Wednesday, December 19, 2018

John Lennon - 1972 - Sometime In New York City

John Lennon
1972
Sometime In New York City


01. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World 5:15
02. Sisters O Sisters 3:46
03. Attica State 2:52
04. Born In A Prison 4:04
05. New York City 4:29
06. Sunday Bloody Sunday 5:00
07. The Luck Of The Irish 2:55
08. John Sinclair 3:26
09. Angela 4:06
10. We're All Water 5:18
11. Cold Turkey (Live Jam) 8:34
12. Don't Worry Kyoko (Live Jam) 15:40
13. Well Baby, Please Don't Go (Live Jam) 4:28

CD Bonus Tracks
14. Listen The Snow Is Falling 3:06
15. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) 3:34

Album Released on Released: 15 September 1972 (UK), 12 June 1972 (US)
Recorded: 15 December 1969, 6 June 1971, 13 February – 8 March 1972
Producers: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector

John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Yoko Ono: vocals
Wayne 'Tex' Gabriel: electric guitar
Gary Van Scyoc: bass guitar
Adam Ippolito: piano, organ
John La Bosca: piano
Stan Bronstein: saxophone, flute
Richard Frank Jr: drums, percussion
Jim Keltner: drums
George Harrison: electric guitar
Frank Zappa: vocals, electric guitar
Eric Clapton: electric guitar
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Billy Preston: organ
Jim Pons: vocals, bass guitar
Bob Harris: vocals, keyboards
Nicky Hopkins: piano
Delaney Bramlett: electric guitar
Don Preston: Minimoog
Ian Underwood: vocals, woodwind, keyboards
Bobby Keys: saxophone
Jim Price: trumpet
Andy White: drums
Jim Gordon: drums
Keith Moon: drums
Aynsley Dunbar: drums
Bonnie Bramlett: percussion
Mark Volman: vocals
Howard Kaylan: vocals


Some Time In New York City, the follow-up to John Lennon's Imagine, was inspired by radical left-wing politics of the early 1970s. A critical and commercial failure, it featured two discs containing 10 studio songs and six live performances.

The album was borne of the vitality Lennon felt after moving to New York City. He had previously spoken of his love of the city and of America in interviews, and finally moved there with Yoko Ono in September 1971.

Well nobody came to bug us, hustle us or shove us
So we decided to make it our home
If the Man wants to shove us out we gonna jump and shout
The Statue of Liberty said, 'Come!'
New York City
Some Time In New York City

New York rejuvenated Lennon, both personally and musically, and he swiftly wrote a number of songs about his experiences. They were initially acoustic guitar-based, but took on a more traditional rock 'n' roll sound once studio work began.

"America is where it's at. You know, I should have been born in New York, man. I should have been born in the Village! That's where I belong! Why wasn't I born there? Like Paris was in the eighteenth century or whatever it was, London I don't think has ever been it. It might have been literary-wise when Wilde and Shaw and all them were there. New York was it! I regret profoundly not being American and not being born in Greenwich Village. That's where I should have been. But it never works that way. Everybody heads towards the centre, that's why I'm here now. I'm here just to breathe it. It might be dying, or there might be a lot of dirt in the air, but this is where it's happening."
John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenne

Lennon had become interested in political issues while touring with The Beatles in the mid 1960s. At first unsure of whether to speak out against the Vietnam War, and discouraged from doing so, it wasn't until 1968's Revolution that social commentary began to take centre stage in his music.

As a solo artist Lennon used his songwriting increasingly as a way to chart what was occurring in his life, whether personal or political. Working Class Hero and Power To The People were key songs of his in the early 1970s, and he and Yoko Ono had spoken out in support of British Black Power leader Michael X, convicted A6 murderer James Hanratty, and the editors of Oz magazine.

Although he encountered resistance from Nixon's administration, Lennon found a New York ally in political activists Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. He embraced the counterculture movement in New York, aligning himself with the politics of the New Left and their various causes and campaigns.

Richard Nixon saw John Lennon as a threat to his administration: an official memo stated that "radical New Left leaders plan to use Mr Lennon as a drawing card to promote the success of rock festivals, to obtain funds for a 'dump Nixon' campaign." The FBI tapped his telephone, monitored his public appearances, and attempted to assemble a case for deportation.

"The infamous San Diego meeting that got us all into all the immigration problems was really a nonexistent situation. There was this so-called meeting with Jerry, Abbie, Allen Ginsberg, John Sinclair, John and Yoko, where they were trying to get us to go to the San Diego Republican Convention. When they described their plans, we just kept looking at each other. It was the poets and the straight politicals divided. Ginsberg was with us. He kept saying, 'What are we trying to do, create another Chicago?' That's what they wanted. We said, 'We ain't buying this. We're not going to draw children into a situation to create violence – so you can overthrow what? – and replace it with what?
But then the story went out that we were going to San Diego. That was enough to get Immigration on us. They started attacking us through the Immigration Department, trying to throw us out of the country. But it was all based on this illusion, that you can create violence and overthrow what is and get communism or get some right-wing lunatic or a left-wing lunatic. They're all lunatics."
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Lennon's visa expired on 29 February 1972. Although the authorities cited his 1968 conviction for cannabis possession, an extension to his visa was granted while he appealed the deportation order. His green card, granting permanent residence, was eventually issued on 27 July 1976.

It was against this backdrop that Lennon began writing his most political set of songs. He and Yoko Ono appeared at a range of benefit events or rallies, including the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Attica State Benefit at the Harlem Theater in Harlem.

Lennon became infatuated by the freedom and vibrancy of New York City culture, including the music of David Peel and the Lower East Side. He also recruited a local rock band, Elephant's Memory, as his backing band for numerous live appearances and the recording sessions for Some Time In New York City.

Lennon had previously been working on a set of acoustic songs, but changed styles after meeting the group, now renamed the Plastic Ono Elephant's Memory Band. Following a week-long residency on The Mike Douglas Show, the group entered the Record Plant East studio to begin work on the album, with Phil Spector producing.

Lennon had been documenting his life in song as far back as I'm A Loser, Help! and Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). He generally disliked extensive studio production, preferring instead to record quickly and simply, and by 1969's The Ballad Of John And Yoko and Cold Turkey he had adopted an instantaneous style of form and content which owed as much to newspaper journalism as it did to rock 'n' roll.

The process was refined further on John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, his first solo album from 1970, in which production was pared back to its most basic level to bring the lyrics to the fore. Indeed, he once revealed that the secret of songwriting was simply to "say what you want to say, and put a backbeat to it".

Of the studio recordings on Some Time In New York City, only two songs – John Sinclair and New York City – were solo compositions by Lennon. Three were written by Ono – Sisters, O Sisters, Born In A Prison and We're All Water – and the rest were co-written by the pair.

Ono's influence on Lennon's writing was perhaps most acute on Woman Is The Nigger Of The World. The title was a phrase coined by Ono in an interview with Nova magazine which was published in March 1969, in reference to the chauvinism of the London music scene: "When I went to London and got together with John that was the biggest macho scene imaginable. That's when I made the statement 'woman is the nigger of the world'."

Two songs were written in support of the republican movement in Northern Ireland. Sunday Bloody Sunday was a response to the British Army massacre of 30 January 1972. The Luck Of The Irish was written before the event, and was inspired by a protest march in London that Lennon attended in August 1971.

Lennon's interest in United States civil rights issues manifested itself in two other songs. Angela was written about Angela Davis, a Black Panther supporter who was tried and eventually acquitted for suspected involvement in the murder of a Superior Court judge Harold Haley in California in 1970. Attica State, meanwhile, was written about the prison riot of September 1971 at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York state, in which at least 39 people lost their lives.

