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Rock 'n' Roll

John Lennon

℗ 1975 Apple Records PCS 7169 / © EMI Records / © Parlophone Records

℗ 2004 Capitol Records CDP 7 46707

John Lennon • 1975 • Rock 'n' Roll

Although the chaotic sessions that spawned this album have passed into rock & roll legend and the recording's very genesis (as an out-of-court settlement between John Lennon and an aggrieved publisher) has often caused it to be slighted by many of the singer's biographers, Rock 'n' Roll, in fact, stands as a peak in his post-Imagine catalog: an album that catches him with nothing to prove and no need to try. Lennon could, after all, sing old rock & roll numbers with his mouth closed; he spent his entire career relaxing with off-the-cuff blasts through the music with which he grew up, and Rock 'n' Roll emerges the sound of him doing precisely that. Four songs survive from the fractious sessions with producer Phil Spector in late 1973 that ignited the album, and listeners to any of the posthumous compilations that also draw from those archives will know that the best tracks were left on the shelf — "Be My Baby" and "Angel Baby" among them. But a gorgeous run through Lloyd Price's "Just Because" wraps up the album in fine style, while a trip through "You Can't Catch Me" contrarily captures a playful side that Lennon rarely revealed on vinyl. The remainder of the album was cut a year later with Lennon alone at the helm, and the mood remains buoyant. It might not, on first glance, seem essential to hear him running through nuggets like "Be Bop A Lula," "Peggy Sue," and "Bring It on Home to Me," but, again, Lennon has seldom sounded so gleeful as he does on these numbers, while the absence of the Spector trademark Wall-of-Sound production is scarcely noticeable — as the object of one of Lennon's own productions, David Peel once pointed out, "John had the Wall of Sound down perfectly himself." Released in an age when both David Bowie and Bryan Ferry had already tracked back to musical times-gone-by (Pin-Ups and These Foolish Things, respectively), Rock 'n' Roll received short shrift from contemporary critics. As time passed, however, it has grown in stature, whereas those other albums have merely held their own. Today, Rock 'n' Roll sounds fresher than the rock & roll that inspired it in the first place. Imagine that. — Dave Thompson.

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Be-Bop-a-Lula

(Davis — Vincent)

Be bop a lu la
She's my baby
Be bop a lu la
I don't mean maybe
Be bop a lu la
She's my baby
Be bop a lu la
I don't mean maybe
Be bop a lu la
She's my baby love
My baby love
My baby love

She's the girl in the red blue jeans
She's the queen of all the teens
She's the one that I know
She's the one that loves me so

Be bop a lu la
She's my baby
Be bop a lu la
I don't mean maybe
Be bop a lu la
She's my baby
My baby love
My baby love

She's the one that's got that beat
She's the one with the flyin' feet
She's the one that walks around the store
She's the one that loves me more, more

Be bop a lu la
She's my baby
Be bop a lu la
I don't mean maybe
Be bop a lu la
She's my baby
My baby love
My baby love
Love

Be bop a lu la
She's my baby
Be bop a lu la
I don't mean maybe
Be bop a lu la
She's my baby
Be bop a lu la
I don't mean maybe
Be bop a lu la
She's my baby love
My baby love
My baby love