Lennon Legend: The Very Best Of John Lennon
Reportedly, Lennon’s solo career was decidedly patchy, so Lennon Legend is a useful one stop shopping solution. In any case, some of Lennon’s best songs on are non-album singles, including ‘Instant Karma!’, “Cold Turkey’ and ‘Happy Christmas (War is Over)’. ‘Power To The People’ is merely a political slogan masquerading as a song, and ‘Imagine’ has an elegant melody but the lyrics are irritating.
To quote Steve Knowlton:
How’s this for a utopian vision: you give up your religion, citizenship, and assets, in return for “living as one” with The People. Sounds great, Comrade! Where do I sign up?
Otherwise, apart from some insipid but inoffensive material from Double Fantasy and the posthumous Milk And Honey, Lennon Legend is unmitigated quality. The advantage of being a credible musical figure, who dabbles in political agitation and avante-garde experimentation, is that when you deign to perform a love song, it comes across very sincerely. ‘Woman’ is an excellent straightforward love song, while “Jealous Guy’ is another lovely ballad. Lennon shows that he has one of the finest voices in rock with his cover of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’ and the fifties throw-back ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’. There are plenty of raw nerve ends exposed in ‘Mother’ and ‘Cold Turkey’ (Lennon giving up heroin), while the superlative ‘#9 Dream’ is a gentler version of Lennon’s psychedelic work with the Beatles.
It goes without saying that Lennon’s solo work is a level below his work with the Beatles, but Lennon Legend represents an excellent solo portfolio. Lennon’s assassination in 1980 remains a tragedy, as his career was regaining momentum (and he had resumed contact with Paul McCartney) and there’s no predicting what would have happened next.