on 17 October 2004
As you may or may not know Yoko has been getting all of John's albums remixed and/or remastered over the past few years and releasing one per year round about the anniversary of his birthday. This year (2004) has seen the re-release of Rock 'n' Roll. This is one of my favourite Lennon albums as it is good to hear him take a step back from all of those deep and meaningful songs he was writing and just go back to his roots with some good old rock 'n' roll standards that he used to listen to as a teenager. Initial sessions were in 1973 Phil Spector (who better to record this stuff with) and then later the album was finished in 1974, with John producing things himself although keeping to the wall of sound style recording of the earlier sessions. This give the album a certain originality even though the songs are all covers. Phil's wall of sound style of recording could make the sound muddy at times though but the folk at Abbey Road have certainly cleaned the recordings up enough to make a difference. On this release we get a couple of outtakes (albeit released previously) and a previously unreleased reprise of 'Just Because' in which John says hi to Paul, George and Ringo. Another nice bonus could've been the 'Roots' version of 'Be My Baby', but we can't have everything. Now the only regular albums still to be reissued in this way are Walls & Bridges and S.T.I. New York City, so it looks like we'll be getting more releases like this for the next couple of years at least.
on 11 August 2000
This album is certainly one of the least appreciated of John Lennon's, but in my eyes this is 39 minutes or so of rock 'n' roll as it's meant to be.
In this collection of covers, which features some of rock 'n' roll's classic songs, Lennon showed the world that, along with his many other musical talents (displayed with the Beatles and also in his solo output), he could rock with best of them; most songs being as good as the originals, if not better (typified by 'Stand By Me').
The album also has a fresh feel to it as well, which helps to create an atmosphere that if you were to close your eyes, you'd think Lennon was playing live in the same room as you.
Simply amazing at the worst of times, 'Rock 'N' Roll' is as good an album of this genre as you'll get.
on 7 September 2000
I bought this album having heard his version of 'Stand By Me' on 'Lennon Legend'. Although I don't particularly like his version of 'Stand By Me', I knew Lennon's capabilities, and was not disappointed by this album. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of this album is that Lennon seems to be enjoying himself much more than he does on previous efforts like 'Imagine' and 'Plastic Ono Band'. (That is not to say those albums are bad - far from it!) 'Rock 'n' Roll' is a fun album. It's best tracks are 'You Can't Catch Me' (in which Lennon integrates some of 'Come Together'), the 2 medleys, 'Slippin' and a Slidin'', and the flippant 'Ya Ya'. This is hardly clever music with the sophisication of Plastic Ono band', but it's rock 'n' roll. It's not meant to be. Such good fun.
on 14 December 2006
Apparently this album was John's attempt to be 'just a musician' and let the producer treat him as the singer. However, when the producer was Phil Spector being difficult, this didn't turn out to be a good idea. Only four Spector produced songs made it to the finished record and John had to arrange and produce the rest.
I have to admit to hating Do You Wanna Dance and the Rip it Up medley, but the rest is great. You Can't Catch Me and Stand By Me are marvellous.
I like the extra tracks on the new CD release, but the packaging is pathetic: no musician credits or liner notes and only a thin bit of folded paper. OK, the LP had even less information on it, but a nice package does add value and many people may like to know the story behind the music. However, the cover features one of the best ever photos of John, so one can't complain.
Apparently the musicians were the same ones who played on Walls and Bridges, including Jesse Ed Davis and Jim Keltner.
John's singing on Just Because, when he was in effect saying goodbye to the music business, is a real highlight. But, it closed the original album and should also have closed this one. (A similar thing was done with John Lennon/POB, which should have closed with My Mummy's Dead, but in its new form, closes with Do the Oz, which doesn't make sense).
The album came out at the same time as other 'oldies' collections such as The Band's Moondog Matinee, Bowie's Pin Ups and Bryan Ferry's These Foolish Things (I think) but this beats them for sheer authenticity and honesty. And enjoyment.
on 10 January 2013
Long story short here, I was sitting in a pub on New Year's Day last and a friend of the family and I got talking about John Lennon and his back catalogue. To my surprise, he suggested that I purchase this album, stating it was brilliant. So, just a couple of days ago, I went out and bought it. Prior to this event, I had been eyeing this album up; I liked the promise: Lennon returning to his roots and taking a break from it all. Was I happy with the result?
Absolutely! I have to say that this album is a highly enjoyable listen all round and is also a real heartwarmer. Put simply, Lennon returns to his teenage roots with this album and does a fine job, really. In being an album of covers, you can expect to find the likes of 'Be-Bop-a-Lula', 'You Can't Catch Me', 'Ain't That a Shame' and 'Sweet Little Sixteen' included here, all of these songs Lennon loved and performed (in some cases) as a teenager with the Quarrymen in Liverpool.
Just a quick comment here, without a doubt, the standout track for many is going to be 'Stand By Me'. Before buying the album, I had heard this song briefly before. When I sat down to listen to the album then, this song completely blew me away. Now, 'Stand By Me', whether it be this cover here or the original, is not a song that I particularly like. For some reason, it always reminds me of a death scene in any given soap opera! Sorry, just me here. Anyhow, rest assured, Lennon really delivers on this song and does not fail to make it his own. That also goes for the rest of the songs on the album - you can literally hear how Lennon is enjoying himself while performing each track and he really makes the covers his own.
Finally, a quick note on the packaging, it is pretty much the same style as 'The Beatles Stereo Boxset'. You get the album disc and a little booklet, which is really interesting and talks about the production of the album (which, assuming you know your history, was pretty chaotic, to say the least). Also, the booklet contains some really nice photos of John in his youth - Teddy Boy to the max! The album cover then speaks for itself.
To conclude, 'Rock 'n' Roll' by John Lennon is a highly enjoyable album and I would recommend it to anyone. It is Lennon at his most relaxed, taking a break from the normal stuff and sure why not? The remastered sound is really very good and every song is wonderful to listen to.
Thanks for reading this. I hope it helps.
PS: I would be really interested in getting into some more of Lennon solo after purchasing this album. Any suggestions, please do drop me a line. Thanks again.
on 11 December 2014
The music critics' reviews of this album were less than favourable when it when it was released, so I didn't make much of an effort to listen to it. I chanced upon a few tracks recently and really liked them, so I bought the CD. There are some great versions of classic songs (with one or two being not too good). I've been playing it a lot, probably to make up for lost time.
on 17 January 2007
For an album that is made up of mostly demo's and John having fun in the record studio while recording earlier albums, this is actually very good and sounds like it came out of a proper session!
As said, this album was made up of songs John recorded between Sessions during the "Mind games" and "Walls and Bridges" sessions, two different style albums, but what he saw as having fun from those sessions, results in this album that really grows on you, and takes you back to the VERY early Beatles sessions!