Bagism: Albums & Singles

Reviews: Acoustic


"Acoustic" is John Lennon stripped bare. It's just his voice and his guitar (more or less). John Lennon hated his voice and would often obscure it on studio recordings with distortion, multiple vocal tracks, and other techniques. Comprised of demo and live recordings, "Acoustic" attempts to capture the sound of John Lennon, "as nature intended." It was released Nov. 2, 2004 (US and UK).

Please add a review if you are familiar with "Acoustic". Tracks are also available.

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Rating: 4.5
Mar 13, 2011
H
I should start by saying that I am 17 years old, and so my feelings about this album might be totally skewed because I have only started to love John Lennon well after his death. I should say further that this was the first John Lennon album I ever listened to (It's my dad's), but because of it I became more interested in his solo stuff. I have listened to this album countless times. The version of Working Class Hero on "Acoustic" is SO much more raw and painful than the version on "Plastic Ono Band," although both are amazing, and Lennon eloquently draws from a deep well of not only pain but empathy with other human beings trapped in the horrible cycle he describes. Love is another incredible song, also on "Plastic Ono Band" that I like better with just John and his guitar. Reminds me of Across the Universe before Phil Spector messed around with it. Well Well Well is less screamy here as well, and much more melodic. Look At Me is a song that I will never cease to find haunting and beautiful, as well as desperate and uncertain, although it is nearly unchanged on "Plastic Ono Band." The song God appears in its entirety on "Plastic Ono Band," and I prefer the lyrics on that album (the lyrics left out on "Acoustic" are the most moving lines of the song), and so it seems a bit superfluous. My Mummy's Dead and Cold Turkey (along with Luck of the Irish and John Sinclair) are a tad annoying, but are representative of Lennon's emotional state, and also the sort of causes he championed (which seem a bit outdated now). Woman is the Nigger of the World would appear to be offensive, but isn't really, seeing as it is 42 seconds long and rather pensive. What You Got has that messy, desperate sound that characterizes much of this album, but it is fast paced and almost Bo Diddley-y. I prefer Watching the Wheels and Dear Yoko on "Acoustic" to "Double Fantasy," because they just sound more sincere here than when more instruments are added in. They don't sound doctored to fit the pop-y feeling of that era. Imagine is also very heartfelt, and nearly as good as the piano version (which nothing can beat), while Real Love is small and sad sounding, and, as usual, beautifully plaintive. The little whistled It's Real (Instrumental) is a thoughtful way to end the album. In sum, a wonderful although jumpy overview of Lennon's most beautifully written songs.

Rating: 4.5
Mar 4, 2010
hexum311
It's a great compilation but it should have had some more songs on it. "India,India" would have made the cd even better!

Rating: 3.0
Jul 31, 2006
laurie marks
Fans will over time learn to accept that there are an infinite number of ways in which aging material can be re-packaged to boost sales for artists whose output has ceased. Fortunately, record companies are often thoughtful enough to take some extra effort to ensure that for fans, the next 'collected works' re-package has some items of interest - The Beatles Anthologies 1&2 were good examples, as was the John Lennon Anthology. Of course, the cynical will smile that the recording companies do so to cash in on the fans but at some point any commercial product seeks to do that. This album does at least have on it a number of tracks which are of interest - the live versions of 'Imagine' & 'John Sinclair', the demos of 'Cold Turkey' and 'Watching the Wheels'. The problem is that the John Lennon acoustic version of famous songs and working demos was thoroughly covered by the box set which any fans worth their salt would have invested in long ago. Which begs the question, for whom is this album intended ? Non-fans will be disappointed, as their reviews on various sites already show, by the home demo quality of many tracks. For the album is not 'John Lennon - Unplugged' a la the MTV series, but John scratching around developing another song (apart from the few live tracks). This lack of market niche makes this a tough album to review - on the one hand, fans will say it is wonderful to have another disc of John's doodling on the familiar and sometimes excellent back catalogue he bulit up to invite into your living-room; on the other hand, for non-fans it is very much a case of caveat emptor. But the fans will probably shrug this disc off as too similar to the box set to be worth bothering with. So there is the quandary - too rough for non-fans, too old hat for real fans. It is the sort of disc you'd buy on special as a fan only, which is a shame - especially in places like Australia where the discounts are yet to kick in! If they want the fans to buy it, then some genuine rough out-takes and working notes, commentary etc to go with it - like the Anthology - would be better packaging. At least this tries to have some fresh material and we are spared the trauma of another package of previously released 'hits'.

