Bagism: Albums & Singles

Reviews: John Lennon Anthology

The "John Lennon Anthology" is a 4-CD boxed set of previously unreleased recordings by John Lennon including home demos and studio outtakes. It was released Nov. 2, 1998 (UK) and Nov. 3, 1998 (US).

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Rating: 5.0
Apr 22, 2007
This one makes it all the way, it's fascinating listening a guitar waltz version of "love", the rasping "long John" , the full "rip it up/reddy teddy", the best version of "real love"(much better than the threetles one).This anthology is a must for Lennon's fans, there actually is too much to say about it, it's the cavern of ali baba for any fan; me included.Disc one and disc 4 are the most interesting, bur disc 3 is also very good and disc 2 has its moments. Anyway,not everything is on this anthology as can easily be proved by numerous bootlegs(Where is "a fool was I"?)

Rating: 5.0
Mar 28, 2006
Michael James
It's funny how listening to Elton John can bring you to John Lennon...I was listening to oddities from Elton..."One Day At A Time", "I Saw Her Standing There" (with John), "Lucy In The Sky", "Empty Garden" made me think of John and how I longed for that one "special" Lennon concert that never happened...Then Lo and behold...I spot this Anthology and all the tunes I thought about while listening to Elton were on it..."John Sinclair", "One Day At A Time", "Real Love" and so many others...all together in one tidy, yet a bit pricy, package. I was in Lennon Heaven...oh that's right...he didn't believe in heaven. Being a Christian and all, I have always been skeptical about John's world views...but whatever they could he write some compelling songs. I have always felt that his songs, in the very least, were honest...that's more than you can say about 98% of today's artists..."Grow Old With Me" is so beautiful...I stole it as a poem for my wife (She thinks I wrote it so don't tell anyone)...that song, as grainy as it is splendid, spells out love man...Say what you will...he loved Yoko and there has to be something said about a man who loves his wife..."Grow Old With Me", what more can a man ask of his wife? The acoustic version of "Imagine" is interesting. I wish there were more Lennon tunes available out there...Even his "bad" songs were good...and his good songs were masterpieces!

Rating: 5.0
Dec 20, 2005
Drew Sheafor
The LENNON Anthology is wonderful. When I read some of the other reviews about the Lennon Anthology it saddens me a bit and makes me think that there are not enough true fans left out there that write reviews about these things. I believe that many of these #’s are far more better than some of the songs released on his albums which I still believe are great. “ Oh My Love” is a very deep song which is also interesting with Harrison’s count in on the Anthology. Before Lennon sings “God” he says he wants to play one to suite his mood. Just many cool extras you get along with alternative takes to his great songs. “Nobody Loves you when you’re Down and Out” also seems to be performed perfect on here with much emotion and clarity. “Stranger’s Room” is an early depressing piano start to the song “I’m Losing You” which is great and very raw. Two different beginnings or alternate takes to” Mind Games” is very interesting. The song “I Know (I Know)” Is played just acoustic by Lennon on here which I believe to be one of the best tunes ever in the history of songwriting. It is just wonderful. If you are a true Lennon fan, love his music, and like the emotions of the typical You will absolutely love this little compilation of alternate takes and home recordings. Also, on the last disc Lennon does three songs of satire kind of imitating or making fun of Bob Dylan. They are hilarious and kind of even written and sang how Dylan would sing a ballad. This seems to be all in fun love considering Dylan and Lennon were mates and influenced each other. Well, at least Lennon was inspired by Dylan. I don’t know if Dylan would comment on that. The Album is great. If you like Lennon, you will not go wrong! Please someone email me if they have any info or comments about Dylan and Lennon’s’ relationship other than what was said on the Beatles anthology DVDs and The Dylan No Direction Home DVD. thanks.

Rating: 5.0
Dec 18, 2005
George Day
I remember when I got The John Lennon Anthology back in 1998. I started listing to ascot the first disk. I thought wow this reminds me of the Beatles Anthology. I thought do the oz was a cool song and I found out. Then after the ascot. Then I put on New York City disk and I was shocked lots of live tracks and some funky demos. I like the live the live track Come Together were he says," Stop The War!" I thought thats John Lennon allright. Then I listened to The Lost Weekend disk. That was really good I laughed when I heard John and Phil 1,2,and3 even my Dad laughed at that. The last disk Dakota was good but sad everybody would know why? I like the diffent takes on the dakota disk, like I Don't Wanna Face It.I like it better then the Milk and Honey one. Someone took off with my John Lennon Anthology box set late last year. But I woundn't mind to have another copy again it was great. If you are thinking about getting The John Lennon Anthology. GET IT! you'll love it just like I did the first time when I got it. I call it Beatles Anthology Four..... George Day

Rating: 5.0
Feb 5, 2005
Lemon Lennon
Very, very nice CD collection. I would have to say I enjoy 'Ascot' the most. I especially enjoy the cover art for 'Ascot' as well as the other 3 discs. If I had to choose 1 song I liked the best on 'Ascot', it would have to be 'Do The Oz'. I know, most people will think I'm weird, but I like how the song is just like a strange jam. John repeatedly says 'Do the Oz'. When I first heard the song I thought it was really annoying but then I enjoyed it a lot. I also like 'God' and 'Isolation'. 'New York City' is a good CD as well. My favorite song on that album is 'Bring On The Lucie'. It sounds sort of like a hawaiian jam. Listening to the live version of 'Come Together' was nice too. I also like the 'Jerry Lewis Telethon' and 'I'm The Greatest'. 'The Lost Weekend' is not my favorite out of the 4, but it's fairly well. I enjoy 'Rip It Up/Ready Teddy' and 'Steel And Glass'. The 'Phil and John 1' is the funniest excerpt out of the 3, but the other 2 are funny as well. I enjoy most of Lennon's older music than his new music (meaning the late 70's material), so I really have nothing to say about 'Dakota'. I'm Lemon Lennon and this is my review. "It's fear of the unknown. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it's unkown and it's plain sailing." - John Lennon

Rating: 4.5
May 30, 2004
Morozov Dima
I think this is nice album. It includes nice outtakes and home recordings which show the REAL Lennon's character, his way of talking, laughing and living. Aspecially a love "The Lost Weekend" disc and Lennon's studio conversations during the recording of several songs. Sometimes it was even fun to listen to some tracks. In my opinion, this is very nice "rehearsal" album and I'd recomend to llenbisten this one for everybody who wants to find out the REAL John Lennon.

Rating: 4.5
Dec 23, 2003
This is a pretty good set, in fact a damn good set. It has really nice packaging and the book has rare photos and liner notes. The Dakota disc is probably the best, it shows Lennon composing music again after a five year break raising Sean and just relaxing from music. Mostly home demos , it's interesting to see how a normal melody developed into something like " Starting Over" or " Woman" And the alternate takes from the Double Fantasy/Milk And Honey sessions are awesome. If you are a new Lennon fan, i wouldn't recommend parting with yer money just yet, i'd recommend Plastic Ono Band and Double Fantasy, this is only for hardcore Lennon fans