Lennon's intention to document his life in 1972 was distilled on the song New York City, a heartfelt celebration of the city he now called home. The song followed the diary style he had first adopted on The Ballad Of John And Yoko, and detailed the recruitment of Elephant's Memory into the Plastic Ono Band, his film-making with Yoko Ono, and the couple's joy at being free to wander the streets of the city.

"The Jerry was Jerry Rubin. The bloke with a guitar was David Peel. You see how the album's represented as a newspaper. Well, the song's a bit of a journalese, like Ballad Of John And Yoko. It tells the story."
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

A second disc, titled Live Jam, was also included with the album. Side one contained Cold Turkey and Don't Worry Kyoko, recorded at London's Lyceum Ballroom on 15 December 1969 with a backing band which included George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Billy Preston

The second side contained recordings from a different concert. Lennon and Ono had appeared onstage during the encore of The Mothers Of Invention's show at the Fillmore East in Manhattan in June 1971. They recorded four songs: a cover of The Olympics' Well (Baby Please Don't Go), followed by the largely-improvised Jamrag, Scumbag and Aü.

Some Time In New York City was issued in a gatefold sleeve with printed inner sleeves, a postcard of the Statue of Liberty, and – in the US only – a petition against John Lennon's expulsion from the country. Early pressings had a message etched into the inner groove area of the vinyl: "John and Yoko forever, peace on earth and good will to men 72".

The cover concept continued Lennon's desire to present his music as a newspaper or diary. Inspired by the New York Times, the artwork printed the lyrics to the studio songs, along with photographs, montages and drawings, and the parody motto: "Ono news that's fit to print".

One of the images, to illustrate Yoko Ono's song We're All Water, featured Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong dancing naked together. The montage made many US retailers nervous, particularly in the wake of Lennon and Ono's 1968 album Unfinished Music No 1: Two Virgins.

"You see how they banned the picture here. Yoko made this beautiful poster: Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon dancing naked together, you see? And the stupid retailers stuck a gold sticker over it that you can't even steam off. At least you could steam off that Beatles cover [Yesterday... And Today]. So you see the kind of pressure Yoko and I were getting, not only on a personal level, and the public level, and the court case, and the fucking government, and this, that, and the other, but every time we tried to express ourselves, they would ban it, would cover it up, would censor it."
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Some Time In New York City was critically panned upon its release. Reviewers were disappointed by Lennon's abandonment of the pop music he had embraced on Imagine, and the mainstream press had little sympathy for Lennon's broad-brush sloganeering and simplistic treatment of political issues. The reaction of Rolling Stone magazine was typical:

"Throughout their artistic careers, separately and together, the Lennons have been committed avant-gardists. Such commitment takes guts. It takes even more guts when you've made it so big that you don't need to take chances to stay on top: the Lennons should be commended for their daring. What is deplorable, however, is the egotistical laziness (and the sycophantic milieu in which it thrives) that allows artists of such proven stature, who claim to identify with the 'working class hero', to think they can patronise all whom they would call sisters and brothers."
Stephen Holden
Rolling Stone

The reception was a blow to Lennon, who subsequently suffered self-doubt about the quality of his songwriting. None of his later works had the vitality of his first two solo albums, and he increasingly followed musical fashions rather than creating his own standards.

"Most other people express themselves by playing football at weekends or shouting. But here am I in New York and I hear about thirteen people shot dead in Ireland and I react immediately. And being what I am I react in four-to-the-bar with a guitar break in the middle. I don't say, 'My God, what's happening, we should do something.' I go: 'It was Sunday Bloody Sunday/And they shot the people down...' It's not like the Bible. It's all over now. It's gone. It's finished."
John Lennon, 1972
New Musical Express

Lennon later admitted the public reaction to Some Time In New York City had an adverse effect on his work.

It almost ruined it. It became journalism and not poetry. And I basically feel that I'm a poet. Then I began to take it seriously on another level, saying, 'Well, I am reflecting what is going on, right?'
John Lennon, 1975

Chastened by the reviews, Lennon began to adopt a lower profile. In the United Kingdom the single Happy Xmas (War Is Over) was finally released in November 1972, almost a year after it had been issued in America. Lennon and Ono moved into the Dakota building early in 1973, and he spent more than a year away from the recording studio before returning in 1973 with Mind Games.

The release
Some Time In New York City was issued in the United States in June 1972, and peaked at number 48. Three months later, following a copyright dispute over Yoko Ono's co-writing credits, it was released in the United Kingdom. Despite numerous imported copies having been sold, it reached number 11 in the UK charts.

Sales of the album were additionally affected by its high price. Although the Live Jam disc was intended as a free bonus album, it was given a separate catalogue number which pushed up the price of the package.

Critics savaged Some Time in New York City, and fans apparently agreed. The project barely cracked Billboard's Top 50, marking the worst post-Beatles showing for one of Lennon's original albums. Chastised, he quickly turned back toward the kind of conventional songwriting that made 1971's Imagine a double-platinum smash. Lennon would score three more Top 20 hits over the next couple of years, including the chart-topping "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," before retiring to focus on family.

Still, like even the least of the Beatles' solo projects, Some Time in New York City wasn't without its small-scale charms. "New York City" served as a Chuck Berry-esque mash note to Lennon's new hometown, an effortless romp in an album sorely lacking such moments. A steel-stringed Dobro imbued "John Sinclair" with a delightful rootsiness. Driven along by a nasty slide, "Attica State" was one of Lennon's more purposeful rockers – never an easy thing to accomplish among producer Phil Spector's legendary clutter. "Woman is the N----- of the World," the latest in a string of sloganeering attempts that went back to "Give Peace a Chance," built to a dark and thunderous conclusion.




John Lennon - 1972 - Sometime In New York City Sessions


(2014 Misterclaudel : MCCD 403/403/404)
Unreleased Session and Demo Tracks
Record Plant, New York, February-March 1972

Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
101. Demo (1971) 3:16
102. Basic Track - Rough Mix #1 3:20
103. Basic Track - Rough Mix #2 3:33
Woman Is The Nigger Of The World
104. Demo (1971) 2:14
105. Demo (1971) 5:35
Attica State
106. Demo Take 1 (1971) 2:40
107. Demo Take 2 (1971) 0:34
108. Demo Take 3 (1971) 2:58
109. Studio Rehearsal 3:01
New York City
110. Demo (1971) 1:16
111. Rehearsal #1 6:31
112. Rehearsal #2 0:43
113. Take 1 (Breakdown) 1:08
114. Take 2 (Breakdown) 0:17
115. Take 3 4:17
116. Take 4 (Breakdown) 0:55
117. Takes 5 & 6 2:36
118. Take 7 (Breakdown) 0:57
119. Take 8 4:31
120. Take 9 4:35
121. Take 10 (Breakdown) 1:47
122. Take 11 5:09
123. Take 12 (Breakdown) 0:15
124. Take 13 3:49
125. Take 14 4:05
126. Takes 15 & 16 2:36
127. Take 17 3:29
128. Takes 18 & 19 (Breakdown) 0:47

New York City
201. Take 20 3:05
202. Let’s Ride 0:53
203. Take 21 5:29
204. Takes 22, 23 & 24 5:10
The Luck Of The Irish
205. Demo Take 1 0:46
206. Demo Take 2 1:34
207. Rehearsal #1 1:13
208. New York City/Rehearsal #2 1:04
209. Rehearsal #3 1:40
210. Rehearsal #4 1:00
211. Rehearsal #5 0:33
212. Rehearsal #6 0:41
213. Rehearsal Take 1 3:48
214. Rehearsal #7 2:29
215. Rehearsal #8 2:21
216. Rehearsal #9 4:07
217. Take 1 (Breakdown) 0:15
218. Take 2 2:41
219. Rehearsal #10 1:38
220. Rehearsal #11 2:19
John Sinclair
221. Demo 2:32
Angela
222. JJ (Take 1) 1:15
223. JJ (Take 2) 1:09
224. People 1:54
1971 Demos
225. Send Me Some Lovin’ 3:13
226. He Got The Blues 2:37
227. I Ain’t Got Time 3:09
228. She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain 1:02

