Bagism: Albums & Singles

Reviews: Shaved Fish


"Shaved Fish" was the only compilation album of John Lennon songs released during his lifetime. It consisted entirely of previously released singles or album tracks. After the album was released on Oct. 24, 1975 (US & UK), John would not release another album until five years later.

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Rating: 5.0
Jun 2, 2007
Frank
Well this an issue of all the singles John Lennon put out between 1969 to 1975. One thing about John Lennon is that he was not a commercial artist. He was not gonna do songs like Elvis, Paul McCartney or Elton John did. Singles in those days were these little "45" records that one song on the top and one song on the bottom. The "A" side was the "hit" and the b side was a filler song. The song usually was 2-4 minutes of repetitive lyrics, predictable chorus's and after hearing it the 4th time you were sick of it. A good example would be Paul McCartneys "Coming UP" , you know that irritating song that did make #1 in 1980. Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" is another one. The only "true" single 45 Mr. Lennon "ever" made was "Whatever Gets You Through the Night". I am a John Lennon fan and I am glad he did not make many songs like that. It did make Number 1 in the charts but that was probably one of the worst songs he ever did. It was his only #1 single as a solo artist. Mind Games, Imagine, Instant Karma, Cold Turkey were great songs but that were not real singles. Actually I think "Instant Karma" was the best single he ever did and it did not get high on the charts. Usually teenager's bought the "singles" so you had to make those songs for kids. John Lennon was not a gimmicky Elvis, or a "Silly Loved Song" McCartney. John Lennon did not make ignorant songs. He had way too much intelligence to make number one singles. "Mind Games" is truly very brilliant and only John Lennon fans, or maybe Dylan fans can truly appreciate the beauty of the song and the true intelligence John Lennon had. He had the best voice ever. The best range and the most pleasant. A "true" revolutionary in every sense of the word . Whether in revolutionizing music or promoting peace during Vietnam he was and still is the most influencing force the entertainment world has ever seen.

Rating: 4.5
Apr 21, 2007
Philippe
Why not 5.0? because of "Power to the people"," mother"(single edit),"woman is the nigger of the world"(single edit).Otherwise "shaved fish" is a good introduction to the art of the post beatles John Lennon.Although the version of "give peace a chance" is so short that it's like a jingle, the fabulous singles "cold turckey", "instant karma","happy Xmas" made this album indispensable.

Rating: 4.0
Jul 3, 2006
David
I think this could have been a 5.0 album but John was reaching with Cold Turkey and Mother, otherwise a great album nonetheless. Timeless and moving in every way that only John could come across with.

Rating: 5.0
Jul 6, 2005
LennonsmyLuv
the opening track "Give Peace a Chance" is so very Lennonistic conjuring up in the listeners mind the famous "bed-ins" he and Yoko did to promote peace. "Cold Turkey" and "Mother" to me, are very hard to sit through, the lyrics are raw and it shows a that Lennon has the capability to be just as vulnerable as he is arrogant(no offense). "instant karma" totally awesome in a musical sense and the theme of what comes around goes around is so much more powerful when sung by Lennon himself. "Power to the People" and "Woman is the Slave of the World" are inspirational and motivating when i listen to both i feel like grabbing a sign and picketting every social ill in my community. Both songs also suggest a more feminst side of Lennon, asking in PttP "how do you treat your own woman back home?" and like every line in WitNotW; which if you've read the Lives of John Lennon, is very different from the Lennon of the younger years; this change maybe a result of his teaming up with powerful Yoko. "Imagine" is the quintessential "peace" song. "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night" and "Mind Games" are soft rock like songs. From the titles i assumed i was unfarmilar with them both but when i heard them i reckonized both and found myself signing along. "#9 Dream" was a different kind of song, was it another acid inspired song? "Happy Xmas (WAR IS OVER)great song musically, lyrically, and lennonically. The variety offered in this album combined with the many sides of Lennon brought to light make this an essential piece of any John Lennon fan's collection.