Rating: 2.5
Feb 24, 2003
What to say ‘bout Lennon’s “Anthology”? (first, a remark: English is not my first language, so sorry for misspelled words and ‘weird’ constructed sentences. I’ve tried my best... And there is no point that I write in my native language, Croatian, because, if I did, the only understandable words will be the names of the Lennon’s songs). ‘Anthology’ – the word itself, ‘anthology’, means, in greek, ‘a flower’ or ‘a garden of flowers’, if I recall correct, and, so, on ‘anthology’ you place something the best, ‘the flowers’ of the garden (in this case – the best of unreleased John’s songs). Some songs on this collection ARE flowers, and some other are just, you know, the flowers but the ones that you don’t want to grow in your garden for some reason. Some of the songs should stay unreleased, ‘cause they are not representative or even good enough to listen to. Well, the ‘Anthology’ - it is divided into four parts: a) Ascot (John recording in England- ’69. – ’71.); b) New York City (Lennon’s, mostly ‘political’ songs – ’71. – ‘73.); c) The Lost Weekend (Lennon’s rock’n’roll – ’73. – 74.) and d) Dakota (Lennon’s ‘new direction’, ‘starting over’, after not recording for few years, covering the years 1979. & 1980.). I would also like to see Lennon’s ‘Anthology’ divided regarding to some other cretirias – for example – I would put all the demo (piano & guitar & rythm box tracks) on ONE disc, so they wont be scatered on all of the four disc, they would be then on one place. (I like to listen home & demo tracks, but since they are of a different structure, they show the ‘growing’ of the song, I prefeer to listen them apart from the studio recordings.) Also, take a look at the Disc 2 of ‘Anthology’. What is the track number 10., ‘Happy Xmas’ (a studio, ‘rough mix’, from 1971.) doing between the two live performances, ‘Come Together’ (a track from year 1972.) and ‘The Luck of The Irish’. Me, I would like to hear ALL the live performances in continuio, one after another, and not ‘interrupted’ by songs of ‘other tipe’ (demo or studio recording). This ‘Anthology’ is more or less chronological. That’s very helpful, you can see clear what was John singing, in what phase was he, in 1971. or 1972., for example. But, I cannot find out and explain what is the track from 1979., ‘Maggie Mae’ doing on the first, ‘Ascot’ disc, which cover years 1969. – 1971.? ‘Maggie Mae’ clearly belongs to ‘Dakota’. Did somebody or someone do a rush job? Maybe someone from the crew listed on ‘Anthology’ (I won’t mention their names, just their ‘functions’) – executive producer, producer, engineer...? Was that overlooked or was it planned? (same thing with “Real Love”). Then, there are so called ‘tracks’ which are not songs – or, if they are the songs – they are very short (running less than a minute!) – and there also uselless dialogs. I can listen some highlights from this ‘Anthology’ (‘Move Over Ms. L.’, ‘Be My Baby’) few times in a row, but who can listen and enjoy ‘Jerry Lewis Telethon’??? ‘Satire 1’ is excellent parody, (and, as I said, since it is a home recording, I would put it on ‘special’ disc), but why do we have to listen ‘Satire 2’, which is longer, and less sarcastic, and (musicaly) very similar to ‘Satire 1’? ‘Satire 3’ is very short, and if you listen carefuly, you will discover that ‘Satire 3’ is piece of music that continues into’Maggie Mae’! (try to listen one after another). So why are that two fragments ‘glued’ in one song? Then, I would put together all the tracks called ‘Sean’s’ (‘Little Help’, ‘Loud’ and ‘In the Sky’) as a one track. Those tracks are puted on disc in random order, as second, 14th and 25th track of disc four. I would like to see more order in here. Then, on cd 3, ‘Lost Weekend’, we have ‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night” – first, ‘a less than a minute’ home demo. What for??? Studio recording of the same song that follows is superb, but what is that short demo doing here? Also, track number 5., ‘Yesterday (parody)’ is the performance of ‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night’ that brooke down after a few seconds, at the start (if you listen carefuly, you’ll notice). So, we have ‘WGYTTN’ three times on the disc, but only one track is a real ‘track’, almost a whole song (John stopped the performance at the end, and on the master recording, song fades out). ‘I Promise’, ‘Make Love, Not War’ are part 1 and 2 of later song ‘Mind Games’ and, they could be also presented as a one song here (although they follow one after another). Highlights: Disc 1 (among others) – ‘Imagine’, sounds better than released version, mystical, like coming out of the dream, compare it with the ‘Imagine’ (live) ond disc 2 – the hard, strong, powerful version – the proof that John was a genius – he could transform a ballad into a hard, almost demolition song (listen to ‘Stand by Me’. B. E. King’s version is for falling asleep, and John’s is for weeking up.). Disc 2 (among other songs) – I liked John’s version of HIS OWN songs which he wrote for Ringo (‘Goodnigh Vienna’ and ‘I’m the Greatest’, for the last one, John said once: ‘I gave this song to Ringo... If I sang that (I’m the Greatest’), people would take me serious...’) Let’s just say that John has greater and better vocal tha Ringo. Disc 3 – ‘Whatever...’, all the r’n’r covers + (especially ‘Be My Baby’). The most charming track for me is ‘Ain’t She Sweet’, sang with English accent (a self-parody?, reminiscing Liverpool and the 50’s & 60’s, maybe, when ‘it all started...’?. Also, ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ is represented on ‘BEATLES’ Anthology’ – twice! – on ‘Beatles’ Anthology 1, sang ‘like a march’, and in slow version, on ‘Beatles’ Anthology 3’. Disc 4 – John’s ‘starting over’, the high-light being ‘Grow Old With Me’ (with George Martin’s orchestral overdub), something like that would maybe even John himself do (just remember arangements on ‘Imagine’, ‘Jelaous Guy’, ‘Happy Xmas’, or, from the Beatles, ‘Strawberry Fields’). Parody-songs like ‘Satire 1’, or ‘Happy Rishikesh Song’ and ‘Serve Yourself’ are great numbers, showing us, like Yoko said, John in real light. But, after all that, I can conclude with John’s statement from the ‘Imagine’ (a movie, of course): “If you think that you have a bit of me and you know me because you have or you heard some of my music, than, screw you, brother. You can’t owne me, you can’t know me”. That’s true. We can talk about Lennon, but we cannot know him excatly(who can excatly explain the song ‘Move Over Ms. L.?’) We can TRY to understand him. ‘Anthology’ reveals some things about John, but not everything. John stopped at ‘Double Fantasy’. We cannot know (or even predict) how would the album ‘Milk & Honey’ sound if John had the time to finish it. But, John left us and made his trip to the sky... IT’S HARD... IT’S SO HARD TO IMAGINE JOHN’S GONE... Well, that’s all, for now... R.

Rating: 2.5
Dec 6, 2002
Nick W
An absolute triumph of packaging . This collection comes in a really nice box and the little books which are included really are lovely to look out. It oozes class and this is why we pay all that extra money - close to £40 in the UK. What's included on the discs though is pretty patchy to be honest. Sometimes in our frenzy to hear everthing the great man recorded we forget he didn't put this stuff out originally because it isn't actually very good. I don't listen to this very often because there's nothing much worth hearing that often - that is apart from parts of the Dakota disc. The scurrilously scouse masterpiece Serve Yourself sees Lennon mouthing off about "Marx, Marks and Spencer and bloody Woolworths" - this should have been put out as a single. I also like the parody of George Harrison's Blow Away called the Happy Rishikesh Song. Clearly Lennon was less than enamoured with George's continuing spiritual quest. The line: "All you got to do is to say this little word, I know it sounds absurd but it's true. The magic of the mantra will give you all the answers, swallow this that's all you gotta do." Most of what's on here is a lot more exciting as a bootleg - as an official release it feels like a cash-in.

Rating: 3.5
Nov 3, 2002
Nigel Incubator Jones
As much as I'd like to say the LENNON ANTHOLOGY is one of the most important box sets of all time, I really can't. As a Lennon fan, it's a must have. Thankfully the good outweighs the bad here; my main complaint being that there are too many incomplete and/or useless tracks. The bit from the Jerry Lewis Telethon is worthless - just a track with Lewis gushing about how great John was to stop by. Why include that without including at least one of the songs John and the band performed? Here's the tracks they should have left off this collection: Hold On (fun, but incomplete), Give Peace A Chance (incomplete and not much fun),New York City (demo segment, incomplete. Why not the whole demo?), Woman Is The Nigger Of The World (demo, incomplete), Jerry Lewis Telethon (stupid, and not much Lennon music here), Whatever Gets You Thru The Night (demo, yawn), Yesterday ( why is this so special? It's not even a funny parody), Going Down On Love (incomplete),Peggy Sue (incomplete), Phil & John 1, Phil & John 2, Phil & John 3 (jarring and annoying banter between Phil Spector and a seemingly drunk Lennon), When In Doubt (more useless John & Phil dialog filler without substance), The Great Wok (useless), and Mucho Mungo (incomplete, although a full version of this is on bootlegs). 15 relatively short tracks - their inclusion seems to weaken the entire box. Incomplete songs always make me feel like I'm being force fed an MTV/VH1 style documentary. Also, somewhere within the Phil & John segments we get a teaser of an alternate take of Just Because. I'd have preferred to hear the song instead of hearing Phil Spector's annoying whining voice screaming about 'hearing birds'.And one last complaint - how about a more imaginative title here? JOHN LENNON ANTHOLOGY ? I think the box set sampler WONSAPONATIME has the title that should have been given to the box set itself. On the other side of the coin, there's a lot of tasty stuff for the Lennon fanatic. Most of the best tracks made it onto the single cd sampler (which I would rate a 5). If I were to burn a WONSAPONATIME 2 disc for my own enjoyment, here's what I would include on it: 1) Isolation 2) Mother 3) Long Lost John 4) Look At Me 5) Jealous Guy 6) Oh My Love 7) John Sinclair (live) 8) Come Together (live) 8) I'm The Greatest 9) One Day At A Time 10) Old Dirt Road 11) Bless You 12) Steel And Glass 13) Be My Baby 14) Satire 1 (Dylan parody) 15) Sean's Little Help 16) Watching The Wheels (demo) 17) Woman (demo) 18) My Life (demo) 19) Beautiful Boy 20) Nobody Told Me Put my tracklist above with the WONSAPONATIME sampler, and you have the REAL meat of the box set. I don't think the box set is worth the price of admission when you consider the cost of the Grateful Dead four disc set DICK'S PICKS VOL.14 - four discs for under thirty US dollars. The Lennon box is sold for as much as $75 us. And what happened to Give Me Some Truth and Cold Turkey? Or the version of (Just Like) Starting Over where John sings a line of "Why Don't We Do It In The Road"? These would have been nice. Still, we must realize that this box was Yoko's track selection. And Yoko is the same woman who COULD have given the surviving Beatles a few studio quality recordings to use for their ANTHOLOGY project. Instead we got REAL LOVE and FREE AS A BIRD with Lennon sounding a million miles away. The LENNON ANTHOLOGY gets only a 3.5 rating from me because of the useless tracks and its' way too high price.

