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Rock - Released October 6, 2014 | Apple

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Apple

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Apple

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Apple

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released September 9, 1971 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Some Ultimate Collection’s can feel like a rip-off. But John Lennon’s Imagine avoids this pitfall by including many treasures, spread over four discs. This 2018 edition is organised like a journey, taking the listener from the writing process to the demo recording sessions in the former Beatle’s private studio at his home in Tittenhurst Park, near Ascot, and then to the final stages of production with crazy Phil Spector. The whole was remixed by Paul Hicks under Yoko Ono’s supervision, in the Abbey Road studios, using high definition 24/96 audio transfers from the first generation of multitrack tapes. These new mixes unveil a previously unheard sonic depth and impressive definition and clarity. The first CD features the remixed original album, the singles and B-sides. The second consists of all the outtakes and extras. The third includes the the raw studio recordings. And finally, the fourth tells the story of each song, from the demo to the final version, through a sort of audio documentary that dissects the whole album… It is fascinating to hear some of parts in isolation like the chords, the piano, or the vocals… But this generous Ultimate Collection shouldn’t draw your attention away from the essential part of it: the original album, released in September 1971. John Lennon’s post-Beatles phase was off to a flying start with an brilliant first solo attempt created with Yoko (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band). The standard remained high on this Imagine album, with the eponymous single acquiring a legendary status (understatement) and becoming a timeless anthem of peace. Surrounded by the likes of George Harrison, Nicky Hopkins, Klaus Voormann, Alan White and Jim Keltner, the man with the spectacles from Liverpool once again shows he can do it all: moving and introspective ballads, (Jealous Guy), highly poetic lyrics, pop dreams, as well as mad rock’n’roll (It’s So Hard, I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier, Gimme Some Truth). The shock of the album comes when Lennon openly attacks his ex-comrade Paul McCartney on How Do You Sleep. All of this was produced by the mad scientist of sound, Phil Spector, who gives the album a unique quality that would go on to influence many other albums… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rock - Released September 9, 1971 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | EMI Catalogue

Booklet
Much grander than the single-disc Power to the People but not nearly as lavish as the 11-disc Signature Box, the four-disc Gimme Some Truth is the middle ground of Apple/EMI’s 2010 John Lennon reissue series: a collection of four thematic collections offered at a reasonable price. Breaking any artist’s work into themes is tricky, but the topics here are broad enough to give the compilers some wiggle room: Working Class Hero contains Lennon’s protest songs, Woman his songs of love and women (“Mother” and “My Mummy’s Dead” don’t quite qualify as romantic tunes, after all), Borrowed Time features songs about “life,” and his rock & roll numbers are presented on a disc called Roots, oddly sharing its title with the controversial original unofficial release of Rock 'n' Roll (indeed, this Roots disc winds up containing the entirety of Rock 'n' Roll). Some of the selected songs may not quite fit the themes but the 72 cuts here contain much of Lennon’s solo best, making this a good thorough overview for those who need more than the hits but don’t want to invest in full albums. It’s at a very nice price point, too. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 1975 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Although the chaotic sessions that spawned this album have passed into rock & roll legend and the recording's very genesis (as an out-of-court settlement between John Lennon and an aggrieved publisher) has often caused it to be slighted by many of the singer's biographers, Rock 'n' Roll, in fact, stands as a peak in his post-Imagine catalog: an album that catches him with nothing to prove and no need to try. Lennon could, after all, sing old rock & roll numbers with his mouth closed; he spent his entire career relaxing with off-the-cuff blasts through the music with which he grew up, and Rock 'n' Roll emerges the sound of him doing precisely that. Four songs survive from the fractious sessions with producer Phil Spector in late 1973 that ignited the album, and listeners to any of the posthumous compilations that also draw from those archives will know that the best tracks were left on the shelf -- "Be My Baby" and "Angel Baby" among them. But a gorgeous run through Lloyd Price's "Just Because" wraps up the album in fine style, while a trip through "You Can't Catch Me" contrarily captures a playful side that Lennon rarely revealed on vinyl. The remainder of the album was cut a year later with Lennon alone at the helm, and the mood remains buoyant. It might not, on first glance, seem essential to hear him running through nuggets like "Be Bop A Lula," "Peggy Sue," and "Bring It on Home to Me," but, again, Lennon has seldom sounded so gleeful as he does on these numbers, while the absence of the Spector trademark Wall-of-Sound production is scarcely noticeable -- as the object of one of Lennon's own productions, David Peel once pointed out, "John had the Wall of Sound down perfectly himself." Released in an age when both David Bowie and Bryan Ferry had already tracked back to musical times-gone-by (Pin-Ups and These Foolish Things, respectively), Rock 'n' Roll received short shrift from contemporary critics. As time passed, however, it has grown in stature, whereas those other albums have merely held their own. Today, Rock 'n' Roll sounds fresher than the rock & roll that inspired it in the first place. Imagine that. ~ Dave Thompson
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Rock - Released January 1, 1973 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | BEATLES CATALOG MKT (C91)

