The upcoming four-CD John Lennon box set, The John Lennon Anthology,
will offer a rare glimpse of the ex-Beatles leader through intimate,
never-before-heard home recordings and previously unreleased versions of
some of his biggest solo hits.
Lennon, who formed the Beatles in the late 1950s and went on to
unparalleled fame with the Fab Four, is renowned as one of the greatest
songwriters in rock history. He was murdered by a fan in 1980 outside his
New York apartment building, swiftly ending a recording career that had
seen a long-awaited rebirth with the release of Double Fantasy that
Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono -- who stood over production of the set -- said she
wanted to deepen fans' understanding of the songs and give a glimpse of
Lennon's creative train of thought.
"This is a celebration of John's music -- and not just for the fans who
knew his music in the old days," Ono said in a prepared statement.
The 94 tracks of Anthology (Nov. 3) will include such private
moments as Lennon parodying former Beatles songwriting partner Paul
McCartney's composition "Yesterday" during a 1974
session for Lennon's solo album Walls and Bridges, as well as home
recordings of Lennon goofing with his young son Sean, who has since gone
on to his own recording career.
The Lennon set already has excited retailers, who have been primed for it
by the strong sales of the recently issued Beatles Anthology sets.
"I haven't placed an order yet," said Aaron Wiseman, rock buyer for a
Westwood, Calif., Tower Records, "and I haven't heard that much about it, but
I think it'll be a pretty big seller. It'll sell real well for the
The collection will be broken down into four parts: Ascot, New
York City, The Lost Weekend and Dakota. The music and
artwork for each CD will relate to a specific phase of Lennon's solo
career, from just prior to the Beatles' official breakup in 1970 to shortly
before his assassination in December 1980.
Executive-produced by Ono, the set will include live tracks, home
recordings, studio outtakes and recordings of Lennon's television appearances.
Among the rarities on disc one are a version of "Working Class Hero" from a
session for the 1970 Plastic Ono Band album (produced by Lennon and
Ono with legendary "wall of sound" producer Phil Spector), a solo
home-recording of "I Found Out" and the first take of Lennon's signature song,
> (RealAudio excerpt).
Disc two features a solo home-recording of "New York City," live versions
of "Attica State" and "Imagine" from a 1972 show at New York's Apollo
Theatre, both a home recording and a live version of "Woman Is the Nigger of
the World" and live versions of "It's So Hard" and the Beatles song "Come
Together" from a 1972 Madison Square Garden show. The disc also features a
rough mix of the yuletide classic "Happy Xmas."
Among the rarities on discs three and four are a solo, acoustic home-
recording of "Whatever Gets You thru the Night," the parody of the
Beatles classic "Yesterday," a previously unreleased version of Little
Richard's "Slippin' and Slidin' " from Lennon's 1975 roots of rock album,
Rock 'n' Roll, a home recording from 1979 entitled "Sean's 'Little
Help,' " home recordings of the Double Fantasy hits "Woman" and
"Watching the Wheels" from 1980, as well as a number of satirical and
previously unavailable 1979 home-recordings entitled "The Great Wok,"
"Mucho Mungo" and "It's Real."
The 60-page Anthology booklet will offer samples of the multitalented
songwriter's artwork, exclusive photographs and selections of the singer's
writings, in addition to detailed notes and commentary.
A single-disc sampler of the box set, entitled Wonsaponatime, will
feature a selection of tracks from the four CDs and will be issued on the
same date as the box set. The track listing for the single disc has not yet
The release follows on the tail of the wildly successful, three-volume
Beatles Anthology series, which was released from 1995-96 and
included previously unreleased outtakes and live recordings of the Fab
Wiseman said he expects the Lennon anthology to sell along the same lines
as the Beatles collections, if maybe a bit less because of the four-CD
"John's catalog is very important. The tracks on this set aren't all
alternate takes or demos for songs that he included on his albums, but most
of them are," Ono explained in her statement. "There are some real
rarities, of course, but I didn't want to just titillate people's
curiosity. After all, those are the songs that John wanted to put out --
and that's something I gave a lot of weight to."
Capitol Records spokesperson Judi Kerr said there has been talk of creating
a video for a song from Anthology, although the logistics have
not yet been worked out.
The track listing for The John Lennon Anthology is:
Ascot: "Working Class Hero," "God," "I Found Out," "Hold On,"
"Isolation," "Love," "Mother," "Remember," "Imagine," "Fortunately," "Baby
Please Don't Go," "Oh My Love," "Jealous Guy," "Maggie Mae," "How Do You
Sleep?," "God Save Oz," "Do the Oz," "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier," "Give
Peace a Chance," "Look at Me" and "Long Lost John."
New York City: "New York City," "Attica State (live)," "Imagine
(live)," "Bring On the Lucie (Freda Peeple)," "Woman Is the Nigger of the
World," "Geraldo Rivera -- One to One Concert," "Woman Is the Nigger of the
World (live)," "It's So Hard (live)," "Come Together (live)," "Happy
Xmas," "Luck of the Irish (live)," "John Sinclair (live)," "The David Frost
Show," "Mind Games (I Promise)," "Mind Games (Make Love, Not War)," "One
Day at a Time," "I Know," "I'm the Greatest," "Goodnight Vienna," "Jerry
Lewis Telethon," "A Kiss Is Just a Kiss," "Real Love" and "You Are Here."
The Lost Weekend: "What You Got," "Nobody Loves You When You're Down
and Out," "Whatever Gets You thru the Night (home)," "Whatever Gets You
thru the Night (studio)," "Yesterday (parody)," "Be-Bop-a-Lula," "Rip It
Up/Ready Teddy," "Scared," "Steel and Glass," "Surprise, Surprise (Sweet
Bird of Paradox)," "Bless You," "Going Down on Love," "Move Over Ms. L,"
"Ain't She Sweet," "Slippin' and Slidin'," "Peggy Sue," "Bring It On Home
to Me/Send Me Some Lovin'," "Phil and John 1," "Phil and John 2," "Phil and
John 3," "When in Doubt, Fuck It," "Be My Baby," "Stranger's Room" and "Old
Dakota: "I'm Losing You," "Sean's 'Little Help,' " "Serve Yourself,"
"My Life," "Nobody Told Me," "Life Begins at 40," "I Don't Wanna Face It,"
"Woman," "Dear Yoko," "Watching the Wheels," "I'm Stepping Out," "Borrowed
Time," "The Rishi Kesh Song," "Sean's Loud," "Beautiful Boy," "Mr. Hyde's
Gone (Don't Be Afraid)," "Only You," "Grow Old With Me," "Dear John," "The
Great Wok," "Mucho Mungo," "Satire 1," "Satire 2," "Satire 3," "Sean's in
the Sky" and "It's Real."