22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
All of this and a Mont Blanc Pen,
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This review is from: Signature Box (Audio CD)Unfortunately I share the same feelings about this box as the majority of other purchasers.
You may have noticed that following the Beatles Anthology series, a similar trawl through the Lennon solo archive was made and that too was called Anthology. Now a year after the Beatles reissues we have the Lennon set - similar concept, perfect replica albums in digipacks gathered together in a box. You're probably picking something up here: Yoko believes that Lennon solo merits the same treatment as the Beatles music.
Firstly the music. Whatever way you look at it, Lennons post Beatle career was patchy. It's telling that the one album that really makes a good fist of staking Lennons claim as a solo genius is missing - that's Shaved Fish, the 1975 singles collection perfectly sequenced by JL himself. Here, for every Imagine and Working Class Hero there's an Oh Yoko and Luck Of The Irish, and some of what's here does stink - the cloying Yoko songs, the lyrical short comings of Sometime In New York City, the disappointment that was(and still is) Double Fantasy.
Basically the box includes all of Lennons original post Beatle studio output. This means no Two Virgins, Life With Lions, Wedding Album and Live Peace. To be honest the first three have little of merit - despite what Lennon apologists say - but Live Peace had a half side of raw Rock n Roll and is worthy of a listen. You also don't get Menlove Avenue, Live in NYC, Double Fantasy Stripped or any of the bonus tracks from the last round of reissues. Presumably the reasoning here is because the albums presented are as they were intended by JL. If that's the case, it begs the question as to why Milk and Honey is here as this wasn't a JL sanctioned release, him being dead.
The remaster of the albums is excellent, particularly on the bass and especially notable on Walls and Bridges. You can't deny it - they sound great. You also get the complete live jam from Sometime in New York City. Shame that for the most part it's unlistenable. Sourced from two shows, the first featuring a cast of thousands at the Lyceum in 1969. You would hope that a stellar cast including Lennon, Harrison, Clapton and the whole Dalaney and Bonnie shebang could have cooked upsomething more listenable than the godawful racket presented here. The second show is a guest appearrance with Frank Zappa in 1971. This includes one truly remarkable track, a cover of the Olympics "Well (Baby Please Don't Go)". Unfortunatey after that it's down hill fast as Yoko squawks and bleats for the duration. Imagine a baby that's teething and you get the picture. The fact that Zappa titled the concert "A Short Eternity With Yoko Ono" when he released it, says it all.
The slip cases are fine, if a little small for the discs and Sometime in NYC has pictures of a 1969 Beatle John on the inner.The booklets are OK although Sometime in NYC (yes again) omits some of the original inner sleeve art, notably Lennons "Fit To Die" printed on a British Army recruiting advert. A bit of bizarre censorship considering the campaign goes under the banner of Gimme Some Truth. Maybe it should be Gimme Some Truth (unless that truth is controversial and likely to damage CD sales in which case it's censored).
As for the box, it's simply not worth the money. You get a 60 page book written by a Rolling Stone staffer. Think there's anything at all left to be wriiten about JL? The book shows not. There are a handful of previously unseen pictures but the majority have been out before.
You also get a three panel fold out insert with messages from Sean, Julian and Yoko. Yoko goes on about her mission to spread Johns music - memo to Yoko: why not make it available to download for free then? You've always got the Lennon Mont Blanc pen to bring in the shekels (and what would HE have thought about that little bit of branding Ms L?).
Finally you get a pullout tray with a card with a JL print attached. How to put this? It's crap. He may have been a Musician of merit but please do not foist random pencil sketches on the public with the frontage to call it "art".
The draw here is the two disc singles/Home Tapes set.The singles are great and include his best work although any sequence that puts Happy Xmas second means you'll have to programme the disc for the eleven months of the year when the song isn't appropriate. Home demos mixes songs from 1970/1 with late 70's demos - you know the stuff, drum machine, home recording stuff. There's reams of this out in bootleg land and it includes the sickly Beautiful Boy (interesting that JL had various pot shots at Paul M about his song content and then starts to turn out stuff like this. Interesting also that Paul trumped Double fantasy with the much more interesting McCartney II in 1980).
So, I concur - massive ripoff. Avoid and buy the albums individually. In case you're wondering, I had a get out. My set included two discs of the Sometime in NYC Live Jam (double the nightmare) and omitted the studio set (smallmercies and all that),so I returned my box and got a refund. Save yourself the trouble of repackaging the box and arranging for the DHL man to come, and don't bother.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Oct 2010 18:49:44 BDT
Terry Wilson says:
Great review, really enjoyed it and sheds good light on this product (which I won't be buying).
But why do you call those who think the three avant-garde albums have merit "Lennon apologists"? What are they supposed to be apologising for? Personally I consider them worthy as artworks (though not ones I would listen to) if only for the insight they allow into Joko's activities circa 1968/9. I guess I'm an aplogist then?
Great review though.
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Oct 2010 18:59:12 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Oct 2010 10:03:20 BDT
Brian Jones says:
I think what piqued me was a comment made elsewhere within these reviews that Two Virgins was as inventive as Sgt Pepper. It's not.
You may be right about them being artworks - Wedding Album certainly holds up as a legacy of the Lennons late 69 experiences. Although it's the original box with all of the posters, books etc that counts and not the record/ Ryko CD which apart from the audio diary nature of side 2, is pretty redundant.
Maybe I should have said that musically the first three albums have no merit, and the the Lennon apologist comment referred to Mr Pepper = Two Virgins.
To put it into context, I recall a discussion in the school library in 1981 when I was gamely defending the Live Jam LP of Sometime in NYC to a friend of mine. I think I termed it art. A boy on the next table overheard and said, "I've got that, but it's just rubbish - and I'm a Lennon fan". I knew deep down that he was spot on.
And I guess the final word should go to JL who famously said that "Avant Garde is French for bullsh*t".
You've done the right thing not buying the box - buy the individual albums, Double Fantasy Strippedand maybe the 4CD Gimme Some Truth. The Signature box probably represents the biggest ripp off ever delivered to the public. Makes you wonder what the man himself would have done.
In reply to an earlier post on 8 Nov 2010 19:24:46 GMT
Bernard H. Christ says:
What a lovely, literate, thoughtful review. If only most amazon reviews were of this quality ;-)
Posted on 20 Dec 2010 14:51:35 GMT
Duke Fame says:
Your review is spot on.I'm gonna bin the box and booklet and get on with my life goddammit.
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