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John Lennon Anthology [4 CD Box Set] Box set

4.6 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, November 3, 1998
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Product Description

Imagine 100 unreleased tracks by John Lennon! Compiled by Yoko Ono, the set also includes a 60-page booklet full of previously unpublished photos and drawings by John. The first CD, "Ascot," looks at the British solo days of the Plastic Ono Band and Imagine . Disc two, "New York City," covers the early Gotham days and includes unreleased songs like I'm the Greatest and Luck of the Irish . "The Lost Weekend" documents John's dissolute, late-'70s years in LA with a demo of Whatever Gets You Through the Night ; and unreleased tunes like Move Over Ms. L . And "Dakota," the fourth disc, includes juicy bits like John's parodies of Bob Dylan ( Serve Yourself ) and George Harrison ( The Rishi Kesh Song ). The musical diary of an extraordinary man.

The story The John Lennon Anthology tells--that of the questing former Beatle who took five years off to raise his son before returning with an album of peaceful reflections on the househusband life--isn't new, but for all its monumental status, it does help bring Lennon into focus again as a person and a musician. Since his murder in 1980, Lennon-the-man-of-peace has too often obscured the rocker, the dad, the flawed human being in the public consciousness. While this massive stock of odds and ends--studio outtakes and chatter, live and alternate versions, demos--is necessarily diffuse, it does a great service. It restores the iconic Lennon to normal size.

Some of the set's most striking moments come at its beginning, in eight previously unreleased takes of songs that filled most of 1970's Plastic Ono Band. One of rock's most uncompromised albums, it found him angry, sad, and reflective to bursting. The tapes included on Anthology, though, feature a Lennon who, if not happy, is fully in his element--making rock & roll. Even as he's making dry runs for exorcising demons, he's still the guy who fell for the music as a Liverpool teenager; on an early, shuffling version of "Hold On," he leads his guitar line into the main riff of Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk."

Elsewhere, we get long looks at the fits and starts of Lennon's years as a solo artist and as part of a duo with Yoko Ono. He slips from the grace of "Imagine" and "It's So Hard" into the raw polemics and lousy rhymes of "John Sinclair" and "Attica State." (Contrary to a stage announcement preceding the latter, it's not this failed anthem that has ensured the ongoing memory of the prison massacre.)

The honesty of Lennon's vocals throughout his career is often commented on, and they provide some of the greatest treasure here. Whether an alternate of the pained 1974 "Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out," the joyfully full-on rocking of "Be Bop a Lula" and "Move Over Ms. L," or a gorgeous "Be My Baby," it's the voice that's the window to this man's soul. We also see how pained he was at his temporary separation from Yoko, as he even inserts a line of "Jealous Guy" into the demo for the rollicking "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" and abashed pleads for "one more chance" on a similar tape of "Mind Games."

Finally, there are the many moments of good humor--the outlines of "I'm the Greatest" and "Goodnight Vienna" for Ringo, the loose-as-a-goose "Be Bop a Lula"--and pleasingly bad, like "Serve Yourself," a snipe at Dylan's born-again phase, or some battling studio exchanges with a Phil Spector crazed enough to drive anyone out of the business for half a decade. Anthology is flawed, but its wide-ranging picture of Lennon's post-Beatles years is that of someone you'd love to have spent some time with. --Rickey Wright

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Working Class Hero
  2. God
  3. I Found Out
  4. Hold On
  5. Isolation
  6. Love
  7. Mother
  8. Remember
  9. Imagine
  10. "Fortunately"
  11. Baby Please Don't Go
  12. Oh My Love
  13. Jealous Guy
  14. Maggie Mae
  15. How Do You Sleep
  16. God Save Oz
  17. Do The Oz
  18. I Donít Want To Be A Soldier
  19. Give Peace A Chance
  20. Look At Me
  21. Long Lost John

Disc: 2

  1. New York City
  2. Attica State (live)
  3. Imagine (live)
  4. Bring On The Lucie
  5. Woman Is The Nigger of The World
  6. Geraldo Rivera - One to One Concert
  7. Woman Is The Nigger of The World (live)
  8. It's So Hard (live)
  9. Come Together (live)
  10. Happy Xmas
  11. Luck of the Irish (live)
  12. John Sinclair (live)
  13. The David Frost Show
  14. Mind Games (I Promise)
  15. Mind Games (Make Love, Not War)
  16. One Day At A Time
  17. I Know
  18. I'm The Greatest
  19. Goodnight Vienna
  20. Jerry Lewis Telethon
  21. "A Kiss Is Just A Kiss"
  22. Real Love
  23. You Are Here

Disc: 3

  1. What You Got
  2. Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out
  3. Whatever Gets You Through the Night (home)
  4. Whatever Gets You Through the Night (studio)
  5. Yesterday (parody)
  6. Be Bop A Lula
  7. Rip It Up/Ready Teddy
  8. Scared
  9. Steel And Glass
  10. Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)
  11. Bless You
  12. Going Down On Love
  13. Move Over Ms. L
  14. Ainít She Sweet
  15. Slippiní And Slidin'
  16. Peggy Sue
  17. Bring It On Home To Me/ Send Me Some Lovin'
  18. Phil and John 1
  19. Phil and John 2
  20. Phil and John 3
  21. "When In Doubt, Fuck It"
  22. Be My Baby
  23. Stranger's Room
  24. Old Dirt Road