Rating: 4.5
Dec 15, 2000
laurie marks
Let me start this review by saying that I enjoy the Anthology format. In particular, with the likes of Lennon & The Beatles, it gives the world some fresh tracks to listen to years after they stopped producing new material themselves, as well as opening a rare insight into their remarkable creative process. The Lennon set certainly deserves much merit on these two levels, as well as providing a detailed landscape of the artist's musical career far more throughly than any greatest hits package could manage. As a set, the Anthology is a remarkably honest reflection of Lennon's career in total, not just the highlights. The only period it really omits is his wasteful & best forgotten 'unfinished music' stage which to me helps to create a superior set anyway. Hence, we have most aspects of Lennon's career, neatly divided chronologically into 4 eras - the early music, the political period, the lost weekend and the tragic last days, each creating its own mood. Throughout the set we are treated to the good, the bad and the ugly. We have working versions of the classic songs, self-indulgent dialogue and tuneless demos and throughout all the dominance of Yoko in much of Lennon's creative process. Sometimes she is a positive influence and sometimes a negative one, whcih also sums up his career. How does one review a 94 track collection without writing an entire book except by giving a general overview of the contents ? For to review this set is to review Lennon's career per se. So it is true to say that the first era and CD of the set shows a legend of his era struggling with his music to cast off the popular Beatles sound and forge his own identity. No sooner has he achieved this through some excellent songs, whcih of course sound like the next step in Beatles music, which of course they are in one sense (Lennon being the principal driving force behind much of the Beatles sound development anyway), then we enter era 2. The second CD reflects 1972 and its divergence into now largely irrelevant civil issues and a general falling away of the quality of songs. The lost weekend era follows, with its mix of personal soul baring songs to reflect his loss of Yoko as well as the hopeless self-indulgence best demonstarted by the sessions with Phil Spector. The final CD and period is the househusband era, permeated as it is with the sad tragedy of Lennon's death making the roughed out versions of songs even more poignant than they might otherwise be. Overall then, the set is a tribute to a career which was always to be haunted by being a post-Beatles career, full of songs which hint at what more self-editing and discipline may have achieved given the presence beside them of some truly classic moments in pop music history. While there is a lot of junk on the 4CD set, this in turn gives you a feel for some of the nonsense that marked Lennon's career in the 1970s. As with other anthologies of a similar ilk, notably the Beatles, we are also given reason for being relieved that many of the rough mixes were eventually produced into well crafted tracks and not left in their raw and ramshackled approach evidenced here. It is an honest perspective on Lennon's career and music, a real must for fans. Non-fans are better advised to start with a greatest hits package or they would lose patience with the level of rough edges and self-indulgence to be found on these CDs. But as a fan, this appeals to me as a solid work which acts as a fascinating corollary to the official albums, plus adding a number of previously unreleased but worthy additional material. After a couple of listens, one is grateful for programmable CD players. If you liked what Anthology did for the Beatles, warts and all, then you will also enjoy this set. As with any Lennon review, it is nigh impossible to separate the man from the music and more difficult to be critical of music produced by a man of lennon's stature. We are therefore perhaps more forgiving of some of his product, particularly given the tragedy of his life and death, than we might be had the Beatles never happened.

Rating: 4.5
Aug 30, 2000
This box set cost me about $100 when it first came out, and it was worth it. This is the first substantial official release of previously unavailable Lennon solo material since "Menlow Avenue" in the mid-1980s. As a "bootleg buster," the blue Lennon box set offers better sound quality versions of material previously known to collectors from the "Lost Lennon Tapes" series released by bootleg label "Bagone." Even though I have most of the Lost Lennon Tapes, the blue box is still worthwhile as a sound quality upgrade alone -- not to mention the numerous unbooted and previously "unheard" tracks. Most impressive are the alternative studio versions and demos of songs from the era of the Plastic Ono Band lp. An accoustic guitar demo version of "I Found Out" shimmers with a guitar effect similar to the "twin reverb" heard on Lennon's 1967 home demo of "Good Morning." Other outtakes from the POB sessions prove to be even more stripped down, and with more immediate presence, than the "minimalist" versions heard on the original lp. Like Lennon's career, the second disc of this set starts to slack off during the era of the "Sometime in NY" lp. But it picks up again with a sneering, cynical vocal on an alternative take of "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier." Lennon's demo versions of two songs given to Ringo Starr in the early 1970s also are worth repeated plays -- "I'm The Greatest" and "Goodnight Vienna." The third disc, focusing on Lennon's 18-month LA drinking binge known to fans as his "Lost Weekend," reveals the destruction of Lennon's vocal chords following primal scream therapy and too much alcohol consumption with singer Harry Nielson. But the final disc of Lennon's Dakota home demos finds our hero regaining his muse -- if only for his own private amusement. On the negative side, this box set focused too much on the John/Yoko connections. Notably absent are any of the many still unreleased Lennon demos from his years with the Beatles. But on the positive side, this is the kind of release that Lennon fans have been craving for years -- rather than the endless repackagings of the same of lps that old-timers have had in their collections for up to 30 years already. That noted, the one-cd highlight disc from this box set, "Wonsaponatime," is certainly a better way to go for those without the extra cash to sink into a big box set.

Rating: 4.0
Jun 19, 2000
Sir Frankie Crisp
This is an extremely rewarding and outstanding, yet at the same time frustrating, and sometimes long-winded boxed set. Sure, there are a plethora of classic material here which very well matches or surpasses the material Lennon recorded in his solo years. Unfortunately though, there also tends to be a little too much sub-par or just ordinary selections from this set to give it its perfect rating. It is well worth every cent you paid for it, and unlike the beatles anthologies, many people unfamiliar with Lennon's solo work could very well enjoy much of this material--since the terrific and unfortunately deleted Lennon boxed set (1990) is OOP today, this could be the best start for the rabid Lennon fan if they truly like his Beatles albums. Now with that said, I will try to breakdown each of the four discs as informative and (ideally since I haven't started writing) as quickly as possible. Anyway the first disc (Ascot) is a near brilliant start to this terrific set. Its highlights include"Working Class Hero", "God" and "Isolation" which are close to, if not superior to their originals. The use of slightly distorted guitar alongside Lennon's (screaming) on "God", in particular, emphasizes Lennon's words and meaning brilliantly. The demo version of "Imagine" is also a highlight for the addition of the organ and underproduced feel. This is one of the many interesting tracks, but I still prefer the original. "Baby Please Don't Go" is fine, almost contemporary sounding, yet I prefer the version on the first Lennon boxed set better. "God Save Oz" is another highlight, along with the skiffle-oriented ender "Long Lost John" which I belive is a Lonnie Donegan cover. However, there are also some poorer tracks on the first disc. "Do the Oz" is an outtake from the SINYC album where he and Yoko are in full effect, yet the song itself is rather weak. "How Do You Sleep?" whereas a bit of a highlight, is not the best unreleased version that I have heard--I have heard better IMHO on the Imagine sessions bootleg and the same goes for "I don't want to be a soldier". This version kind of meanders along, and I believe it is one of the versions from that same bootleg, it is the less moving version--some of the unreleased clearly outshine the original. Anyway, now onto disc 2. Disc two is the mostly live era where John continued his political activism. Some of the live stuff is sub par, however the brilliant versions of "Attica State" and especially"Imagine" more than make up for it. Both of these, I feel beat their originals! Imagine is especially well in its live acoustic performance here, with John performing alone. I was shocked when I first heard it, as I already had heard Imagine a whole lot, but this track blew me away, this alone was enough for the entire sets price, yet there is still more to come. The rest of the live material, although mostly adequate is nothing too spectacular. "Bring on The Lucie" is a fun rocker, and the "Mind Games" song demos are also strong highlights. "I Know" is also a standout of feel good, almost Paul McCartney-ish lightweight pop. But this disc suffers from more average tracks such as the songs for Ringo "I'm the Greatest" and "Goodnight Vienna"--although they aren't awful either. "Real Love" pales to the Imagine soundtrack version, and the others are nothing special either making this probably the weakest disc despite its strong highlights. Disc 3 is the Lost Weekend material, and is rather good. The disc opens with "What You Got" in a brilliant and drastically different but painfully short version, another highlight are the "Whatever Gets.." versions. The Rock and Roll outtakes are fun too. "Rip It Up" and especially "Be Bop a Lula" take the cake here, and are stronghighlights. "Stranger's Room" the demo for "I'm Losing You" is also rewarding to here how the song was transformed later. The dialogs too between John and Phil are interesting, as are the quick yesterday parody and "when in doubt" bit. The rest of the disc offers pleasant songs but nothing substantial. Disc Four ends the set perfectly though, it has gradually--over the last year and a half since I bought this--become my favorite. This is the funniest disc with the Dylan satires being right on, "The Great Wok" and "Rishi Kesh" also being fun numbers. But aside from this there are some great songs too. "Life Begins at 40", "My Life"--demo of Starting Over--and the famous Dylan bashing answer to his "Gotta Serve Somebody"--"Serve Yourself"--remain the highlights. No really poor or overtly upsetting tracks on the last disc. But despite all of this that is included in the set, which is strong, I am most dissapointed with what was not included. I would have loved to have heard an early version of "#9 Dream", also John's recording with Chuck Berry on the Mike Douglas show(?) would have been an excellent addition, his demo of Jealous Guy, "Child of Nature"--although a beatles demo would have been nice to hear, and the "Lucille" with Paul McCartney in 1974--if it actually was recorded then-- would have been outstanding here even if it is rough. Finally, an early version of Instant Karma would have made this box better. Overall a great compilation, better than the good Beatles anthologies, and a tough one at that because no matter how many songs they released people will complain that something was missing. The set is definately worth the money,but--if you have even read this far--I would much prefer a 3 disc set including the highlights mentioned here over the four disc set, if that was done, this set would be flawless, but its flaws are still somewhat necessary.

