Thursday, October 06, 2005

Lennon's legacy remains relevant

Apple Records is taking the occasion of John Lennon's 65th birthday Oct. 9 to promote new product from the late iconic musician and political activist.

The Beatles' label this week released a CD package entitled "Working Class Hero: Definitive Lennon," while an expanded DVD package called "Imagine" will follow in two months. December 8 marks the 25th anniversary of Lennon's assassination in front of his New York City apartment.

The dual anniversaries will keep Lennon's name and music in the public eye. The hits-filled double CD includes 36 classic Lennon tracks. That package will be followed next week with remastered editions of his 1970's albums "Sometime in New York City" and "Walls and Bridges." The deluxe DVD version of the 1988 film "Imagine: John Lennon," meanwhile, will include previously unseen footage and a 36-song soundtrack. Mobile Fidelity is also set to release the "Live Peace in Toronto 1969" CD in November.

Lennon's 1980 murder was life- defining for many people. Just like President Kennedy's assassination, they remember the moment they heard about Lennon's death. Howard Cosell made the tragic announcement on Monday Night Football, but most people found out the following day. It seemed to many that an era had passed.

Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow, has updated the ex-Beatle's catalog and numerous posthumous albums have been released. Lennon's "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" recordings formed the basis for a Beatles revival in the 1990's which saw the group post a record three No. 1 double albums. The streak continued in 2001 when their "1" album proved the year's best-selling CD.

Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" was the title track to a special package released in the Far East market in August. In fact three versions of the anthem were included in the 18-track album. The first version features well-known Asian singers, the second is a 2004 Yoko Ono recording, while the third is the original 1969 song. The imported disc, called "Peace, Love and Truth," sums up Lennon's philosophy in the title.

That ideology was reflected in the lyrics to "Imagine" his 1971 smash single and album. Lennon's only Michigan appearance as a solo artist came on Dec. 19 of that year when he and Yoko Ono performed before 15,000 people at the "Free John Sinclair" rally in Ann Arbor.

Lennon wasn't everyone's favorite, however. The Nixon administration put the FBI on Lennon's case to force him from the United States for his peace efforts. Still, Lennon won a "green card" and was allowed to stay.

Former bandmate George Harrison will also feature this fall with a reissue of the "Concert for Bangladesh." The landmark 1971 charity recording-- showcasing a Madison Square Garden performance by Harrison and friends-- will be available Oct. 25 on CD and DVD.

Harrison had quite and "A" list of friends at the time, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr. The DVD will include the original 99-minute movie and over one-hour of extras. Dylan's performance of "Love Minus Zero/ No Limit" will be an additional track on the remixed CD. All artist royalties will continue to go to UNICEF.

Following the Beatles' tradition of issuing new product timed for Christmas sales each year, Paul McCartney released "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" in September and is supporting it with a widely acclaimed tour. Ringo Starr's "Choose Love" came out in June. Both albums have been well-received by fans and critics.

Additionally, the DVD version of the "Let It Be" movie, documenting the Beatles' disintegration as a group, may be released early next year, according to Apple Records.

This fall marks the significant anniversaries of John Lennon's birth and death. Judging from marketplace demand and worldwide attention, the Lennon legacy remains relevant today. His cohorts from Liverpool didn't do badly, either.

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