Rating: 5.0
May 17, 2006
Jim Jacobs
Finally! An album of John Lennon out takes and demos. And an excellent one to boot! Too bad Capitol waited so long to release it but it was well worth the wait. This CD is a must for the serious John Lennon collector. One can only hope that we don't have to wait for more. The first six tracks Working Class Hero, Love, Well Well Well, Look At me, God, and My Mummy's Dead are from the John Lennon Plastic Ono Band sessions. The next track is an early demo of Cold Turkey. My guess is that this is the demo that John played to Paul & George who did not want to record it so he issued it himself as the second Plastic Ono Band single. The next two tracks, The Luck Of The Irish, and John Sinclaire are live cuts from the Sometime in New York City era. Live Lennon cuts are always great to hear because there are not too many of them. The next three tracks on the CD consists of tracks from Sometime in New York City-Woman is the Nigger Of The World, Walls and Bridges-What You Got, and Double Fantasy-Dear Yoko. The remaining 3 tracks are, Real Love-another out take, Imagine-another live recording and It's Real-an instrumental. The only disappointment to me about this CD was the lack of tracks from the Imagine sessions.

Rating: 5.0
Oct 22, 2005
instant karma 311
Acoustic is a great collection for anyone to have really. The songs are very enjoyable to listen to. One thing that lacks is the tracklisting. There is tons of acoustic lennon songs out there, In which I have a large collection of. It should have been put out as a 2 disc or something. I guess Yoko wanted it to be short simple and to the point. I like it, and everyone should buy it.

Rating: 1.5
Oct 18, 2005
David Moses
Boring and utterly disposable. None of the tracks stand out and after playing it once, there is no need to go back to it. Can't remember a thing about it, except I absolutely hate 'cold turkey'.

Rating: 5.0
Oct 9, 2005
lennon lives on
I absolutely admire this collection. I have tons of rare lennon material, alot of which are on this cd. John playing his acoustic guitar is really heartfelt. He loved just playing whatever was on his mind wheather is be a parady or a song he just made. I enjoy listening to it just as much as he enjoyed recording it.

Rating: 3.0
Aug 5, 2005
John R
Acoustic was interesting, but not as good as any of the other unreleased material that has become available from EMI/ Capitol scince his death. The think I mainly have a problem with thought is the 'Phasing effect' that Yoko has put onto the tracks. Working Class Hero sounds MUCh better on the Anthology. There are plenty of acoustic demos and home recordings, studio recordings etc that are better and I wish she would release them, cleaned up and left alone!

Rating: 4.0
May 21, 2005
Claus Nielsen
GREAT CONCEPT!...could´ve been a better collection, or at least the tracks selected should have been less ´fixed´.Maybe it could have been a 10-star review had it been a 2-cd compiled by a fan (I´d like to put myself foward here ;-) ) for the fans and not so much for the mainstream market...just a thought anyroads, here goes: track by track:*-previously unreleased 1.Working class hero: essentially the "Anth." version until the end where it cuts into a diffrent version.a lot of people mistakes this as a homerecording I´ve noticed 2.Love: great studio runthrough 3.Well well well*: home demo, fun enough 4.Look At Me: studio version from "Anth." 5.God*:home demo 6.My Mummy´s dead*:longer home recording 7.Cold Turkey*:great home demo. on bootlegs this is available in 3 mixes, one with John single-voiced, one with John´s vocal overdubs, and on with Yoko vocals on top of John´s overdubs 8 & 9.The luck of the irish/John Sinclair:J.S.benefit, ann arbor. also on "Anth." 10.Woman is the nigger of the world:GOD this is annoying!!, it was annoying on the "Anth.", and it´s no less annoying here, why??, simply ´cause this is a GREAT demo version which in reality lasts aprox.2:30 min., so why the (f-word here) has it in both cases been edited to a measly :42 seconds???, come on!. 11.What you got*:a fun demo version w.very diff.lyrics..Not the same as on the "Anth." 12.Watching the wheels:same as the "Anth." but can´t be released to often, as this is a great version of the most brilliant song ever written...I think. 13.Dear Yoko*:great home version 14.Real Love*:previously unreleased guitar version, recorded around the same period as the one featured on the "Imagine-music from the motion picture" album in ´88 15.Imagine:live version, also on the "Anth." 16.It´s Real:same as "Anth." all in all, a great additon to the John Lennon collection...but could have been better.might there be a volume 2 on the way??? Maybe this shoulden´t have been a guitar-only release??, it could have been a great 2-cd collection coupled with some of the fab piano demo´s of let´s say "Serve Yourself", "She´s a Freind Of Dorothy´s" and how about the demo of "Free As A Bird" used for the Beatles Anthology. Some great guitar demo´s still missing for the official marked I have to mention "Here We Go Again", "Rock´N´Roll People" and "Whatever Happened To...?" Sorry, I´ll stop now!, all the best from Denmark, and John Lennon is alive and well...in all of us