Rating: 4.5
Jul 25, 1999
Jean-Pascal Carbonneau
John Lennon Anthology est un très bon boîtier. Du début à la fin j'ai été charmé. Même si je n'ai jamais connu Lennon parce que je suis née en 1984, cet artiste est le meilleur du siècle. Le 1er cd "Ascot" est excellent. Beaucoup de guitare acoustique mais pas assez de piano. God par exemple, Cette chanson m`a marqué par le son du piano. Juste le piano fait une chanson à lui seul. Cela m`a frappé. Oh My Love excellente chanson. Avec George Harrison à la guitare cette chansons est très émotive! Le 2ème cd "New York City" est excellent tout comme le premier. Beaucoup de chansons live fait vibrer le cd! La batterie dans Come Together sonne un peu comme une casserole. Aussi dans Happy Xmas la chorale qui chante "War Is Over" est coupé et ça s`entend. Le montage a été un peu raté. C'était les quelques points négatif (assez rares d'ailleurs). Attica State est une excellente chanson live. I`m the Greatest et Goodnight Vienna sont 2 chansons composées pour quelques albums de Ringo Starr. Et un très bon démo de 1980 Real Love. Très bon son pour une chansons qu'il a fait à son domicile le Dakota Building. Le 3ème cd "The Lost Weekend". Ce disque manque de chansons. Les grandes oubliées sont #9 dream et Stand By Me. Aussi j'aurais aimé voir des chansons live de la dernière apparition de John sur scène (ex.: Whatever Gets You Thru The Night). Maintenant les points positifs. Les chansons sont extraordinaire et une en particulier Slipin` And Slidin`. Le piano fait un rythme super et change complètement la chanson (en mieux bien sûr!). Aussi Ret It Up/Ready Teddy est très bien exécuté par John. Un succès qui remonte dans les années 50 ou 60. Je sens John très à l`aise dans cette chanson. Peut-être à cause qu'il est né dans cette époque? Old Dirt Road est magnifique. Un bruit de guitare vient mettre un sons de vie dans la chanson et le piano est excellent! Le 4ème cd "Dakota" juste des points positifs pourrait lui être attribués. La première chansons est vraiment super. I`m Losing You est un version que Yoko a sortit en 1998 et que John avait fait en 1980. La guitare est super ça donne du sens. Ensuite le démo My Life. Excellent et je le dit plusieurs fois! Cette chanson enregistrée au Dakota Building est très émotive imaginez si elle aurait sortit en vrai version! un succès garanti! La version Nobody Told Me de John Lennon Anthology est meilleure que la vrai. Avec plus de basse ça différence beaucoup la version de L`Anthology de la vrai. I`m Stepping Out et I Don`t Wanna Face It nous prouves que John avait acquis de la maturité côté musique. Un démo Grow Old With Me est une chanson que je pourrais qualifier de triste et émouvante. Avec l`orchestre de George Martin qui a fait un boulot du tonnerre, cette chanson nous transporte dans un monde calme et nous fait rappeler la tragédie de 1980 et qu`aurait fait John s`il serait toujours en vie. Je dirais que le boîtier est pour les vrais fans de Lennon 1ère raison: il est assez dispendieux (109$ can. et 82$ us. environ) et que plusieurs chansons ne sont pas connu alors les gens pourrait trouver ca long. Mais il existe Wonsaponatime un regroupement des meilleurs pièces de l`anthology. Celui-ci coûte 20$ can. et 13$ us. environ. Deux fois bravo et merci à Yoko Ono pour son beau travail et j`espère que un autre pourrait sortir sur les tablettes!

Rating: 5.0
May 13, 1999
Manuel Lazcano Puig
This anthology is definitely worth every damn buck you pay for it and twice. The most amazing thing is when you realize that these rehearsals, alternative takes, demos, raw versions, or whatever, excel the one that finally made it into the album. "I'm Losing You", "How do you Sleep?" and "Mother" are good examples of this hypothesis, not to mention a lot more. Perhaps Phil Spector is to blame for this. If you don't believe it take a listen to the Let It Be album: excelent material but bad production or rather, overproduction. "Imagine" deserves to be mentioned: the version appearing in this anthology is far better than the final take. "How do you Sleep?" reflects Lennon's talent at its best, specially this take, which does not feature Spector's syrupy orchestral arrangements. You can notice how John made "Mind Games" up out of a couple of songs: "I Promise" and "Make Love Not War", and you can make tracks on a whole lot of things like this. If you consider yourself a true Lennon fan and not a poser (a.k.a. Greatest Hits), shake your leg and head for the closest record store right bloody now!

Rating: 3.0
Apr 22, 1999
Glenn Moran
I hate to talk about money and good music in the same sentance but really is this anthology value for money? I think not, I think the ad I heard for it was 94 previously unreleased tracks, but I wouldn't call some of the short quotes such as "Fortunately we don't always agree" or what ever the joke was, a legitimate track. Don't get me wrong, there is some great stuff in this anthology but not four CDs full. Having listened to it for a good while I decided on my definite list of favourites which was pretty much the same as the track listing on "Wonsaponatime" Outside of that, whilst there is quality there's also a lot of filling. The whole thing is of course of Yoko's choosing, I think on this anthology she shows that her main stength is most definitely in business, most noticably in "Luck of the Irish"! To sum up, the packaging is great, some of the content is but I feel I've been ripped of a little with this one. If you plan on owning a full collection of Lennon albums then don't part with your money on this one just yet.

Rating: 4.0
Mar 16, 1999
Tim Swaddling
This 4 CD box set is an interesting collection of John Lennon's solo career, and is neatly divided into the last four segments of his life; Ascot, New York City, The Lost Weekend and the Dakota. Each one of these CDs features outtakes, rehearsals, demos and live performances of some of John's already released material, and some of John's unreleased songs. A few misguided selections are misplaced amoung the collection (eg, Real Love, a demo from the Dakota days somehow gets placed on the New York City CD) but this box is very well put together. A very artistic, classy touch to add a sense of the delicate treasures that are found in the box. The accompioning little book (titled simply in a very Lennonesque fashion "Book") is a good, informative read if you are interested in learning the little things that don't get written about in biographies on the ex-Beatle (Yoko describes John's veiws on house hunting and the way his skin looked, amoung other things). The music itself is an intersting look at John's work in progress, showing us how fast his songs moved forward. Some of the songs, like Jealous Guy and Scared, sound much better without the layers of strings and horns that cover the songs on the actual album releases. Overall, it is a good listen, but there are a few flaws. Yoko did not release many of the extensive collection of unreleased material John recorded in his house during his househusband years, so don't buy the box if your looking for a whole new slew of Lennon lyrics and melodies. If your are only slighlty interested in the outakes and different version of some classic Lennon tunes, just buy the Wonsaponatime CD, which is a highlights version of the box. For any serious Lennonite, though, the box is a must have. SOME INTERESTING LISTENS: Mother, Hold On, Jealous Guy, Baby Please Don't Go, God Save Oz, Look At Me, Long Lost John, New York City, I Know, I'm The Greatest, Goodnight Vienna, Real Love, What You Got, Whatever Gets You Through the Night (home demo), Scared, Stranger's Room, I'm Losing You, Serve Yourself, Life Begins At 40, Borrowed Time, Rishi Kesh Song, Don't Be Afraid, Only You, Dear John, Mucho Mungo. (This box also shows a good reflection of Lennon in the studio, putting to rest some claims that Paul McCartney was the one of the two songwriters that always drove the recording process. Lennon knows exactly what he wants, and knows how to get it.)

