Imagine: John Lennon

John Lennon

Capitol, 1988

REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk


As much of a Beatles fan as I am, I don't own much of their solo material. I came across the Imagine: John Lennon soundtrack in the bargain bin and was impressed by the list of songs, particularly the material from Double Fantasy, which I found too Ono-centric to add to my collection. I'd seen the film when it came out twenty years ago, and it did make an impression on me, but not for the soundtrack. I think that we've been exposed to so much media regarding the Beatles that we expect any images of them in TV or film to be accompanied by their music as well. More often than not it's true. In the case of the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Imagine film, the visual material and narration, largely unseen material from Lennon's personal archives, was compelling enough that the music took a back seat.  On its own, the soundtrack is an offbeat but satisfying collection of John's music with and without The Beatles.

The Beatles songs feature the usual mix, with emphasis on John's more introspective songs obviously. “In My Life” and “Julia” illustrate early examples of John’s deeply personal songwriting. The Lennon solo songs feature a more stark contrast. The early cathartic pieces “God” and “Mother” from The Plastic Ono Band album show much different sides of John's style from the gentle “Woman” and “Jealous Guy,” two of John’s most tender and self-effacing songs. The previously unheard demo of “Real Love” is a nice addition that the Beatles would cover for their Anthology documentary a few years later.

I’ve grown very fond of this disc. It's not a Lennon greatest hits album by nature or intent, and that's part of what makes it enjoyable. It's a quirky hybrid of John's career with the Beatles and as a solo artist. It's unique in that it contains a sizable chunk of Beatles songs mixed with Lennon solo material. Other than live recordings, any collection that includes both Beatles music and solo material from any of the Beatles is unusual. This album would be a nice addition to a good collection of quality Lennon material for the casual fan.

Rating: B+

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© 2008 Bruce Rusk and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.