John Lennon’s 80th Birthday Brings Yet Another Collection Of His Solo Work

John Lennon | Gimme Some Truth. The Ultimate Mixes | (Capitol/UMe)
4 out of 5 stars

October 9th would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday. To note the occasion, and of course generate some cash, we get the umpteenth collection of his post-Beatles solo work. Adding to the confusion is that this double CD, 36 track set (a shorter single is available, as is vinyl) is titled the same as 2010’s four platter compilation.

The hook to this iteration is that these songs have not only been remixed from the original tapes (by the same guy responsible for 2019’s upgraded, expanded Imagine reissue), but enhanced for Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 separation on the Blu-ray edition. The tunes were chosen by Yoko and son Sean, which adds a smidgen more authenticity to the package. They are generally sequenced in chronological order.

Sonically, everything is slightly cleaner than before, with Lennon’s vocals made more prominent in the mix. But the difference will be most noticeable on expensive audio systems. The surround mixes bring a more expansive sound-field making it a reasonable upgrade for those interested. But for the rest of the earbuds-are-good-enough wearing public, this is a perfectly acceptable trawl through the solo Lennon catalog. A few surprise additions like a live version of “Come Together,” “I Know (I Know)” (not typically considered one of Lennon’s best compositions) and “Steel and Glass,” a deep track from Walls and Bridges, make for a slightly deeper dive into his rather limited solo output. The “deluxe” edition also includes a lavish 124 page book with dozens of rare photos, some previously unseen, and interviews (both new and archival) about every song. 

Certainly the set’s name was chosen to acknowledge that Lennon’s distrust of politicians is just as applicable today as it was in 1971. That’s when the titular song, with the prescient lyrics “I’m sick and tired of hearing things from uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics/All I want is the truth,” first saw the light of day. One can only imagine (pun intended) what he would have thought of the current political climate in America.

Neither the remixing nor the choices are revelatory, (“Mother” is inexplicably MIA) so if you already own any previous Lennon collection, there is little incentive to plunk down more green for this. But diehard fans with deeper pockers who want the book, or those with a powerful surround system looking to hear Lennon in the best fidelity available, should at least consider this upgraded reissue from one of the finest singer/songwriters in pop music history.

 

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