suprised by a few of these aforementioned tracks of hers, and how good they are. I'm thinking about picking up one of Yoko's other albums, especially Season of Glass.

Double Fantasy is by no means John Lennon's greatest hour, but it is still a strong album, both a renewal and a farewell all at once.
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on October 15, 2000
The music on this CD is just a sample of what may have been... The inclusion of the Bonus Demo Track: "HELP ME TO HELP MYSELF" is alone worth the price of this CD. It features John at the Piano in an almost Gospel voice singing the hauntingly eerie lyrics... " Well I try so hard to stay alive...but the Angel of Destruction keeps on hounding me..."
This tune along with "Watching the Wheels" and "Beautiful Boy" show the direction John would have taken his music...we miss you John!
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