Rock 'n' Roll (John Lennon album)

Rock 'n' Roll (John Lennon album)

Infobox Album | Name = Rock 'n' Roll
Type = Cover Album
Artist = John Lennon

Released = 21 February 1975
Recorded = A&M Studios, October – December 1973; Record Plant Studios (East), 21 October25 October 1974
Genre = Rock and roll
Length = 40:00
Label = Apple/EMI
Producer = John Lennon
and Phil Spector
Reviews =
*Allmusic rating|4|5 [ link]
*Pitchfork rating|7|10 [ 11/10/04]
*Robert Christgau (B-) [ link]
*"Rolling Stone" (not rated) [ 5/22/75] | Last album = "Walls and Bridges"
This album = "Rock 'n' Roll"
Next album = "Shaved Fish"

"Rock 'n' Roll" is a 1975 album of late 1950s and early 1960s-era rock songs covered by John Lennon. The recording of the album spanned a year and its dramatic sessions have since entered into rock music folklore.


While still encumbered with the US government's attempts to have him deported, Lennon found himself threatened with a lawsuit, by Roulette Records chief Morris Levy. Lennon had admitted in an interview that his song "Come Together" both borrowed stylistically from Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me"Fact|date=August 2008, published by Levy, and re-used one line ("Here come old flat-top") from the song. Levy sued Lennon for infringement, but agreed to drop the suit if Lennon recorded at least three songs that Levy published, on his next album (after "Mind Games"). Browsing Levy's music publishing catalog, Lennon found so many of his old favourites that he decided to do a full album of cover songs, by Levy's artists and others.

After splitting with Yoko Ono in the fall of 1973, and arriving in Los Angeles with May Pang, Lennon teamed up with Phil Spector to record the album, working at both A&M Records Studios and Gold Star Recording Studios. Due to the boys-club nature of the sessions, the atmosphere quickly fell into disarray with alcohol, with Lennon in particularly aggressive formFact|date=August 2008. After they were banned from the A&M lot, Spector disappeared with the session tapes and would not be heard from for several months. Spector made one cryptic call to Lennon, claiming to have the "John Dean tapes" from the recent Watergate scandal; Lennon deduced that Spector meant he had the album's master tapes. Lennon's return calls got him only double-talk from Spector or an assistant; when an auto accident on March 31, 1974 left Spector in a coma, the project went on indefinite hold.

In the meantime, having met up with singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson and former bandmate Ringo Starr in Los Angeles, Lennon produced Nilsson's album "Pussy Cats", and contributed to Starr's album "Goodnight Vienna", including its title song. The three rented a house together in Los Angeles, to keep one another out of trouble with alcohol, but this had limited success. As the months went by, Lennon began writing what became "Walls and Bridges", and moved with May Pang back to New York during the spring of 1974.

Just prior to commencing the "Walls and Bridges" sessions in New York, Lennon received a package from Spector — the missing masters, rescued by Capitol Records then-president Al Coury at a cost of $90,000. Not wanting to break stride, Lennon shelved the tapes, completing his own album first, then returned to the year-old recordings. Finding his work with Spector less than spectacular (Lennon's alcohol consumption showed in his singing voice, while Spector's recording work was laden with technical problems such as leakage), Lennon recalled his band from "Walls and Bridges", cutting nine new songs in just a few days, and touched up the vocals to some of the Spector tapes.

Lennon planned to use some of his childhood artwork for the cover of his next album. This had originally been the covers album, but when Lennon changed gears, the artwork was used instead for "Walls and Bridges". [John Lennon, Interview, WNEW NY, September 1974] [ [ Beatle Brunch - Dennis Elsas ] ] During September 1974, May Pang attended the first Beatlefest convention at Lennon's behest, meeting Jurgen Vollmer, an old friend of the Beatles from Hamburg, Germany, who was selling his own photographs of the band from their Hamburg days. Reuniting with Vollmer in New York, Lennon chose one of his photos for the covers album. [May Pang: "Instamatic Karma", St. Martin's Press 2008]

The album's working title had been "Oldies but Mouldies"; no official title had been chosen until Lennon saw the neon sign prepared as cover art by John Uotomo, with Lennon's name and the words "ROCK 'N' ROLL" beneath. This struck Lennon in a positive way, and it became the album title. [The Editors of "Rolling Stone": "The Ballad of John and Yoko", Rolling Stone Press 1982]


