John Lennon – Live In New York City

John reverts to Parlophone for his latest posthumous release. The album starts with a slightly out of tune version of ‘Power to the People’ before launching into a version of ‘New York City’. John manages to forget some of the words and as a result this version has nowhere near as much power as the original. Having said that, as a warm up number for the band it works quite well and if you were there the mistakes would not have been as noticeable as they appear on vinyl. ‘It’s So Hard’ follows and the backing is faithful to the original but John makes one or two humourous changes to the lyrics in places. I’ve never been a big fan of ‘Woman is the Nigger of the World’ but I must admit I do like this live version of it and John and the band do add something to it that does not come across on the studio version. One of John’s most primal screemish songs ‘Well Well Well’ follows and is, as one might expect, one of the most powerful performances of the album. John’s vocal is nothing short of brilliant. A superb track. Phil Spector’s production on ‘Instant Karma’ was superb and inevitably it was going to be difficult to reproduce live and so it proved. The drummers fail to get the incredible sound that Alan White got on the original single. Nevertheless a brave attempt at a classic song.

It must have been hard for John to do ‘Mother’ in front of an audience because in spite of what he says on the the intro of the song (that it is directed at 99% of parents half alive) it is an intensely personal song. Again John’s vocal is absolutely superb, and full of raw energy and emotion. John “goes back into the past just once” with ‘Come Together’. The backing track of the original is changed slightly but the vocal is better on this live version and John somewhat surprisingly, considering some of his Beatle performances, remembers the words. This is one of the highlights of the concert. Inevitably in a concert of this type John had to do ‘Imagine’. I’m not overly keen on the plonkiness of the electric piano on this track. It would have been better if a miked up piano had been used. John makes one or two lyric changes to fit in with his feminist views he had acquired at the time. It’s not as atmospheric as the original but it’s such a classic song that in any arrangement it still sounds superb, John follows on with his favourite solo-concert number – ‘Cold Turkey’. It is absolutely brilliant and the best of the three lived versions now released on vinyl, although not as harrowing as the classic single. A track not to be missed out on! John reveals his rock and roll roots, by performing Elvis’s “Hound Dog’ which of course was one of the on most important songs in the development of rock and roll as we know!! This song is not one of John’s best performances but his enthusiasm for singing it comes across well even on vinyl. Finally on the album there’s a snatch of ‘Give Peace A Chance’ and thank goodness for that as it is hopelessly out of tune!

This album is an absolute must for all fans of John. It shows off everything that I love about the man, his sense of humour, his superb singing voice, his brilliant rhythm guitar playing and the fact that he had a lot of important things to say.

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