John Lennon – Oddities (His Masters Choice – HMC 015)

Oddities (His Masters Choice – HMC 015)

Chapter One

01. Love ( Take 24-25 ) / 02. Glad All Over ( Jam ) / 03. Hold On John ( Rock Version ) / 04. Hold On John ( Take 24 ) / 05. Crippled Inside ( Outtake ) / 06. Jealous Guy ( Outtake ) / 07. It’s So Hard ( Outtake ) / 08. Gimme Some Truth ( Outtake ) / 09. How Do You Sleep ( Outtake / 10. Oh My Love ( Rehearsals ) / 11. Cripple Inside ( Outtake ) / 12. Honey Don’t ( Oct 1970 ) 13. Happy Xmas ( Demo ) [ 71:08 ]

Chapter Two

01. I’ve Got A Feeling ( Demo ) / 02. God Save Us ( Demo ) / 03. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World ( Demo ) / 04. John Sinclair ( Demo ) / 05. Love Is The Answer (Mind Games) ( Demo ) / 06. Mind Games ( ‘Make Love Not War’ Demo ) / 07. Aisumasen ( Demo ) / 08. Freeda People ( Demo ) / 09. I Know (I Know) ( Demo ) / 10. You Are Here ( Outtake ) 11. Meat City ( Demo ) / 12. Meat City ( Demo ) / 13. Meat City ( Demo ) / 14. Here We Go Again ( Demo ) / 15. Whatever Get You Through The Night ( Demo ) / 16. What You Got ( Demo ) / 17. Steel And Glass ( Demo ) / 18. Steel And Glass ( Demo ) / 19. Nobody Loves You When You Are Down And Out ( Demo ) / 20. You Send Me ( Demo ) / 21. Attica State ( Live 1971 ) / 22. Come Together ( Rehearsal ) / 23. Come Together ( Live ) [ 73:27 ]

Since hitting the ground running in 2007, His Masters Choice have been the best source for John Lennon outtakes since the untimely demise of American bootlegger Vigotone in 2001. They have thus far released 4 hard-backed, 2 CD collections and at least 1 vinyl LP in to the hands of the fortunate collectors. Whereas Vigotone, in their earlier incarnations had used tracks from Westwood One’s “Lost Lennon Tapes” recorded from the radio, then later used transcription disks & finally were able to secure rare cassette & acetate sources, HMC have generally used very high quality studio recordings for their releases, often spanning the full session for a certain track from John’s studio albums or home demos from John’s lost five years at home as he took retirement from recording or playing live. 

Following the path taken by their first release “Oddities” scoops up what they have spare & presents them all within the Gazette format that was first issued last year. This isn’t a scraping of the barrel affair, far from it, despite the fact that we get to hear some new upgrades and longer takes than heard on the “Anthology” series, we also herald the premier of several new to bootleg takes that have never been heard before. 

I’ve taken the part of listing the tracks as they appear on the disk & also their timings to compare with their previously known counterparts. 

01. Love ( Take 24-25 ) [4:29] Picking up where “It’s Gonna Be Alright” left of we have an extra two takes of this “POB” track. A trace of guitar tuning greets us along with a tired engineer calling the take. We then hear a little more tuning as the musicians get it together enough to lay down the take. This is evidently a bust as after around a minute take 25 is called. An almost complete take with a new vocal by John. This continues well but apparently John gets distracted by his guitar & can’t continue. Phil Spector has detected & found out what an inherent noise is. 

02. Glad All Over ( Jam ) [1:16] A silly little run through of the Carl Perkins hit from the mid sixties recorded between takes. A version of this appeared on Pegboy’s “The Dream Is Over” and this version originally appeared on the “Mother” LP before segueing in to take 23 of “Hold On, John”. John remembers the words quite well to an extent before turning the song in to a country hoe-down before it’s inevitable collapse.  

03. Hold On John ( Rock Version ) [3:23] Originally appeared on the “Mother” LP. A far punchier & meaty rocking version of the track. Obviously unfinished as John leaves out words here and there at will. Some very fanciful soloing going on as the band essentially jam along in a blues style trying to find their way. Eventually John runs out of words, cries out & the piece falls apart.  

04. Hold On John ( Take 24 ) [3:18] A very near take but John’s having problems with stiffness ( He first suggests that he might stand up from his chair then complains of getting “Crimp” ( cramp ) in his fingers. They restart the track again, still on take 24, but once again it stalls as John loses his pace and strum due to his condition.  

05. Crippled Inside ( Outtake – Takes 1, 2 and 3 ) [6:33] A brief warm up of instruments leads us in before the take call then a few more seconds of the same. It’s interesting to hear both the band and John taking things from scratch especially as it means we get to hear a new slide guitar from George each and every time. The first take breaks down after the band agree that things in the studio are too loud. The second take is complete. Once it finishes, George laughs as he’s too embarrassed to mention that he can still hear a little too much bass. The tape misses a fraction as John berates Phil to talking too loudly through the talkback from the production studio. The third take starts, breaks down, John chews someone ( Nicky Hopkins) for talking and then they restart only to crash a few moments later as John notices something is wrong.    