With "Walls and Bridges" coming out first, Lennon made one nod on it toward his deal with Morris Levy; a quickie version of Lee Dorsey's "Ya Ya", dashed off in the studio with son Julian Lennon playing drums. While the album gave Lennon his second US #1 album and first #1 single with "Whatever Gets You thru the Night", Levy was not amused by the "Ya Ya" cover, and threatened to refile his lawsuit. Lennon explained to Levy what had happened, and that the covers album was indeed in the works, giving him a rough copy to review. Levy then offered to directly market the album via mail order, through his own Adam VIII record label, bypassing Capitol and EMI and giving both Lennon and Levy a larger share of the album's profits. Lennon gave his assent, considering appearing in a TV commercial to promote the album, but knew he would need the approval of EMI, Capitol and Apple Corps for the deal.

With so much money and time invested in "Rock 'n' Roll", neither Capitol, EMI nor Apple wanted to give it up, insisting Lennon release it according to his recording contract, and turn Levy's proposal down. Feeling betrayed, Levy pressed an album titled "Roots", from the rough-mix tape Lennon had provided, using a 1968 stock photo of Lennon for the cover and marketing the record otherwise as planned, and proceeded to sue Lennon, EMI and Capitol for $42 million, for breach of contract. Lennon finished work on his version of the album, leaving several songs out of the final selection. As 1975 began, Capitol Records prepared a rush-release, and Lennon reconciled with Yoko Ono.

With only 3000 copies of "Roots" reportedly pressed, original copies are rare and sought-after collector's items. Copies in mint condition have sold for US$2000. [ [ John Lennon, 1968-present ] ]

"Rock 'n' Roll"

"Rock 'n' Roll" became another hit for John Lennon, reaching #6 in both the UK and US, where it soon went gold. "Stand by Me" also proved a US Top 20 hit that spring. A companion songbook was issued, with original sheet music versions for all the tunes, bios of the songwriters, and Lennon's own notes and recollections. Unfortunately, the delay in completing the album took much of the novelty away; several other artists had by this time done their own oldies projects, cutting into potential sales for Lennon.

Not long after the album appeared, Yoko Ono discovered she was pregnant. Determined not to lose another baby after three consecutive miscarriages, Lennon decided to halt his musical career for his family. Sean Lennon would be born that October (on his father's 35th birthday); following the release of "Shaved Fish" (a compilation album culled from Lennon's solo output between 1969-1975), Lennon would not return with a new release until 1980.

Going to court, Lennon, EMI and Capitol prevailed, with Levy having to accept a token payment for the infringement on "You Can't Catch Me", then having to pay a judgment of his own, including $42,000 to Lennon for "damages to his reputation", as termed by the court. Distribution of "Roots" was halted, with Lennon disappointed at how poorly the mail order setup had actually worked, having ordered his own copy as follow-up and waiting almost a month to receive it.

The album was briefly reissued in the UK by the budget label Music for Pleasure with an alternate coverFact|date=August 2008. In the US, it was reissued in October 1980 to coincide with Lennon's 40th birthday.

In 2004, Yoko Ono supervised the remixing of "Rock 'n' Roll" for its reissue, including four bonus tracks from the ill-fated late-1973 Spector sessions. Other leftovers from the sessions had already appeared, as part of "Menlove Avenue" (a 1986 collection of Lennon outtakes and demos) or the "John Lennon Anthology" box set.

"Rock 'n' Roll" track listing

"All tracks produced by John Lennon, except where noted."