Rating: 4.5
Sep 28, 2004
Rick Jackson
a greatest hits compilation, i love the album, the only thing i wish that was different was that he included jealous guy, and gimme some truth, other than that it is a great treat for fans

Rating: 3.0
Sep 27, 2004
burning man
There are two ways of looking at this album. As a selection of songs, or as a package. As a selection of songs it is quite straitforward, and constrained by its limitations. Essentialy a collection of all the singles, less Yoko, released in the US between 1970-1975, this was something of a good idea at the time, gathering together such non album tracks as "Instant Karma" and "Happy Xmas(War is over)" in one place. This is the first attempt to cronicle Lennons output and as such is the starting point for all the compilations that followed, although what the idea behind the medely's was, still elludes me. The packaging, however is magnificent, and is almost worth the price on its own. I wonder how much direct imput Lennon had into the selection of the images used to represent each individual track. The image of Lennon as Whistlers mother to represent his own "Mother", is disrespectful in a way that Lennon was renowned for although he rarely turned this disrespect on himself. This selection has been surpassed since as a definitive over view of Lennons work, but it was never meant to be that. It is a relic of its time, and as such served its purpose well. It always seemed to me to be a loving gift from a concerned artist.

Rating: 4.0
Jun 20, 2004
Morozov Dima
This is nice album for the fan-beginer. It includes the complication of singles and #1 hits of John Lennon. There are two professionaly made studio medleys: "Give Peace A Chance"/"Cold Turkey" and "Happy Xmas"/"Give Peace A Chance"(Reprise). By the way, it's the only album where you can listen this interesting version of "Give Peace A Chance" which actually was recorded in the end of "One To One" concert in New York City. It's quite funny piece, I think. Anyway, that's nice album to listen.

Rating: 4.0
Jan 10, 2004
SupaFish
Who would have thought when this album was first released that it would have been the second-to-last album release in the lifetime of one of this centuries greatest musicians/activists... The cover design is original with depictions of each track or the events of that time like 'Mother' with John crying and the bed-in for 'Give Peace A Chance'. In essence this is a summary of John's entire solo career (as, on such a compilation, had it been released post-Double Fantasy, I feel there would be little extra input) and the beginning/ending with 'Give Peace A Chance' nicely rounds off the album. This has been criticised as not giving enough of a great song but on such a compilation of Lennopn's music, released when it was, I feel it is very effective. Second is Cold Turkey, Instant Karma and Power To The People; some of John's earliest single releases. These give a good flow to the album going into the album tracks. Everything is in chronological order apart from 'Imagine' which was actually released before 'Woman is the Nigger of the World' and the 'Happy Xmas which came around Mind Games and not acter the Walls and Bridges album. Of the albums represented, the selection gives probably the highlights: Mother from JWL/POnoBand, Imagine from Imagine (obviously!), Woman is the Nigger of the World from Sometime in NYC (though perhaps New York City or one of the Yoko numbers could have been included as, musically, they are far better than WitNotW). Rock n' Roll (presumably as it contains no Lennon originals) is not represented, and the 'Lost Weekend' is also poorly represented. '#9 Dream' is a classic song but 'Whatever Gets You Thru The Night', arguably, is not the second strongest from that album; 'Old Dirt Road', 'Bless You' or 'Down and Out' are certainly superior in nature but WGUTtN was the single from the album, so its inclusion can be explained. 'Mind Games' is the only song from Mind Games on this, perhaps fortunately as there are no relly hit singles on MG. The music on the album is, though a brilliant combined package with the activism of Give Peace a Chance, Power To The People and WitNotW combined with the tearful recollections of #9 Dream and Mother and the pure expressions of Imagine, this is a classic compilation album encompassing almost all of John's solo career, which makes me think, which songs could be added to the album if it were to be re-released from Lennon's later albums to make it complete and not, as it were 'shaved'. I would certainly put 'Grow Old With Me'/'Let Me COunt the Ways' (Milk and Honey) and 'Beautiful Boy' (Double Fantasy), what would you add?

