John Lennon Anthology
Box Set, 4 CD, Digipack
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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 Compiled by Yoko Ono, the set also includes a 60-page booklet full of previously unpublished photos and drawings by John.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 WrightSee all Editorial Reviews
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the fantastic little book included as part of this set bumps this box up to a solid 4.5 stars. yoko's sentiments are beautifully expressed, and it's always fun to see john lennon's simple-but-heartfelt drawings, never mind a few examples of the fun he could have with the written word.
This box set would be for the Lennon completist....Somebody who is very obsessed with having every bit of recorded work that John recorded....Most of these recordings are either home demos or live recordings..the remaining being alternate studio cuts...and most of what appears here is done in Johns dry offbeat British humour....If you've read and enjoyed his books, then you may also enjoy the humour in these recordings.
Dont get me wrong.....am not saying these aren't worth having...am just saying that if you're looking to find a treasure of unreleased stuff that holds up with his studio releases...You may be somewhat disappointed...
Word of advice......avoid the new copies at full price.....find a really good used one at less than half price....
Perhaps the greatest surprise is an awesome live version of Come Together which will knock your socks off. John's vocal is raw, sort of reminiscent of him doing "Twist and Shout" live with the Beatles. If you were alive on the day John was shot, you will never forget and you will have tears in your eyes as you listen to some of his last recorded music. Oh, what might have been, John. To sum up, if you love Lennon, get the set, you'll cherish it, laugh, cry and remember what an integral part he's been to all who believe in his magic.
It's a fantastic set, both in content and packaging. It's refreshing to hear different versions of the songs we're all used to hearing. And there's plenty of music that I had not heard previously.
Overall, the sound quality is very good, but some songs do suffer the limitation of being home recordings but are still very listenable. I actually prefer John's solo "Real Love" over the doctored up Beatles version.
I could have done without Sean's contributions, but as he was an important part of John's life, I can accept them.
Like Johnny Cash's "Personal File" this is an intimate look at the performer; kind of like having him sitting in your living room and playing a private concert just for you.
Yoko often gets criticized for her handling of John's material, but this is a quality offering in every respect and shows us John the Man vs. John the Beatle.
and get this Box set. To me, this set was just what the doctor order...I needed a little of Dr. Winston O'Boogie to get me through the "Holidays".
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