John Lennon: Lennon Anthology (1998)

Produced by Yoko Ono and Rob Stevens (songs produced by various producers)

Right after the success of The Beatles Anthology albums, Yoko was asked to do a similar project with John’s music. I have to agree with the idea for various reasons, the first is that it was good to listen to John as he rehearsed the songs and some of them sounded different. The second John has many unreleased home demos that could have been released for fans like me who would love to have them and not depend on YouTube to hear the songs. In that sense, they have passed two great opportunities to do this. This anthology project included many unreleased demos but excluded a few and then the remastered set included a demo cd but it did not include beautiful demos like Memories and Now and then. That is me as fan wishing they were released; the box set is still a treasure for Lennon fans.

The box set was released in 1998 and I think it is no longer available, I was able to get it on eBay because I had it but lost it. I remember hearing the 4 cd in a row and by the end just feeling sad that he was killed for no reason and forget the Beatle and famous part, he was happy with his son and I believe he would have mended his relationship with Julian and in that lies the real tragedy, beyond the world that lost a great songwriter. I believe this is great for John Lennon fans to hear him at home playing music and some of his known songs as demos.

The first CD is called Ascot because of his home there. There he recorded the Imagine album. this cd covers the great albums Plastic Ono Band and imagine. It has great versions of songs like Mother, Working Class Hero, God, Imagine, Jealous Guy, and others of that period. Great cd featuring Ringo and George Harrison on some of the tracks.

The second CD is called New York City covering the albums recorded in the United States. It has a cool demo of the song New York City. The value in this installment is the live audio it contains. Live versions of Imagine, It’s so hard, Attica State and Luck of the Irish. I think Mind Games is an underrated album and I love the versions of the songs from that album. Bring on the Lucie is a great track, the demos for I know (I know) is so beautiful and you can see the process of writing the song Mind Games. Here you can also hear Lennon singing songs that he gave to Ringo as he was teaching Ringo the songs.

The third CD is called The Lost Weekend and it includes the music recorded during the period he was separated from Yoko. This means the Rock and Roll album and Walls and Bridges. An inside of these crazy times is heard in the session tracks for the Rock and Roll album between Phil and John. There is a version of the Phil Spector Be my baby that I love because John’s voice sounds so good on that track.

The last CD is called Dakota. This is a jewel, at least for me, it has acoustic versions from the Double Fantasy sessions. Woman, Watching the Wheels and My life that was an unreleased track. This CD includes session versions for Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey. This one has various unreleased songs, some are satires of John poking fun at Dylan and Harrison and others that are songs. It ends with a simple acoustic song where John whistles and it gave me chills can’t say why.

This is a valuable collection celebrating a man who changed music, who wrote songs that at least I related too and as imperfect as he surely was, I felt he tried to make things better. I still miss his music.

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