For anyone who remembers John Lennon's early compilation, 'Shaved Fish,' 'Lennon Legend' will undoubtedly provide a great treat. The songs are selected and arranged far better. The compilers made a great C.D.--not just a sampler. The best of 'Shaved Fish' is retained, and some other essentials are added from the second half of his solo career. Because the quality of his albums is mixed, ('Plastic Ono Band' being a groundbreaking triumph and 'Walls and Bridges' a meandering failure with some key moments), 'Lennon Legend' is a particularly good pick for Lennon fans. "Love," one of his best songs ever and "Working Class Hero" are aptly added from the former album, but the hits are retained from his lesser works as well. The listener is also offered his finest songs from 'Double Fantasy' and 'Milk and Honey'. The compilers (Maybe Yoko had some say?) were wise to extract "Woman Is the N----r of the World," a progressive, but poorly phrased song from the first collection and add his rendition of "Stand by Me," from 'Rock 'N Roll'. This addition is good and interesting, but some of echo effects make one believe that Phil Spector's hand left something to be desired. The album ends with some of his finest work from his early career, including one of the better original Christmas songs, "Happy X-mas (The War Is Over)".
Some of the highlights include the opener, "Imagine," a beautiful anthem that should suit anyone of any creed interested in God and an end to religious and political strife (and faith and servile fear). There's the classic rocker "Instant Karma," an appeal to brotherhood and a favorite song. "Cold Turkey," is a fine, but harrowing song done by the man we came to know for his uncompromising honesty. One of the unheralded songs is "Jealous Guy," a beautiful song lyrically, intricate musically, and a departure from the mushy production some of his songs suffered from. Then, there are the heart-warming moments from his last works. It is a pleasure to listen to the key songs from 'Double Fantasy' and 'Milk and Honey,' not only for the warmth they retain, but the consolation of knowing that at the end domesticity brought happiness to one of the greatest musical legends of the twentieth century.
If you were to interpret the title of this album according to its dictionary defintion - "a story that has been passed down for generations, especially one that is presented as history but is unlikely to be true; a popular myth that has arisen in modern times" you'd have a fairer assessment of John Lennon than EMI can possibly have intended. If ever a man's achievement has been blown out of all proportion then John Lennon's surely has, mostly because he did the decent rock 'n' roll thing and got … more
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John Lennon's solo work has been anthologized so many times that it's hard to believe there wasn't a definitive compilation before this one. And, depending on your particular take, you might not findLennon Legendquite hitting the mark. However, since it does contain the brilliantly scathing "Working Class Hero," doesn't ignore the woefully underratedRock 'n' Rollalbum, and catches the hopeful renewal that came toward the end of his foreshortened life, it's probably about as close as anyone's going to come. His great songs shine, meditations like "Imagine" and his rockers had form and content, as in "Whatever Gets You Through the Night." He was an icon, and this does him justice.--Chris Nickson