TJR presents… Top 10: John Lennon

TJR presents… Top 10: John Lennon

– Spotlight on the best of the ex-Beatles.
  • Runtime: 36m.
  • Compiled from 82 collection entries @ 12-Oct-2019.
  • Fantasy Album Rating: 7.52 “Brilliant”
  • To access shuffle-play or avoid in-play interruption due to territorially blocked videos, it might be best playing directly via YouTube external-link.png

Working Class Hero by John Lennon (1970)
(John Lennon)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Folk
TJR saysFrom his fourth album “John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band” released in December, 1970. Arriving just in time for Christmas 1970, this was the first properly focused album post-Beatles from the 30-year-old singer-songwriter, an excorcising of some personal demons. Stripped back of Beatles polish, the raw and candid set was often affecting; “Working Class Hero”, just John and his acoustic guitar, blows the roof off. For four glorious minutes he channels his inner Dylan, spitting hard-hitting lines at every turn, as you will him on, all the way. Decidedly left, the song rallies against those who would seek to own you, control you: “Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV, And you think you're so clever and classless and free, But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see.” The same people in fact who would try and prevent you from using the fuck word. Fuck them.

The Luck Of The Irish [live ’71 acoustic] by John Lennon (1989)
(John Lennon, Yoko Ono)

8.1 “Fantastic” Folk
TJR saysRecorded just after 3am in the wee small hours of Saturday, 11th December, 1971, at Crisler Arena in at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, as part of the John Sinclair freedom rally. John (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Yoko (vocals, percussion) are joined onstage by a throng from the bill who lend their voice to a rousing chorus. John's vitriolic rant against centuries of English brutality in Ireland is offset against Yoko's sentimental lyrics relating to the Emerald Isle, a unique one-two. “Ten For Two: The John Sinclair Freedom Rally” documentary film premiered in Royal Oak, Michigan on 1st April, 1989. The recording was issued on the John Lennon Anthology 4CD set in 1998.

Imagine by John Lennon (1971)
(John Lennon)

7.7 “Great” Pop Ballad
TJR saysFrom his fifth album “Imagine” released in September, 1971. Pop-rock norms loved the LP, which shot to #1 in charts all over the world. The infamous and thought-provoking title-track opened the set; that no religion would lead to more world peace is the most astute statement he's ever made. I'm well up for it - pity there's absolutely ZERO chance of that happening in reality! Isn't the imagination a great thing though?

John Sinclair [live ’71 acoustic] by John Lennon (1989)
(John Lennon)

7.4 “Really good” Folk
TJR saysAnother recorded just after 3am in the wee small hours of Saturday, 11th December, 1971, at Crisler Arena in at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It was part of a freedom rally protesting the ridiculous imprisonment of John Sinclair, former manager of MC5, who received 10 years for selling 2 marijuana joints! Accompanying Lennon (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Yoko Ono (vocals, percussion) were David Peel (washtub bass), Jerry Rubin (percussion) and a number of other New York City musicians. Initially canned as too much of a political hot-potato, the “Ten For Two: The John Sinclair Freedom Rally” documentary film premiered in Royal Oak, Michigan on 1st April, 1989. The recording was issued on the John Lennon Anthology 4CD set in 1998.

Whatever Gets You Thru The Night by John Lennon (1974)
(John Lennon)

7.3 “Really good” Pop
TJR saysFrom his eighth album “Walls And Bridges” released in October, 1974. Was also out as a single at the same, just scraping into the UK Top 40, but going all the way to #1 in the States, winning guest Elton John (vocals, piano, organ) his bet with Lennon, who was sceptical and didn't back the release. As a forefeit, Lennon appeared at John's Thanksgiving performance at Madison Square Garden on 28 November 1974, his last major concert appearance.

Watching The Wheels by John Lennon (1980)
(John Lennon)

7.2 “Really good” Pop Ballad
TJR saysFrom his tenth album “Double Fantasy” released in November, 1980. For me, a rare glimpse of form for Lennon at this time. the rock-star turned house-husband is chilled: “I'm just sittin' here watchin' the wheels go round and round, I really love to watch them roll, No longer ridin' on the merry-go-round, I just had to let it go.” He'd be murdered by a tragic individual just a few weeks later, just when he was starting to find some inner peace.

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John & Yoko and The Plastic Ono Band with The Harlem Community Choir (1971)
(Yoko Ono, John Lennon)

7.0 “Really good” Pop Ballad
TJR saysA single release in the States in December, 1971, appropriating the melody of the traditional English ballad “Skewball” and sprinkling in some magical ingredients via Phil Spector's production and the employment of 30 children (mostly aged 4 to 12) from The Harlem Community Choir. Further to his success with “Imagine” John commented: “Now I understand what you have to do: Put your political message across with a little honey.” What better time for an anti-war song of peace than Christmas? “War is over if you want it.” He certainly did his bit, fair play to the man.

Bring On The Lucie (Freda Peeple) by John Lennon (1973)
(John Lennon)

7.0 “Really good” Soft Rock / A.O.R.
TJR saysFrom his seventh album “Mind Games” released in October, 1973. This rather fab standout from the set takes a stab at warmongers: “Well you were caught with your hands in the kill, And you still got to swallow your pill, As you slip and you slide down the hill, On the blood of the people you killed, Stop the killing now!” Complementing the piece, the session men find a great groove and stick with it doggedly, 'Sneaky Pete' Kleinow's pedal steel guitar adding the cherry-on-top of a nicely-baked cake.

Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon (1971)
(John Lennon)

6.8 “Good” Rock
TJR saysFrom his fifth album “Imagine” released in September, 1971. “Gimme Some Truth” opens up side two and is my kinda Lennon; ballsy, funny and right on. The Richard Nixon era politicians are labelled as uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites. Tight-lipped and condescending - mama's little chauvinists. And that's not even the half of it! “I've had enough of watching scenes, with schizophrenic, egocentric, paranoiac, prima-donnas, All I want is the truth, now, now, Just give me some truth, No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of Tricky Dicky, Is going to mother hubbard soft soap me”. Imagine a whole album of THAT (it's easy if you try).

Cold Turkey [acoustic version] by John Lennon (2004)
(John Lennon)

6.7 “Good” Folk
TJR saysFrom his compilation album “Acoustic” released in November, 2004. This demo recording version of the forthcoming single was made in September, 1969, Lennon's imitation of Heroin withdrawal sounding very much like Marc Bolan, make of that what you will! “Heroin. It just was not too much fun. I never injected it or anything. We sniffed a little when we were in real pain. I mean we just couldn't – people were giving us such a hard time. We took H because of what The Beatles and their pals were doing to us. And we got out of it. They didn't set down to do it, but things came out of that period. And I don't forget.

TJR presents… Top 10: John Lennon (via Spotify)

  • 7 tracks, runtime: 25m.
  • To access shuffle-play or overcome other issues with the embed application, it might be best playing directly via Spotify external-link.png
  • note: 3 tracks are unavailable: #2 “The Luck Of The Irish [live '71]” (1989); #4 “John Sinclair [live '71]” (1989); #10 “Cold Turkey [acoustic]” (2004).

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