Rating: 4.5
Mar 8, 2005
Hardy C. Lugerth (Germany)
This is a great idea. Today's music business has become extremely boring these days and it looks as if there are fewer and fewer musicians who are able to play an instrument. If you buy this album and take a look at the booklet you'll find the lyrics for each song and the guitar chords as well. On the last pages there is a chord chart displaying every chord you need to play the songs of this album. If you can play the guitar a little bit you'll be able to increase your skills on the instrument and you want to learn more. If you are already a skilled player it's a good feeling to have the original chords written down on the original cd. Of course a real songbook is easier to handle and there are more musical details to find, but this cd ist in my opinion the best idea to help future musicians use more musical instruments than you hear nowadays. I don't know whose idea this was but it is an extremely positive way to help music survive. The soundquality of the album ist not the best. But as all songs except "my mummy's dead" are "demo-versions" the sound has to be unperfect. It is even better than these bootlegs you buy on flea-markets and the versions are absolutely ok. - WORKING CLASS HERO seems to be nothing than an alternate take and sounds quite similar to the released version. It has a bit more of "life" in it. - LOVE is absoloutely different from the version on the record. The melody and the feeling are the same but played on an acoustic guitar (not on piano) it is a wonderful experience. Really beautiful. - WELL WELL WELL is a very rough version which is recorded in a quite low quality, which isn't as good as the well known version; the rock-guitar is missing - LOOK AT ME sounds just as good as the known version but I think I'll prefer this version in the future as it sounds a bit "deeper" ( I mean the feeling - I have problems to explain what I mean in english...) - GOD sounds like being the moment he wrote the song. It contains a lot of details which are completely different from the recorded version. Interesting to listen to but not as light and sensible as the song which touched my heart when I saw the movie "imagine:john lennon" - MY MUMMY'S DEAD is the song you know if you know Lennon's work - COLD TURKEY sounds so terribly honest and true that you believe he must have been on cold turkey while he recorded this. You think you can hear him feeling the real pain he sings about - THE LUCK OF THE IRISH, JOHN SINCLAIR and IMAGINE are Live-tracks, which are easy to listen to and which show how good he was when he played in front of audience - WATCHING THE WHEELS is normally one of my personal favourites but here I really miss the electric piano - There's an instrumental called IT'S REAL, which I really like, because it's easy and beautiful - DEAR YOKO is a version I like even better than the one he released 1980, because it sounds really honest and pure and you can make out which way he composed it. All in all it is an album which I don't regret to have bought. I think the idea of making music available to musicians is a positive signal and such showing of love to music could help believing music might come back (not only for 15 songs a year worldwide).

Rating: 3.0
Mar 1, 2005
lukas
First of all, I´d like to state that I`m a real Lennon's fan. But I really didn't like this album. It seems like Yoko is revealing all the things Lennon wanted to remain into a drawer. Lennon sounds like a very bad guitarrist and though the songs are essentially the same as the final version, they lack the final touch that John carefully looked for every time. He loved perfection and Yoko is very far from that. Sorry, Yoko, I prefer the records he left us. I apologyse this comment is not larger, this is all I have to say

Rating: 4.0
Dec 5, 2004
#9 fan
I like this album a lot. It was a very pleasant listen. It was also a very sad listen, reminding me how his music is really all that's left of John. I was (and still am) a huge Beatles and Lennon fan in my highschool and college days but haven't listened to a Beatles or Lennon music for quite some while. I didn't know this album was coming out until reading this site recently, and of course had to run out to the record store to nab it. Picking this album up and listening to it, brought back the feeling of what all the hype was about to begin with - the transcending nature of John Lennon's music, which always manages to pierce the heart and soul no matter what the subject matter. Whether it be a silly "I wanna hold your hand" to something more serious like "Mind games", a Lennon tune always has some kind of existential depth to it, conveying something beyond just music. Whether it's from his voice, his lyrics, his chords, his melody, or all of the above, there's always just that "extra something" in a Lennon tune, a very special quality. And with this album, I feel this quality is highlighted to its brightest and purest form. Without any studio trickery or production wizardry, his voice and music is expressed in its rawest, purest essence, which to me often strikes the soul harder than the final finished song. I often feel many artists (not just musicians) had something to say in the spur of the moment which could only be expressed to its fullest at that very instant. The true, original, full intention often gets lost once it makes its way down onto paper or recording. Case in point is "Dear Yoko", a song which I was never too fond of in its final released version, dismissing as a Lennon "silly love song". But on this album, this song is stripped down to its bare essence, just John's voice and his guitar strumming, which made the song take on a totally new feel and meaning for me. This time aroud, DY sounded and felt like a transcending love song along the lines of Mind games - one that expresses a man's true, endearing, eternal love for his woman, not just John's love for Yoko but for any man for his woman. To a lesser extent, I can say the same for the acoustic version of Imagine and Real love (I HATE the Beatles' version of Rl btw)! One of the things John Lennon always wanted to be remembered as, is just a "human being" with mortal faults and flaws, just as anybody else. Although many people often view him as some godly or saintly figure, it's perhaps his constant reminder of his humanity in his music or art that brings greatest appeal to his music. And this album to me was just that - a very "human" work of genius.

