John Lennon – Menlove Ave (1986): On Second Thought

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Released six years after John Lennon’s tragic exit, Menlove Ave contains demos and other miscellaneous musings the famed British musician cut during sessions for the Walls and Bridges and Rock ‘n’ Roll albums, which were issued in September 1974 and February 1975 respectively.

The first side of the collection entails material from the Rock ‘n’ Roll debacle, a highly publicized affair riddled with legal hogwash and legendary producer Phil Spector twirling the knobs. Clothed in quasi-psychedelic wear, there’s the ethereal swirl of “Here We Go Again,” along with a cover of the sweet and saccharine “Angel Baby,” a 1961 hit for Rosie and the Originals. Marked by a bright boogie tenor, “Rock And Roll People” never appeared on any of John’s discs, but was offered to red-hot guitarist Johnny Winter, whose version can be heard on his John Dawson Winter III album. Brandishing a sing-around-the-campfire vibe, a rendition of Arthur Crudup’s “My Baby Left Me,” which is called “Since My Baby Left Me” on Menlove Ave, also figures into the equation.

Flipping the album over, John Lennon’s bluesy “Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down and Out),” the expressive despair of “Scared,” and the bristling “Steel And Glass” make the grade, while on “Old Dirt Road,” John is joined by his friend, acclaimed singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson. Meanwhile, “Bless You” is a fragile and heartwarming ballad.

Pinching its title from the street Lennon lived on as a youngster, Menlove Ave (Capitol Records) may not represent the brilliant man in his most inspiring moments, but still poses to be a pleasantly grainy snapshot. John always preferred music raw and natural, and these tunes certainly capture him in a thoroughly bare-boned and human element. Those who just have to have everything John Lennon put to tape are sure to approve of Menlove Ave and its charming warts-and-all quality.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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