John Lennon “Rock’n’Roll” Replacement LP Arrives

While sitting at home this morning there was a knock on the door. It was a courier with a registered parcel that looked suspiciously like an LP mailer:Lennon parcel

Could this finally be the replacement John Lennon Rock’n’Roll album from the John Lennon 8-LP box set? The postmarks were from Great Britain, and the sender address was Universal Music in London.

As you know, Universal are now the manufacturers and distributors of all Beatle releases, including the back-catalogues of John Lennon and George Harrison. They had a big problem with the Rock’n’Roll album shipped with the Lennon box. The set was temporarily withdrawn from sale while they sorted out a production error where the song “Sweet Little Sixteen” appeared twice, and the song “You Can’t Catch Me” was missing altogether.

The company set up a special website. Providing you had proof of purchase you could request a replacement copy of the faulty album. We did this at the start of August, but had nothing but stoney silence from Universal since, despite a couple of follow-up emails to them seeking an update on progress.

Now, over two months later, out of the blue our corrected replacement copy has arrived:

Lennon FrontLennon rearThanks Universal!

John Lennon – Vinyl Box Set from 1981

This week I managed to secure a still sealed copy of the 1981, 8-LP box set simply called “John Lennon”. Mine is the one in the silver box with the now famous Bob Gruen photo of John (taken in New York) on the front cover:

This is the Australian release of this set, put out by EMI.

The box contains:

1. “Live Peace In Toronto”;  2. “Plastic Ono Band”;  3. “Imagine”; 4. “Sometime In New York City”;  5 . “Mind Games”;  6. “Walls And Bridges”;  7. “Rock ‘N’ Roll”;  and  8. “Shaved Fish”:

The set came out just a year after John Lennon’s death and followed the success of other Beatles box sets. It was released in several countries using very similar packaging. The set was first released in Britain, and was later sold in Japan, Germany, and of course Australia – with the catalogue number JLB8:

Mitch McGeary and William McCoy write (on their Beatles Rarities and Box Sets website) that all the LPs were issued on the Apple label and packaged in their original covers: “Included in the UK and other sets was a twenty-page, black-and-white booklet, “The Liverpool Echo’s Tribute To John Lennon,” which was loaded with pictures and song lyrics. The albums were encased in a silver box that had a color photo of John on the front. The set’s title and facsimile of John’s autograph were also embossed on the front of the box while the LP and song titles were printed on the back”.

EMI in Italy also issued a Lennon compilation and it is unique. Its called the “John Lennon Anthology” and consisted of all the albums in the British/Australian edition, but omitted the “best of” album “Shaved Fish”. Instead the box had three singles made up of tracks not found on any of the other seven LPs. Unlike the silver box versions these discs came in a blue, pizza-style box reminiscent of the “Live Peace in Toronto” cover:

Apparently only 1,000 copies were made of this one, making it quite a collectable item.

John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth Box

This is the next installment of close-up, detailed photos of the current John Lennon re-issue program. We’ve already had a look at the “Signature” box set containing freshly remastered editions of all the original studio albums, plus two CDs of singles, home recordings and outtakes.

Now its the turn of the other box set issued as part of the program called “Gimme Some Truth”. First thing to say is that it is much smaller that the “Signature” box set (although that’s not saying much as the “Signature” set is huge). Its really just a slipcase kind of affair, designed to hold four CDs in cardboard sleeves plus a book. The other thing to say is that there’s nothing new here audio-wise for the avid collector. These are compilations completely made up of previously released tracks – most of which have been re-issued in a variety of forms many, many times…

The front and rear photos on the box are of John and Yoko in New York, only they’ve been superimposed on a drawing of New York Harbour (as imagined by John Lennon). It was taken by Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan, best known for his photo for the cover of “Abbey Road”:

"Gimme Some Truth" - front cover

And the rear:

"Gimme Some Truth" - rear cover

Here’s a shot from the same photo session with Iain Macmillan:

Inside the box are four themed CDs that gather John Lennon’s songs into categories. The first is “Working Class Hero”:

This photo is taken by Bob Gruen, a long-time friend and frequent photographer of Lennon who has taken some of his most iconic shots, including the images for the “Walls and Bridges” album, and he did the photograph used on the recent biography of John by Philip Norman. There are 18 tracks on this CD and they include “Power to the People”, “Steel and Glass” and “Give Peace a Chance”.

The second CD is called “Woman”, and gathers together love songs and songs specifically about the women in Lennon’s life:

This image is by Lilo Raymond, and is a photograph from the same sessions as the one used for the front cover of the 1983 posthumous LP release called “Heart Play – Unfinished Dialogue” which contained conversations with John and Yoko recorded in 1980:

The “Woman” CD also contains 18 songs, such as “Mother”, “Hold On” and “Jealous Guy”.  The third CD is “Borrowed Time”:

Got to be one of the saddest photos of John, don’t you think? So much potential there and a baby boy he won’t get the chance to see grow up….. Songs include “Nobody Told Me”, Watching the Wheels”, and of course “Borrowed Time”. The image was taken by Nishi Saimaru, who’s 1990 book “The John Lennon Family Album” features intimate family photographs taken over a three year period with the Lennon’s in New York, Miami, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. She also took the cover photo for that other four CD box set released in 1990, simply called “Lennon“.

