Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Lennon - Lennon (Boxed Set)

At just after 9 pm on the evening of December 8th, 1980, I arrived home from my after-high school job working in the kitchen of Santa Catalina (a very ritzy private girls school located near my house in Monterey, California) to find my family crowded around the TV, watching a special news report on NBC. When I asked what was going on, my dad told me that John Lennon had been killed in New York City earlier that night. That was how I first learned about it.

Lennon's death took place in the days before most families had cable TV, so the concept of 24-hour news was all but unheard of in 1980 (CNN had just started broadcasting in June of that year, but the fledgling network wasn't seen by most people). I sat in the family room and flipped channels for the next few hours, from ABC to CBS and back to NBC, following the reports and trying to gather what little information was available. The networks ran footage of crowds beginning to gather in the dark near the Dakota, Lennon's home and the place where he was murdered, and showed people crying, praying, singing and mourning. And for the first time in my life, I wished that I was in New York City, there with them all, being part of the crowd, instead of sitting in a little house 3,000 miles away. It truly felt like something was passing with his death - not just a man, or his talent and genius, but it was as though an entire era was ending. In many ways, Lennon's death was the true end of the Seventies.

The Beatles had broken up even before I'd entered first grade, but I was very much aware of them as a child, and loved their music. When I was in elementary school in Norfolk, VA, during the summer the school district would sponsor weekly discount matinees at a local theater, where they showed classic kid's movies like The Phantom Tollbooth and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. But my favorite of all those summer movies was
Yellow Submarine. At the time, I didn't realize how arch and subversive the film was - I (and many of the other kids attending) just liked the animation, the characters, and especially the music. Later, in my early teens, I actually paid to see the Bee Gees/Peter Frampton schlockfest Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (I must be honest, and provide full disclosure here - I paid to see it TWICE), simply because I loved the Beatles' music.

In terms of the band's solo output, Ringo was an early favorite. I remember when I was eight or nine, his self-titled album was HUGE, and "Oh My My" and "Photograph" were always on the radio. Later during the 70s, my allegiance moved towards what Paul was doing, by himself and with his band Wings. I can recall a family trip we took from Maryland to Niagara Falls and Toronto one summer - "Let 'Em In" and "Silly Love Songs" were played constantly on radio stations all the way up to Canada and all the way back. I didn't have much of a feel for what George Harrison or John Lennon were doing then. When you're a kid, you tend to gravitate toward the more accessible, "poppier" sounds, like the ones Paul and Ringo were making. The introspection, mysticism and acid commentary of most of John and George's music during that period just sort of went by me. So when Lennon died, I mourned it more as the passing of a Beatle, rather than the passing of a singular artist.

I really didn't fully get into Lennon's solo career until well into my twenties. In 1990, my ship left for a six-month deployment to South America, an exercise called UNITAS (which, needless to say, was a whole lot of fun, with visits to amazing places like Chile, Argentina and Rio). I had a new enlisted guy working for me down in the office. He was a music buff like myself, and brought plenty of CDs along for the trip. One day early on, he began playing some Lennon music on the office boom box, stuff I had never heard before. When I asked him about it, he handed me this boxed set, Lennon, released by Capitol Records earlier that year.

In my opinion, this is the best John Lennon compilation EVER assembled. It includes not only all of his hits, but also large chunks off of all of his solo albums and later work with Yoko Ono, the best tracks, filtering out the filler and dross. The songs for this collection were personally compiled by Mark Lewisohn, a British historian who is considered the world's foremost authority on The Beatles. So it's not like some record company drones picked the tracks for maximum commercial potential - there was some serious thought put in behind every selection.

This collection was perfect for someone like me, who wanted to know more about Lennon but didn't own any of his albums. If you're looking for rarities or alternate tracks to familiar songs, this is not the compilation for you. But if you're looking for something that has essentially everything you want/need to hear/know about Lennon's solo career, this is truly the only box set you need.

As such, it's a crime that Capitol deleted this set from Lennon's catalog sometime in 1998, replacing it with the decidedly inferior John Lennon Anthology. Forget that crappy set - Lennon is the one you want. Trust me on this.

In case you're curious, here's the track lineup:

