Compositions

John Lennon

Number

Year

Format

VT-191

2000

CDR


   Special Features

Comes with a 28 page booklet and slipcase-style box.
  
Packaging:

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Box front
  

Booklet front
  

Box back
  

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Front Cover

Back Cover


Disc:

CDR
 

The Booklet:

The booklet included with this title features the following information:

- Liner notes by the folks at Vigotone (reproduced below)
- Track notes (reproduced below)

- Article on Tittenhurst from a source entitled The Beatles London (not reproduced)

 

25 Tracks - Total Time: 63:58

1. Make Love, Not War   (4:12)
2. I'm The Greatest   (1:36)
3. I'm The Greatest   (0:40)
4. How?   (1:50)
5. Child Of Nature   (0:56)
6. Child Of Nature   (1:16)
7. Oh Yoko!   (0:50)
8. Sally And Billy   (1:16)
9. Sally And Billy   (1:38)
10. Rock And Roll People   (4:21)
11. Oh Yoko!   (2:51)
12. Oh Yoko!   (0:47)
13. Help!   (2:24)
14. instrumental   (4:12)
15. Happy Christmas    (3:18)
16. Happy Christmas   (2:26)
17. People Get Ready / How?    (5:25)
18. How?   (5:05)
19. How?   (4:51)
20. My Heart Is In Your Hands    (1:34)
21. Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues    (2:06)
22. I Promise   (2:47)
23. You Know Hard It Is   (1:59)
24. I'll Make You Happy   (1:56)
25. I'll Make You Happy   (3:42)

   

Box Back Text:

Vigotone is proud to present Compositions, a collection of excellent quality home recordings taped on John Lennon's piano at Tittenhurst Park following the legendary Plastic Ono Band sessions in the fall of 1970.   While some of these songs have appeared on previous releases, this is the first time that the complete tape has appeared in its unedited form.  Highlights included a post-Beatles version of "Help!" and early versions of songs that would appear on Imagine and Mind Games.

 

Track Notes:

1. Make Love, Not War    (4:12)
Early version of "Mind Games".
  
2. I'm The Greatest    (1:36)
3. I'm The Greatest   (0:40)
Two passes of a song later given to Ringo.
  
4. How?   (1:50)
First pass.
  
5. Child Of Nature   (0:56)
6. Child Of Nature   (1:16)
John revisits his unused 1968 composition.
  
7. Oh Yoko!   (0:50)
First pass.
  
8. Sally And Billy   (1:16)
9. Sally And Billy   (1:38)
Two passes of a song John would return to at the Dakota.
  
10. Rock And Roll People    (4:21)
Early version of the song given to Johnny Winter.
  
11. Oh Yoko!   (2:51)
12. Oh Yoko!   (0:47)
Second and third passes.
  
13. Help!   (2:24)
John attempts to work up a new arrangement.
  
14. instrumental   (4:12)
Unknown song
  
15. Happy Christmas    (3:18)
16. Happy Christmas   (2:26)
Two passes at a seasonal message.
  
17. People Get Ready / How?    (5:25)
18. How?   (5:05)
19. How?   (4:51)
Three more attempts to polish the song.
  
20. My Heart Is In Your Hands    (1:34)
Unknown song
  
21. Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues    (2:06)
One of John's favorite Buddy Holly numbers.
  
22. I Promise   (2:47)
Part of this was worked into the song "Mind Games".
23. You Know Hard It Is    (1:59)
Unknown song
  
24. I'll Make You Happy    (1:56)
Unknown song
  
25. I'll Make You Happy    (3:42)
Unknown song
  

Liner Notes:

After the emotionally exhausting Plastic Ono Band writing and recording sessions, it was time for John Lennon to exhibit a lighter compositional touch.   Perhaps showing the strain from the amount of single-minded effort that went into that LP, John in contrast seemed to be all over the place with this batch of songs and noodlings, recorded in the late fall of 1970 at the Tittenhurst Park estate.  A rare glimpse into a single Lennon piano demo session, Compositions reveals an artist trying to find his way to what would eventually become the Imagine LP.   While John's not in the best voice of his career, it's still a fascinating listening experience, and has never before appeared in its entirety.

