Lennon, John - Acoustic

Year of Release: 2004
Label: EMI Records/Capitol
Catalog Number: 7243 8 74429 2 4
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:01:00

Sporting some unreleased gems next to live recordings from Ann Arbor and the Apollo, both in 1971, Acoustic has been compiled by Yoko Ono as kind of a manual for future guitarists. Based around the simplicity of Lennon's voice and his acoustic guitar playing, the booklet not only includes some nice pics and doodles, but also the chord diagrams so you can play along after some hefty practice. It's as if Ono has stripped everything down to the essentials of making music, which has to come from the heart. Her biggest wish is that all future guitarists will learn to do this so as to insert a little bit of Lennon magic for future use.

However, once you start listening to this album it soon becomes clear that not all the songs are of the same quality. Probably some takes were recorded on dodgy equipment, hence the sometimes appalling sound your CD will produce. Other than calling this album Acoustic, it would have been much more honest to call it Demos, because that's mainly what you get. But with or without an elaborate arrangement, the songs and/or ideas are strong in their simplicity. It is commonly known that Lennon often hated his own voice, which he tried to change by using all kinds of utilities and distortion. "Well Well Well" is a fine example of this. In "God" Lennon leaves behind all of his past and claims to only believe in himself, telling the world he does not believe in Hitler, Jesus, Kennedy, Buddha, Elvis, Dylan and even The Beatles! The short demo version for "My Mummy's Dead" is all so simple but yet so evocative. You can hear John's grief in the simple lyrics and the sparse guitar. The vibrato in his voice during "Cold Turkey" is reminiscent of Marc Bolan and knowing Lennon's sense of humour, I wouldn't doubt for one minute he was joking throughout here.

Whilst Paul McCartney and his Wings had a hit with "Give Ireland Back To The Irish," Lennon apparently also took the side of the oppressed Irish by writing "The Luck Of The Irish." In pure protest song mould, Lennon sings "If you had the luck of the Irish you'd be sorry and wish you were dead; you should have the luck of the Irish and you'd wish you was English instead." The power of this song diminishes once Yoko starts singing some choruses. Awful!

When you hear the roughly recorded "What You Got" and you close your eyes, it's as if you're sitting next to the big man witnessing the creative process. Included is the original demo for "Real Love," which was later completed by the rest of The Beatles, and that of course is an important inclusion, as we now can hear what the rest did with the initial material they were given. Also, it is the first time I hear "Imagine" without the well-known piano. Recorded live at the Apollo in 1971 "Imagine" here is based around John's voice and his companion the acoustic guitar. The short instrumental "It's Real" closes this album with Lennon whistling his way through a simple melody each and everyone of us can come up with ourselves.

From my point of view, all of this album sounds more like an audio documentary rather than a finished album. No doubt a DVD showing Lennon in the process of working on these songs would have been much more interesting. Sadly handycams and digital cameras weren't as commonplace then as they are now. So in that respect, I'm afraid we'll have to do with this album, although I'm convinced Lennon specialists surely must have much better albums amongst their bootleg collection than this (hasty?) Ono compiled disc.

Working Class Hero (4:00) / Love (2:32) / Well Well Well (1:17) / Look At Me (2:51) / God (2:41) / My Mummy's Dead (1:16) / Cold Turkey (3:29) / The Luck Of The Irish (3:41) / John Sinclair (3:22) / Women Is The Nigger Of The World (0:42) / What You Got (2:26) / Watching The Wheels (3:07) / Dear Yoko (4:07) / Real Love (4:04) / Imagine (3:11) / It's Real (1:08)

John Lennon - vocals, guitar
Yoko Ono - vocals (8)

Two Virgins: Unfinished Music No. 1 (1968)
Life With The Lions: Unfinished Music No. 2 (1969)
Live Peace In Toronto 1969 (1969)
Wedding Album (1969)
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)
Imagine (1971/2003)
Sometime In New York City (1972)
Mind Games (1973)
Walls And Bridges (1974)
Rock N'' Roll (1975)
Shaved Fish (1975)
Double Fantasy (1980)
The John Lennon Collection (1982)
Milk & Honey (1984/2001)
Live In New York City (1986)
Menlove Ave (1986)
Imagine: John Lennon (Original Soundtrack) (1988)
Lennon (1990)
Legend (The Very Best Of John Lennon) (2003)

Sweet Toronto (2002)
Legend (The Very Best Of John Lennon) (DVD) (2003)

Genre: Rock

Origin UK

Added: November 21st 2004
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: johnlennon.com
Hits: 755
Language: english


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