A little over one year after the release of the remastered Beatles albums, John Lennon’s solo catalog is receiving a major overhaul. Timed to coincide with Lennon’s 70th birthday (almost to the day), fans will have the opportunity to reassess his all-too-brief body of work. The reissue campaign, dubbed “Gimme Some Truth” after Lennon’s 1971 song, encompasses eight remastered albums and four different compilations. Each release will be available on CD or downloadable from all major digital service providers.
The compilations are designed to give an option to every budget level. Power To the People: The Hits is aimed at the casual or entry-level fan, containing 15 hits (and some misses). The same compilation will be available as a CD/DVD set with the subtitle Experience Edition. The DVD will contain a video for every track found on the CD. For those seeking a meatier collection, there’s the four-CD set Gimme Some Truth. This 72-track collection provides a well rounded view of John Lennon as a solo artist.
For the more committed, the John Lennon Signature Box is an 11-disc collection containing all the studio albums, plus non-album singles and additional rarities. I had the chance to hear a pair of previously unreleased tracks from the Signature Box. The first was a powerful alternate version of “God,” different from those found on 1998′s The John Lennon Anthology and 2004′s Acoustic. The other unreleased track I previewed was a home demo of “India, India,” a gentle mid-tempo acoustic song inspired by The Beatles’ time studying meditation in India.
Perhaps most exciting is Double Fantasy Stripped Down. This double-disc reissue features both the original 1980 album Double Fantasy as well as a version newly remixed by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas (Lennon’s original co-producers). My advance sampler contained two cuts featuring “stripped down” remixes, “(Just Like) Starting Over” and “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy).” The former now comes across as a punchier musical tribute to Lennon’s rock and roll heroes. There is a brief Lennon aside prior to start of the song, “This one’s for Gene, Eddie, and Elvis…and Buddy.” The new mix lacks the backing vocals, with Lennon’s lead much more prominent than in the original. The same can be said of “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy).” While the new mix is less strikingly different, the emphasis is on Lennon’s vocal.
Those disappointed by the 2005 reissue of Sometime In New York City have reason to celebrate. While the previous reissue was edited down to a single disc, the new reissue restores the missing jams with Frank Zappa. “Jamrag,” “Scumbag,” and “Au” may not be among many people’s most listened to Lennon tracks, but it was unconscionable for them to have been removed. The original contents of the Live Jam disc will be included for the new two-disc reissue.
The “Gimme Some Truth” campaign commences on October 5, 2010.