Unless you are a John Lennon completist, the recent reissue campaign of his solo catalog may leave you wondering what to buy. The late rock 'n' roll legend's entire catalog was overhauled to coincide with his seventieth birthday. This time the original mixes were remastered, as opposed to the Yoko Ono authorized remixes that surfaced over the past decade or so.
The plethora of choices can be a bit confusing. Lennon's eight individual studio albums were reissued separately. That includes the only expanded original album, Double Fantasy, which adds a second disc containing an alternate "stripped down" mix. The retail cost of purchasing those eight albums is about $126. A boxed set containing all those albums, plus non-album singles and rarities (but minus the "stripped down" Double Fantasy disc), was issued as the John Lennon Signature Box. That deluxe package will set you back $189.99 retail. A skimpy single disc collection, Power To the People: The Hits, retails for $16.99, but will satisfy only the most casual of fans.
If those price tags are a bit intimidating, but you want more then the paltry fifteen tracks on Power To the People, I heartily recommend the four-disc, seventy-two song Gimme Some Truth. This cost-effective alternative ($38.99 retail) to the above choices provides a very generous selection of Lennon's work. In fact, the vast majority of it is present on these four discs - just not in chronological order. Not counting Yoko Ono's songs (three on Sometime In New York City, seven on Double Fantasy, six on Milk & Honey), there are only fourteen missing Lennon studio album tracks. Grab those on iTunes and you'll still come out way ahead of buying the albums separately.
Here's how the tracklist breaks down. The entire eleven song Plastic Ono Band (1970) is included. All but one song, "It's So Hard," from Imagine (1971) is here. The least represented album is Sometime In New York City (1972), with only three of Lennon's seven songs present (and none of the Live Jam second disc). Four songs ("Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)", "One Day (At a Time)," Bring On the Lucie," and "I Know (I Know)") are missing out of eleven on Mind Games (1973). Of the dozen tunes on Walls & Bridges (1974), the only ones missing are "Going Down On Love" and the barely one minute long closer "Ya Ya." The entire album Rock 'n' Roll (1975) is included. "Dear Yoko" from Double Fantasy is absent, as are "(Forgive Me) My Little Flower Princess" and "Grow Old With Me" from Milk & Honey.
In addition to all of the above, Lennon's non-album singles are all included. A few additional tracks are thrown in that aren't even found on the John Lennon Signature Box. As mentioned, the demo version of "Grow Old With Me" from Milk & Honey is missing. The arguably superior George Martin-scored version from the 1998 John Lennon Anthology is, however, accounted for.