Rating: 4.0
Nov 27, 1999
Ward
This was the first gap-filling Lennon compilation, and the one that is still the model for all the others afterwards.What we have here is a very well rounded look at John's solo career, which at tthe time of original release was only six years long. Each of the songs had been singles, even the album tracks; it was very convenient to have Cold Turkey, Instant Karma and Power To The People included; they add to the flow of the running order as well. The idea of bookending the album with short, different excerpts of Give Peace A Chance is interesting, but most buyers would prefer to have the complete single version. In 1975 we had no idea this would be the last release for five years, nor would we imagine it would be the second to last release in John's lifetime, which only adds to its stature. Other compilations since released are more complete, but this still was the first (fits comfortably on one side of a 90 minute blank tape too!)

Rating: 4.0
Jan 7, 1999
John
When I bought this L.P. back in the mid 70s I played mostly side 2. However I listen to the whole thing now. Imagine is a wonderful song. The electric piano compliments John's voice. The song talks of brotherhood & peace. However, John was wrong, we need Christ and the holy spirit to accomplish this. Mind Games is produced so well. Again a song about peace and love. I really love the vocals and percussion/drums on this. They fill speakers and soar with sound. Whatever Gets You through The Night rocks. Elton sings and plays well with John. The sax really cooks and I think it is one the big reasons this song topped the charts. Happy Christmas has a nice Beatles feel to it and sounds good anytime of the year. Number 9 dream is produced nicely. Johns vocals sound good with the echo effect. The song has a kind of Strawberry Fields feel to it. Side 1 is also good. Cold Turkey is funky. It took me a while to get into this song but the screaming and moaning along with the guitars kind of grew on me! Then comes my favorite song of this greatest hits collection,Instant Karma. The drums are in your face and explode from the speakers! This song has limitless energy! I love the way it opens as Turkey ends. Power To the People which is another rocker featuring the bass & saxophone is only average. Mother is haunting and kind of reminds me of Elton John's Funeral for a friend with the opening bells. It talks of abandonment and is emotional. Finally, Woman Is Niggar Of the World is not produced well (kind of noisy) but the message we should treat woman as equals rings true. Overall it is an excellent album which shows John Lennon's writing and playing talents. The way the songs are arranged adds to the enjoyment of this record.

Rating: 1.5
Jan 1, 1999
Howard Sauertieg
When I was a young Beatle fan, "Shaved Fish" was the obvious choice for my first Lennon solo LP. Its value today rests mostly on its inclusion of certain singles: Instant Karma, Cold Turkey, Happy Xmas, and Power To The People. Power To The People is one of the only dogs on the set (even Lennon called the song "embarrassing" in his book, Skywriting by Word of Mouth). Whatever Gets You Thru The Night is interesting as Lennon's first (only?) #1 single, but less interesting musically than Lennon's more characteristic songs (e.g. #9 Dream). One problem with Shaved Fish is the lack of a coherent style across the program (a problem the Plastic Ono Band and Double Fantasy albums, for instance, do not have). There are people who love this album; my idea of wishing someone ill is to hope he's condemned to hear nothing from Lennon but Shaved Fish through all eternity. Good songs, bad album.

Rating: 3.0
Nov 6, 1998
Charlie
I am not the kind for compilations. I would much rather have the full material. That's why I do not like "Shaved Fish." Don't get me wrong, the songs are great! It's just that the edits and the omitions lose me a a pool of "should-ofs and "what-ifs." Some great stuff here, but WHY didn't John release the songs in complete versions, not sloppy edits? I would recommend "The John Lennon Collection" and "Lennon Legend" more to casual fans.

