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Pop - Released January 1, 1971 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
After the harrowing Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon returned to calmer, more conventional territory with Imagine. While the album had a softer surface, it was only marginally less confessional than its predecessor. Underneath the sweet strings of "Jealous Guy" lies a broken and scared man, the jaunty "Crippled Inside" is a mocking assault at an acquaintance, and "Imagine" is a paean for peace in a world with no gods, possessions, or classes, where everyone is equal. And Lennon doesn't shy away from the hard rockers -- "How Do You Sleep" is a scathing attack on Paul McCartney, "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier" is a hypnotic antiwar song, and "Give Me Some Truth" is bitter hard rock. If Imagine doesn't have the thematic sweep of Plastic Ono Band, it is nevertheless a remarkable collection of songs that Lennon would never be able to better again. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | EMI Catalogue

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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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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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 October 1, 2010 | Parlophone Catalogue

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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, 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, 1975 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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

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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | EMI Catalogue

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Rock - Released January 1, 1972 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released October 1, 2010 | Parlophone Catalogue

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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, 1984 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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The sessions for 1980's Double Fantasy were supposed to yield two albums, the second to be released at a future time, but Lennon's assassination tragically halted the project in its tracks. A bit over three years later, Yoko Ono issued tapes of many of the songs planned for that album under the title Milk and Honey, laid out in the same John-Yoko-John-Yoko dialogue fashion as its predecessor. Not unexpectedly, it's a rougher, less polished product, lacking the finishing touches and additional takes that Lennon most likely would have called for. Nevertheless, Lennon's songs at this point in their development were often quite strong, tougher than those on Double Fantasy in general, and the ad libs and studio chatter that might not have made the final cut give us more of a glimpse of Lennon's delightfully quirky personality. "Nobody Told Me," the advance single off the album, is a rollicking, quizzical piece of work, maybe the best thing to come out of John's 1980 sessions, despite the unfinished-sounding transition to the chorus. "Borrowed Time," another single, is a thoughtful, sparely worded meditation on growing older attached to a Caribbean beat. Yoko's contributions, while not as strong as John's, are surprisingly listenable -- the reggae-based "Don't Be Scared," in particular -- and more current in texture, and her lyrics do tend to answer John's songs. As the album comes toward the close, the tone turns sentimental, culminating with one of John's loveliest tunes, "Grow Old With Me," as presented on a home-recorded cassette in lieu of a studio recording. The ironies of this song and some of the other Lennon material are obviously poignant in the light of the cruel events of December 8, 1980; that and the fact that these songs haven't been as exposed as much as those on Double Fantasy lead some to prefer this sequel. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | EMI 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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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 October 1, 2010 | Capitol Records

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John Lennon in the magazine
  • The Qobuz Minute #23
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