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Rock - Released January 1, 1974 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Walls and Bridges was recorded during John Lennon's infamous "lost weekend," as he exiled himself in California during a separation from Yoko Ono. Lennon's personal life was scattered, so it isn't surprising that Walls and Bridges is a mess itself, containing equal amounts of brilliance and nonsense. Falling between the two extremes was the bouncy Elton John duet "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night," which was Lennon's first solo number one hit. Its bright, sunny surface was replicated throughout the record, particularly on middling rockers like "What You Got" but also on enjoyable pop songs like "Old Dirt Road." However, the best moments on Walls and Bridges come when Lennon is more open with his emotions, like on "Going Down on Love," "Steel and Glass," and the beautiful, soaring "No. 9 Dream." Even with such fine moments, the album is decidedly uneven, containing too much mediocre material like "Beef Jerky" and "Ya Ya," which are weighed down by weak melodies and heavy over-production. It wasn't a particularly graceful way to enter retirement. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | EMI Catalogue

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Released as part of Apple/EMI’s extensive 2010 John Lennon remasters series, the single-disc Power to the People: The Hits covers familiar territory, but then again, that’s the point of this collection. It’s not designed to dig deep into John's catalog, it’s designed as the latest iteration of the canon, replacing 1997’s Lennon Legend, the last big-budget single-disc compilation. Power to the People is five cuts shorter than Lennon Legend, ditching album cuts “Love” and “Borrowed Time,” swapping the charting singles, “Mother” and “Nobody Told Me,” for the non-charting “Gimme Some Truth” and the actual number 18 hit “Mind Games,” but the end result is the same: Power to the People feels interchangeable with its predecessors because it is another collection with “Imagine,” “Instant Karma,” “Whatever Gets You Through the Night,” “Jealous Guy,” “(Just Like) Starting Over,” “Watching the Wheels,” “Stand by Me,” “#9 Dream,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “Power to the People,” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” The remasters are excellent so if you are in need of a tight Lennon comp this is a good choice but if you already have a hits collection, there’s no reason to replace it. [There is also a Deluxe Edition of Power to the People which contains videos for all 15 songs, some of them original clips and some of them edits of footage assembled after the single’s initial release.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | EMI Catalogue

Booklet
The crown jewel in Apple/EMI’s extensive 2010 John Lennon remasters series, Signature Box contains all of the solo studio albums Lennon released during his lifetime (minus the trio of experimental duet LPs with Yoko Ono released on Apple and Zapple), his first posthumous album Milk and Honey, a disc of non-LP singles, a disc of home demos, but not the 2010 showcase item Double Fantasy Stripped Down, which is available only as a bonus on the indvidual reissue of Double Fantasy. It is, in other words, close enough to complete to perhaps invite a little bit of quibbling about what is absent -- Live Peace in Toronto could fit in nicely with this batch and there are outtakes from Menlove Ave missing but the real niggling comes with the home demo disc, which emphasizes demos and alternate takes of songs from Plastic Ono Band and Imagine, leaving behind demos of songs Lennon gave away, including “I’m the Greatest” and “Goodnight Vienna,” which he handed over to Ringo, and songs that never made it to one of his records. Ultimately, this is nitpicking because Signature Box is handsomely produced and contains the best-sounding Lennon remasters -- remastered by the team that did the acclaimed 2009 Beatles remasters, using the original mixes, not the recent remixes -- which is enough to make this more than worthwhile for the serious Lennon fan. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 1972 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released January 1, 1984 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Classical - Released April 1, 2014 | Nimbus Alliance

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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | EMI Catalogue

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John Lennon in the magazine
  • The Qobuz Minute #23
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