Rating: 4.5
Feb 6, 1999
Ed Townend
John Lennon Anthology is a compilation of the previously unreleased works of Lennon. Material covered in it spans the period of his life after he split from the Beatles. John Lennon's music after the Beatles was not as commercially appealing, and therfore not as widly played, and I think that to appreciate it fully an aquired taste needs to be developed. I would not advise someone who wants to become familiar with Lennons work to spend a lot of money on this without first trying some of his other albums Most of this music is outakes from home recordings etc. and often has not been edited and cut, the Lennon that you hear is raw and accurate to what he was like. The songs in this box set range from favourites such as Imagine to the tracks that reveal an angry Lennon who is trying hard to step out of the shadow that was the Beatles and establish himself as a single artist, such as God - a gritty and moving song where Lennon lays down exactly what he feels and believes. Some of the work here is not Lennons own, belonging to the Beatles and other artists too, but these covers are mostly good and reflect the songs he liked without the music being heavily influenced by belief and, in some cases, anger Tracks featured here are very central to what Lennon believed and felt, from his hatred of war (Give Peace a Chance) to his ideal of anti-materialism (Imagine) and to his split with the Beatles and the bad blood between him and McCartney (How Do You Sleep). I think this compilation is a very intimate glimse into the tragic part of this genius' life, the man behind the legend, and would recommend it to any Lennon fan, but NOT necessarily any fan of the Beatles - because I don't think you'll get what you're looking for.

Rating: 2.0
Jan 19, 1999
I can´t believe how many good reviews this box has recieved. Is it only me who dare to be different? No, it´s not. The first time I heard that a John Lennon box was going to be released, I was really happy about it. But listening to the material on the box with joy was really hard. Although there were tracks that was good, there´s a lot of material that didn´t have to see the light. The box consist of material from the Ascot period, New York City, the Lost Weekend and finally and sadly the Dakota period. I found this box disappointing, because I look forward of hearing some "new" songs. But what I found was some piece of s**t and some masterpieces mixed up in some weird mix. The first cd called ASCOT, is mostly material from the "Plastic Ono Band" and the "Imagine" albums. These songs are so called "before-the-first-take-songs" as Yoko called them. There´s some really annoying songs on this cd, for example "I Found Out", it´s sounds like a crap demo recorded by Axl Rose from Guns n´ Roses. There´s a quite unknown song called "Baby Please Don´t Go" from the "Imagine" sessions. It´s really refreshing to hear this song because it sounds like it was recorded in this decade. And there´s some really weird songs like "Do The Oz", featuring another annoying screams from Yoko. NEW YORK CITY, the second cd starts with a short acoustic version of "New York City". The two next songs is the one of few good songs on the box. They´re from the "Apollo" show about the Attica State chaos. John and Yoko sings on a well performed version of "Attica State" and it follows with a outstanding acoustic version of "Imagine". Well, from here I thought this box was going to be awesome… All cd´s consist of short version or of people talking, I don´t really get it why this box had to include all these boring stuff. And there´s a lot of badly performed live material as well, I feel that John wasn´t the best live. "Happy Xmas" sounds just like the original, so why bother putting it in this box? Then the material on this cd starts to get a little better. Since we´re treated with material from the "Mind Games", the material is quite vulnerable. And here´s material from Ringo´s "Goodnight Vienna" sessions. There´s a lot of Ringo on this box which is quite nice. But I feel about this songs that were sung later by Ringo as nothing special. I feel that they were a guiding for Ringo how to sing them. John showed him and Ringo later took over. Since this cd consist of material from 72 to 74, a song from 1980 shows up. It´s the worn out song "Real Love", it´s quite weird that this song is placed on the second cd. But it´s intresting to hear the original. The disc finishes with a really good version of "You Are Here", a quite melancholic song as well. THE LOST WEEKEND. This cd contains some surprises and some not quite surprising moments. A well arranged version of "Nobody Loves You When You´re Down And Out" feels like the theme song of this cd. Because this was the lost period of John´s life and it´s suits the cd well. There´s a lot of cover songs as well on this cd, which is really good if you got tired of the original songs of John´s. It´s really fun to hear the covers because John treats them as they were his own. And nostalgia maybe bloomed on the "Rock n´ Roll" sessions. Who knows? On this cd there´s three chaotic "songs" as well. It features arguments betweeen John and a very confused Phil Spector. Fun or not? I refuse to answer. "Be My Baby" sounds like a duet between David Bowie and John. But as I´m sure, David wasn´t present. Even though it was around this time John recorded the song "Fame" with Mr. Bowie. But this entire cd just feels chaotic and lost. I miss "#9 Dream" on this cd. DAKOTA. This features songs from the "Double Fantasy" sessions. A very cool version "I´m Losing You" featuring members Cheap Trick. There´s some really cute home recordings featuring a very young Sean Lennon singing. "Serve Yourself" is a fun satire about Bob Dylan. And there´s a very good version of "Nobody Told Me". I can´t believe this didn´t end up on "Double Fantasy". It´ll remain a mystery. And there´s a really good acoustic version of "Watching The Wheels", and it represents this whole box, to me that is. Even though this cd is supposed represent the last days of John, it´s all very confusing to me. And I´m still disappointed over how bad this box sounds. And unfortunately I had to pay a lot of cash. I thought in spirit this is for John and how he represent to us. But I feel I payed for Yoko´s bills instead. Because this is just a plain robbery of money. And I´m pretty sure that John would be furious if he were able to hear this chaotic box. Sorry to say this, but this box sucks.

Rating: 5.0
Jan 10, 1999
Nathaniel Otte
First, I would like to thank Ms. Yoko Ono, for showing us a true picture of John and for putting together such a great collection, especially for us hardcore Lennon fans. This collection could not be more perfect. It shows us who John was during different periods in his life, each major period on one disc. Disc one, Ascot covers the Plastic Ono Band/Imagine period, recorded before he moved to NYC. Hilights are "Working Class Hero," "God," "Imagine (Take 1)," Long Lost John," and "Mother" to name a few. Next is New York City, which covers the Sometime in NYC/Mind Games period. I think I should mention that this is the only disc with live performances. Two of the countless standout tracks on here are "I'm the Greatest" and Goodnight Vienna," both of which were recorded for Ringo Starr, and John's guide vocals are presented here. Other hilights: "Attica State," "Real Love," "Come Together," and "Luck Of the Irish." Next is The Lost Weekend, which was the most messed-up period (not musically) of John's life. He did a lot of drinking and drugs, but this didn't stop him from creating great music. This disc has the most covers on it. Hilights include: "Steel and Glass," "Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out," and "Old Dirt Road" to name a few. There is a sad moment on this disc when John says he's gonna live to be a "90-year old guru;" God, it hurts like hell just to thind of that. The last disc on here (and probably the best) is Dakota. It was obvious that John needed a break from the music biz, because once that happened, a new light was shed on the world. It was during this period that he wrote the material included on Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey. Some of the songs on here are funny, like "Serve Yourself," and "Satires 1, 2, and 3." There are 3 tracks of Sean, the best one being "Sean's 'Little Help'" where Sean sings "With a Little Help From My Friends" and says it's his favorite song. Another standout track is "I'm Losing You" which features Cheap Trick; this version rocks a little harder than the one on Double Fantasy. In concluding, I wish to say that this is a great set. It is a must-have for the ideal Lennon fan. It shows us who John really was, a happy, sad, angry, witty, and funny man. Most of all, he was a genius, and this box could not have demonstrated it better.

