John Lennon

Menlove Ave.

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Following quickly on the heels of Live in New York City, a second posthumous Lennon release emerged from Yoko Ono's archives, with one side devoted to outtakes from the wild Rock & Roll sessions and the other to alternate takes from Walls and Bridges. The Rock & Roll side draws mostly from the first Phil Spector-produced sessions in Hollywood, which collapsed amidst storied incidents of '70s excess. There are two hitherto unreleased Lennon songs on board: "Here We Go Again" (co-written with Spector), a fairly uneventful song massively overproduced, and "Rock & Roll People," which has a more Spartan production by Lennon and a nice kick to it. "Angel Baby," originally put out on the unauthorized Roots album, makes a raucous first official appearance here. "Since My Baby Left Me" sounds like a glorified party tape, giving listeners a taste of the madness of those sessions, and a lumbering rendition of Spector's chestnut "To Know Her Is to Love Her" closes the side. The Walls and Bridges alternates ("Steel and Glass," "Scared," "Old Dirt Road," "Nobody Loves You," and "Bless You") lack the orchestrations of the master takes, and they are better off for it; indeed, "Steel and Glass" and "Scared" take on an especially starker power. By today's standards, this would be a pretty meager harvest of unheard Lennon, recommendable only to completists and the really dedicated fan. But in those pre-Lost Lennon Tapes/Lennon Anthology days, it was a tantalizing look into the vault.

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