‘Sometime In New York City’ - Studio Jam Session
301. Roll Over Beethoven 2:28
302. Honey Don’t 2:59
303. Ain’t That A Shame 2:28
304. My Baby-Not Fade Away 2:26
305. Send Me Some Lovin’ 2:44
306. Whole Lotta Shakin’/It’ll Be Me 5:28
307. Honey Hush 2:10
308. Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog 4:25
309. Caribbean 3:07
Attica State Benefit Concert; December 17, 1971
310. Intro 0:56
311. Attica State 3:22
312. Sisters, O Sisters 3:46
313. Imagine 3:03
POP 2; January 8, 1972
314. Bring On The Lucie (Freda People)/Attica State 1:27
315. George Jackson (Improvisation) 0:40
316. Bring On The Lucie (Freda Peopl) #2 0:28
Eyewitness News Rehearsals; August 1972
317. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World 2:48
318. Fools Like Me 1:37
319. Caribbean 1:41
320. Peggy Sue/Bring It On Home 0:57
321. Rock Island Line 1:47
322. Maybe Maybe 1:45
323. Peggy Sue 0:20

John Lennon's move to New York City coincided with a political shift leftward and, perhaps not coincidentally, lingering issues with immigration. The result was one of his most determinedly topical, most critically reviled and most often ignored solo projects.
Some Time in New York City, a double album released on June 12, 1972, followed Lennon's mantra that the best songs were those where you simply "say what you want to say and put a backbeat to it." He had long been obsessed with getting songs out as quickly as possible, memorably having written 1970's "Instant Karma" in the morning and recorded it later that same day. This album was the natural outgrowth of this impulse, a recording focused on the issues of that very moment in time — ripped, as they say, right from the headlines. Unfortunately, those old dailies have become yellowed and frayed.
Lennon's biggest successes at quick-turnaround songwriting so far had been distinctly personal: the Beatles' "Ballad of John and Yoko" and the early solo song "Cold Turkey." Adapting that kind of top-of-his-head commentary to issues of the day might have resonated back then, but few people remember John Sinclair (the writer and MC5 band manager jailed for passing two joints to an undercover cop) and the Attica prison riots (sparked by demands for better living conditions) now. Both were big news in 1971, and the subjects of songs on Some Time in New York City – which, fittingly, used an instantly dated newspaper mock-up for its cover image – but are nothing more than Google fodder for the most committed fan today.
Without universal themes that could resonate across generations, Some Time in New York City tends to come off as empty proselytizing. The sentiments were too brittle, and often all edge — the result, no doubt, of their rushed creation. Even Lennon eventually came to see the folly of this kind of freeze-dried creativity. "I like to do inspirational work," he told David Sheff in 1980. "I'd never write a song like ['John Sinclair'] now."
Worse, many of the sentiments sound just like what they were: songs written for instant consumption. Sample lyric from "Angela," about a jailed Black Panther supporter: "They gave you coffee; they gave you tea / They gave you everything but equality." Meanwhile, "The Luck of the Irish" – one of two songs that supported Northern Ireland's Republican movement – included lazy (reportedly Yoko Ono-composed) cliches like shamrocks, leprechauns and the hope that the world would one day become "one big Blarney stone."
The muscular, often messy backing of Elephant's Memory, a local group Lennon had fallen in with, only underscores the drive-by nature of the content.
To some degree, Lennon seemed to be focusing outward in order to avoid the looming problems in his life. As he'd become a fixture in New York City's counterculture, issues with the U.S. government began to intensify. Lennon finally received a letter from the INS earlier in 1972 demanding that he leave the country in three weeks or face deportation. Grasping at straws, they cited a 1968 misdemeanor conviction for marijuana possession. Lennon lawyered up, but the fight continued unabated until President Nixon's entanglement in the Watergate scandal. Lennon finally received his green card in 1976.
"It was hassling me, because that was when I was hanging out with Elephant's Memory, and I wanted to rock – to go out on the road. But I couldn't do that because I always had to be in New York for something, and I was hassled," Lennon told Hit Parader in 1975. "I guess it showed in me work. But whatever happens to you happens in your work."


In truth, time had already rendered some of the songs irrelevant before the album even arrived. The paper-thin lyrics to "John Sinclair" ("Free John now," Lennon sang, "if we can") were dashed off for use during a political rally on Dec. 10, 1971, in Ann Arbor – and Sinclair was promptly released three days later. (Incidentally, the FBI's lengthy surveillance of Lennon began at this rally.) Angela Davis, subject of the similarly outdated "Angela," had also been acquitted by the summer of 1972.
Worse, sometimes Lennon's sentiments simply made no sense. "Sunday Bloody Sunday," which took the side of the IRA against the British Army in the ongoing violent struggles in Ireland, served to muddy Lennon's longstanding stand on pacifism. "Attica State," written before a drunken birthday jam session in 1971, took his suddenly disorganized passions another step further: "Free all prisoners everywhere," Lennon sang. "All they want is truth and justice."
Critics savaged Some Time in New York City, and fans apparently agreed. The project barely cracked Billboard's Top 50, marking the worst post-Beatles showing for one of Lennon's original albums. Chastised, he quickly turned back toward the kind of conventional songwriting that made 1971's Imagine a double-platinum smash. Lennon would score three more Top 20 hits over the next couple of years, including the chart-topping "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," before retiring to focus on family.
"I'm pretty movable, as an artist, you know. ... It became journalism and not poetry – and I basically feel that I'm a poet," he told Rolling Stone in 1975. "Then I began to take it seriously on another level, saying, 'Well, I am reflecting what is going on, right?' And then I was making an effort to reflect what was going on. Well, it doesn't work like that. It doesn't work as pop music or what I want to do. It just doesn't make sense."
Still, like even the least of the Beatles' solo projects, Some Time in New York City wasn't without its small-scale charms. "New York City" served as a Chuck Berry-esque mash note to Lennon's new hometown, an effortless romp in an album sorely lacking such moments. A steel-stringed Dobro imbued "John Sinclair" with a delightful rootsiness. Driven along by a nasty slide, "Attica State" was one of Lennon's more purposeful rockers – never an easy thing to accomplish among producer Phil Spector's legendary clutter. "Woman is the Nigger of the World," the latest in a string of sloganeering attempts that went back to "Give Peace a Chance," built to a dark and thunderous conclusion.
A second disc of live performances was hit and miss. The first side marked an important passage with songs from a 1969 performance featuring George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Billy Preston, while the second – from a 1971 encore with Frank Zappa – was occasionally brilliantly unhinged.

John Lennon - 1971 - Imagine

John Lennon
1971 
Imagine


01. Imagine 2:59
02. Crippled Inside 3:43
03. Jealous Guy 4:10
04. It's So Hard 2:22
05. I Don't Want To Be A Soldier 6:01
06. Give Me Some Truth 3:11
07. Oh My Love 2:40
08. How Do You Sleep? 5:29
09. How? 3:37
10. Oh Yoko! 4:18

Recorded: 11-16 February; 24-28 May; 4-5 July 1971
Producers: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector

Released: 8 October 1971 (UK), 9 September 1971 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, harmonica
George Harrison: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, dobro
Nicky Hopkins: piano, electric piano
John Tout: piano
Joey Molland: acoustic guitar
Tom Evans: acoustic guitar
Rod Linton: acoustic guitar
Andy Davis: acoustic guitar
Ted Turner: acoustic guitar
John Tout: acoustic guitar
King Curtis: saxophone
John Barham: harmonium, vibraphone
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Steve Brendell: upright bass, maracas
Alan White: drums, vibraphone, Tibetan cymbals
Jim Keltner: drums
Jim Gordon: drums
Mike Pinder: tambourine
The Flux Fiddlers: strings


John Lennon's second solo album was his greatest commercial success. On it he tempered some of the more abrasive and confrontational elements of its predecessor, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, offering instead a more conventional pop collection that contains some of his best-loved songs.

