Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon

John Lennon

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Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

There sure hasn't been a shortage of John Lennon compilations over the years, but there hasn't been a new collection since 1997's Lennon Legend and there haven't been any two-CD sets covering his entire career -- until 2005's Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon, that is. Released on October 4, 2005, this surely was intended as a tie-in to the Broadway show Lennon: The Musical, but it wound up appearing ten days after the musical concluded its disastrous run. Even if the show did tank, it provided the occasion for this strong collection. Working Class Hero may tread familiar territory -- not only does it have all the usual suspects, from "Instant Karma" to "(Just Like) Starting Over," it has them in a sequencing that feels familiar, even it doesn't correspond to any specific previous release -- but that's fine, because it provides a rather thorough overview of Lennon's best-known solo songs. In many cases, these are often his best, but there are surely some great songs missing here, particularly because the comp emphasizes material with a slight romantic bent or songs that play into the myth of St. John (meaning, mixed alongside the hits there are plenty of songs about Yoko and being a father, and rockers are given short shrift). But these are minor complaints: anybody who wants a succinct yet comprehensive compilation of most of Lennon's solo best should be satisfied with this.

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