Rating: 4.0
Jan 1, 1999
Howard Sauertieg
The Anthology liner notes claim that this collection of unreleased songs, home demos, outtakes and live performances dispels the Lennon "myth" and reveals the real man. However, Anthology offers ground upon which to build another myth, not very different from the old one. Fortunately, there is so much material here that all Lennon fans will be pleased at least a little bit. The major flaw of Anthology is its weird sequencing. This is most evident on discs 1 and 3, featuring some great songs arranged with little concern for "flow." Some of John's NYC Rock and Roll recordings appear early on disc 3 and lead into several lengthy, mid-tempo Walls and Bridges tracks, followed by more NYC Rock and Roll songs, and then some LA Rock and Roll recordings. Aside from being chronologically inaccurate, the arrangement makes some tracks less welcome than they would be otherwise. Consequently, Anthology is the sort of collection that tends to sound better when the CD player is set for "Random Play." Highlights of Anthology will be different for every listener. I enjoy the Plastic Ono Band studio sessions on Disc 1, with their rough-and-ready musical backings; the live "benefit concert" recordings of Disc 2 (from 4 different performances, including the Jerry Lewis Telethon) and the Lennon performances of songs written for Ringo Starr albums; the Rock and Roll tracks of disc 3, and some alternate versions of Double Fantasy / Milk and Honey songs on disc 4. These latter versions usually don't differ much from their LP versions, but they are certainly a switch. I give the set a 4 because it is at times redundant and boring. Nevertheless, I wouldn't want to be without it; there are so many great performances and fun moments that no Lennon fan can afford to pass it up and invest in the paltry "Wonsuponatime" or whatever it's called...

Rating: 4.5
Dec 29, 1998
Megenta Lennon
First, I would like to give a big THANK YOU to Yoko Ono for putting together such a wonderful masterpiece. The artwork on the packaging is beautiful, how the sky gets darker with every CD is really cool. As for the songs, let's start with the first CD Ascot: Working Class Hero, and God sound really good. This take of Working Class Hero is better than the master recording. The acoustic guitar and John's voice really sets it off. The only thing I didn't like about God is when at the end when he says "I just believe in me, Yoko and me. And that's reality" he's kind of screaming, well not screaming, but his voice is louder than it is on the master recording, where he sings mellow at that part. The rest of the song I like, but at the end he needed to mellow out. Love is good, but the guitar chords needed a little work. Some didn't quite go with the notes John was singing. Mother is great, I love this one. Voice may be a little scratchy, but not too much to be annoying (Like on I Found Out.. god, that got on my nerves). Oh My Love is real soft and mellow, which I like. Jealous Guy, which I think is the best song John ever wrote, sounds almost like the master recording, except without his whistling in the middle. God Save Oz, and Do The Oz, I really don't like. I don't know, I just couldn't get into it. Out of all the four discs, Ascot is my favorite. Second CD New York City: The Live version of Imagine is awesome! I really got into that man, it was great! I almost felt like I was there, watching him singing his signature song. Luck of the Irish is my favorite song from this CD, but I think Yoko could have stepped aside! That poor woman, if only she could sing a little in tune! John Sinclair is good, I saw a clip from this concert on VH1 where John is singing this song. I thought that Yoko looked pretty funny just sitting there banging that, uh, drum thing (whatever it was). Real Love, and You Are Here strike my intrest also. CD 3 The Lost Weekend: Out of the four CD's this is the weakest. The only song I like in this one is Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out, and Phil and John 1. I was letting the CD play, not really paying attention to it, and reading the book that came with the anthology, when all of a sudden I heard, "Shut up you fuckin'..!" When John was yelling at Phil. I thought that was pretty damn funny. I kept rewinding it and listening to it over and over again. CD 4 Dakota: The best thing I like about this disc is the tracks with John and Sean. I thought that was so cute listening to a genuis talk to his son. Borrowed Time is probably the best song on this CD. All in all, I'd have to say the Lennon anthology is fantastic, and I will enjoy it for many moons to come. Peace and Love to everyone!

Rating: 4.0
Dec 29, 1998
derrick smith
This box is an attempt at "aural documentary". Rather than presenting a straight listening experience with clear intros and outros, we hear the makings of Lennon's music and, therefore, his life, since his art had always a distinct autobiographical slant. This method of compiling the music sometimes fails: for instance, hearing John and the band destroy "Remember" is good for a laugh on first listen, but ultimately the listener is cheated, because the song's meaning and sound are disrupted and incomplete. Luckily, most of the performances on Anthology do not fall into this category. Many of them - like "Look at Me" and "Scared" - are more powerful without the production sheen applied in the 70s. This set makes very clear that Lennon's songs and musicality existed, and still exist, apart from the canonized "official" versions. The most immediate and impressive material comes from the sessions for "Walls and Bridges" and from the home recordings and outtakes from the last 2 years of Lennon's life. The sound of the albums "Walls and bridges" and "Double Fantasy" now seem to hint that Lennon was striving for hits in those critical periods: the first when he was apart from the love of his life and needed the ego-boost of popular acceptance, and the second when he was preparing for a massive come-back. This need for acceptance was located in the sound of the productions, not the lyrics and music. So Anthology gives much more spirited performances, not always note-perfect, but from the soul. One other point: I'm not a "Lennon fanatic", meaning I can go a couple of years without hearing his music, but listening to the "Dakota" CD, I was really struck by the flow of creativity I heard, even in the satirical songs. He had clearly been developing his musicianship in his house-husband years, evidenced by his guitar and piano playing, and he seemed to have found a fine balance, first hinted at in songs like "You Are Here", between philosophical and confessional speculation and straigh

Rating: 4.5
Dec 27, 1998
Conrad Standish
Where do I start? Firstly I don't think this is an album for casual listeners. It is an intensely personal and sometimes disturbing look at the man who was John Winston Lennon. It comprises of four CD's in chronological order. Disc 1, Ascot, focuses on the Plastic Ono Band/Imagine era. There are some real gems to be found here. A great version of Lennon's signature tune, 'Imagine', complete with Nicky Hopkins playing a beautiful backup melody on electric piano, 'Isolation' with Ringo stuffing up the intro, only to fix things up and churn out an incredible performance. There are many, many highlights on this disc, not much wrong with this one, though I found the rough version of 'I Found Out' a little grating. Best tracks - Working Class Hero, God, Isolation, Imagine, Baby Please Don't Go and the haunting Look At Me. Disc 2 - New York City... This in my opinion is probably the weakest of the four. Not to say that there's nothing worthwhile on it - the live version of Woman Is The Nigger Of The World is knockout - but on the whole this disc really didn't do too much for me. This was definately a very important stage in John's career though. Anyway, I thought the live Luck Of The Irish was great, but Yoko, please!! I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that Yoko was definately the performer that she, or John for that matter, thought that she was. A little further down the line we come to a demo of 'Real Love' and I think that this could be the one that George, Paul and Ringo dug up for their Anthology. This is a beautiful song with or without instrumentation. Highlights - Woman Is The Nigger Of The World, Luck Of The Irish, I'm The Greatest, Real Love. Disc 3 - The Lost Weekend... This is my favorite. This one focuses on John's time in L.A, while he was seperated from Yoko. John wasn't in particularly good shape around this time and you can really feel his loneliness and desperation in 'Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out'. For me, this could have been the highlight of the album. This is an intensely deep look into the heart of a very lonely, disturbed man. This is as dark as the disc gets though, as then it's full steam ahead with the rocker in John really shining through on tracks such as 'Be Bop A Lula', 'Rip It Up/Ready Teddy' and "Slippin' and Slidin'. If you've ever wanted to hear John singing the Ronette's classic 'Be My Baby', you'll find that here too. You can tell Phil Spector really made his presence felt on this one. Highlights - NLYWYDAO, Be Bop A Lula, Move Over Ms L, Steel and Glass, Be My Baby. Disc 4 - Dakota... This was John's househusband phase and it's great to hear the man with some degree of contentment in his life. He comes across as a delighted Dad who is relishing the idea of middle age. If only he knew... The disc kicks off with 'I'm Losing You' with what I believe is Cheap Trick as backing band. 'Serve Yourself' is a very funny parody of Bob Dylan and his 'Serve Somebody'. This disc is interspersed with snippets of Sean and John bantering and playing together. I thought that this sounded a bit cutesy-pie before I heard it, but I actually found it quite touching. The real highlight of this though is 'Grow Old With Me', with George Martin providing orchestration. I think John would have loved this if he had've heard it. It is an absolute tragedy that we lost John when we did. It seems that he was really becoming content with his lot in life and it really shows on this disc. Highlights - I'm Losing You, Serve Yourself, Watching The Wheels, Grow Old With Me. All in all I am extremely pleased with this anthology. I think that Yoko did a great job with the overall design and artwork (I suppose this makes up for her singing!) and it is a fascinating look into the private John. It is a John that some people may not want to see, hence my warning that it is not for the casual listener, but for bona-fide lovers this anthology is a must. Thankyou and goodnight...

