John Lennon at 70

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil () - October 8, 2010 - 12:00am

John Lennon was a singer, songwriter, musician, activist and member of the Beatles, the group from Liverpool that forever changed the face of popular music. He was gunned down at the entry of his apartment building in New York City on Dec. 8, 1980. He was 40 years old.

John would have turned 70 tomorrow, Oct. 9 and as with what usually happens with loved departed, thoughts turn to their lives and what they meant to us. In John’s case it is, of course, all about the music, not just those songs he created with the Beatles but also his deeply felt solo efforts.

We can only imagine what other songs he might have done had he not been cut down right at the start of another high in his career. But since we are never going to find out what those might have been, why don’t we enjoy what John left behind. His widow, Yoko Ono has made sure that we would.

Set for release this week are all of John’s recordings, solo, with, Yoko and with The Plastic Ono Band. This market blitz of John Lennon materials is part of the sweeping catalogue initiative overseen by Yoko and EMI Music to commemorate John’s 70th birthday. The highlight of this is the worldwide release of eight digitally remastered albums and new compilations. And, I am sure John would have approved, the albums are now all in eco-friendly CD packaging.

Yoko issued this statement about the reissues: In this very special year, which would have seen my husband and life partner John reach the age of 70, I hope that this remastering/ reissue program will help bring his incredible music to a whole new audience. By remastering 121 tracks spanning his solo career, I hope also that those who are already familiar with John’s work will find renewed inspiration from his incredible gifts as a songwriter, musician and vocalist and from his power as a commentator on the human condition.

It would be great to own the whole set. You might not like all of the albums. Yoko’s sound remains an acquired taste for me. But I am sure any pop music lover or even the casual observer would agree that the very thought of getting your hands on these CDs feels like touching history.

Now, if your budget only allows you to buy one or two of them, do make sure you get Double Fantasy by John and Yoko. The album was on top of the charts when John died. It is more pop than his other works. In fact I am sure he would have done something very different if he had known the album would be his last. But this edition is a two-disc set. One is the remastered original audio mix by John himself while the other is a newly-remixed and stripped down version. And the latter is what makes the difference.

Rod McKuen has this book of poems called Listen To The Warm and those were the words that entered my head while listening to the stripped down version. You get this sense of enveloping warmth throughout as though you were listening to John perform in an intimate concert. And I can tell you that Woman sang against an acoustic guitar really pops out.

Double Fantasy was named Grammy Album of the Year in 1980. It also includes (Just Like) Starting Over, Kiss Kiss Kiss, Cleanup Time, Give Me Something, I’m Losing You, I’m Moving On, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), Watching The Wheels, Yes I’m Your Angel, Beautiful Boys, Dear Yoko, Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him and Hard Times Are Over. Take note, the cover art for this reissue is an original drawing by Sean Lennon. And he is good.

Still up for another one of the CDs? Then get Power To The People The Hits of John Lennon. This is a greatest hits collection of his solos. So you get 15 of his most popular songs digitally remastered in one album. Power To The People, Gimme Some Truth, Woman, Instant Karma (We All Shine On), Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, Cold Turkey (Live), Jealous Guy, #9 Dream, Just Like Starting Over, Mind Games, Watching The Wheels, Stand By Me, Imagine, Happy Xmas (War Is Over) and Give Peace A Chance.

Next in line for me is Rock ‘N Roll. This was how Lennon started his career, as a rocker in the tradition of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and others of the ’50s. He does Be Bop A Lula, Stand By Me, a medley of Rip It Up and Ready Teddy, You Can’t Catch Me, Ain’t That A Shame, Do You Wanna Dance, Sweet Little Sixteen, Slippin’ and Slidin’, Peggy Sue, a medley of Bring It On Home To Me and Send Me Some Lovin’, Bony Moronie, Ya-ya and Just Because.

There are also Mind Games; Imagine; and Walls and Bridges by John. Plastic Ono Band; and Sometime In New York City by the Plastic Ono Band; and Milk And Honey by John and Yoko. All CDs are available at Astrovision, Astroplus, Odyssey, O Music & Video, Fully Booked and SM Music Box outlets.

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