Rating: 5.0
Jun 14, 1998
David K. Richard
After reading other reviews on this page I felt I had to write. It seems that most of you don't get the point to this Greatest Hits disc. Even the review in Rolling Stone missed the boat on this one when originally released at the end of 1975. The reviewer stated that this LP was full of Johns' best songs "most of them singles". Hey guess what? They were all singles. Each song marked a different phase of Lennons life. I believe that Give Peace A Chance and Cold Turkey were edited together by John to show that with hope also comes the prospect of pain. Instant Karma is one of the alltime greatest singles released in the rock era. Power to the People showed Lennon with his politics on his sleeve and we loved him for it. I challenge anyone to find a more heart wrenching song on the loss of a loved one than Mother. When I first heard Woman is the Niggar of the World I thought "excellent rock song, sax is great". Upon further listens I realized that he was right and that we should treat woman with respect and as equals. Unfortunately he choose to use the word niggar in a song title and radio airplay was weak at best. At least he had the balls to say what many of us felt. At the time of release Rolling Stone had a huge caption for the review of the Sometime in New York City LP that stated "Is this Artistic Suicide?" Imagine is the true believers anthem. A song for the times and a song for the ages. When I first heard Whatever Gets You through the Night I was disappointed with the overall sound and the vocals however it was fun to listen to on the radio in the car and bop to. Mind Games is a poor mans Imagine. Life is cluttered and we would all benefit from speaking from the heart instead of the mind. #9 Dream is my wifes' favorite Lennon song. The production is first rate and the dream sequences in the song will relax your mind. Happy Xmas should have been a Christmas standard in the US but American radio with it's shortsightedness has never really embraced this song like the rest of the free world. The snippet at the end of the disc of Give Peace A Chance let everyone know that with all the changes in his life all he really wanted was to be left alone to live his life as a free man with no wars and no hate in the world. Historical note: When Shaved Fish was first released on CD it was made in Japan but was withdrawn due to poor sound quality. The first issue is valued at $100.00. I own the disc and can attest to the tape hiss that is audible throughout the disc.

Rating: 5.0
Mar 29, 1998
Ryan Misener
I Cannot see how anyone could possibly not like this album. Every single song on it is one of what most people consider Lennon's "well known" and "greatest songs". I personally would buy an album JUST for Imagine, Instant Karma or maybe #9 Dream, let alone one that has all of them plus a whole bunch more. A must have,(and its one of the nicer looking Record Jackets too, looks great up on the wall along with Abbey Road ;)

Rating: 5.0
Jan 24, 1998
Andrea
Last night I got "Shaved Fish". I only had "Double Fantasy" before, so I thought a compilation might be worthwile. It was great. I listened to it over and over. Every song on the album was good. I think it is great for fans that dont have alot of John's solo work (or alot of money) because it truly is a collection of his best songs. The two tracks I really liked were "Cold Turkey" and "Power To The People" (and obvoiusly "Imagine" and "Instant Karma!") I thought the album had a great structure to it too. No one was just messing around with studio equipment. I think it has a great mixture of songs. A great album!

Rating: 4.0
Dec 25, 1997
EDYNINE2
I just recently received this album and I feel that it is truly resemblant of John Lennon. My favorite song id Instant karma. I think that the theme of this album is world peace and the beauty of love. I like this album because of the ideas he puts in my head such as in the song Imagine. Imagine is a song that is most remarkably John. Ilike the techniques used on this album, the echoing used on #9 dream. I think that this album is somewhat disorganized and I think that there should have been more of "Give Peace a Chance." The order of this album should either go chronologically or by the theme of the song, ie Give Peace a Chance and the Imagine, etc. Overall this is a great album for people who like John Lennon's solo stuff.

Rating: 3.5
Nov 23, 1997
Matt Carney
This was the best John Lennon greatest hits album until Lennon Legend came out. This was the album that started me on my John Lennon solo career. I had started to get into the Beatles and I wanted to get into some of Lennon's solo stuff so I bought this album and it is terrific. It is just a little small compared to The worse John Lennon Collection(which really the only plus it has is more songs even though I believe it has all these songs, for some reason that collection gets really boring and this one still sounds fresh and new). Maybe the meddleys do it. This is a very good greatest hits album and it is missing some of the poorly dated over produced tracks from Double Fantasy like"Beautiful Boy" and the terrible"Dear Yoko". The problem with this is that it is also missing some of his best songs from Double Fantasy as well, like "Starting Over" and "Watching The Wheels". This album still sounds fresh throughout and I would recommedn this one over The John Lennon Collection, but if you really want a truly good greatest hits collection then you should go and get Lennon Legend which is terrific.

