If there is a "must have" album out for the summer of 2007, this is it. What could be better then getting some great tunes and serving a worthy cause at the same time. Yoko Ono donated the rights to John Lennon's entire catalog for this release, and I think it's something he would have been proud of.
John spoke in a interview once about going back are re-recording much of his material, because he was never quite happy with the productions. The recent remastering of his catalog gave us a taste of what that might have been like. Instant Karma takes it to another level.
These are some of the most beautiful songs ever written, and if there was ever a questions on whether John Lennon's solo work equaled or surpassed what he did with the Beatles, this album answers it with a resounding YES.
There are a few disappointment and a few pleasant surprises. U2's "Instant Karma" strays too far from the original by trying to replace the "wall of sound" piano with droning guitar. The Black Eyed Peas do a good enough version of "Power to the People", but I kept waiting for them to bust out with some of their brilliant ad-lib rap, but that never happens. Maybe they were just trying to respect the original song, but it left me wanting more.
Jacob Dylan and Dhani Harrison compliment each other as well as their fathers did on "Gimme Some Truth". Christina Aguilera captures the angst of "Mother" with haunting precision, and Los Lonely Boys provide some of the best guitar work on the album's version of "Whatever gets You Through the Night". Corinne Bailey Rae provides a beautiful minimalist version of "I'm Losing You", and Green Day hit a home run with their almost too perfect cover of "Working Class Hero".
One further point of contention: given the strength of Lennon's work, and the size of this two disk set. There was no reason to repeat any songs, yet we are given two versions of "Imagine" and two versions of "Gimme Some Truth". Yes, they are both great songs, but I would have preferred it if each artist did a different song. Someone out there should have come out with a post-metal, post-grunge version of John Lennon's "Meat City" which is one of the most powerful rockers of the 70's, bar-none. In fact nothing from the Mind Games album is represented here, leaving out some great songs.
That all said, it is great to see these songs alive and well in the 21st century, where their message of hope and love have never been needed more.