First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2004, Volume 11, #12
Written by John Metzger
Featuring a hodgepodge of demos, song snippets, home recordings, and live performances, Acoustic culls together nine previously released tracks and fuses them to seven recently unearthed selections. While the end result isnít exactly revelatory, groundbreaking, or essential, the compilation prevails as a remarkably compelling endeavor, nonetheless. In particular, itís John Lennonís voice that rises above the primitive, stripped-down arrangements, conveying both his spirit and his genius in the process. For example, the manner in which he sings Cold Turkey uncomfortably captures the writhing, quaking uneasiness of heroin withdrawal; the easy-going gentility of Watching the Wheels offers a fitting response to those who were pushing for Lennonís return to the music business; and an early attempt at God highlights the tuneís gospel-soul roots. Granted, the sound quality of Acoustic is occasionally ramshackle and suspect, and not surprisingly, the various renditions are vastly inferior to their finished counterparts. Still, stripping away the polish and perfection places Lennonís compositions within an entirely different context; that is: it exposes them to be not the work of a godlike former Beatle, but of a singer, a songwriter, and a fallible human being. Indeed, itís here within his stumbling experimentation that Acoustic finds its heart and soul. With a full slate of transcribed lyrics and guitar chords, the collection ultimately is designed to persuade others to unite in song, thereby allowing Lennonís legacy to find a new life within the voices of a million like-minded troubadours preaching on stages and street corners around the globe. Given the world has changed only superficially in the past 30-plus years ó people are still being harassed and jailed for their political views; true equality remains an illusion; and international unity is, perhaps, more in jeopardy than ever before ó well, thatís all the more reason a personal and intimate set such as Acoustic makes sense, if only because it strives to alter the course of history by spurring those armed only with a guitar and a pen to take action in an attempt to craft a better tomorrow out of the broken pieces of today.
Acoustic is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box