06. Jealous Guy ( Outtake ) [4:10] From what sounds like a video outtake as there are a couple of skips to the tape at the beginning. Nothing about it really stands out that is different.  

07. It’s So Hard ( Outtake ) [2:26] Take 2 which also appeared on Vigotone’s “Imagine .. All The Outtakes” from a tape source. There is nothing additional here. 

08. Gimme Some Truth ( Outtake ) [4:11] Back to the new outtakes. Take one of “Gimme Some Truth”. The tape starts with around 30 seconds of dead air, waiting & instrument twanging before John wonders aloud why they’re waiting to start ( Phil doesn’t know.) The band then crash in to the take. It takes around another 30 seconds before John loses his place & shouts for the band to halt. Take 2 begins at a slightly slower pace vocal wise but it soon becomes apparent that John’s struggling through the lyrics ( Or is still writing them ) by the second verse as he mentions the “Bald headed son of Gary Cooper”. The take continues regardless despite John returning after the first pass and flubbing the lyrics again – this in turn passes in to a vocalized filler while the band play on. This eventually breaks down as John notices that one of the musicians makes a mistake this time. We have a spare few seconds of take 3 before that breaks down and the tape ends.  

09. How Do You Sleep ( Outtake ) [7:53] Begins with a few stray guitar notes and then a Lennon count in. There appears to be nothing spectacularly new in this take before John’s call for George’s solo to begin and then his request to Nicky to play his part. These solos do seem to be a little longer than the C.V. 

10. Oh My Love ( Rehearsals ) [21:19] A full 21 minutes of rehearsals for the “Oh My Love” sessions. These seem to be almost complete from beginning to end so while there is a lot of studio chat, rehearsing and manipulation there are no great, new surprises here. It would have been great to have the “Mind Games” run through as alluded to from the ( silent ) video outtakes then any amount of Lennon material, in this quality, is great to listen to. This certainly beat’s “Imagine .. All The Sessions” in to a cocked hat.    

11. Crippled Inside ( Outtake ) [3:49] Take 17. Same as Vigotone’s “Imagine .. All The Outtakes” and to be honest, I hear no difference. 

12. Honey Don’t / Don’t Be Cruel / Matchbox  ( Oct 1970 ) [5:03] This little Carl Perkins medley originally appeared on Pegboy’s “The Dream Is Over” but, as this is presumably from an Anthology source, sounds a little fuller. The edits are the same though. 

13. Happy Xmas ( Demo ) [3:19] Something new but old again. The demo has been around for years but generally cut or crossfaded with John’s piano shaped “Christmas Song from Weybridge”. Here it sounds better than ever and has a slightly longer ending consisting of John actually stopping.  

Chapter Two – Most of the new releases swept under the mat now we concentrate on upgrades & slightly longer appearances. 

01. I’ve Got A Feeling ( Everyone Had A Hard Year ) ( Demo ) [1:54] Another upgrade of John’s contribution to the Beatles song. It still goes nowhere like you remember but has a small playful riff on the end that is missing from other releases.   

02. God Save Us ( Demo ) [1:58] Taken from a vinyl source but cleaned up somewhat. 

03. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World ( Demo ) [2:13] Another track that was edited brusquely on the ‘Anthology’ boxed set. This also appeared in longer form on Vigotone’s ‘News Of The Day’. A slight upgrade.   

04. John Sinclair ( Demo ) [2:33] A new arrival. The slide or dobro demo of “John Sinclair”. Only ever obscured by narration on the radio show ‘The Lost Lennon Tapes’. This being only a demo sometimes it’s marred by the external shouts from the apartment but the coda is a new turn around. Spanning the final 30 seconds or so John spells out “Free” on a routine note & then plays a tone that makes the song sound like it would on a record player slowing down. 

05. Love Is The Answer (Mind Games) ( Demo ) [2:00] 

06. Mind Games ( ‘Make Love Not War’ Demo ) [3:30] – Tracks 5 and 6 would appear both on Vigotone’s “Compositions” release and the latter on the official Anthology release. ‘Make Love Not War’ seems to be from a cleared up vinyl source though as it crackles towards the end.   

07. Call My Name (‘Aisumasen’ / ‘I’m Sorry’) ( Demo ) [3:50] A new source? It would appear to be so as the “Eight Arms” book seems to mention such a thing exists but give no hint as to what it contains. This isn’t the spliced takes from “Clock” as there is no cut in the tape and bears no resemblance to the the other takes on “Absolute Elsewhere”. 

08. Freeda People ( Demo ) [1:50] The slide guitar demo of the future ‘Mind Games’ track. As it was from a tape source on another Vigotone release there’s not much difference to the take again but it’s sound quality. 

09. I Know (I Know) ( Demo ) [3:14] a double up from both Vigotone’s “Absolute Elsewhere” and the official “Anthology” but with more clarity than the Vigotone release and in its ‘rawer’ state as opposed to the officially sanctioned release. 

