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John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Double Fantasy Capitol/EMI [Five stars]


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Double Fantasy was supposed to be a love album – instead, it became a death album. John Lennon was murdered within days of its release, and these songs became part of the world’s mourning process. The achievement of this remastered version is that it lets you hear the music as it was meant to be: a celebration rather than a farewell. Lennon’s voice sounds incredibly robust – check out the doo-wop exuberance of ‘(Just Like) Starting Over.’ He and Yoko Ono take turns singing lead; after he snarls ‘I’m Losing You,’ Ono responds with ‘I’m Moving On.’ But the overall effect is two musicians sharing an emotional journey, culminating in the gorgeous ‘Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy).’

This edition adds a second disc with an Ono-supervised Stripped Down remix, which puts even more focus on the vocals. The set is part of a reissue series for Lennon’s 70th birthday; the place to go next is 1984’s Milk and Honey, a superb outtake collection featuring ‘I’m Stepping Out,’ where Daddy turns off Sesame Street and decides he needs a night on the town. Five years after becoming a househusband, Lennon had fallen back in love with rock & roll. And because he loved music as fiercely as he loved Yoko and Sean, the songs he wrote for them remain soulful classics.

Key Tracks: ’(Just Like) Starting Over,’ ‘I’m Losing You’

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