Timed to celebrate John Lennon’s eightieth birthday (while sadly approaching the fortieth anniversary of his murder that smashed any hope of him celebrating it), this latest ‘greatest hits’ collection comes with the simple difference (and selling point) that these now achingly familiar songs never sounded so good.
Remixed top to tail by Paul Hicks (who sculpted Imagine – The Ultimate Collection), its 36 cuts were selected by Yoko and son Sean to tell John’s post-Beatles story and illustrate his many facets, thus turning their eternal grief into an immaculately packaged, multi-format tribute (Deluxe including 124-page book telling the songs’ stories, plus previously unseen photos and archive memorabilia).
On Yoko’s direction, the high-tech respray focused on Lennon’s vocals: Cold Turkey’s searing smack withdrawal howls; his virtuoso nuancing around God; Stand By Me affirmed as one of rock’s perfect vocal performances; his fixation with overdubbing complex harmonies startling on Woman.
Half a century after they were recorded, the first two albums’ reborn magnificence hasn’t dimmed, the aural upgrade further hot-wiring Working Class Hero, Isolation, Jealous Guy and the Macca-lambasting How Do You Sleep?. If Yoko wants to emphasise Double Fantasy and conclude with Give Peace A Chance, it’s her well-earned prerogative.