Revisiting John Lennon’s Imagine [original recording reissue/remastered—Capitol Records] finds Lennon in top form. Having moved past the break up of the Beatles and the primal therapy that made his debut album such a shocker, here we find a calmer, more subdued individual.
Fresh out of the tumultuous 60s and still in the thick of the Vietnam debacle, Lennon's 1971 album pleads for a world run on peace, understanding, deep compassion, and love. It begins with the classic title track: a poignant plea from Lennon. He speaks of a world in which we live by the laws of one another, rather than base it on a milieu of false ideals and shattered promises. “Imagine” undoubtedly goes down as one of the most simple, yet beautifully profound songs in all of music. The next track we find Lennon going pseudo-country, with crazy dobro playing on “Crippled Inside.” A raunchy, satirical number about his mother taking a look outside and how “a dog’s life ain’t fun.” Quite an enjoyable little number. Then it is followed by “Jealous Guy” in which we find Lennon at his most heartfelt and confessional. The narrator yearns to explain to his woman why he’s done the things he’s done and why it is so difficult to follow through with his genuine intentions.
The next track is “It’s So Hard,” a passive number about the little nuances that make life so enjoyable, accentuated with some wicked saxophone interplay provided by none other than the late, great King Curtis. The next track is possibly the strangest: On “I Don’t Want to be a Soldier,” we find some interesting guitar interplay provided by Lennon’s overshadowed rhythm guitar and George Harrison’s constantly evolving lead guitar. A rocking track nonetheless, it is also one of the longest. In “Gimme Some Truth” we find Lennon confronting the people and false ideals he so publicly detested, in a much more direct and sardonic manner. Very reminiscent of the litany as found on Lennon’s “God,” it is a stand out track regardless. “Oh My Love” is undeniably one of Lennon’s most beautifully melodic songs ever, with a touch of fluid jazz style guitar and soothing pianos. “How Do You Sleep” is an attack on Paul McCartney and Lennon’s disillusionment with the Beatles. It is the heaviest track on the album, definitely worth noting. “How” finds Lennon questioning his morals and his life. Never had he written such honest a song as “In My Life”, this is an integral Lennon track. Closing off the album is the gently rollicking, playfully hip “Oh Yoko!,” an ode to the woman who saved him from the midst of hardship and fame.
The depth, clarity and overall sound quality of the reissued CD is a huge improvement from the original CD, which was taken from poor quality master tapes, but you won’t hear any striking differences in the mix as they tried to remain true to the 1971 album. Also included is a 16-page booklet with lyrics and stills from the IMAGINE movie, as well as other photos. A must for any Beatles fan and a reissue you can’t pass by.