"The album Imagine was after Plastic Ono. I call it Plastic Ono with chocolate coating."
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

While the soul-baring John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band had been acclaimed as a significant artistic work, its subject matters proved unpalatable for many listeners. After its release Lennon had dabbled with left-wing political issues on the Power To The People and God Save Oz singles, before contemplating a return to conventional pop music.

The songs
Imagine begins with the title track, John Lennon's most famous song. One of his most idealistic moments, Imagine suggested a world without religion, nation or possessions, asking instead that people see themselves as agents for change without traditional dogma or ideology.

If Imagine was an attempt to reach beyond the political norms, Crippled Inside, Jealous Guy, It's So Hard and How? returned to the personal introspection of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Lennon's demons clearly hadn't been vanquished, but he had learnt to temper them and couch them in more palatable form.

Gimme Some Truth saw a return for Citizen Lennon, marking the next step in a transition towards political polemics that would reach a peak on 1972's Some Time In New York City. It was a journey he had begun with 1968's Revolution, but began to focus on properly from Power To The People, released six months prior to Imagine. Gimme Some Truth remains one of Lennon's most powerful musical statements, launching a full-blooded attach on the hypocrisy of authority figures, and still able to pack a considerable punch decades after its release.

Oh My Love and Oh Yoko! were love songs for Lennon's wife, the first of which was written at the beginning of their relationship in 1968 and was co-credited to Ono.

And then there was How Do You Sleep?, the most notorious of Imagine's songs. An undisguised attack on Paul McCartney, it was as far from living life in peace that it was possible to Imagine Lennon.

The song was written in response to various coded messages Lennon claimed were on Paul and Linda McCartney's 1971 album Ram, particularly in the songs Too Many People, Dear Boy, Three Legs and The Back Seat Of My Car.

"I heard Paul's messages in Ram – yes there are dear reader! Too many people going where? Missed our lucky what? What was our first mistake? Can't be wrong? Huh! I mean Yoko, me, and other friends can't all be hearing things. So to have some fun, I must thank Allen Klein publicly for the line 'just another day'. A real poet! Some people don't see the funny side of it. Too bad. What am I supposed to do, make you laugh? It's what you might call an 'angry letter', sung – get it?"
John Lennon
Crawdaddy magazine

Although McCartney later claimed the messages had been confined to Too Many People, the damage had been done. Lennon launched a full-scale broadside at his former songwriting partner, accusing him of being surrounded by sycophantic 'straights', having achieved nothing more than writing Yesterday, and trashing his recent works as "muzak to my ears". As a final blow, he suggested those believers of the 'Paul is dead' myth were actually right.

Early pressings of Imagine included a postcard showing Lennon holding the ears of a pig, a clear parody of McCartney's pose on the cover of Ram. The pair eventually settled their differences, although their friendship never recovered the closeness it once had.

"Well, it was like Dylan doing Like A Rolling Stone, one of his nasty songs. It's using somebody as an object to create something. I wasn't really feeling that vicious at the time, but I was using my resentment towards Paul to create a song. Let's put it that way.
It was just a mood. Paul took it the way he did because it obviously, pointedly refers to him, and people just hounded him about it, asking, 'How do ya feel about it?' But there were a few little digs on his albums, which he kept but I heard them. So I just thought, Well, hang up being obscure! I'll just get right down to the nitty-gritty."
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff


In the studio
Choosing to collaborate more fully with Phil Spector than he had on John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon began recording the Imagine album during the Power To The People sessions at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London, between 11 and 16 February 1971.

Lennon retained Klaus Voormann from the Plastic Ono Band sessions, but Ringo Starr was unavailable. In his place Lennon recruited Jim Gordon, formerly of Derek And The Dominos, and also added saxophonist Bobby Keyes to play on Power To The People. The group recorded six other songs: It's So Hard, I Don't Want To Be A Soldier, a cover of The Olympics' Well (Baby Please Don't Go, an early version of I'm The Greatest, and two by Yoko Ono – Open Your Box and O Wind (Body Is The Scar Of Your Mind).

Of the six songs, It's So Hard and I Don't Want To Be A Soldier appeared on Imagine, although the latter was later re-recorded. Their lyrics matched the emotional intensity that ran through John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, suggesting Lennon was considering repeating the formula for its follow-up. However, work stalled on the project, and Lennon committed himself to other projects for three months.

Work on Imagine began in earnest between 24 and 28 May 1971, at Ascot Sound Studios, Lennon's recording facility at the Tittenhurst Park mansion he shared with Yoko Ono. In those five days a total of eight songs for Imagine were recorded: the title track, Crippled Inside, Jealous Guy, Gimme Some Truth, Oh My Love, How Do You Sleep?, How?, and Oh Yoko!.

The sessions normally began around 11am and finished in the early evening. Lennon typically assembled the musicians around him, taught them the chords and explained the arrangement he had in mind, and recording ended when Lennon, Ono or Phil Spector pronounced themselves to be happy with the results. Lennon always sang guide vocals with each take, which he later replaced by overdubbing a final version.

In the studio
Choosing to collaborate more fully with Phil Spector than he had on John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon began recording the Imagine album during the Power To The People sessions at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London, between 11 and 16 February 1971.


Lennon retained Klaus Voormann from the Plastic Ono Band sessions, but Ringo Starr was unavailable. In his place Lennon recruited Jim Gordon, formerly of Derek And The Dominos, and also added saxophonist Bobby Keyes to play on Power To The People. The group recorded six other songs: It's So Hard, I Don't Want To Be A Soldier, a cover of The Olympics' Well (Baby Please Don't Go, an early version of I'm The Greatest, and two by Yoko Ono – Open Your Box and O Wind (Body Is The Scar Of Your Mind).

Of the six songs, It's So Hard and I Don't Want To Be A Soldier appeared on Imagine, although the latter was later re-recorded. Their lyrics matched the emotional intensity that ran through John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, suggesting Lennon was considering repeating the formula for its follow-up. However, work stalled on the project, and Lennon committed himself to other projects for three months.

Work on Imagine began in earnest between 24 and 28 May 1971, at Ascot Sound Studios, Lennon's recording facility at the Tittenhurst Park mansion he shared with Yoko Ono. In those five days a total of eight songs for Imagine were recorded: the title track, Crippled Inside, Jealous Guy, Gimme Some Truth, Oh My Love, How Do You Sleep?, How?, and Oh Yoko!.

The sessions normally began around 11am and finished in the early evening. Lennon typically assembled the musicians around him, taught them the chords and explained the arrangement he had in mind, and recording ended when Lennon, Ono or Phil Spector pronounced themselves to be happy with the results. Lennon always sang guide vocals with each take, which he later replaced by overdubbing a final version.

The cast list for Imagine was more extensive than for John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. George Harrison appeared on several tracks, as did pianist Nicky Hopkins, Badfinger guitarists Joey Molland and Tom Evans, and respected session drummer Jim Keltner.