Disc One
1. "Give Peace a Chance" – 4:53
2. "Blue Suede Shoes" (Carl Perkins) – 2:38
3. "Money" (Bradford-Berry Gordy) – 3:25
4. "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (Larry Williams) – 3:23
5. "Yer Blues" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 3:42
6. "Cold Turkey" – 5:02
7. "Instant Karma!" – 3:23
8. "Mother"– 5:35
9. "Hold On"– 1:53
10. "I Found Out" – 3:37
11. "Working Class Hero" – 3:50
12. "Isolation" – 2:53
13. "Remember"– 4:36
14. "Love" – 3:24
15. "Well Well Well" – 5:59
16. "Look at Me" – 2:54
17. "God" – 4:10
18. "My Mummy's Dead" – 0:53
19. "Power to the People" – 3:18
20. "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)" (Ward) – 3:56
Disc Two
1. "Imagine" – 3:04
2. "Crippled Inside" – 3:49
3. "Jealous Guy" – 4:15
4. "It's So Hard" – 2:26
5. "Give Me Some Truth" – 3:16
6. "Oh My Love" (John Lennon/Yoko Ono) – 2:45
7. "How Do You Sleep?" – 5:36
8. "How?" – 3:42
9. "Oh Yoko!" – 4:19
10. "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" (John Lennon/Yoko Ono) – 3:34
11. "Woman Is the Nigger of the World" (John Lennon/Yoko Ono) – 5:15
12. "New York City" – 4:29
13. "John Sinclair" – 3:28
14. "Come Together" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 4:25
15. "Hound Dog" (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller) – 3:02
16. "Mind Games" – 4:12
17. "Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" – 4:44
18. "One Day (At a Time)" – 3:07
19. "Intuition" – 3:09
20. "Out the Blue" – 3:21
Disc Three
1. "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" – 3:25
2. "Going Down on Love" – 3:54
3. "Old Dirt Road" (John Lennon/Harry Nilsson) – 4:09
4. "Bless You" – 4:37
5. "Scared" – 4:39
6. "#9 Dream" – 4:48
7. "Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox)" – 2:55
8. "Steel and Glass" – 4:37
9. "Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out)" – 5:10
10. "Stand by Me" (Ben E. King/Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller) – 3:28
11. "Ain't That a Shame" (Fats Domino/Bartholemew) – 2:30
12. "Do You Wanna Dance" (Bobby Freeman) – 2:52
13. "Sweet Little Sixteen" (Chuck Berry) – 3:00
14. "Slippin' and Slidin'" (Penniman/Bocage/Collins/Smith) – 2:16
15. "Angel Baby" (Hamlin) – 3:39
16. "Just Because" (Lloyd Price) – 4:25
17. "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night (Live)" – 4:19
18. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 5:58
19. "I Saw Her Standing There" (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) – 3:28
[Tracks 17-19 recorded live at Elton John's Madison Square Garden show on 28 November 1974]
Disc Four
1. "(Just Like) Starting Over" – 3:56
2. "Cleanup Time" – 2:57
3. "I'm Losing You" – 3:56
4. "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" – 4:01
5. "Watching the Wheels" – 3:31
6. "Woman" – 3:32
7. "Dear Yoko" – 2:33
8. "I'm Stepping Out" – 4:06
9. "I Don't Wanna Face It" – 3:21
10. "Nobody Told Me" – 3:33
11. "Borrowed Time" – 4:28
12. "(Forgive Me) My Little Flower Princess" – 2:27
13. "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him" (Yoko Ono) – 3:31
14. "Grow Old With Me" – 3:07
So, on the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon, a poet, genius and all-around great man, I offer you, in its entirety, his best collection. Enjoy, remember . . . and imagine.

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:

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  1. Excellent post yet again. This is a great overview of Lennon's career. The albums could be a bit patchy at times. Thanks again!

  2. Yes, this is the Lennon one I wanted without knowing it. I do trust you on this and your judgement once again is spot on!

  3. Thank you for this great box set !...And for your great work here !!

  4. Another great set - Thanks!!


  5. Also, thanks for a link to Ringo which is a great album and contributes a lot to his Blast From Your Past collection.

  6. Thanks also for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band movie soundtrack by various artists! As talented as they are, it is hard to beat the Beatles' original versions.

  7. Well written - we must be very close in age - I came home from high school to my Mom telling me - while the TV was on one of the two or three Canadian stations - and although I was a huge Beatles fan by then it didn't hit me that day - took some time to hurt. My mom died about 3 years ago and this is one of the two or three memories of her that are so vivid that they play like a video rather than a faded photo.

    1. Yes, we are probably close in age… For me, the news that day hit me like a freight train; I wasn't as big a Beatles fan back then as I am now, but I still felt that an era was passing with John's death. They say that Altamont signified the end of the '60s; Lennon's murder, to me, marked the true end of the '70s.

  8. Thank you for sharing the great set.
    I too came home from school with friends when I saw the news on TV.
    It was Dec. 9 for me, I was in Japan.
    That moment is frozen in my memory, I can even remember what clothes my friends were wearing.
    After 35 years it still feels raw and brings tears to my eyes.

  9. totally agree with other commenters, this is the best Lennon overview there is, shame it was 'deleted'. So a very heartflet thank you for sharing this with us FANatics. "Imagine" if he was still alive.... -B

  10. This set is excellent, I'm finding a bunch of great tracks of his that I'd never heard before in it. Thanks for sharing.

  11. This set is really nice thank you so much

  12. Thank you very much for this set. I will enjoy it forever.