Rating: 4.5
Nov 12, 1997
Cory D Miller
It is the album that is 100% and more John Lennon. "Shaved Fish" is the one that had to be made before John died. This album shows the Legacy that would never die. From Medley to Medley is a dream that only Lennon could tell. He told use the way the world and music sould be. This is a must have album that is only out shined by his "Imagine" album. I suggest everyone to get both.

Rating: 4.0
Oct 24, 1997
Bill Missavage
Honestly, overall, this was definately a Lennon/Ono album. I agree that Give Peace a chance should have been placed in its entirety. As a matter of fact, I don't like the idea of shortening the tracks to fit them on the album. Basically, Cold Turkey was a good song, but it was misplaced like the other tracks on the album. Here is the order I would have put them in: Whatever gets you through the night; Woman is the Nigger of the World; Imagine; Mother; Mind Games; Cold Turkey; Power to the People (Which in my opinion could have been left out, even though it is classic Lennon style with its political tones); Happy XMas (the war is over); Give Peace a chance; #9 Dream; and Instant Karma. #9 Dream is my favorite, followed by Imagine. Imagine really shows John's philosophy. #9 Dream is what I would consider more on the 'art' side of the Lennon/Ono era. It has a soft sounding, yet emotionally powerful message, and is quite mystical. He really puts alot of feeling into it. I also like Yoko in the background calling out Johns name, and then the second time doing it backwards "nohj". I don't know what "Bawakawa poouse" means though. Imagine is, of course the best known song on the album, and people who don't follow Lennon's work even recognize the song. Woman is the Nigger of the World is very thought provoking. He really grabs the listener by using the word 'nigger' when he refers to 'the slave of the slave'. Mind games could have been better. The studio effects were not so great; especially the echo effect on Johns voice. (overdone) I like the album overall, but I have to decline from giving it a '5' because of the disorganization of the album, and the shortening of the songs.

Rating: 3.5
Aug 10, 1997
Jim Jacobs
This was the very first John Lennon album I bought. Back in 1975, I thought it was really superb but it hasn't worn well throughout the years. The only greatest hits package issued while John was still alive was also the his last album on the Apple label. The main problem with this album is that almost half of the tracks have been shortened one way or the other. Take Give Peace A Chance, the lyrics to the entire song are printed but you only get less than a minute of the song! The next track is Cold Turkey,John's second single from 1969. It was a good thing this song was included because the single disappeared very quickly after release & most copies of it were defective & with Shaved Fish, one can actually enjoy the song. Instant Karma the next track is my personal favorite John song of all time. Again like Cold Turkey, this single also disappeared quite quickly even though it was a top 10 hit for John. Power To The People, Mother, & Woman Is The Nigger Of The World round off the the rest of side one. These three tracks have been edited down from their original lengths to fit on this album. Of all tracks Woman Is The Nigger Of The World should have been omited & Give Peace A Chance should have been put on in it's entirety to make the album more enjoyable. Side two opens with John's two other big hits, Imagine, & Whatever Gets You Thru The Night, followed by Mind Games & the dreamy sounding #9 Dream. The final track Happy Xmas(War Is Over)again suffers from the chopping block. At the end is edited on the ending of John's Give Peace A Chance recorded live in 1972 from his One To One Concert. this just doesn't make any sense that John would chop up some of his finest songs & issue them this way. Shaved Fish is good in the sense that for the first time Lennon buyer/listener, they should start here.