During the May sessions the musicians also recorded an unreleased cover version of San Francisco Bay Blues, plus four songs by Yoko Ono: Mind Holes, Mind Train, Midsummer New York, and Mrs Lennon. The songs were included on her 1971 album Fly, released as a counterpart to Imagine but, unlike her Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band release before it, with a quite separate identity to Lennon's album.

Lennon and Ono had been documenting their private and public appearances as audio or filmic records since 1968. The Imagine sessions at Ascot were no different. The sessions were filmed by a camera crew which captured around 60 hours of footage.

A full-length documentary film was planned, to be called Your Show then Working Class Hero, but the project was shelved as Lennon and Ono worked on the Imagine promotional film in July and September 1971. The footage was, however, used as the basis for the 1988 biopic Imagine: John Lennon, and a documentary released in 2000, Gimme Some Truth: The Making Of John Lennon's Imagine Album.

Recording for Imagine was completed in early July 1971, with the addition of saxophone and string overdubs in New York City's Record Plant East studio. The saxophonist was King Curtis, who recorded his contributions for It's So Hard and I Don't Want To Be A Soldier in less than an hour. Sadly, King Curtis was murdered on 13 August 1971, shortly before Imagine was released.

The strings were performed by members of the New York Philharmonic orchestra, whom Lennon dubbed The Flux Fiddlers. Arrangements for Imagine, Jealous Guy, It's So Hard, How Do You Sleep? and How? were scored by Torrie Zito. With recording complete, the album was mixed quickly and prepared for release.

The release
Imagine was issued on 9 September 1971 in the United States, and on 7 October in the United Kingdom. It topped the charts in both countries.

It was also the first Apple album release in quadrophonic, a four-channel system which was an early form of surround sound. The format was issued on LP and eight-track cartridge.

Cover artwork
The front and rear photographs on the cover of Imagine were taken by Yoko Ono. The original concept for the front had been a picture of Lennon with his eyes replaced by clouds, but the idea was abandoned.

The back cover also featured a quotation from Yoko Ono's 1964 book Grapefruit. Cloud Piece was an instructional poem dated Spring 1963 which inspired the album's title track.

"Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in."
Grapefruit
Yoko Ono

George Maciunas, an artist affiliated with the Fluxus movement, designed the cover lettering and the inner sleeve layout. Early copies of the album also included the pig parody postcard, and a 33"x22" poster of Lennon seated at his white grand piano. The photograph used for the poster was taken at Tittenhurst by Peter Fordham.


Imagine - 2018 - Ultimate Edition


Imagine The Album The Ultimate Mixes 
101. Imagine 2:59
102. Crippled Inside 3:43
103. Jealous Guy 4:10
104. It's So Hard 2:22
105. I Don't Want To Be A Soldier 6:01
106. Give Me Some Truth 3:11
107. Oh My Love 2:40
108. How Do You Sleep 5:29
109. How? 3:37
110. Oh Yoko! 4:18
Singles & Extras
111. Power To People
112. Well... (Baby Please Don't Go)
113. God Save Us
114. Do The Oz
115. God Save Oz
116. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Imagine The Ultimate Mixes
Elements Mixes
201. Imagine (Strings Only)
202. Jealous Guy (Piano, Bass & Drums)
203. Oh My Love (Vocals Only)
204. How? (Strings Only)
Album Out-Takes
205. Imagine (Demo)
206. Imagine (Take 1)
207. Crippled Inside (Take 3)
208. Crippled Inside (Take 6 Alt Guitar Solo)
209. Jealous Guy (Take 9)
210. It's So Hard (Take 6)
211. I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die (Take 11)
212. Gimme Some Truth (Take 4)
213. Oh My Love (Take 6)
214. How Do You Sleep? (Takes 1 & 2)
215. How? (Take 31)
216. Oh Yoko! (Bahamas 1969)
Singles Out-Takes
217. Power To The People (Take 7)
218. God Save Us (Demo)
219. Do The Oz (Take 3)
220. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (Alt Mix)

Imagine Raw Studio Mixes
Extended Album Versions
301. Imagine (Take 10)
302. Crippled Inside (Take 6)
303. Jealous Guy (Take 29)
304. It's So Hard (Take 11)
305. I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die (Take 4 - Extended)
306. Gimme Some Truth (Take 4 - Extended)
307. Oh My Love (Take 20)
308. How Do You Sleep? (Take 11 - Extended)
309. How? (Take 40)
310. Oh Yoko! (Take 1 - Extended)
Out-Takes
311. Imagine (Take 1)
312. Jealous Guy (Take 11)
313. I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die (Take 21)
314. How Do You Sleep? (Take 1)
315. How Do You Sleep? (Takes 5 & 6)

Imagine The Evolution Documentary
401. Imagine
402. Crippled Inside
403. Jealous Guy
404. It's So Hard
405. I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die
406. Gimme Some Truth
407. Oh My Love
408. How Do You Sleep?
409. How?
410. Oh Yoko!

When Imagine was released in September 1971, John Lennon finally gave Beatles fans the album they wanted.
His first three solo records were recorded and released while the group was still around, but they were experimental noise collages constructed with Yoko Ono that had nothing to do with the Beatles' music (unless you consider "Revolution 9" representative of their work). And 1970's post-breakup John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, as great as it is, was a little too abrasive for folks who still had "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road" ringing in their ears.

Imagine, on the other hand, sounded enough like a Beatles album that it became Lennon's first No. 1 LP as a solo artist. Four and a half decades later, it still sounds like a work made to sate fans who were still reeling from the world's biggest and greatest group splitting up the year before.
The six-disc Imagine - The Ultimate Collection box pulls together stray singles from the era, various mixes and takes, surround sound and the remastered original album for a definitive look at one of the Beatles' most popular solo records. Is it a little too much for casual fans? Sure, but the breadth of the collection gives a pretty thorough portrait of one of the most famous artists on the planet during about nine months of a most crucial year.
The Imagine album is still celebrated today because most of the music sounds as timeless now as it did almost 50 years ago. Its best tracks reflect the span of Lennon's songwriting at the time. Love songs ("Oh Yoko!"), peace anthems ("Imagine"), protest numbers ("Gimme Some Truth") and bits of self-searching ("Jealous Guy") are heard throughout. And two of his greatest non-album singles from the period -- "Power to the People" and "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" -- are included on The Ultimate Collection.
They put the entire era in perspective, as do the set's other extras, which lean more toward intriguing instrument- and vocal-stripping mixes and alternate versions that chart the tracks' evolution than cultural-shifting revelations. Even Lennon's early demo of the title song sounds mostly formed here. But they all sound linked in a way, whether he's supporting an underground magazine slapped with an obscenity charge on the single "God Save Oz" or knocking Paul McCartney on the Imagine album track "How Do You Sleep?"
If anything, all of the extended album versions and outtakes reveal just how committed Lennon was to the project. He famously exorcised some personal demons on John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and was still fighting other issues when work began on Imagine in February 1971.
As various takes play out, none all that drastically different from the released versions, Lennon and the band -- which included Nicky Hopkins, Klaus Voormann, Alan White and George Harrison -- piece together the songs with steadfast focus. (Compare these sessions with the ones he made with Imagine producer Phil Spector a couple years later that chaotically ended with Spector running off with the tapes.) Lennon wouldn't sound this centered on record again until 1980's Double Fantasy.
Even the rawer extended takes are more disciplined than what you'd expect from these rougher versions. The singing is a little more frayed at times and the playing is just a bit less polished, but everything falls into place as it should. It's like the direct opposite of the primal scream-inspired Plastic Ono Band, which may have been the point all along. (The fourth CD's documentary-like mix of studio chatter, rehearsals and songs is pretty much for completists only; likewise, the Blu-ray audio discs have a specific, and somewhat niche, appeal too.)
Like the Beatles' 2017 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: Anniversary Edition box, Imagine - The Ultimate Collection charts the evolution of a classic album through repetition and fly-on-the-wall detail. It's not for everyone. It's probably not even the top candidate for this sort of probing (the cathartic John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, his best album, would likely yield more interesting results as Lennon fought his demons in the studio). But it's an occasionally fascinating journey into the creative process of one of the twentieth century's greatest artists as he worked his way toward some peace.