Rating: 4.0
Nov 26, 1998
robin kohli
If you truly appreciate John Lennon, the Anthology is a worthwhile investment. The four cd's contain 94 "songs," and about two-thirds of them are what you'd hope for: thoughtful lyrics and a scratchy voice telling them to us. The other third of the tracks, though, made me think more of people who call Yoko Ono "a professional widow." Disc One, Ascot, contains "Working Class Hero," a song marked by a strong acoustic guitar and lyrics that blur the line between insight and arrogance. Sings Lennon "And you think you're so clever and classless and free/but you're all fuckin peasants as far as I can see." Ascot also features a beautiful take of Imagine with an electric keyboard and variations on more familiar songs like "Jealous Guy." The second disc, New York City, features seven live songs from performances. This, combined with the several home recordings, paints a more complete picture of Lennon for fans who weren't around when he was (or have mysteriously missed out on the three Beatles Anthologies). The Lost Weekend, the third cd, is your cup of tea if you like Twist and Shout, Help, etc. Lennon's version of "Be my Baby" is from his rock n' roll sessions in LA. The disc, like the song, is loud and sincere. The last cd in the set, Dakota, is decidedly slower but, like the others, is dripping with talent, even if it is a little unpolished. Yoko Ono, in this anthology, did a great job putting together songs, images, and text that provide a nearly complete picture of Lennon as a performer and person. The question is, is it worth the hefty price tag? I suppose it depends on how much of a Lennon fan you are. If you couldn't imagine life without "imagine," pick up the anthology and you won't be disappointed; if you're a casual listener, go for "wonsaponatime" (the 'greatest hits' of the anthology) and you'll come away with the better bargain.

Rating: 5.0
Nov 25, 1998
Joanna Sams
I decided to make a trip to the shop and pay out 44.99 for the simpe fact that John Lennon is excellent.Disc 1 is alot of the songs from Plastic ono band/imagine."I found out" is a brilliant take his vocals are very blusey and he emphasises his point of "I've seen religion from Jesus to Paul". "Remember" is very Lennon when the speed of the track goes all wrong.I quite liked "God save oz" but "Do the oz" is really pathetic a pointless track.I think one of the best on here is "Long lost John" it would have fitted on plastic ono band no problem.Disc 2 is very good John Sinclair is probably better than the album version just for the fact the audience are there and their reaction is great,both the versions of "Mind games" are a wonder to here and Real Love is great to here now you know how The Threetles came to doing such a great version."Goodnight Vienna" is pretty good.Disc 3 is all walls and bridges and Rock n Roll stuff.There are some great versions of Be bop a lula "Be my baby"is a revelation very sexy!The bits where John and Phil Spector are having jibes at eachother are a bit annoying but overall the disc is brill.Disc 4 is my favourite though hearing John at peace with himself is what makes it so nice"Serve Yourself"is quite vindictive and it sounds like the John of old."Nobody told me"and "I don't wanna face it" Julian wanted to cover the latter but Yoko wouldn't let him.The bits where Sean are involved are very cute."The Rishikesh song" is obviously for George Harrison it even sounds like Blow away. The Bob Dylan satires are brilliant and "Mucho Mungo" should have been released properly it's my ultimae fav.Overall this is a genius with his trousers down and it works.

Rating: 4.5
Nov 10, 1998
Mr JeeVee
The anthology is neetly devided according to John's musical inclinations. Ascot has the best songs, with incredible takes of "Oh My Love", "Remember" and "Working Class Hero". The first tske of "Imagine" has an electric piano that sends shivers if you hear closely. It would have made a good effect, but the song is more tasteful (and classicxal) without it. Yet my favorite CD is New Yor City. It has the John's political era songs. "The Luck Of The Irish" does not even use symbolisms, it states loud and clear that if you actually had the luck of the irish, you would we wish you was English instead. Of course, we could do without Yoko's out of tune voice. The live "Come Together" is also a highlight. (Notice how Aerosmith's version is closer to this track than to the original). The songs for Ringo sound great too. And of course there's "Real Love" "The Lost Weekend" is probably the weakest. "Steel And Glass" and "Whatever Gets You..." are probably the only tracks worth of special notice. The rest are OK, but not great. "Dakota" is better than the previous one, but it pales in comparison with the other two. Sean actually gets a good take on "With A Little Help From My Friends". The packaging is great, with lots of John's drawings and the original lyrics to Beautiful Boy. Though my "book" came with a very funny (and stinky) smell. Rating: 9.0

Rating: 5.0
Nov 7, 1998
This is the ultimate John Lennon Collection !! Yoko did an excellent job putting together this Anthology from the Packaging including John's art work to the overall great production of John's music. I really prefer alot of the mixes on the Anthology than on some of the original releases. When you here John in the Studio it feels like you're right there next to him experiencing it. The period to me that really seems to benefit is the 1973-74 period. It's great to hear John's voice to the fore and stripped of the extra strings and horns that buried him vocally on his Rock n' Roll record. It's really like hearing these songs all over again for the first time. I thought George Martin's orchestration was tastefully done for "Grow old with Me" It sort of adds a new dimension to the song which for me is bittersweet with John no longer being with us..I'm sure he would have loved George Martin's score and the whole Anthology set in general. I think John would have appreciated Yoko making his music heard to the next generations. His music and message lives on through this Anthology . This is a great way to celebrate his life. Thankyou John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Rating: 5.0
Nov 7, 1998
John Smith
I just finished listening to the Anthology, and can tell you that its remarkable. When listening to CD1 (Ascot), I really enjoyed take 1 of 'Imagine'. Its a wonder Take 1 didn't make the cut (Probably because of a hissing sound heard on the track), its as magical and mystical than its final version, if not more. CD2 which is labeled 'New York City' was pretty cool, though my least favorite of the four. It has its moments, like the live versions of 'John Sinclair', and the goofy track(s) 'I'm The Greatest', and 'Goodnight Vienna'. CD3 is my favorite. Titled 'The Lost Weekend' CD3 gives the listener an emotional yet, humorus look into Lennon's days he was seperated from Yoko. Theres hilarious, and crazy Studio chatter caught on 3 tracks between John and Phil Spector, that makes one wonder 'How can anyone have got anything done during those Rock and Roll sessions?'. On the rather emotional side of CD3 is Lennon's 'Strangers Room', and 'What You Got', two acoustical home demos Lennon recorded in what seemed like a depressed state of mind. Nonetheless, CD3 is the better of the 4 because of songs like 'Nobody loves You When Your Down and Out', and the outakes from the Rock and Roll album alone. CD4 (Dakota) is a whimsical look into Lennon's househusband days. Theres terrific recordings of 'I'm Stepping Out', and 'Borrowed Time'. The funniest song on CD4 is 'Serve Yourself', a jab at Dylans conversion to Christianity (Another Home Recording of Lennon's). The only thing I didn't like about "Dakota" (CD4) was I that I thought that the last 4 or 5 tracks seemed like filler tracks of Lennon at home or wherever he was that are pointless, and meaningless. To say the least CD4 is a very happy CD, yet sad when one thinks of where Lennon is today (And If you don't know crawl back under your Rock). Overall, I must say, this collection is the best Lennon I've ever heard. Not only is it a collection of great songs (Who cares if they're outakes), but it also tells musically, the story of 'The Late Great John Lennon'. Destined to be the Best Box Set Ever!

Rating: 4.5
Nov 6, 1998
Jeff Sauder
I just purchased the Lennon Anthology today and got goosebumps upon hearing the first track, "Working Class Hero." I love alternate/studio versions of anything Lennon/Beatles and similar to the three Beatles anthologies, this one is an absolute treat to listen to. The difference between these tracks and album tracks opens a whole new window into the tormented yet remarkably poetic life of J.W.L. The addition of dialogue amongst himself and family sheds light on what he was striving to be: a family man at peace with himself and his torrid life, both as Beatle and as John. Surprisingly, his sharp tongue and ferocious wit is evidenced in his satires on both Zimmerman and McCartney's "Yesterday." I appreciate Yoko's inclusion of rare gems such as these as they truly demonstrate the tenacity and audacity of his timeless contributions to the world of modern art. I really believe that no Lennon collection would be complete without this remarkable set. This is a must.........

