Monday, September 6, 2010

John Lennon 16: Acoustic

Starting around 2000, Yoko starting authorizing and releasing remastered versions of John’s solo CDs, many of which had appeared without much fanfare in the late ‘80s. The reissues came at odd intervals, and raised more than a few eyebrows over both sound and packaging. For the most part, there were extra tracks here and there, but nothing incredibly revealing from the vast vaults.
That changed with Acoustic, an odd little sampler released concurrently with the 2004 update of Rock ‘N Roll. While that album was supposed to be about his ’50s roots, Acoustic presents John unadorned, with only his acoustic guitar, on a variety of familiar songs pulled from home demos, studio runthroughs and even some live performances.
It’s a nice idea, and gets most of its points for thoughtfulness, even if the selection is on the chintzy side. Most of the tracks are repeated from the Anthology box, though others make their first “official” appearances. “Well Well Well” is an early-stage demo with only half the lyrics, while “God” contains the spoken prelude as heard on the Lost Lennon Tapes radio series. “My Mummy’s Dead” uses the full sequence that was excerpted for Plastic Ono Band. “Cold Turkey” is the earliest track, a very jittery performance. After jumping ahead to a couple of songs from the Nixon years, “What You Got” is a more complete demo of the song than heard on the box. “Dear Yoko” comes from Bermuda, while “Real Love” is a longer version of the segment used to open the Imagine soundtrack album.
Knowing how much she’s sitting on, it’s easy to fault Yoko for practically throwing this together. But her dedication to future guitarists seems heartfelt, and including chord symbols and charts to the packaging is a very nice touch.
For some time, this had been the last “new” collection of Lennon material, though there would be yet another rollout of the catalog to celebrate his 70th birthday. Over thirty years—thirty years!—since his murder it’s heartbreaking to think of all the untapped potential, the songs he hadn’t thought of yet. He could have made several more albums, or he could have given it up after Milk And Honey. We’ll never know. Instead, we clutch at every straw, every glimmer of something new and different that we haven’t heard a million times and committed to memory. And that’s why there will always be a market for albums like Acoustic.

John Lennon Acoustic (2004)—

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