The tape begins with "Make Love, Not War".   This song did not appear on the next LP Imagine, but in rewritten form as the title track of 1973's Mind Games, after being combined with a song heard later on the tape, "I Promise".  Both of these sound much better than the edited versions released officially on The John Lennon Anthology in 1998.  "I'm The Greatest" also emerged in '73, but not as a Lennon track; it was the leadoff song on Ringo Starr's Ringo LP.  At this point in 1970, the song was in embryonic form and had more John-oriented references than it would later have upon being handed over to the ringed one.

The next three songs all showed up the next year on Imagine.   "How?" is featured as a false start, then with a complete run-through.  The first pass here is a very tentative attempt with John singing in the plural: "How can we go forward when we don't know which way we're facing".  "Child Of Nature" was on its way to being "Jealous Guy", but it still held onto its 1968 "Beatles in India" origins at this point.  There are three false starts prior to the full performance.  Next comes "Oh Yoko!"   On Imagine, it is a song of joy to his wife.  Here, it sounds more like a dirge in the vein of "Mother".  More confident takes appear later in the tape.

Following these three eventually issued tunes, the next two songs went unreleased in John's lifetime.  A track usually given the title "Sally And Billy" is up first in this duo, featured in a series of breakdowns; John never really gets the song down in this try, but he'll give it another attempt at the Dakota in 1976.  Next is "Rock And Roll People", a song not released by John until the posthumous Menlove Ave. compilation in 1986, for good reason!

A highlight of this tape is the reworking of "Help!" in a much slower version than the1965 Beatles arrangement.  Around this time, John was exploring the possibility of re-recording some of his more personal Beatle's songs.   This might have been an attempt to work up a new arrangement.  In any event, he abandons the effort after not being able to work out the chords for the chorus.   An amusing moment occurs when Yoko makes a comment and John answers "I don't care how you want to sing it, Dear, I'm singing it meself at the moment..."   This is followed by an improvisation that didn't exactly go anywhere, but eventually turned into a Christmas message which appeared in part on Vigotone's The Ultimate Beatles Christmas Collection; two takes of the message are featured here in their entirety.  Next, The Impressions' spiritual call "People Get Ready" leads into a second pass of "How?" now sung in the familiar first person singular: "How can I..."  Over and over he repeats what he's written until the final structure of the song is arrived at: a series of searching questions aimed at himself.

By this time, Yoko has made her presence known, and is heard in the background during yet another lengthy run-through of "How?".   Don't worry, you'll hear more from her later.  The next song, a fifties-style rocker a-la Fats Domino, is unnamed but possible titled "My Heart Is In Your Hands".  It's featured in a false start and a "complete" attempt.  Too bad he never completed it, as it has some potential.  John does however quickly move on to a song familiar to anyone who's bought the Beatles' Anthology 3"Mailman Bring Me No More Blues", issued as the flip side of Buddy Holly's first solo single, "Words Of Love".

Next, in the fifties vein of "Oh! Darling" comes "I Promise", the kind of apologetic ode to Yoko that he was still writing until his final days.  Finally, we come to the most difficult titles to enjoy: an untitled track by John with the line "You Know How Hard It Is" being a likely title for the song (and hard indeed it is to listen to!).  The tape ends with two passes of a song apparently called "I'll Make You Happy".   Yoko recorded an answer to this this song of John's which can be heard on Bag's Lost Lennon Volume 30.  Only the true masochistic need apply.

...and so we come to the end of this particular demo session.  John and Yoko would go on to make individual LP's, Imagine and Fly, the next year, and would move to New York, leaving Tittenhurst Park and England behind for good.

This piano tape is an excellent example of the post-Beatle days of Ascot creativity, and some of the last home recordings John made in his native land.

Tony Cooks

February, 2000

  

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