The fourth and final disc collects Lennon covering tracks from his youth – early rock’n’roll standards plus a couple of other more contemporary rockers.

This is one of a series of famous images taken by Jurgen Vollmer of a young John Lennon in a Hamburg doorway. Vollmer, Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann met the Beatles in Germany in the early 60’s. Later, John was to write: “… Vollmer was the first photographer to capture the beauty and the spirit of The Beatles…We tried very hard to find someone with his touch after we returned from Hamburg, Germany…nobody could…The photographs…speak for themselves.” One of his photos from the same session was used on the cover of the 1975 album “Rock ‘N’ Roll”:

The “Gimme Some Truth” box also contains a 24-page book featuring an article (“Truth In All It’s Forms – The Songs of John Lennon”) by Anthony DeCurtis. DeCurtis also wrote the essay for the “Signature” box. It is illustrated with additional photographs, Lennon drawings and hand-written lyrics.

The front and rear covers of the book feature a Lennon drawing with his face morphing into Yoko Ono’s, and vice versa:

The final inclusion in the box is a business card-sized piece of cardboard with the word “Online” on one side and instructions and a PIN code for you to access the John Lennon Universe on the web on the other.

I’m not sure, but I think this card and PIN get you access to less comprehensive content in the “Universe” to that of the “Signature” box one. If anyone confirm that let me know.

See also the John LennonSignature Box” revealed, and the Paul McCartney Deluxe “Band on the Run” CD and vinyl sets.

Lennon “Gimme Some Truth”- Universe and Campaign Trailer

Just had an email from

It reads (in part):

John Lennon ‘Universe’ Revealed + Campaign Trailer

The John Lennon ‘Universe’ is an immersive and interactive online
experience around John Lennon’s life and musical career, featuring
multimedia content, audio from the remastered solo career albums, videos
and fascinating essays in an exciting, interactive format.

Fans will be able to access ‘Universe’ with the physical and digital
versions of the following products from the 70th Birthday campaign:

– Power To The People (CD+DVD Edition)
– Gimme Some Truth
– John Lennon Signature Box
– Power To The People iTunes LP
– Double Fantasy Stripped Down iTunes LP

Watch the brand new ‘Gimme Some Truth’ campaign trailer, which walks you
through all the releases, by clicking on the image of John above.

John Lennon “Lennon” 4 CD Box Set

It never ceases to amaze me how many variations there are out there of particular Beatles or Beatles-related items. I guess that’s part of what makes collecting interesting….

Some are big differences, and include completely revised or unique artwork or track running orders, others are small and subtle. This one, sent to me by Beatlesblog reader Ned in the United States, is a case in point. Ned writes: “One favorite Beatles-related item of mine is a still-sealed, 4 CD “Lennon” box from 1990 with a blank space on the back cover art where the song “Imagine” should be listed (the song is on the disc, however) that I bought from a woman going through a bad divorce. She only wanted US$15 for it. Even though I was very much interested I IMPLORED her to ask for more because I knew she could get it.  However, she insisted because, to her, it represented her former husband.  (Years earlier, I had regretfully sold my copy due to being laid off and needed to pay my bills. I was desperate to get a copy back in my possession after my work life returned to normal).”

Ned sent me a photo of this unusual John Lennon collectors item. Check out the space in the listing on Disc 2:

Its a strange little mistake or variation….who knows why “Imagine” was left off that particular print run? And Ned having a still-sealed copy makes it pretty collectable too. (By the way, it was Ned who sent the additional photos of the Japanese Beatles “Love” rarity from a previous post).

To compare, here’s my copy of the Lennon set:

“Imagine” is definitely still there. This 4 CD “Lennon” box set was released by Parlophone/EMI in 1990. It was compiled by Mark Lewisohn, one of the band’s insiders and a long-time writer and commentator on official Beatles releases and their history. Wikipedia has a song list for each CD. As you can see, most songs were previously released, but there are a couple of hard-to-find tracks, like the three live from Madison Square Garden with Elton John (“Whatever Gets You Through the Night”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds”) recorded 24 November, 1974.  I believe these three songs had only ever been previously released on a vinyl single in 1975.

The box set comes with a nice (if plain) 70-page booklet:

Booklet - Front

The booklet has the words to each song, a song index, small images from the album each track comes from, plus some nice photos – both black and white, and some in colour:

Booklet - inside

Each of the jewel cases has an individual image of Lennon. Here’s the one used for Disc 1:

The printing on each CD follows a similar theme, but each jewel case spine, rear artwork and the actual CD disc is a slightly different colour. For example here are discs 1 and 2:

The 4 CD set came out in 1990 and followed the 1989 single CD release “The John Lennon Collection”. In Australia at least EMI released this 4-track EP CD in a gate-fold Digipak to promote both:

As you can see, they used the rear of the cover to promote both the single disc “John Lennon Collection”, and the 4 CD box set:

So, thanks to Ned for another unusual and collectable Beatles-related item.

There is a new set of John Lennon box sets and anniversary releases on the way. Called the Gimme Some Truth  project, these remasters will mark what would have been Lennon’s 70th birthday and will be released in October, 2010.