10. You Are Here ( Outtake ) [4:53] Another ‘Anthology’ double up. The chat that precedes this take also the same. Hardly distinguishable from the C.V. 

11. Meat City ( Demo ) [2:37]

12. Meat City ( Demo ) [4:01]

13. Meat City ( ‘Shoe Shine’ Demo ) [3:47] 2 Demos of “Meat City” appear on Vigotone’s “Absolute Elsewhere” now it would appear that there are three on this release. Unfortunately, that’s not to be. The first two seem to have been switched around from their appearance on the Vigotone release – which in this context makes sense as the song speeds up towards the end of the second pass as John finds his way around the piece and becomes a little more comfortable with his groove. The third demo is actually “Shoe Shine” a recording that pre-dates the other two but appears here a full minute longer.  

14. Here We Go Again ( Demo ) [3:17] Features a full 4 seconds extra! This would appear to be John’s slip up and cursing at the beginning then the slightly longer ending. 

15. Whatever Gets You Through The Night ( Demo ) [4:27] The same as the first demo from Vigotone’s “Listen To This” where John discovers he can use either of two chords. This is just really re-equilised to bring the guitar and John’s voice out a little more. The same rush of traffic (?) behind can still be heard, especially through head phones. 

16. What You Got ( Demo ) [3:31] The unplugged guitar demo but curtailed by half ( Possibly to fit within the confines of the Anthology project. ) The source seems to be the same as the previous track. 

17. Steel And Glass ( ‘Pill’ ) ( Demo ) [2:10] An acoustic demo that would turn to form the basis of some of the melody to “Steel And Glass”. Whereas the previously bootlegged version would last 1:43 this lasts a good 27 seconds longer. John coughs at the start and builds straight in to the track. It ends with a slowing of the pace and the sound of John reaching over to turn off his tape recorder. 

18. Steel And Glass ( Demo ) [4:26] The piano demo of this song. Same as the Vigotone release on “Listen To This” but a little clearer. 

19. Nobody Loves You When You Are Down And Out ( Demo ) [3:20] The acoustic demo from “Listen To This”. Doesn’t sound as bad here as the tape used there had seen better days. This, alas, still sounds a little murky but has been cleaned up to sound as good as some of the better demos.  

20. You Send Me ( Demo ) [2:12] Fast forward to 1979 or there abouts and John is sat at the piano at the Dakota singing oldies – In this case It’s Sam Cooke who gets the treatment. Originally taken from the LLT radio broadcasts this now seems to appear, for the first time, from a tape source.  

21. Attica State ( Live 1971 ) [3:56] The real oddities of the set are here. Firstly a live take of “Attica State” from the Attica State benefit, December 1971. Sounds as good as for inclusion on the ‘Anthology’ and includes the lengthy introduction by Livingston Wingate. Between 0:48 – 0:56 there is a patch which sounds like it comes from an audience tape ( This is just applause so we lose no fidelity in either speech or music. ) On the ‘Anthology’ Yoko’s vocals were mixed well down and a dobro was added – neither of these apply here. 

22. Come Together ( Rehearsal ) [4:17] This first appeared on Orange’s / Yellow Dog’s “One To One Rehearsals” in disgustingly hissy forms. Here the extra noise is tempered by noise reduction and sounds better than ever at some points almost being obliterated altogether. It still seems inconceivable that this might be considered for official release due to the source of the tape and the non effort that John is putting in ( This seems strange when the effort that he’d put in to every take of his studio recordings was above and beyond but obviously this is just a rehearsal and he would never have considered this for release. )  

23. Come Together ( Live ) [4:21] From the “One To One” concert itself. ( The Evening show ). Another track possibly selected for the ‘Anthology’ 

Another commendable version of outtakes and, yes, oddities, scrimped together from various locations. While it’s aim is true, the focus zig – zags between the various parts of John’s solo career. While this is hopefully not the last of the Lennon rarities that HMC bring us ( The fact that we still have artifacts on vinyl that haven’t made it to this release is an open signal ) then it almost looks certain that we won’t be getting any more complete recording sessions coming our way any time soon. 

The Gazette format is something that has been maligned since the retirement of the hardback book. It works but this release would have been better served in something a little more luxury. The content of the gazette is nice – various rare photos together with an editorial on the labels attitude to speed correction, A run through of the tracks, their timings, the players on the track and, where applicable, a note on the evolution or story of the song and to top it all off an article from British music newspaper, Melody Maker from 1971. It also features the usual ‘Go Vegetarian’ message – Quite where this fits anywhere on message is anyones guess ( Yes, I know Macca’s a non-meat eater but what sense it makes in a bootleg CD release I don’t know )

Overall an exciting release for Beatles / Solo enthusiasts and it’s not Rock Band extracts or just simply EQ’d tracks. Heres hoping there is, at least, an “Oddities Part 2”

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  1. Thanks to YOU, solly. Your attention is very much appreciated.

  2. Stuart,
    Thanks for the detailed reviews on all things FAB. They’re very helpful.


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