Rating: 3.5
Jul 30, 1997
Jeff Blehar
Hmm...Shaved Fish..The first Lennon compilation and the only one to be released in his lifetime, I have an affection for this little disc that I cannot stifle, despite my harsh dislike of compilations (see my take on "Imagine:John Lennon" on this page for some sheer vitriol). Why? I guess there are a couple of reasons why this one gets a lot more playing time than "The John Lennon Collection" or "Imagine:John Lennon." 1) Lack of pretensions. This album does not try to be a one-size-fits-all "Greatest Hits" package, really, although it is often mistaken for such (even by me at times); rather, it is a collection of all the A-side singles released in the years spanning 1969-1974, from "Live Peace In Toronto/1969" to "Walls And Bridges." As such, its scope is limited and well-executed, with no omissions (except Stand By Me, from "Rock And Roll," but then maybe that's a blessing) in the catalogue. Most of what irks me about compilations is the way in which they presume to represent an artist's body of work to the public, when in fact, they're more often than not just packages of popular works. "Shaved Fish" avoids that by setting modest goals and accomplishing them. 2) Presentation. As the only Lennon compilation released during his lifetime, the quality of the presentation of this album is *WONDERFUL* The album gets the royal Lennon treatment, with the funniest cover artwork this side of "The Who Sell Out." The cover is divided into pictures, each representing a literal interpretation of one of the songs on the album. For example, "Mother" is a painting of John Lennon as Whistler's mother, a decidedly lighthearted take on such a harrowing song. The best of all of them, of course, is the "Instant Karma" painting, which, as you might have surmised, is represented as a jar of Lennon (TM) brand "Instant Karma!" (just add water!), with an open lid and dry powder spilling out...rock humor hits a high note. Of course, the lyrics are all present, as well, so sing along. 3) The Music. Lest we forget, John Lennon was an excellent musician, and, as it turns out, a damn fine singles writer (though his best work, as always, is to be found on his albums). The medley idea is somewhat half-baked, but then again, I never held too much affection for "Give Peace A Chance," and I feel that simply having the first two verses and the refrain get the point across just fine, thank you. "Give Peace A Chance" segues into "Cold Turkey," simply the best single Lennon ever made. With Clapton on guitar living up to his reputation, and John going through a very public withdrawal from heroin on record, this is the single most effective anti-drug record ever. That bit of backwards guitar at the end only emphasizes the discomfort of this song. More than any other piece of sixties music, this record gives an aural summation of what hell must be like. "Instant Karma!" is the runner-up for best single, and it comes next. A rough-and-tumble piano rocker, with George Harrison conducting the chorus to boot, this is one rollicking ride, with some truly great off-the-top-of-the-head lyrics ("who d'ya think you are? A superstar? Well alright, you are!"). "Woman Is The Nigger Of The World" is a wonderful single, and a great protest song, coming out of a particularly fallow period for Lennon. Wonderful production and, as far as I know, Lennon's only recorded stab at a gospel-style vocal (the verdict: Welcome to the choir, John) mark this one as a real gem, totally overlooked. "#9 Dream" is a Lennon classic, from the same period as "Whatever Gets You..", which only serves to contrast the emptiness of the former with the beauty, grace, and conviction of the latter. Wonderful string section (which Lennon arranged), and look out not only for the refrain, "Ah! Bouwakawa Pousse Pousse!," which Lennon claimed was an alien language he hears in his dreams, but his subliminal tribute to George Harrison ("Hare Krishna George" in the "music touching my soul" section). "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" is a naive gem of peace love and understanding that proves that there really was a heart of gold in John's core...a timeless song and a fitting conclusion to an album that, while imperfect, is certainly worth buying.

Rating: 4.5
May 17, 1997
mE (melell the great--teehee)
in my humble little much unvalued opinion, shaved fish is, with out a doubt, THE best lennon collection to buy. It gives you a very adequate sampling of what he was up to in his early solo years. Give peace a chance is a beautiful song, and i dearly love it, but i must say that i was very upset to find only HALF the song was on th album, with a reprise that was so far from sounding like the song it was rather pointless. The reason for having only half the song was that it was suppose to be part of a medley with Cold Turkey. However, instead of keeping the medley together, on the cd version (i've never seen i t on vinal), cold turkey was seperated from it and placed on track numero two. despite the change in tracks, the track listing still says cold turkey is part b of track one. thus, everything is thrown off, and number nine dream is one track 10. if you are willing to ignore the fault track listing, you will find that you have a very good album though. i suppose i shan't bore us all wiht a description of everysong, and instead state the rest of my complaints: Woman is the nigger of the world was so obviously yoko, that it would have made far more since had she sung it. that's about all i have to say.....thanx for letting me share.