Imagine Ultimate Collection - The Missing Pieces


01. Imagine (Take 02)
02. Crippled Inside (Take 02)
03. Crippled Inside (Take 03)
04. Jealous Guy (Take 01)
05. Jealous Guy (Take 02)
06. Jealous Guy (Take 17)
07. It's So Hard (Take 02)
08. I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Want To Die (Take 01)
09. I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Want To Die (Take 02)
10. Gimme Some Truth (Take 01)
11. Gimme Some Truth (Take 02)
12. Oh My Love (Take 02)
13. Oh My Love (Take 06)
14. How Do You Sleep? (Take 02)
15. How? (Take 01)
16. How? (Take 12)
17. Oh Yoko! (Take 09)
18. San Francisco Bay Blues
19. Well (Baby Please Don't Go) (Take 02)
20. Power To The People (Alternate Take)

Regarding the CD Boxed Set for 2018 ...
With the variety of reissues, remasters and tweaking that’s been going on in music as of late, especially with the brilliant work done by Steve Hoffman on the Steely Dan albums, methinks it might be better to begin with the negative aspects first.  Those aspects would revolve around the amount of material delivered here, where what I was hoping for was simply an actual ‘better’ mix of the songs, not nearly five versions of each track, totally around sixty-one in all.

Granted, most listens today weren’t around nearly fifty years ago when this Lennon’s album Imagine was released, meaning that those of us who were will probably hear the difference in quality immediately.  Yet the powers that be have loaded an over abundance of material on the world, everything from the original mono recordings, to outtakes, to explorative recordings.  The question that keeps circling in my head is ”Why?”  Of course this additional material is fun, perhaps once, leaving me to feel that someone somewhere is trying to convince me of the brilliance and value for owning this collection, though I tell you, as Lennon himself sings, ”Just give me the truth …,” just give me the album, allow me to  be the judge.  And for those of you who weren’t there then, that material is all easy enough to find if you wish to make side by side comparisons.

The hype goes as such: A truly unique expanded edition of one of the most iconic albums of all time. This new edition takes us on incredibly personal journey through the entire songwriting and recording process - from the very first writing and demo sessions at John's home studio at Tittenhurst Park through to the final co-production with Phil Spector - providing a remarkable testament of the lives of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in their own words. Super Deluxe version includes 4 CDs (new stereo mix, outtakes, raw studio recordings, track-by-track) and 2 Blu-rays (5.1 surround mixes, HD audio, Elements mixes, Elliot Minz audio documentary). Imagine: The Ultimate Collection (CD) (Includes Blu-ray)

There’s absolutely no way to enjoy these new mixes without dropping the old material and burning your own disc of the Ultimate Mixes only.  There are a number of things that could have been done … the Ultimate Mixes could have been packaged and housed in a lovingly created small box (about the size of a CD case) laced with super images, liner notes, lyrics and filled treats that would actually make the outing a sparkling listening experience.  Now that’s something I cold get behind.  Instead we’re given a vinyl album size collection filled with six compact discs and a large book (which is cool), though the issue is, most people have no where to store such collections, nor for the most part do they want them, with large box-like things always getting trampled and crushed underfoot or while storing.   Of course there’s the ultimate ultimate box set that includes much of this on black and clear vinyl.  So, you’re going to have to decide how happy or how sad you are with the package.  Me?  I would have been delighted with the aforementioned box I described, or perhaps simply a reissue of the LP as a gatefold on light blue vinyl with a full sized booklet; after all, at the end of the day its all about the music.

Now the good news, and it’s sad that good news doesn’t take up as much space.  The new mixes sound great, every fan should take a listen as I’m hearing instruments I’d not heard on the original release, though if these are newly added or simply brought front and center I can not attest to, yet they do sound great, with the entire remix of the formal album sounding more vast, spacious and unrestricted.  I imagine that sooner or later I’ll be afforded the opportunity of these new mixes as a vinyl package only, and that I’m sure most people like myself, those of us who were there then, will I’ll jump on.

Please, music is supposed to be fun, it’s not a history lesson of the times, I’ll give that to you in reviews, where as I’ve suggested, in reality one doesn’t want a massive collection such as this … as good as it is, it’s for the hardcore collector only, I’m not shelling out nearly $100 (my copy slid under the door as a promotional item) when all I actually wish is the original album cleaned up and tweaked to perfection.  Truth be told, there’s something about the original album that has stood the test of time for me.  I can remember when stereo sound stepped front and center, when mono was consider irrelevant, when Elvis Presley’s original mono recordings were converted to stereo and they tossed out with the trash, only to be saved from the dumpster, and now stand as a shining light for the brilliance of setting up a mono studio recoding space and the resolve of that sound, an art that has nearly been forgotten.

So yes, this is a huge boxed set, an yes, the new sound quality is sensational, and it’s not that outrageously priced, yet in the end, when all is said and done, there are but ten songs that I want out of the sixty-one, from this Lennon’s second album originally released in September of 1971, an album that was already more heavily produced and raw than John’s initial outing, one where his old bandmate George Harrison joins him, where at the time of the original release, Rolling Stone magazine suggested that the album was overly produced, yet sparse, infused with some good material, though Lennon’s posturing would soon make him irrelevant.

There’s a lot here, a lot to love, a lot to dislike and mistrust.  It’s going to take me several weeks to shake it all out, though most likely, it’s only those ten remastered tracks that will hold my attention, meaning, the remastered songs rate 5 Stars, the entire package merely 3.



John Lennon - 2018 - Imagine Sessions
Misterclaudel – mccd - 396/397/398/399/400/401


Imagine
101. Studio Demo (Complete)
102. Take 1 (Complete)
103. Take 2 (Complete)
104. Take 3
105. Offline Monitor Mix From Version #1
106. Alternate Take - Double Piano Overdub (Partial)
107. Version 2, Take 1
108. Version 2, Alternate Take
109. Version 2, Take 7
110. Mixing Session - Offline Monitor Mix
Crippled Inside
111. Take 1 (Breakdown)
112. Take 2
113. Take 13 (Breakdown)
114. Take 17
115. Alternate Rough Take
Jealous Guy
116. Piano Demo #1 (Child Of Nature) (1970)
117. Piano Demo #2 (Child Of Nature) (1970)
118. Take 1
119. Take 2
120. Take 7
121. Take 7 Vocal Overdub
122. Vocal Take 20
It's So Hard
123. Take 2
Overdub Session
124. John Talks About King Curtis
125. King Curtis Arrival
126. Playbacks And Discussions
127. Demonstrations

201. Rehearsal
202. Saxophone Overdub Take 1
203. Saxophone Overdub Take 2
204. Discussion
205. Saxophone Overdub Take 3
206. Playback 1
207. Discussion
208. Playback 2
209. Playback 3
210. Playback 4
I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama
211. Studio Rehearsal
212. Take 1 (Complete)
213. Take 2 (Complete)
Overdub Session
214. Discussion
215. Playback
216. Playback
217. Playback
218. Discussion
219. Saxophone Overdub Take 1
220. Discussion
221. Saxophone Overdub Take 2
222. Saxophone Overdub Take 3
223. Saxophone Overdub Take 4
Gimme Some Truth
224. Take 1 (Breakdown)
225. Take 2
226. Take 3 (Breakdown)
227. Alternate Vocal
228. Vocal Overdub Session

