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Rock 'n' Roll [Bonus Tracks]

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John Lennon 11/14/2001

Review

Rock 'n' Roll has long been one of John Lennon's least appreciated albums, partially because an album of covers has never been embraced by a fan base that loves him as a singer/songwriter, and partially because the production on the 1975 album has dated poorly. Over the years, its reputation has grown somewhat, at least among Lennon fanatics, since it is true that John was one of the greatest rock & roll singers, and it's a pleasure to hear him sing this set of oldies. That doesn't erase the biggest problem with the record: the production and the arrangements. This is the sound of '70s studio pros cutting loose with talk boxes, fuzz and slide guitars, clavinets, and way too many horns, playing arrangements that are just a little too show biz for their own good (witness how Lee Dorsey's easy-rolling "Ya Ya" turned into a lively little number that would have sounded perfect on a television variety show). The 2004 reissue of Rock 'n' Roll -- whose production is "personally supervised by Yoko Ono" -- attempts to remedy those problems through a remix that pushes up the guitars and drums, pushes down keyboards and horns, and tries to bury, even remove, talk boxes. It's marginally successful in making Rock 'n' Roll sound leaner, but it's no tougher than in its original incarnation because it's still more show biz than street. Which doesn't necessarily make it a bad listen. After all, Lennon is a great rock & roll singer, he's having a good time here, and the album is enhanced by four bonus tracks -- including the outtake "Angel Baby," featured on Roots, the legendary, controversial, unofficial early version of Rock 'n' Roll, but not its companion cut, "Be My Baby," which remains in the vaults (the other three bonus tracks are "To Know Her Is to Love Her," a reprise of "Just Because," and a take on Elvis Presley's version of Arthur Crudup's "My Baby Left Me," here inaccurately titled "Since My Baby Left Me," which suggests it's a cover of the Ivory Joe Hunter chestnut when it's not). This makes the package worth getting for hardcore Lennon fans (even if they'll likely gripe that there is a total lack of liner notes, which is a fair complaint, considering that there are many interesting stories surrounding this record), but no amount of remixing can enhance the album's deservedly mixed reputation. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Be-Bop-A-Lula John Lennon 2:38
  3. 2 Stand by Me John Lennon 3:25
  4. 3 Medley: A) Rip It Up/B) Ready Teddy John Lennon 1:33
  5. 4 You Can't Catch Me John Lennon 4:50
  6. 5 Ain't That a Shame John Lennon 2:38
  7. 6 Do You Wanna Dance? John Lennon 3:15
  8. 7 Sweet Little Sixteen John Lennon 3:0
  9. 8 Slippin' and Slidin' John Lennon 2:16
  10. 9 Peggy Sue John Lennon 2:5
  11. 10 Medley: A) Bring It on Home to Me/B) Send Me Some Lovin' John Lennon 3:41
  12. 11 Boney Moronie John Lennon 3:46
  13. 12 Ya Ya John Lennon 2:17
  14. 13 Just Because John Lennon 4:25
  15. 14 Angel Baby John Lennon 3:41
  16. 15 To Know Her Is to Love Her John Lennon 4:31
  17. 16 Since My Baby Left Me John Lennon 4:40
  18. 17 Just Because (Reprise) John Lennon 1:25

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