John Lennon: Imagine - The Ultimate Collection (Geffen/UMe) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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John Lennon

Imagine - The Ultimate Collection


Dec 05, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Holding a mirror to today’s tumult and a way forward, this reissue of John Lennon’s 1971 album Imagine arrives at a pertinent time. As stated in the accompanying book: “It’s an invitation to political activism in the pursuit of peace, but also to opening our hearts and our lives to one another.”

The box set of four CDs, two audio Blu-rays, and a book with interviews and photos is revelatory, reminding us how revolutionary Lennon was. It’s all there in Disc One’s opening track “Imagine” which chokes you up immediately. “Crippled Inside” follows with a litany of disingenuous ways of being: “You can shine your shoes and wear a suit” or “You can go to church and sing a hymn,” all honky tonk-like before the corker: “One thing you can’t hide/Is when you’re crippled inside.”

In the fake news age “Gimme Some Truth”-his swipe at “neurotic psychotic pigheaded politicians”is biting and satisfying. Equally cutting is “How Do You Sleep?” about Paul McCartney. It’s followed immediately with “How?” and the lyrics: “How can I go forward/when I don’t know which way I’m facing?” Was Lennon already feeling remorse? Answers are in the box.

There are touching ballads to Yoko Ono but more crucialit sheds light on her importance to his evolution as an artist, songwriter, and humanitarian. “Imagine” was inspired by Ono’s book Grapefruit. He concedes here: “I know she helped on a lot of the lyrics but I wasn’t man enough to let her have credit for it.” The song was co-credited to her in 2017.

Full of bonus features, on Disc Two Lennon’s voice is heard on a raw demo: “Oh god saves us from defeat…from the war…from the street.” It stops you in your tracks: Lennon was killed on the street. Yet, his vision of utopia is undimmed in the firmament thanks to these songs. (

Author rating: 9.5/10

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