Oh My Love
Rehearsal Session
301. Piano Demonstration
302. Rehearsal #1
303. Rehearsal #2
304. Rehearsal #3
305. Rehearsal #4
306. Rehearsal #5
Studio Session
307. Make Love, Not War
308. Rehearsal Take 1
309. Run-Through
310. Take 1
311. Take 2
312. Middle Eight #1 Rehearsal
313. Take 3 (Breakdown)
314. Take 3
315. Take 4 (Breakdown)
316. Take 4 With Rehearsal
317. Take 5 (Breakdown)
318. Take 6
319. Take 7 (Breakdown)
320. Take 8 (Slate As Take 7) (Breakdown)
321. Take 9 (Breakdown)
322. Take 10 (Breakdown)
323. Take 11 (Slate As Take 10) (Breakdown)
324. Take 12 (Breakdown 1)
325. Take 12 (Breakdown 2)
326. Take 12 With False Start And Breakdown
327. Take 13 (Breakdown)
328. Take 14 (Breakdown)
329. Take 15 (Breakdown)
330. Take 16 (Breakdown)
331. Take 17 With False Start (Erroneously Known As Take 2))
332. Take 18 (Breakdown)
333. Take 19 (Breakdown)
334. Take 20 (Fade Out)
How Do You Sleep?
335. Piano Demo
336. Piano Rehearsal
337. Rehearsal 1
338. Rehearsal 2

401. Rehearsal 3
402. Rehearsal 4 (Breakdown)
403. Rehearsal Take 1
404. Rehearsal Take 2
405. Breakdown
406. Breakdown
407. Rehearsal Take 3
408. Breakdown
409. Breakdown
410. Breakdown
411. Take 1
412. Studio Chat
413. Take 2
414. Rehearsal (Cut)
415. Alternate Take Version 2 #1
416. Alternate Take Version 2 #2
417. Alternate Take Version 2 #3
418. Alternate Take Version 3
419. Take 4 (Breakdown)
420. Take 5 (Breakdown) + Take 6
421. Alternate Vocal A
422. Alternate Vocal B
423. Double Tracked Chorus

How?
501. Demo #1 (1970)
502. People Get Ready/How? Demo #2 (1970)
503. Demo #3 (1970)
504. Demo #4 (1970)
505. Take 1
506. Take 2
507. Take 12
508. Alternate Vocal A
509. Alternate Vocal B
510. Vocal Recording
511. Monitor Mix
Oh Yoko
512. Demo #1 (1970)
513. Demo #2 (1970)
514. Take 7
515. Take 9
516. Vocal Overdub Session #1
517. Vocal Overdub Session #2
518. Vocal Overdub Session #3
Studio Outtakes
519. San Francisco Bay Blues
520. Well (Baby Please Don't Go)
Piano Demos 1970
521. Sally And Billy #1
522. Sally And Billy #2
523. Help!
524. I'm Having A Baby My Love (Improvisation)
525. Instrumental

601. Christmas Message #1
602. Christmas Message #2
603. Somewhere In My Sky (Improvisation)
604. Can't Belive You Wanna Leave #1
605. Can't Belive You Wanna Leave #2
606. Mailman Bring Me No More Blues
607. I'm Not As Strong As You Think
608. You Know How Hard It Is (Improvisation)
609. Happy Girl
610. I'll Make You Happy #1
611. I'll Make You Happy #2
'Clock' Soundtrack - St. Regis Hotel, NY Sep 1971
612. Shazam
613. Honey Don't #1
614. Honey Don't #2
615. Glad All Over
616. Lend Me Your Comb
617. New York City
618. Wake Up Little Susie
619. Vacation Time
620. Not Fade Away
621. (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care
622. Heartbeat
623. Peggy Sue Got Married
624. Peggy Sue #1
625. Peggy Sue #2
626. Maybe Baby
627. Mailman Bring Me No More Blues
628. Rave On
629. Instrumental 'Exit Piece'
Imagine - Rough Acetate Mix
630. Imagine
631. Crippled Inside
632. Jealous Guy
633. It's So Hard
634. I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama
635. Gimme Some Truth
636. How?

Not content to be merely an ex-Beatle. John Lennon has carved out a new career for himself as political gadfly, floating member of the international avant-garde and as rock’s most psychologically daring tightrope artist. John has always displayed an amazing capacity for growth, and if one is impatient with the speed with which he takes up and then discards various causes, philosophies, and people, the other side of the coin is that he hasn’t fallen into the latter-day complacency of various other rock and roll over-achievers.

Yet despite his quest in and out of music, Imagine raises the question how much further John can progress with the vocabulary of concepts and feelings laid down on John Lennon / Plastic One Band.

POB’s importance lay not in the fact that it is the culmination of certain tensions which can be seen in John’s work since the beginning (the lyrical directness and vocal intensity, for example), but that it was also their solution. As an early adolescent, John chose rock as both his artistic and therapeutic medium. Rock and roll’s way of solving problems is simply stating and restating them (“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” is the classic example) and through the resulting emotional and physical exhaustion, the pressure is temporarily alleviated. However, the intervention of the primal therapy experience forced John to redefine his approach in a subtle but decisive way. Where he had sung “Twist and Shout” with the urgency of someone who had to get something off his chest, he sang the songs on POB as a final recreation of his original traumas, and as a document of their cure. POB is a profoundly “ultimate” album, because it unbends the mainspring of at least one man’s rock and roll career. The question of following up POB was thus inescapable because it was difficult to imagine its successor being merely more of the same.

The problem of following an album as perfect as POB is of course more than a stylistic one. POB took an individual course. Where the trend of rock over the past few years had been one of increasing complexity and sophistication (certainly John, with songs like “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am the Walrus” is as responsible for this as anyone), POB represented a return to rock’s most visceral, and still implicit origins. Of course, it was not done naively, but with a full regalia of theoretical justifications. But it is a style which, because it is so bound up with a particular experience at a moment in time, is obsolete once it is expressed.

On the evidence of Imagine, I don’t think John has resolved the manner in which a masterpiece and an artistic dead-end like POB can successfully be followed. In its technical sloppiness and self-absorption, Imagine is John’s Self-Portrait. Most of it centers around issues which have already been dealt with on POB, only here handled less passionately and, strangely, less fastidiously as well. For POB, in its singing and instrumental work, was as much a triumph of artifice as of art. It managed to sound both spontaneous and careful, while Imagine is less of each. Even though it contains a substantial portion of good music, on the heels of POB it only seems to reinforce the questioning of what John’s relationship to rock really is.

“Imagine,” for instance, is simply the consolidation of primal awareness into a world movement. It asks that we imagine a world without religions or nations, and that such a world would mean brotherhood and peace. The singing is methodical but not really skilled, the melody undistinguished, except for the bridge, which sounds nice to me.

I first heard “Crippled Inside” on my car radio. I didn’t know right off who it was (though the dobro sounded like George), but was convinced that only someone very famous, in this age of banal competence, would dare put out something so haphazard. The song’s refrain and theme is “One thing you can’t hide/Is when you’re crippled inside,” and is another pitch for John’s personal outlook. It sports an Ed Sanders-type vocal.

It is not clear whether “It’s So Hard” came before or after John’s primal therapy experience. “It’s so hard, it’s really hard/Sometimes I feel like going down.” John sings, and the words can have the most general meaning, or, applied to John’s own past, the most specific. The guitar playing is extremely basic; the sax playing by King Curtis is extremely compact. Like “Crippled Inside,” it sounds to have been done in a single take..

“Oh My Love” is another post-primal testimonial, to the effect that John can only now see, feel, and love for the first time. John’s singing here is not as full-bodied as on POB, though part of the blame must be placed on the quality of the recording, which doesn’t sound as good to these cars as that on the earlier album.

