They Both Shine On – John Lennon CD Boxed Sets (from the Past)

It looks like this upcoming October will be bringing a surprise for John Lennon fans. In celebration of what would have been Lennon’s 80th birthday a new box set with a book and a blu-ray disc (also available in a 2 CD set without the book/blu-ray) called “John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth/The Ultimate Mixes” will hit store shelves around the world.

This new set will be a sort of greatest hits plus deep album cuts and will feature all the songs newly remixed as well as remixed in 5.1 and Dolby Atmos or in hi-res stereo 96/24 PCM for those who buy the box set with the blu-ray. Whew!

BUT that’s jumping the gun a bit. Since this new box set isn’t due for a few weeks I thought I’d take a look at two earlier box sets of Lennon’s music that are certainly more comprehensive as they are both 4 discs each and booth contain nice overviews of Lennon’s solo career.

Below are two of my favorite John Lennon box sets: “Lennon” a 4 CD set from 1990 and “Gimme Some Truth” (the first box set with this title from 2010):

“Lennon” (4 CD set):

This is the first CD box set that was released by the Lennon estate and was compiled by ace Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn. And I have to say that Lewisohn did a first rate job with the track selection on this set.

I’ve always felt that song wise this box set stands up as one of the best one stop shopping documents of John Lennon’s music in the CD era.

Not only are the hits represented but really all of the best album/deep cuts from throughout Lennon’s solo career are here plus the original mixes of the “Live Peace in Toronto 1969” are here as well as the original mixes of the live songs with Elton John from 1974.

It’s a super nice set that gets a star marked off as the sound is a bit muddied at times from what was called the “no-noise” process. Truth be told it’s really a bad listen as I think the sound is decent yet could be improved.

The box I have shown above is the first issue of this box with discs printed in West Germany that’s missing the song title for “Imagine” on the rear of the box. I always thought it was quite funny as in imagine this song title there but I’m sure it was a printing error. Later boxes corrected it.

The box itself is a simple affair as well as the flimsy book inside but the discs themselves are a nice listen. I especially still pull out Disc 4 as it’s the best way to hear all of Lennon’s 1980 material in one place without having to flip around Yoko’s material.

(Note: actually I’ve grown to like some of Yoko’s material but still prefer to hear Lennon’s songs by themselves)

“Gimme Some Truth” (4 CD set):

Now this set is a real treat as it takes Lennon’s solo material out of context which actually helps make some songs stand out that didn’t really grab me on their original albums.

Take for instance the song “You Are Here” from the “Mind Games” album. I never really took notice of the song but upon hearing it on Disc 2 of this set I fell in love with it. I love the dreamy Hawaiian/tropical feel of the song and it took me hearing it outside of the “Mind Games” album to really appreciate it.

This box set also contains quite a nice selection of all of Lennon’s solo material which makes it a great purchase for fans of Lennon who want more than a greatest hits CD. Plus this set was priced right and can still be found pretty cheaply.

The other thing about this set and really the main draw for it is the sound quality. This set was part of the 2010 remastering of Lennon’s solo work that used his original mixes that he oversaw but with much, much better sound and remastering than the 1990 set above.

I guess if I had to choose between the two sets this one would win out as the sound is really nice and it’s a great way to hear Lennon’s solo material especially in a fresh new context.

Plus this set has a better booklet than the 1990 “Lennon” CD set though in all honesty even though it sounds muddier I still play the “Lennon” set every now and then especially Disc 4.

Take a look at track selections above and compare how each set stands in terms of Lennon’s solo music (see photos above and below).

As usual take care and be well and safe!

Until next time, see you soon.


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