John Lennon reissues on the way

EMI Music made a lot of money by reissuing the entire Beatles catalogue last year and, while Lennon’s solo works won’t sell in such large amounts, the “Gimme Some Truth” campaign should be a cash cow for the financially strapped company when it launches on Oct. 5.

Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, is overseeing the project, which involves digitally remastering the albums from Lennon’s original mixes.

Eight of John Lennon's solo albums and other recordings will be reissued this fall to mark what would have been the former Beatle's 70th birthday on Oct. 9.

Eight of John Lennon's solo albums and other recordings will be reissued this fall to mark what would have been the former Beatle's 70th birthday on Oct. 9.

The albums getting the reissue treatment are: “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” (1970); “Imagine” (1971); “Some Time In New York City” (1972); “Mind Games” (1973); “Walls And Bridges” (1974); “Rock ‘N’ Roll” (1975); “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” (2010)/”Double Fantasy” (1980); and “Milk And Honey” (1984).

“Double Fantasy,” the 1980 Grammy Award winner for album of the year, will be presented in a newly remixed “Stripped Down” version remixed and produced by Ono and Jack Douglas, who co-produced the original mix with Lennon. It will come in an expanded two-CD and digital edition pairing the new version with Lennon’s remastered original mix.

All of the remastered titles will be packaged in digisleeves with replicated original album art and booklets with photos and new liner notes by British music journalist Paul Du Noyer.

The campaign will also include: a 15-song compilation in two editions titled “Power To The People: The Hits;” a set of four themed discs called “Gimme Some Truth;” and an 11-CD collectors box with the remastered albums, rarities and non-album singles, titled “The John Lennon Signature Box.”

“Power To The People: The Hits” will be available as a 15-track single-disc and digital package, and as an “Experience Edition” with additional content. Both will be packaged in digisleeves with booklets that include a new essay by Du Noyer.

“Gimme Some Truth,” to be packaged in a slipcase with rare photos and an essay by American music journalist and author Anthony DeCurtis, includes 72 Lennon solo recordings on four themed CDs: “Roots,” focusing on Lennon’s rock ‘n’ roll roots and influences; “Working Class Hero,” with his socio-political songs; “Woman,” a collection of love songs; and “Borrowed Time,” featuring songs about life.

“The John Lennon Signature Box” will include the eight remastered albums, a disc of rare and previously unreleased recordings, and an EP of Lennon’s non-album singles. The CDs will be housed in digisleeves in a box including a collectible limited edition Lennon art print and a hardbound book featuring rare photos, artwork, collages, poetry and new liner notes by DeCurtis.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Lennon’s death, as he was gunned down outside of his New York City apartment by Mark David Chapman on Dec. 8, 1980.

“In this very special year, which would have seen my husband and life partner John reach the age of 70, I hope that this remastering/reissue program will help bring his incredible music to a whole new audience,” Ono said in announcing the campaign. “By remastering 121 tracks spanning his solo career, I hope also that those who are already familiar with John’s work will find renewed inspiration from his incredible gifts as a songwriter, musician and vocalist, and from his power as a commentator on the human condition.

“His lyrics are as relevant today as they were when they were first written, and I can think of no more apposite title for this campaign than those simple yet direct words ‘Gimme Some Truth.'”

I’ve been listening to 1998’s four-CD “John Lennon Anthology” while writing this in order to come up with a list of my favourite 10 tracks that Lennon wrote and performed. There are so many great songs that it wasn’t an easy process, and I couldn’t bring myself to rank them.

But here, in alphabetical order, are my 10 favourite John Lennon original solo songs:

“Gimme Some Truth”
“Happy Xmas”
“I Don’t Wanna Face It”
“Imagine”
“Jealous Guy”
“(Just Like) Starting Over”
“Mind Games”
“Nobody Told Me”
“Whatever Gets You Through The Night”
“Working Class Hero”

I’d like to know what your top 10 would look like. Feel free to put your list in the Comments section below.

—Steve McLean

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