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John Lennon

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In the 24 years since John Lennon's tragic death, his musical legacy has been preserved and enriched through a number of posthumous releases. A lot of the credit goes to his widow, Yoko Ono, who has guided and supervised most of the work. Lennon's fans are obviously appreciative of any morsels they get, and fortunately, for the most part, they have been quite tasty.

Acoustic, however, is a mixed bag. The high point is that most of the tracks are demos and live recordings of Lennon's best-known songs. The majority of them are studio cuts, but a few are lo-fi home recordings that sound ancient by today's high-tech digital standards.

But the sound of the album is not as important as what's on it. At best, the cuts reveal Lennon at his rawest and most stripped down, free of studio trickery or cleansing. One hears the purity in his voice, and the intensity with which he expresses his thoughts. The stark honesty of "Love" and the deep introspection in "Look At Me" are laid out au natural, and "Watching the Wheels" takes on a slight country swing that makes it seem like a different song altogether.

Of course, there are still issues surrounding the appropriateness of releasing something as personal and incomplete as Acoustic. It's just another repackage of well-known songs done a little differently, and there is really nothing new or special about them other than the recording style. The worse cuts are two songs recorded at a 1971 concert in Ann Arbor. One tune unfortunately features Yoko on vocals, and the other is a protest song that lost its relevance long ago. Neither would be missed if they were never heard.

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