John Lennon had begun a successful music solo career with the release of his first proper album in 1970. That is, if you likely ignored his pathetic and druggy sounding attempts at experimentalism whilst he was still in The Beatles. He still had many great songs and sounds up his sleeve, all the same. He delivered this album, his greatest commercial success for an album to date, in 1971. Let’s see how it shapes up as a listen.
We begin with the piano ballad title track Imagine which is both introspective and wonderful to listen to. It is a real mission statement here, and John Lennon sings calmly and wonderfully here about a utopian world without suffering, misery or strife. It is a really fantastic musical effort here, and John Lennon puts in an amazing performance here. A very good listen, and one of the greatest Pop/Rock ballads ever made. Brilliant, even today. A great song and a real timeless music classic.
After that we are Crippled Inside which is a sort of throwback piece to the 1950s. A bit weird, but sounds great regardless. It is a pseudo-Country piece complete with slide acoustic guitar, sounding a bit weird and different, but great all the same. This is a strange oddity by John Lennon, but is nicely delivered. The lyrics tear apart prejudice and judgement towards others. There is an awesome piano solo here, too. All in all, this is a very good and interesting piece of music that is decent. Excellent song, and a great listening experience. The ending is interesting and different.
Jealous Guy comes along next, with beautiful piano and spacey Mellotron style sounds. John Lennon gets very confrontational here lyrically over beautiful piano playing. This is a good listen, and John Lennon sings about relationship issues quite deeply here. A really great piece of music listening, this is a nice and focused piece of musical history. Some whistling instead of a guitar solo is here, which is nice and different. John Lennon pleads for forgiveness here, and shows his vulnerable side in a more realistic way than Kurt Cobain ever did. An excellent song, and worth hearing? Yes, absolutely. Good music here.
It’s So Hard begins with some Country Rock styled riffing, and a saxophone quickly enters here as well. John Lennon sings as though he is being recorded at a distance away in the mix. This is a more stomp dancing styled piece that sounds really good. A decent song with a great rhythmic and melodic feel to it, John Lennon succeeds strikingly here. There is an eastern sounding string section in the second half here. Singing about emotional issues, this is a good song. Another fine listen here.
Next is the extended I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama which sounds a lot like Sister Morphine by The Rolling Stones. Its intent is rather different here though, it is a protest sort of song railing against war and other injustice across the world. Superb, and very interesting listening, this shows John Lennon becoming more assertive lyrically and musically in his solo career. Musically it is nicely crafted with different musical elements played throughout, layered nicely. There is a cool saxophone solo here as well. Many musical elements and layers are here, courtesy of Phil Spector’s production techniques here. A really cool listen, this is really great from start to finish. A good tune that is enjoyable listening, this is really great. Excellent craftsmanship on the different elements here, all the way to the fade out, which is eerie.
Following is Gimme Some Truth which is a really direct statement from John Lennon about sifting the wheat from the chaff, if you understand what he means here. It isn’t the best song on this album, and some of the sounds here are pretty naff. All the same, it is listenable and interesting, just not as good as other songs on the album. Good to listen to if you are feeling angry or bitter in a similar way that John Lennon is here. Good, just falling short of being great. Protest meets Pop? Sounds like it.
Oh My Love is a quieter and less intense song that is likely a John Lennon piece for his main love in his life, Yoko Ono. It sounds a lot like a piece John Lennon could have done for The Beatles White Album. It’s good and listenable, a nice and gentle relaxing tune. A deep and introspective piece of music, this is really superb music about being deeply in love with someone else. Great song, it fits nicely here on this album, Coldplay would dig this tune for sure.
How Do You Sleep? begins with a sample of chatter in a restaurant styled area, before John Lennon sings about his personal feelings on his times in The Beatles. It sounds musically majestic, with eastern sounding violin styled strings, an awesome climax and obviously some bitter feelings towards Paul McCartney, in particular, alongside others. This is an awesome piece of music. It sounds really catchy and different, which it is supposed to be. A slide guitar solo is here in the middle of the song, along with the dramatic sounding instrumentation. It is good to hear that John Lennon had some anger within him, this is a really amazing song to listen to. Although this piece is over five and a half minutes long, it never gets dull at all. A brutal and direct song, and a must listen from this album. Awesome. It ends with some excellent organ sounds with a fade out.
Next is How? which is a more pleasant sounding piece which has John Lennon questioning the direction in life he was taking. Seemingly, this was not necessary for him to do, he had music to make. Still, it is a good song to hear all the same, and just sounds really fresh and interesting. Sounding a lot like a Burt Bacharach sort of piece, this is definitely different. A really good listen, and is a good take on personal insecurity in the world. Good tune.
Last here is Oh Yoko! which is another semi-Country piece devoted to you-know-who. It’s a good song, although no doubt could not be covered by other bands or musicians. A nice listen to finish off this album regardless, although it likely is not everyone’s choice of a good song. It seems pretty repetitive too, and need not really be here on this album. Still, it’s a good song, just not a great one. There is a harmonica solo in the second half to go with the piano and acoustic guitar playing. In retrospect, this song should have been shortened. It finishes with an awesome harmonica part.
This is a really good album and although it is not John Lennon’s best album, one can appreciate the time and effort put into the songs here. It is a great album from 1971 that still stands tall today. If you liked John Lennon, you should definitely check out this album, it is very good. Fans of John Lennon will be delighted to know that there are many reissues of this album out there, so seek them out if you enjoyed this one.
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