Rating: 3.0
Nov 27, 2004
John
This is an ok Album. I have heard alot of different unreleased material by John, and I think that Yoko has alot of better material to choose from. Saying that, anything new by John is worth listening too. I think the album has a nice charm to it, if you play it and then go in another room its like John is in your house writting an album. IU didnt like the 'Phasing' on some of the tracks. I think the Anthothology was MUCH better.

Rating: 5.0
Nov 14, 2004
Euan Buchan
This is a FAB Cd that has come out, it feels like John is still with and has recantly relased it. Starting with "Working Class Hero" starts it of nicely and it just get's better and better all the way through, it is one of these albums like you can listen to the whole album then just one song. What I mean is you put the CD for just obe song lets start of with "Love" and you listen to it and you say want to listen to more. I love this album very much they are great songs in it, and I'll be playing this on December 8th. If anyone doesn't have it BUY IT NOW

Rating: 4.5
Nov 13, 2004
sgtlennon
John Lennon's new album, 'Acoustic', is essentially John, unplugged. What we have is a raw, unpolished offering of songs that span John's entire solo career. While many are claiming that Yoko is exploiting and scraping the bottom of the barrel, I maintain that it is better to have such a collection available than not. Since he hasn't been around for awhile, this CD serves as a reminder of the genuise we all lost on December 8, 1980. The stand outs on this collection are 'Cold Turkey', a threadbare version, searing with emotion and angst, excellent live versions of 'Imagine' and 'Luck of the Irish'. The song 'What You Got', is also noteworthy, as it is a completely different song than the one released on 'Walls and Bridges'. It is infused with a real blusey feel and Lennon's guitar work is suitably up to task. Dear Yoko is by far better than the final produced version. A case can also be made for 'Watching the Wheels', although it is simply a fine song in any style or format. 'Real Love' is nicely done and also features tasty licks from John's guitar. John's guitar playing, while not masterful, is inspired. It is obvious that he could play to suit his ideas. The overall effect of 'Acoustic', offers a glimpse into the songwriting talents of a true legend. It is interesting to note that John had reservations about his vocals, yet here, one can plainly hear how well he used his voice and how he tailored it to the emotion and effect of the individual song.

Rating: 4.5
Nov 10, 2004
Ervin D.
"Acoustic" provides an inside look into John Lennon's songwriting processes and, like most of his solo albums, it provides an insight into his ever expanding state of mind. From the angry, rebellious songs like "Working Class Hero" and "Luck of the Irish," to the soft and caring songs like "Love" and "Dear Yoko." Lennon's conflicting personas give him a very human vibe. He writes when he's angry, he writes when he's in love and happy, and he writes when something important has to be said, whatever the issue may be. Songs like "John Sinclair" and "Woman is the Nigger of the World," are songs that only a soul like Lennon can dare put out and perform publicly. Fearless is the word. The album also shows Lennon's guitar capabilities. His guitar work is very simple, but the notes cut through you the way his lyrics do, very precise and to the point. "Working Class Hero" certainly proves that point, and so does "Well Well Well." Like Yoko said in the press release, he plays with his heart, and you can certainly hear a lot of it here. When Yoko mentioned in the press release that this album is partly for the people that are beginning to learn guitar, I must admit, I was very skeptical, I thought to myself, "They all say that." But much to my surprise, when I opened the cover sleeve, the lyrics were accompanied by chords and also a chord chart! This must definitely be a first, ever. I was so delighted to find this out because I'm a guitarplayer, first of all, and also because they saved me time from surfing the world for chords. I'm giving it a 4.5 because I don't believe this is the best that the Lennon camp has put out, but that being said, I love this album because I'm a big Lennon fan and also, it gives me an insight into one of the world's greatest songwriting geniuses. (Songwriters gotta buy this!)

 

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Last updated on Nov 9, 2004