MFSL-1-153 Imagine
Produced by John & Yoko and Phil Spector
Released on September 9, 1971
UK CHART POSITION #1 . . . US CHART POSITION #1 . . . GOLD RECORD (10/1/71), 2x PLATINUM (11/26/91) . . . Ranked #34 in NME's Greatest Albums of the '70s poll (1993)
Find it at GEMM
MFSL-1-153 cover
[high resolution photo]

I f you don’t understand why so many people love John Lennon, you don’t lack imagination, you lack Imagine. Like his last record, John continues to tear down the barrier between artist and audience, making another personal record but without the pain this time. The result is stunning in its simplicity; Phil Spector’s saturated and resounding “wall of sound” is a fair match for George Martin’s baroque production, yet it’s ultimately a transparent technique. For as many times as we’ve heard it, “Imagine” never felt like more than John and a piano and a ray of inspiration. If John turned the studio into a psychiatrist’s office on Plastic Ono Band, here it’s a cross between confessional and bully pulpit. “Jealous Guy” is as wide a window as you can fit into the human heart, “Oh Yoko!” as silly and endearing a song as John has recorded. Because this is John Lennon, there is a darker side, sometimes done like Dylan’s burlesque of country (“Crippled Inside”), and sometimes delivered in a searing hot brand of disdain (“How Do You Sleep?,” “Give Me Some Truth”). Any one of the aforementioned tracks is a classic in the canon; add the open, orchestrated “How?” and you’ve got, well, maybe not the works, but more great John Lennon than you’ll find anywhere else I’ll wager. Since Plastic Ono Band seemed to purge a number of personal demons, Imagine was free to be a more positive album. A song like “Oh Yoko!” would have seemed out of place on his last album; here it’s a natural part of one human being’s celebration of his highs and lows. Note that the Mobile Fidelity vinyl pressing sounds very good (when don’t they?), but you’d probably do as well with a compact disc (after all, this wasn’t Sgt. Pepper’s sonically speaking).

MFSL-1-153 back cover
MFSL-1-153 back cover


  1. IMAGINE    2:59
  2. CRIPPLED INSIDE    3:43
  3. JEALOUS GUY    (4:10)
  4. IT'S SO HARD    (2:22)
  5. I DON'T WANT TO BE A SOLDIER    (6:01)
  6. GIVE ME SOME TRUTH    3:11
  7. OH MY LOVE    (John Lennon/Yoko Ono)    2:40
  8. HOW DO YOU SLEEP?    5:29
  9. HOW?    3:37
  10. OH YOKO!    4:18

    All songs written by John Lennon unless noted


Noting that my copy of the record doesn't list credits, so this is woefully inadequate...
JOHN LENNON -- vocals, whistling, guitar, piano
Joey Badfinger -- acoustic guitar
Tommy Badfinger -- acoustic guitar
John Barnam -- harmonium, vibraphone
Steve Brendell -- bass, maracas
King Curtis -- saxophone
The Flux Fiddlers --
Jim Gordon -- drums, tibetan cymbals
George Harrison -- dobro
Nicky Hopkins -- piano
Jim Keltner -- drums, tibetan cymbals
Rod Linton -- acoustic guitar
Mike Pinder -- tambourine
John Tout -- acoustic guitar
Ted Turner -- acoustic guitar
Klaus Voorman -- bass, maracas
Alan White -- drums, tibetan cymbals

UK September 9, 1971 Apple LP/CS PAS 10004 poster, picture sleeve
US September 9, 1971 Apple LP/CS SW 3379 postcard, picture sleeve
UK June 1972 Apple LPQ Q4PAS 10004 quadrophonic, insert, picture sleeve
US 1984 Mobile Fidelity LP MFSL-1-153 original master recording
US   Capitol CD/CS 46641  
UK May 1992 Parlophone CD    
EEC 2000 Apple/EMI LP 524 858 gatefold cover, digital remaster
US April 11, 2000 Capitol CD/CS 24858 digital remaster
JPN   EMI/Toshiba CD TOCP-65522 remixed digital remaster
US 2003 Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-759 original master recording


If the song "Imagine" strikes a chord in your philosophy, you might be interested to find Lennon's anti-materialist sentiment shared with an earlier writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne. His short story, "Earth's Holocaust," imagines a world where all possessions (notably weapons, money and symbols of authority) are cast into a big bonfire. In the final analysis, Hawthorne emerges more cynical than Lennon, but otherwise the two are very similar. You can find "Earth's Holocaust" among Mosses From An Old Manse.


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