Rating: 3.5
Apr 11, 1997
Lovely Rita909
Shaved Fish has to be one of the best albums produced by John Lennon. I have to say, even though it's a great album, it gets points off for containing such undesirable songs like "Mind Games" "#9 Dream" and my least favorite "Whatever Gets You Thru the night". "Happy xmas/war is over" is a great song altogether. Great lyrics, great message, etc. "Mother" isn't a very good song because of it's monotonomy. It's basically the same tune over and over and over. It makes the song very tedious to listen to. "Imagine" is a great song, "Give Peace a Chance" is a good song, and "Cold Turkey" is a good song in a respect. One of my favorite songs on the album is "Woman is the nigger of the world". It has a catchy tune, excellent lyrics that make a statement, and sounds finished (unlike a lot of lennon's other works)

Rating: 5.0
Mar 30, 1997
Jeffrey Bedard
The best of the best! Granted, this really isn't a greatist hits collection but for all intents and purposes works quite well in that capacity. All the monster hits are here. Granted, I would have liked to see "Jealous Guy" and "Love" included but oh well. The selected songs are excellent and shows that in his solo work John was just as talented and gifted as when he was a Beatle. This album also shows his versatility, a trait that is usually given to McCartney alone. He has ballads, soft rock, political protest and pop rock all on one album. This just goes to show that John could and did do it all in rock music. This album makes a great introduction to a new fan of John's solo music. By taking just one or two songs from his solo albums the listener can get an edited history of John's musical musings and philosophies. My only complaint with this album is the very short inclusion of "Give Peace A Chance." This very important Lennon composition should have been included in full and the closing cover version scrapped. But because it does make a great opening song and all the music in the rest of the album is top notch Lennon the album still rates five stars.

Rating: 4.0
Mar 25, 1997
Moondog
I like this album, and although it could have been better, I think it is the best 'Compilation/Greatest Hits' album of Lennon, and would recommend it to someone newly interested in his music. I also do not like the splitting of Give Peace A Chance. I think the end medly is actually a different recording of the song though? But Cold Turkey, Instant Karma, Imagine, Woman Is The Nigger Of The World, and Mother are all great songs! Some very good ones such as Happy Xmas, Power To The People, Mind Games and #9Dream. I'm with you on Whatever Gets You Through The Night irritates me too, but it is kind of funky and it is interesting having it if only because of the duo with Elton John and it was his first #1 song since The Beatles. I'm GLAD Jealous Guy is not on here. But Working Class Hero, Isolation, Give Me Some Truth, How Do You Sleep?, New York City, Freeda People, Meat City, Only People, Scared, Nobody Loves You When You're Down And Out, and God all would all have been good additions. But this is is very good album for beginners.

