John Lennon

Instant Karma: All-Time Greatest Hits

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This discount-priced three-CD mail-order album, its contents licensed from Capitol Records, does present one version or another of almost all of John Lennon's solo chart hits, although it is somewhat less than what might appear from the title. There are 35 tracks spread over three CDs with a running time not much over two hours, selling on release in the 30 dollar range. The discs are subtitled "The Hits," "Sings Classic Rock 'n' Roll," and "The Classics Live." Roughly speaking, that means the first disc contains original studio recordings of hit singles like "(Just Like) Starting Over," "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night," "Woman," and the title song; the second disc basically consists of tracks from the 1974 Rock 'n' Roll album (with a couple from Live Peace in Toronto, 1969 thrown in); and the third disc basically consists of Live in New York City (with a track from Sometime in New York City thrown in). The chief criticism to be made of the set (in addition to its bare-bones packaging) is that some of Lennon's biggest and most familiar hits -- "Cold Turkey," "Mother," "Imagine" -- are included only in live versions, not the hit studio recordings, and the live performances are sometimes brief to the point of being mere choruses ("Give Peace a Chance," "Power to the People," the latter so short it doesn't even get a track listing). From that point of view, the collection does not justify its subtitle, All-Time Greatest Hits, especially since so much of it consists of good but not great concert performances and Lennon's affectionate but not particularly impressive covers of old rock & roll songs from his youth.

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