“I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die” is an enumeration of all the roles John withdraws from, and contains some incisive lines like, “Well, I don’t wanna be a lawyer mama, I don’t wanna lie” and, “Well, I don’t wanna be a thief now mama. I don’t wanna fly.” The melody is essentially the Kinks‘ “You Really Got Me.” An aura of grandiose decadence envelops this cut. When John shouts “Hit it!” to the horns, it is like some ancient tyrant commanding the Nubians. He sounds both long-suffering and cruel.

“How,” again has a nice bridge, but is otherwise fairly drippy, and contains predictable lines like, “How can I have feeling when I don’t know If it’s a feeling?” “Oh Yoko!” is a charming bauble, another tribute to his wife.

The three really worthy, musically effective numbers are “Jealous Guy,” “Gimme Some Truth,” and “How Do You Sleep.” And while on a spontaneous level I find them the most musically appealing, I think there are also sound reasons for their quality. Each of them represents an area of John’s sensibility which he has previously not presented, and while I find “How Do You Sleep,” John’s character assassination of Paul McCartney, horrifying and indefensible, it nevertheless has an immediacy which makes it more compelling than most of the rest of the album.

“Jealous Guy” is a touching confession. It boasts a brilliantly tortured, pathetic vocal and an eloquent string arrangement. His voice here is weak and lacks range, but this only contributes to the effect. The song is powerful because it progresses beyond the realm of POB. There, John’s whole realty was “Yoko and me.” Here, then insulation and mutual devotion comes unstuck out of John’s lack of trust in her, and the moment is a humane and revealing one. The initial musical motive and the piano arrangement are highly reminiscent of “Day in the Life.”

“Gimme Some Truth” is one of John’s famous polysyllablic songs, and like “I Found Out” is a series of denunciations. Here, however, the shock of recognition is not dramatized, rather, John knows perfectly well what the truth is, and is merely disgusted with all the hypocrites whose business it is to obscure it. It contains a brilliant seething guitar solo by George.

In sheer viciousness, nothing on the album surpasses “How Do You Sleep.” It begins with the orchestra tuning up, a la Sgt. Pepper, and proceeds to lay waste to Paul’s character, family and career. John is still a wicked punster, and lines like “The only thing you done was yesterday” hit then mark. But beyond the cruelty of it, it is offensive because it is unjust. Paul’s music may be muzak to John’s ears, but songs like “Oh Yoko” or “Crippled Inside” are no more consequential than anything on McCartney or Ram. And while a song like “It’s So Hard” is more “serious” than much of what’s on those two albums. it is certainly no better. As for “You live with straights who tell you you was king,” popstars do have their sycophants and I wonder if John is really such an exception. As for “Jump when your momma tell you anything,” that is an unusual accusation for John to hurl at someone else. Finally, there is the audacity of the retrain “Ah how do you sleep at night?” as if to suggest that Paul’s conscience should be bothered by the course his life has taken.

The motives for “Sleep” are baffling. Partly it is the traditional bohemian contempt for the bourgeois; partly it is the souring of John’s long-standing competitive relationship with Paul. When they were both Beatles their rivalry was channeled towards the betterment of the Beatles as a totality. Apart, it is only destructive.

Most insidiously, I fear that John sees himself in the role of truth-teller, and, as such, can justify any kind of self-indulgent brutality in the name of truth. In “Gimme Some Truth,” John complains, “I’ve had enough of watching scenes. Of schizophrenic-egocentric-paranoic-prima donnas”; who is he speaking about now? Personally. I’m interested in John the man, his personal trials and dramas, because he has revealed them to us as John the extraordinary artist. If he does not continue as such, his posturings will soon seem not merely dull but irrelevant. It seems to me that John is facing the most extraordinary challenge of his career, both personally and artistically. But then, great artists, of whom John is one, are nothing if not resourceful.


"One thing you can't hide is when you're crippled inside."
I could've sworn I'd read an interview with John where he criticized Imagine for being too syrupy and soft when it should have been as raw and naked as John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band. That wouldn't surprise me, as John was always very critical of his own work. But the closest I can find is his saying that "Imagine" the song is "anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic, but because it's sugarcoated, it's accepted." Which is all very true. There are many people who sing along to the chorus and because it's so pretty, don't realize that it is asking them to give up their God, their country, their possessions. As John also said, the song is "virtually the Communist Manifesto"; no other artist could have recorded a song this anti-everything and have it revered as a universal anthem and played in baseball stadiums. It is possibly the crowning achievement of John's post-The Beatles career, and certainly the most renowned. It is one of the few popular songs so beloved that it could bring together people of all cultures. Simply a beautiful, defining statement.

And hey, the rest of the album's pretty awesome too. For those Beatles fans who never warmed to Plastic Ono Band, it must have been a welcome return to form. Now, most of the songs are as complex as those on the first album, but Phil Spector--producing alongside John and Yoko Ono--takes a more traditional tack, though since he's a genius, it's still brilliant. "Crippled Inside," with guest George Harrison on dobro, is a satirical country tune taking on racism and bigotry in insanely hummable fashion. "Jealous Guy" is the most tender song on the album, John's painfully apologetic voice swathed in Nicky Hopkins' piano. John was known for some chauvinistic and cruel behavior toward women before, and during, his relationship with Yoko, and here he pours every ounce of himself into the apology. "Oh My Love," co-written with Yoko and with another appearance by George (this time on guitar), ties "Jealous Guy" for the most effectively reflective song on the album. The lyrics are very simple, but incredibly moving in their simplicity: "I see the wind/Oh, I see the trees/Everything is clear in my heart."

The only songs that really sound angry this time out are "Gimme Some Truth" and "How Do You Sleep?" "Gimme Some Truth" is a blistering screed against lying, manipulative politicians. Coming during the latter years of the Vietnam War and right before the Watergate scandal, the song captured the feeling of the time. Harrison takes lead guitar, delivering the best of his very fine contributions to Imagine. George also appears on "How Do You Sleep?," a much more controversial piece. It's a forebear of hip-hop's diss track, John directly referring to and spewing venom on Paul McCartney. John disses Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, "Yesterday," Paul's hit single "Another Day," the list goes on. John later admitted that some lines, specifically "Jump when your mama tell you anything," were critical of his own life at the time, but the attacks on McCartney are impossible to miss and, yes, musically if not morally perfect. Still, though, it's not for queasy Beatles fans; Ringo Starr stopped by the studio when it was being recorded and was so upset he remarked, "That's enough, John."

There are two songs on the album which could've benefited from Plastic Ono Band's cruder production. Lyrically, "It's So Hard" and "How?" are right in line with songs like "I Found Out" and "Hold On." The comparably lush production, though, kicks them down a notch. "It's So Hard" indulges a little in the saxophone that would soon become a big part of John's music, and adding strings on top of that, it feels a mite too laid-back to deliver at full force despite a raunchy vocal. The contemplative nature of "How?" was obviously influenced by the primal scream therapy, but again, the strings--and the oddly echo-y drums--threaten to muffle its full impact. These are still great songs, however. The weakest track is "I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier," in which the echo and reverb are dialed up to 11 as John describes all the things he doesn't want to be: a soldier, a failure, a poor man, a rich man, etc. Again, this is in no way a bad song, but a little disappointing compared to the rest of the album.

Perhaps the greatest example of the difference between Imagine and Plastic Ono Band are their respective closing tracks. Plastic Ono Band ended with the chilling "My Mummy's Dead," while Imagine ends with "Oh Yoko!," a joyous ode to the other woman in his life. It is gorgeous, folksy, and full of life. It's a delight, sending the album off on the perfect jangly note.