Rating: 4.0
Mar 21, 1997
Stephen
If someone who knew very little about John Lennon's solo work asked me to recommend an album that would give a representative sample of his work, this is one of the albums I would consider suggesting. Overall it is an excellent album, although there are, in my opinion, a few spots where it falls a bit flat. The album is not, as is sometimes supposed, a "greatest hits" package, but rather a collection of John Lennon's US single A-sides released (with the exception of "Stand by Me", which is absent) through 1975. "Shaved Fish" gives a good picture of the progress of John's solo career up to the beginnng of his "househusband" period. I don't much care for the "Give Peace a Chance" medley format that brackets the beginning and end of the album. To me it ruins the song and trivializes it as well. But when "Cold Turkey" cuts in, all is forgiven. Hard-edged and powerful, it pumps in the adrenalin; it's tough and tight and packs a punch, raw lyrics and all! Next comes "Instant Karma", a pulsing, throbbing rocker that adds a few layers and a softer touch onto the stark minimalism of "Cold Turkey". "Instant Karma" is also a great peace song, positive and infectious. Unfortunately, it is followed by the weak "Power to the People", which has a beat that plods heavily, the cumbersome horn arrangement dragging along behind. The lyrics are sloganeering at its most simplistic and naive. A step backward, both musically and lyrically. But "Mother" shows Lennon back in top form, probing the human condition more boldly than anyone else has dared. Back to the stripped-down instrumentation of "Cold Turkey", but drawing on mental anguish as opposed to the earlier song's physical anguish, "Mother" looks into John Lennon's inner world unflinchingly. The vocal is strong, the instrumental chords are powerful, and John's screams of emotional agony at the end are a revelation in artistic openness. A great song. Next is the stirring "Woman is the Nigger of the World", which directly challenges the sordid way in which most of the world's cultures oppress women. This song is not simple-minded at all, but it makes its case effectively. The tight, full arrangement and strong vocal from John combine with the lyrics to lift the listener to another spiritual place. The next song, "Imagine", is tender and beautiful, but not maudlin or lugubrious. Lennon invites the listener to find the better world we all seek within ourselves; in finding it, he says, we could change the world. A marvelous song. The following song, "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" is, to me, only so-so. The horn arrangement is noisy and "messy" sounding; overall I find the song to be grating, and the lyrics are a bit perplexing. However, the song was one of John's most popular singles, so my opinion apparently differs from that of many other listeners. I think the next song, "Mind Games" is far superior, although again this seems to go against the tide of opinion. I think it is majestic and great fun to sing along with. "#9 Dream" is next, and it is perhaps the most heavily arranged piece on the album, but it retains a lightness and clarity that enhance the lovely melody. This is one of my favorites, and even my wife, who doesn't generally care much for John Lennon's solo work, loves this song. The last full song, "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" is a fun song that is so full of good will and love that it has sometimes moved me to tears. There is real hope here, and something wonderful in its belief that if we can have a better world if we just want it badly enough. It doesn't require armies, or harsh rhetoric, or compulsion to make peace and love real; all it takes is each of us feeling our own humanity and being willing to accept the possible. Then the record stumbles at the end with the "Give Peace a Chance" medley fragment. Overall, this is an excellent record. I would probably grade it a little higher except for the fact that I'm always a bit conservative when recommending how someone else spend their hard-earned money and their expectations. This is a good choice for someone wanting to know more about John Lennon. For a dedicated Lennon fan, it is a must-have.

Rating: 3.0
Mar 21, 1997
Matthew Hay Brown
As Lennon withdrew from music to become a father and househusband, fans were offered slight consolation with this rather thin selection of solo hits. "Shaved Fish" collects much of his best solo work -- "Imagine," "Instant Karma," "Whatever Gets You Through the Night," -- but omits much more. The absence of such essential tracks as "Jealous Guy" and "Working Class Hero" is puzzling; the medlification of "Give Peace a Chance" with "Cold Turkey" and "Happy XMas (War Is Over)" -- all appearing on an album for the first time -- is irritating. An expanded version that delved more deeply into Plastic Ono Band and Imagine might have offered a satisfying overview of Lennon's career to date. With its short play time, its omissions, and its artificial edits, "Shaved Fish" gives little thought to the fan or the consumer.

Rating: 4.5
Mar 19, 1997
Naomi H.S.
Shaved Fish is an excellent album. I guess I'll go through it song by song. "Give Peace a Chance"- catchy tune, John still credited it to Lennon-McCartney, although it was written by him alone. He obviously wasn't quite ready to totally let go of the Beatles. "Cold Turkey"- a horribly chilling song that scares me to death, enough to convince me to never try heroin. "Instant Karma"- cool song with cool lyrics. "Power to the People"- a great anti-government song. "Mother"- like "Cold Turkey," this is a chilling song that makes me want to cry. "Woman is the Nigger of the World"- another political song with an obvious message. "Imagine"- What can I say? A beautiful song. "Whatever Gets You Through the Night"- a song about missing Yoko, very upbeat, catchy. "Mind Games"- a good song, although I personally find it too long and repetitive. "#9 Dream"- really great song, very dreamy (obviously!), whispy (is that a word?) I find myself singing this often. "Happy XMas (War is Over)/Give Peace a Chance (Reprise)"- great song/s, I enjoy listening to Yoko's voice blend with John's (Yes, I like Yoko's voice- not funny!) =) Altogether a great album. I would recommend it to anyone.

 

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