Rating: 4.5
Nov 6, 1998
Bobby Miller
Wow. The first thing that struck me with this set was the packaging. Everything about it screams John. I mean, heck the packaging is filled with pictures of him, drawings he made, and even original lyrics written down on paper. Whoever set up the art packaging on this knows what they're doing. (I believe Yoko did most of it and it shows she really is an artist.) Anyway, enough of just the packaging right? On to the actual CDS! *****ASCOT (CD1)***** -Lot's of stuff from the POB sessions. Although in shortened form, the "Hold On" bit sounds really great. The guitar is just rocking in that early 60's way. "God" is on here too, in guitar form. And *gasp* the first take of "Imagine"! As mentioned in another review I saw, a lot on this disk sounds close to the commercial release, because POB was so raw. Another thing that struck me was the flow of the CD. Everything flowed extremely well and I like how most of the tracks in this set start with the previous broken down track and then you hear the chatter about what went wrong and then they go into the song. I also love, "Long Lost John", never heard that one before and it's a great rocker. *****NEW YORK CITY (CD2)***** -For me anyway, I think it gets a little more interesting with this disc. It starts out with a early demo of "New York City" and goes into some live versions of "Imagine" (on accoustic, which I must add sounds really powerfull), "John Sinclair" (which is another great one which screams out something needs to be done NOW!) Also, there are some live versions of "Come Together" and "It's So Hard" among some other releases from "Sometime in New York City". You also get a peak at "Mind Games" on this CD. With two tracks which have different meanings and subtitles. It's very interesting to see the thought process on how this changed. Call me a fool, but I love "I'm the Greatest" and "Goodnight Vienna" on this CD. These two tracks were written by John and given to Ringo, but on the Anthology John sings lead. And wow. You probably know by now, I love John's rocker songs and these two definately rock. "Real Love" is on here, I believe it's the demo they used for the Beatles Anthology. Sounds great even in this simplest form. ******THE LOST WEEKEND (CD3)******* -One of my favorite albums of John has been "Walls and Bridges", so this is one of my favorite disks of this collection. It starts out with a accoustic demo of "What You Got." Also, "Nobody Loves you when your down and out" is on here without orchestration and it really sounds good. There's two "Whatever Get's you through the night" tracks on here. One's a quick demo of it and a studio run through of it. (Without that 70ish effects added to it.) And yes, more rockers. "Be Bop A lula" and "Rip it up/Ready Teady" are here from the "Rock and Roll sessions among others. "Peggy Sue" is a treat, because you can tell John is trying to imitate Buddy Holly. And then there's the 4 "chatter" tracks with John and Phil Spector (producer). I like this a lot, I've always liked John's humor and it seems him and Phil had a good time in there. And of course "When in doubt, f*ck it" is a great lil' line they through in there. And it ends with "Stranger's Room" which is the beginnings of "I'm Losing from you" from "Double Fantasy". "Old Dirt Road" rounds out this disk which is a great addition to the "Walls and Bridges" sessions. ******DAKOTA (CD4)****** -This CD begins with "I'm Losing You." Absolutey great, I love this one. I think it's more raw and rocking than the commercial release and it doesn't have that 80ish overdubs on it. Sean's comments are spread out on this disk when he was little and it adds another dimension to the set. You get to see John and Sean and Yoko just talking and how John was a great dad. Very nice touch. "Serve Yourself" is on here. That took some guts to release. (Especially how it disses Dylan in a big way.) I only heard the piano version of it before this and when I first started out listening to the Anthology version I was like darn. But, then it got REAL interesting in the middle and end. John really goes off. "I don't wanna' face it" is great. I like "Borrowed Time" on this disc over the commercial release for some reason and you even hear John talking like a Jamaican. "The Rishi Kesh Song" is a satire on George. But, the real prize on this CD is "Grow Old With Me". Overdubbed with just the right amount of orchestration, George Martin really made this one sound good. And The 3 satires on here are very funny. Especially when John imitates Dylan's voice and reads something out of the newspaper and saids, "Wow this could be a ballad." I hope I gave a pretty good summary of it. If your a Lennon fan, don't think twice. This is a must. I'm in heaven with it. And the book that comes with it rocks! This really is a masterpeice and is more exciting than the Beatles Anthology. I think Yoko should finally get the credit she deserves.

Rating: 4.5
Nov 6, 1998
Mop the Top
So far I've given this boxed set about a spin and a what follows are more like first impressions. On ASCOT, the Plastic Ono Band tracks do not sound that far off from the final product, which is not surprising because that first album was very raw and stripped bare as it stands...where the this first disc really grabs the attention is with the "Imagine" tracks, which give you a whole new angle at listening to familiar songs...the last track is a variation on three blind mice (John has been accused of re-writing this tune endlessly)... On NEW YORK CITY, we have some interesting live performances, although some are not necessary as we have alot of these songs already performances on "Live in NYC" such as Come Together & It's So Hard. however tracks performes live such as Luck of The Irish have never sounded better. It is also interesting to note that on this disc we have Real Love, and it sounds alot like the one the remaining Beatles worked on. On THE LOST WEEKEND, the true gems from the Rock n' Roll sessions come out. A refreshing suprise since the Rock n' Roll tracks as released by Spector sound so at last are electrifying performances with more of a raw edge. As for the Walls & Bridges tracks, I think that we have already been treated to Menlove Ave, another previous disc of outtakes that presents the best version ever of Nobody Love You...the versions here are mere curiosity...throughout these discs we also get to eavesdrop on many of the sesions haering banter between Phil Spector and John..."Be My Baby" is a real treat! On the last CD, DAKOTA, there are many great tracks such as I'm Losing You with Cheap Trick as the backing band....this version far surpasses the original. Also the parody on George Harrison is very amusing in the Rishi Kesh Song which sounds a little like Blow Away, which was released on George Harrison in 1979...but the real gem here is George Martin's treatment of Grow Old With Me...George's backing orchestra is restrained and not is like an a small undercurrent to the beautiful song, elevating this raw piece into a beautiful gem...a song that could be played at weddings, as John had fact what George Martin did here is perhaps what could have been done with the Beatles re-union single Free as A Bird, although Jeff Lynne's worked just as well. The inclusion of an orchestrated Free As A Bird might have been a beautiful closer bringing the whole anthology projects full circle...but I must say that it is to Yoko's credit that this boxed set does John is elaborate and well worth the money...I think that with Lennon Legend and this boxed set, a new generation of John Lennon fans will be exposed to John's finest work. I, for one, will spin these discs perhaps more so than John's 70's albums which sound muddy compared to the raw clear performances we get here...this boxed set is just a sea of music, which presents us with the raw edges of a legend whom we remember as John Lennon.

Rating: 4.0
Nov 5, 1998
The Walrus
As was mention before in a previous review, if you felt some of John's post-Beatle output was OVER-produced or buried in echo, there are several tracks in "Anthology" that will please you. It was also interesting to note that some of the raw P-O-B tracks from 1970 that take on new life in their stripped-down or alternate melody approaches. "Remember" is one of the enjoyable examples of this. Of particular interest to this reviewer was the "Mind Games/Walls & Bridges" tracks represented in a cleaner approach than the finished product ever was. But the most joy I found in this set was when John was allowed to rock and rock freely! The "Rock & Roll" tracks that ended up on the offical release should have been the ones that were trashed and the versions on "Anthology" issued instead! Even between all the big boy bickering between John & Phil, John sounds like he's 18 again on the raw tracks! I wish the vignettes that Yoko provided would have been sequenced better on the discs (the whole "Fortunately" conversation between John&Yoko is more humorous than the snippet represented on disc (check it out on the video "Imagine: John Lennon"). The best qualities of John were always his honesty & humor. When you put those qualities to music, you get "The John Lennon Anthology". Nicely done Yoko!

Rating: 5.0
Nov 5, 1998
The Sod
WOW! A boxed set which met my expectations and then some! John Lennon was never one for overdone production, and the anthology gives us John the way he wanted it- raw, soulful and sometimes downright angry, yet also tender, loving and reflective. Lennon was an extraordinary man, and every side of his personality is represented on the four disc set. Whether it be the scathing Dylan parody "Serve Yourself" or the deeply emotional and depressing "Nobody Loves You (When You're Down and Out), Lennon fans are sure to be pleased. My personal favorites are Discs 1 and 4, his early and late solo material. Plastic Ono Band was a stripped down album in its released form, but if you can believe it, the versions on the Anthology are even more bare! Awesome stuff. Working Class Hero and God kick the set off in fine fashion, with John offering some outstanding, haunting singing. I can go track-by-track but that would ruin it for anyone wishing to buy it- discover these treasures for yourself. My personal faves: Working Class Hero, God, I Found Out, Imagine, Nobody Loves You, I'm Steppin Out, Serve Yourself and Grow Old With Me.

Rating: 5.0
Nov 4, 1998
The John Lennon Anthology covers everything that any Lennon fan who isn't too obsessed, and isn't craving 20 versions of Imagine, could hope for. Bootleg people may say, "Oh! I have this on the Lost Lennon files part 17, why did they put that here?!" but for the typical John Lennon fan, this collection is a treasure chest. In my opinion, there is NO weak material. I wondered about the quality of the home recordings and the live material, but both were superb. The masterpiece of the anthology is the remastered Grow Old with Me, which had, up until now, never reached it's full potential. This collection shows so much of John Lennon the man. Not the ex Beatle, lunatic poet. The whole package is just fantastic. The booklet that comes along with the music is written mainly by Yoko, and offers much insight into some very personal moments, and is well worth reading. So here's the thing: You like John Lennon? Then get the anthology! A tribute to an incredible man.


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Last updated on Nov 6, 1998