The Man On The Flaming Pie | The Foothills of the Headlands | 12/27/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is not an essential recording, but at least an interesting one. As for sound quality, the music sounds surprisingly good considering that this was recorded in 1972. John's backing band sounds OK, but not exactly well-rehearsed. Of course, in typical John Lennon fashion, he screams each and every vocal (with the exception of "Imagine") and says goofy things between songs ("this song is from one of those albums I made since I left the Rolling Stones"). A problem with some live albums is that the songs sound too much like their original studio versions. That is not the case with this one (except for "Instant Karma," but that's not surprising considering the rawness of the original), partially due to the fact that most of the songs have a touch of saxophone in them. In "It's So Hard," the lead guitar can be heard more clearly than in the studio version, which is a plus. The somewhat excessive "Well, Well, Well" has been cut down to about four minutes here. "Mother," unfortunately, sounds absolutely horrid live. "Come Together" & the uptempo version of "Cold Turkey" are the clear highlights of this disc and are enough to make it worth buying. The cover of "Hound Dog" is pretty good, too (he makes it sound just like one of his own songs). "Give Peace A Chance" is simply the audience chanting the line over and over for about a minute, so don't expect to hear a live version of this song here. Oh yeah, and Yoko's contributions to the concert are minimal, a HUGE plus. ;-)"
A very good album
Daniel Maltzman | Arlington, MA, USA | 10/02/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A lot of the time live albums are not good because they sound thin, and/or the studio versions of the songs are just better. With this album the performances of the songs do not sound thin and the quality of the recording is excellent. The songs sound neither better nor worse than the versions that appear on the studio albums, they just sound different. Most of the songs are tinged with a saxophone, which works well. The saxophone in "Imagine" sounds especially cool. The backup band, The Plastic Ono Elephants Memory Band gels with Lennon and plays everything fine. The song selection is good, with highlights from Lennon's first three post Beatles albums, "Plastic Ono Band", "Imagine", and "Sometime in New York City". There is also a cool version of "Hound Dog." Lennon's singing on this album has been criticized. I think that he sounds very good live. He may not sound as smooth as he does on his studio albums, be he still can carry all of the songs fine live. My only complaint with this album is its length. It could have been a bit longer. Perhaps bonus tracks from other shows could have been added. Still, it's a strong album nonetheless and most fans of Lennon will dig it. There are also cool pictures and liner notes by Yoko Ono that are in the booklet."
Real rock'n'roll -- live, loud and a little scary
M. Bromberg | Atlanta, GA United States | 09/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"John really puts the exclamation point on "I don't believe in Beatles" with this brief but amazing performance. His voice is harsh, the band is sloppy, and John turns every song (including "Hound Dog") into a rebellious therapy session. It's that very unpolished rawness that makes this set so good. At this point (1972) Lennon had released solo albums that were intensely personal statements reflecting his involvement in primal therapy, and here onstage he really goes back to the rock'n'roll he grew up listening to -- his own songs are screamers and shouters mostly, owing more in their style and subject to Little Richard than to Buddy Holly. It shouldn't be surprising that his best songs here are full of venom and bite, abrasive and noisy. Yes the album is short but there's no room for filler here, just passion, as another reviewer states. It's definitely not The Beatles, and it may not be very pretty, but "Live in New York City" is real rock'n'roll as it used to be -- live, loud and a little scary. Get this before it disappears from the catalog altogether."
For Lennon completists only
zlh67 | Austin, TX | 04/17/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The short story here is that if you love John Lennon's solo music and feel like you have to have this, buy it. If you're primarily a Beatles fan or casual fan only of Lennon's solo material, this isn't for you. Stick with one of his first two studio albums ("Plastic Ono Band" from 1970 or "Imagine" from 1971) or 1980's "Double Fantasy" (or get "Legend" for a single cd compiling some of the best from all of his studio albums).
As previously mentioned in other reviews, this is Lennon and a full backing band recorded live in NYC during a rare concert performance in Aug of 1972.
The track listing is nice, with selections from his first two solo albums including the classic "Imagine," "Mother" and also early singles like "Instant Karma!" and "Cold Turkey" plus a lone Beatles song, "Come Together".
The problem is that the overall sound is muddled. Yes, this is 1972 and I wonder if anyone had any intention that this would be a live album when it was originally recorded (probably not), so who knows what it was recorded with, but the overall sound suffers. Perhaps a remixing with today's technology could improve it. Additionally, there are two drummers in the backing band and at times they don't sound like they are fully in synch. Either that or they have entirely too much delay and other effects on their drums. Either way, the end result is that the drums sound far from tight and at times are obtrusive. So this just isn't a very good SOUNDING performance.
That said, there's some goodness for the die-hard Lennon fans that makes this worth getting for the right price: Lennon's occasional playful banter between songs and toying with lyrics as he sings let us know that despite the pressures of stepping out from the Beatles and leading anti-war movements, he was having fun doing what he loved, which was playing rock and roll. And many of the songs selected for the set list are among his best, so even if the sound and these particular performances aren't as good as the studio versions, there are some great songs here, and hearing a different version than the studio ones is a nice change if you're getting tired of the studio stuff.
After 1970-71, his solo career was either uneven with albums like "Walls and Bridges" and "Rock and Roll" or dormant (1976-79) until he resurfaced in 1980 with "Double Fantasy," so this is a nice snapshot of Lennon on stage at what really has to be considered the peak of his solo career."
A good time
Mark A. Bentz | 03/19/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This cd is slowly growing on me. At first I did not like, the more I played the more I like."