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Imagine
Studio album by John Lennon
Released 9 September 1971 (US)
8 October 1971 (UK)
Recorded 23 June 1971 – 5 July 1971 at Ascot Sound Studios; July 1971 at Record Plant, New York
Genre Rock, rock and roll, soft rock, blues rock
Length 39:29
Label Apple, EMI
Producer John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector
Professional reviews
John Lennon chronology
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
(1970)
Imagine
(1971)
Some Time in New York City
(1972)

Imagine is John Lennon's second solo album and is considered the most popular of his solo works. Recorded and released in 1971, the album tended toward songs that were gentler, more commercial and less avant-garde than the ones he released on his more critically acclaimed previous album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.[1] The difference, he said, was that Imagine was "chocolate-coated for public consumption", in reference to the string sections prevalent throughout the album.

Contents

Recording and structure

Although the basic tracks for the album were initially recorded in his home studio (Ascot Sound Studios in Tittenhurst Park), many of the instruments were re-recorded at the Record Plant in New York City, where strings and saxophone by King Curtis were also added. As on his last album, Phil Spector joined Lennon and Yoko Ono as co-producer on Imagine. Extensive footage of the sessions, showing the evolution of some of the songs, was compiled on a video documentary entitled Gimme Some Truth: The Making of John Lennon's Imagine.

The title track "Imagine" became Lennon's signature tune and was written as a plea for world peace. "Jealous Guy" has also had enduring popularity and was originally composed as "Child of Nature" during the songwriting sessions in India in 1968 that led to The Beatles' double-album The Beatles. "Oh My Love" and the song "How?" were influenced by his experience with primal therapy: "How?" contains the questions he was facing while going through the changes produced in him during the ongoing process of primal therapy, while "Oh My Love" was written to communicate the joy and growth Lennon was experiencing as a result of the therapy.

Postcard included with "Imagine"

Lennon also indulged his love of rock and roll with "Crippled Inside" and "It's So Hard." "Gimme Some Truth", originally heard in the Let It Be sessions, appears on the album with a new bridge. The politically-themed "I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier" closes the first half of Imagine in a cacophonous manner.

George Harrison guested on a few of Imagine's tracks, most infamously "How Do You Sleep?", Lennon's response to what he considered veiled remarks about him on Paul McCartney's then-current album Ram. Early editions of the LP included a postcard featuring a photo of Lennon holding a pig in mockery of McCartney's similar pose with a sheep of the cover of Ram.[2] Although Lennon softened his stance in the mid-70s and claimed he wrote the song about himself, he revealed in 1980, "I used my resentment against Paul... to create a song... not a terrible vicious horrible vendetta... I used my resentment and withdrawing from Paul and The Beatles, and the relationship with Paul, to write 'How Do You Sleep'. I don't really go 'round with those thoughts in my head all the time".[3 ]

The last track on the album is the upbeat and catchy "Oh Yoko!", an ode to his wife complete with a Bob Dylan-style harmonica solo. EMI pushed for this track to be the single, but Lennon thought it was too "pop".

Reception

Upon release in September and October 1971, Imagine was warmly regarded by critics and promptly went to #1 worldwide and became an enduring seller, with the title track reaching #3 in the U.S. and #1 in the UK following Lennon's death.

In 2000, Yoko Ono supervised the remixing of Imagine for its remastered reissue.

In 2003, Imagine was placed at #76 in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time[4] and reissued by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab on gold CD and on 180 gram half-speed mastered vinyl. It was also originally released in quadrophonic.

In 2007, the Record Plant piano on which Lennon re-recorded the album was sold at auction.[5]

Track listing

All songs by John Lennon, except where noted.

  1. "Imagine" – 3:01
  2. "Crippled Inside" – 3:47
  3. "Jealous Guy" – 4:14
  4. "It's So Hard" – 2:25
  5. "I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die" – 6:05
  6. "Gimme Some Truth" – 3:16
  7. "Oh My Love" (John Lennon, Yoko Ono) – 2:44
  8. "How Do You Sleep?" – 5:36
  9. "How?" – 3:43
  10. "Oh Yoko!" – 4:20

Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1971 Billboard 200 1
Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart

Personnel

The following musicians performed on Imagine:[6]

Detailed credits were published in Disc and Music Echo, 2 October 1971.

Notes

  1. ^ Clayton, Marie (2003). John Lennon. Unseen Archives. Parragon Publishing Book. pp. 383. ISBN 0752585142.  
  2. ^ Clayton>Clayton. p301
  3. ^ "Playboy Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono - 1980". john-lennon.com/. http://www.john-lennon.com/playboyinterviewwithjohnlennonandyokoono.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-15.  
  4. ^ The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
  5. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2007/05/30/lennons-last-piano-for-sale-bo-diddleys-better-mccartney-on-home-shopping-network/
  6. ^ Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen To This Book. Guildford, Great Britain: Biddles Ltd.. pp. 82–90. ISBN 0-9544528-1-X.  
Preceded by
Every Picture Tells a Story by Rod Stewart
Billboard 200 number-one album
30 October - 5 November 1971
Succeeded by
Shaft (soundtrack) by Isaac Hayes
Preceded by
Teaser and the Firecat by Cat Stevens
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
10 January - 23 January 1972
Succeeded by
American Pie by Don McLean
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