Friday, 22 January 2010
A suggestion for EMI/Capitol
Following up yesterday's blog post about EMI/Capitol's plans to reissue five of John Lennon's solo albums, both as individual releases as well as in a boxed set, this photo of recent Lennon reissues from Japan was sent me by a reader. What this clearly illustrates, is that there are parts of Lennon's catalogue that has been reissued to death.
However, there are other parts that have been totally neglected. My suggestion to EMI/Capitol is to forget about those five solo albums and follow me on this one:
In early summer 1972, Geraldo Rivera announced a benefit concert for the patients at Willowbrook - known as "One-To-One" after the idea of each patient having one caretaker. The line-up would be 50s revivalists Sha-Na-Na, Tamla-Motown's Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack (later billed as a surprise guest for some unknown reason), and headliners John Lennon and Yoko Ono with Elephant's Memory, a New York combo the Lennon's recently recorded half of their new album, "Sometime In New York", with. A second, matinee show was soon added.
What no one could know, this was to be the only time in his solo career that John Lennon was to perform a full length concert. Luckily, both shows were filmed and recorded on multitrack tapes.
Although the material Lennon performed was largely drawn from his three most recent albums of the period (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Imagine and Some Time in New York City), Lennon also included in the setlist his Beatles hit "Come Together" and paid tribute to Elvis Presley with "Hound Dog" before leading the audience in a singalong of "Give Peace a Chance".
The songs that were performed that night:
John: "New York City," "It's So Hard," "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World," "Well Well Well," "Instant Karma," "Mother," "Come Together," "Imagine," "Cold Turkey," "Hound Dog," "Give Peace A Chance".
Yoko: "Sister O Sisters," "Move On Fast," "Born In A Prison," "We're All Water," "Open Your Box," "Don't Worry Kyoko".
A 40 minute special from the evening performance was shown on ABC-TV in 1972 as a pilot for the future late night music series "In Concert", with a simulcast on FM radio. The special included "Come Together," "Instant Karma!," "Sisters O Sisters," "Cold Turkey," "Hound Dog," "Give Peace a Chance" and (over the credits) "Imagine". There were also three tracks from support acts: "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder and two from Roberta Flack: "Reverend Lee" and "Somewhere". Yoko's performance of "Move On Fast" was seen on British TV in BBC2's late night Rock programme "The Old Grey Whistle Test" on 30th January 1973, in order to promote her album "Approximately Infinite Universe".
The music and the films were then filed away.
After John died, his widow Yoko Ono has given us lots of material from the Lennon archives, and in 1986, she decided to release a concert video, as well as a CD from the "One To One" performances. The concert video, released on VHS, Betamax, Laser Disc and the little known format VHD Video Disc was a 55 minute edit of the afternoon performance, containing the following:
Power To The People (merely a part of the record played over the PA during the introduction, the video used the afternoon show intro), New York City (from the afternoon show), It's So Hard (afternoon), Woman Is The Nigger Of The World (afternoon), Sisters, O Sisters (evening), Well, Well, Well (afternoon), Born In A Prison (afternoon), Instant Karma! (afternoon), Mother (afternoon), Come Together (afternoon), Imagine (afternoon), Cold Turkey (evening), Hound Dog (evening) and Give Peace A Chance (evening). John's introductions were also a mixture from the afternoon and evening concerts, many of which did not match the choice for the actual performance. As you'll gather from the above, Yoko also performed four other songs that were not included on the video, these were Move On Fast (afternoon & evening), We're All Water (afternoon & evening), Open Your Box (afternoon & evening) and Don't Worry Kyoko (afternoon show only).
The soundtrack was radically remixed and issued as an accompanying album (omitting Yoko Ono's tracks all together) to the home-video, both were first released in the USA by Sony on 24th January 1986, and international releases followed in February.
Upon its release, Yoko Ono was criticized by former members of Elephant's Memory for using the first - and weaker - performance instead of the stronger evening show. They also took issue with the video release of the concert, which it was alleged had been edited to show Ono as prominently as Lennon. However, in fact, on the album release, Ono's vocal performances on such numbers as "Hound Dog" had been mixed out completely.
"John Lennon: Live in New York City" reached #55 in the UK, and surprised many with its US appeal where it peaked at #41 and eventually went gold.
In 1992, the original 40 minute ABC TV Special surprisingly made it's reappearance, as an international VHS and Laser Disc release.
Three songs from the evening performance later saw release on The John Lennon Anthology boxed set in 1998: "Woman Is the Nigger of the World," "It's So Hard," and "Come Together," as well as Rivera's spoken introduction.
The John Lennon: Live in New York City was released on CD in 1986, and has not been remastered since. The various video releases have never found their way to an official DVD or Blu-Ray edition. Only the performance of "Mother" was released as a bonus track on the Classic Albums: Plastic Ono Band DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment on 28th April 2008.
So, the obvious thing, EMI/Capitol, would be to remaster and re-release this stuff. I have several format suggestions:
1. The CD remastered
2. A DVD (and Blu-Ray) containing both the afternoon and the evening concerts. You've got the multitracks and I'm sure the staff over at Abbey Road Studios would love to get their hands on these to make the surround soundtrack to these films.
3. The CD+DVD (or Blu-Ray) Deluxe Edition, with a book of recollections,ticket stub, newspaper clippings and photos from the concerts.
4. The digital download, containing the CD tracks and the film
I believe I have all Lennon fans with me on this, because this is essential material, and should be treated accordingly. Now that would be a good way to celebrate Lennon's 70th.