Disc: 4

  1. I'm Losing You
  2. Seans "Little Help"
  3. Serve Yourself
  4. My Life
  5. Nobody Told Me
  6. Life Begins At 40
  7. I Don't Wanna Face It
  8. Woman
  9. Dear Yoko
  10. Watching the Wheels
  11. I'm Stepping Out
  12. Borrowed Time
  13. The Rishi Kesh Song
  14. Sean's "Loud"
  15. Beautiful Boy
  16. Mr. Hyde's Gone (Don't Be Afraid)
  17. Only You
  18. Grow Old With Me
  19. Dear John
  20. The Great Wok
  21. Mucho Mungo
  22. Satire 1
  23. Satire 2
  24. Satire 3
  25. Sean's "In The Sky"
  26. It's Real

Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 3, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: November 3, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Capitol
  • ASIN: B00000DG1Q
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,076 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P Magnum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD
At first glance, The John Lennon Anthology appears to be another box set with hit best known songs along with a few live performances and outtakes. But the set is actually made up entirely of alternate versions of his best known songs with some live songs and outtakes sprinkled in. The results are interesting and intriguing. Many of the songs are featured in stripped down, bare-bones forms, with just a piano or guitar and you get an inside look at the creative process of a legend. The Plastic Ono Band songs like "Working Class Hero", "God" and "Mother" are even starker and rawer than their released versions. You get to hear some of his highly politically charged live concerts from the early 70's like the Free John Sinclair shows. Some of the more interesting songs include his original demo of "Real Love" which later was re-recorded by the three remaining Beatles for the Anthology series, songs from the Mind Game sessions and his later Double Fantasy work like "Nobody Told Me" and a stripped down, guitar and drum machine take of "Woman" which is absolutely breathtaking. The last disk contains some great moments like Mr. Lennon goofing around with Beatles songs (lightly mocking Paul McCartney in some) and his young son Sean is featured singing as well. The four cd's are broken up in chronological order and the entire package is well done. Each cd is encased in a beautiful package containing artwork by Mr. Lennon and the set's booklet contains more art and great photos. This set is for John Lennon fanatics of every age and well worth the price.
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Format: Audio CD
This set spans John's years as a solo artist from 1970 to 1980. I've always felt John's solo albums were over-produced by himself and Phil Spector, John's voice seemed to get lost in the recordings, however in this set his voice is to the fore and the songs sound 10 times better than than do on his albums. Disc 1 ASCOT: (the best) revolves about his first two solo albums, Plastic Ono Band and Imagine. Disc 2 NEW YORK CITY: John's political phase with Sometime In New York City and Mind Games. Disc 3 THE LOST WEEKEND: John's infamous "Lost Weekend" which features Walls And Bridges and Rock N'Roll. And finally Disc 4 DAKOTA: which features many rare demos as well as his Double Fantasy and Milk & Honey albums. However I should state this set is probably only for hardcore fans of Lennon, but those true fans will cherish listening to John singing Real Love on his own, a diffrent version of Imagine, a live Come Together from Madison Square Garden and John chatting with Sean at the Dakota.
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This is one of the best box sets ever. Not only is the design first class - the accompanying booklet and the 4 discs are housed in excellent cardboard digipak fashion - the sound quality of the recordings is very, very good reflecting an excellent remastering job.

This album is very aptly called "Anthology" as that is just what this is: a loving history of the brains of the Beatles from the start of his solo years to his untimely death. As such, much of the material here is "unpolished" and intentionally done so to the extent that we get many outtakes and alternative takes of the various hits that never made it to the final original albums that eventually went on sale over the years.

Still, the overall effect is a very personal aural experience for the listener who gets to know the real John Lennon. I'm deeply moved listening to the banter between him and his son Sean especially the outtake where John reveals his great love for his son, wanting to please him and you can almost hear the disappointment in his voice when he had to tell him that he couldn't raise the volume of the guitar amp any louder as requested by Sean. Anyone who's ever been a father can empathise with a man who just desperately wants to please his son.

If you are looking for an album of John Lennon's greatest hits, this is not it; you'll have to go get the latest album release by that name but if you are looking to understand the man and to get that rare glimpse of his personality, his essence and what he really was about, this is the essential listening experience that you need to get.

You get to see his traumatic inner psyche on disc 1 with "Mother", "God", "Jealous Guy" and "Long Lost John".
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John Lennon said in one or two interviews that the best performances the Beatles ever gave went unrecorded. By the same token, the outtakes, rehearsals and demos which make up most of the JOHN LENNON ANTHOLOGY are more to the point than almost any of the official solo recordings released during his lifetime.
This four-disc powerhouse set demonstrates what John Lennon could do when he didn't have to polish his work. When he was laying down a rehearsal track or a demo he was singing for himself. The horn-section which drowns the ROCK 'N' ROLL album is not heard on the outtakes of "Bring It On Home To Me" and "Rip It Up." They rock, and that's something the finished ROCK 'N' ROLL album did not.
"I'm Losing You," in its rehearsal stage, with guitars and drums tuned to a high temperature, blows away the timorous version which made it onto DOUBLE FANTASY.
The JOHN LENNON ANTHOLOGY is not merely better than the so-called finished product; it's more sincere. The best moment might be a live performance of "Imagine" at the Apollo. It's with a guitar instead of a piano and it's in front of an audience Lennon couldn't help but respect. There's not a hint of disappointment in his voice.
I think Lennon hated a finished product. In rehearsal he could be boisterous, humorous and impassioned. He could gauge a live audience instantly. He could be himself in rehearsal and he was in command in front of an audience. Because this boxed set is made up of live performances and unvarnished tracks, an unusually relaxed and confident Lennon is revealed.
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