1. Imagine 2. Crippled Inside 3. Jealous Guy 4. It's So Hard 5. I Don't Want To Be a Soldier 6. Gimme Some Truth 7. Oh My Love 8. How Do You Sleep 9. How? 10. Oh Yoko!
John Lennon's 'Imagine' is one of my all time favourite solo albums.
Quite rightly it's rated as an all time classic and arguably John's best ever effort, despite 'John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band' being his most innovative and influential work.
What can be said about the title track 'Imagine'? Joe Public has rated it as the best song in the World, ever! An extravagant claim, perhaps, but who can deny the simple , touching beauty of this song and it's sentiment. It argues the case for universal peace, harmony and 'heaven on earth' and it does so within the context of a beautifully crafted lyric. The spartan simplicity of the song, and the fact that we all hear it so often , on the radio and in the lift shafts, can almost make you forget that 'Imagine' is the genuine thing, a timeless, universal masterpiece which will be relevant for as long as the World turns.
But what of the rest of the album? Well it contains at least one other standard, 'Jealous Guy'. Another Lennon song which is never off the radio, and rightly so. Yoko inspired it, the lyrics are disarmingly sincere, the whistle is a brilliant touch, and even Bryan Ferry's pointless cover can't tarnish it's memory.
I have mixed feelings about 'How Do You Sleep'. Yes, it is a fine song, but there's something rather cheap about its lyrical attack on McCartney. Airing his dirty washing in public, and making such a vindictive song of it, should have been beneath Lennon.. This song provides final proof that the dream was well and truly over. On the plus side, John sings it from the spleen, and with such vitriol, that it becomes a remarkable vocal performance. Did Paul deserve it? Well, he did punch Ringo!
'I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier', is certainly the least successful song on the album. The anti-war sentiment of its lyrics are adequate if somewhat simplistic, but where is the tune? The song makes a raucous, unpleasant din and is ugly to listen to, particularly when surrounded by such melodic beauty in the other tracks. This one, for me, has not stood the test of time, although as a Vietnam protest in the early 70's , I suppose it had more impact back then.
The rest of the album is class and perfection. It starts with the best in the World, ever, and ends with a joyous slice of perfect, uptempo pop! 'Oh Yoko'.
In between, it provides love, harmony, anger, jealously, politics, protest and peace. John covers a wide range of musical styles, using lyrics which are perhaps his personal best, and in a voice which still sends shivers down the spine.
What with Phil Spector there to add his sublime production techniques, how could the album fail?
Of course, it couldn't... and the rest is pop history!