#"Be-Bop-A-Lula" (Tex Davis, Gene Vincent) – 2:39
#* "Lennon opened with a song he'd played the only time his mother Julia got to see him perform, and also the first time he met Paul McCartney."
#"Stand by Me" (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Ben E. King) – 3:26
#* "The single's B-side, "Move Over Ms. L", was a non-album song written by Lennon, originally intended for" Walls and Bridges.
#"Medley: Rip It Up/Ready Teddy" (Robert 'Bumps' Blackwell, John Marascalco) – 1:33
#* "Two songs famously recorded by Little Richard, who had toured with the Beatles."
#"You Can't Catch Me" (Chuck Berry) – 4:51
#* "Produced by Phil Spector. The song at the heart of Levy's court case."
#"Ain't That a Shame" (Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew) – 2:38
#* "Lennon met Fats Domino during a Las Vegas visit late in 1973. Lennon learned "Ain't That a Shame" from his mother, who played banjo.
#"Do You Wanna Dance?" (Bobby Freeman) – 3:15
#* "A reggae-flavoured remake."
#"Sweet Little Sixteen" (Chuck Berry) – 3:01
#* "Produced by Phil Spector."
#"Slippin' and Slidin'" (Eddie Bocage, Albert Collins, Richard Wayne Penniman, James H. Smith) – 2:16
#* "Planned as the second single from the album (with "Ain't That A Shame" as the B-side), but cancelled before its release. In the video, he sends a message to son Julian."
#"Peggy Sue" (Jerry Allison, Norman Petty, Buddy Holly) – 2:06
#* "Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison were Buddy Holly fans; McCartney purchased Holly's song copyrights in the late 1970s."
#"Medley: Bring It On Home to Me/Send Me Some Lovin'" (Sam Cooke)/(John Marascalco, Lloyd Price) – 3:41
#"Bony Moronie" (Larry Williams) – 3:47
#* "Produced by Phil Spector"
#"Ya Ya" (Lee Dorsey, Clarence Lewis, Morgan Robinson) – 2:17
#* "A brief version appeared on "Walls and Bridges", featuring eleven-year-old Julian Lennon on drums.
#"Just Because" (Lloyd Price) – 4:25
#* "Produced by Phil Spector"
#* "Lennon speaks before the fadeout, in the style of a 1950s disc jockey closing out a radio program. "There's two basses in this, and I hope you appreciate it!" and adding "Good night from the Record Plant East, New York... Goodbye." He said in a later interview that he was consciously bidding farewell to the music business." [ [ - 1980 Rolling Stone Interview With John Lennon by Jonathan Cott ] ]
#"Angel Baby" (Rosie Hamlin) - 3:44
#* "appears on 2004 reissue"
#"To Know Her is to Love Her" (Phil Spector) - 4:31
#* "appears on 2004 reissue"
#"Since My Baby Left Me" (Arthur Crudup) - 4:40
#* "appears on 2004 reissue"
#"Just Because (Reprise)" - 1:25
#* "appears on 2004 reissue"
#* "Lennon adds "It's all down to Goodnight Vienna, I'd like to say hi to Ringo, Paul and, George... how are you? (and) Everybody back home, in England... what's cookin'?" Lennon was still unable to leave the United States, because of his immigration case, settled later in 1975.

"Roots" track listing

Side One:

#Be-Bop-A -Lula (Tex Davis/Gene Vincent) – 2:39
#Ain't That A Shame (Fats Domino/Dave Bartholomew) – 2:34
#*"Contains a longer fadeout than the" Rock 'n' Roll "version"
#Stand By Me (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller/Ben E. King) – 3:26
#*"Without the strings added to the official release"
#Sweet Little Sixteen (Chuck Berry) – 3:01
#Rip It Up (Blackwell/John Marascalco) – 1:33
#Angel Baby – 3:42
#*" Not officially released until the 1986 compilation Menlove Ave."
#Do You Want To Dance (Bobby Freeman) – 3:02
#You Can't Catch Me (Chuck Berry) – 4:03
#* "The" Rock 'n' Roll "version was stretched to – 4:51 by repeating the first verse"

Side Two:

#Bony Moronie (Larry Williams) – 3:47
#Peggy Sue (Allison/Petty/Buddy Holly) – 2:06
#Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke)/(John Marascalco/Lloyd Price) – 3:41
#Slippin' & Slidin' (Eddie Bocage/Albert Collins/Richard Wayne Penniman/James H. Smith) – 2:20
#*"Contains a longer fadeout than the" Rock 'n' Roll "version"
#Be My Baby – 4:34
#*"Not officially released until the 1998" John Lennon Anthology
#Ya Ya (Lee Dorsey/Clarence Lewis/Morgan Robinson) – 2:17
#Just Because (Lloyd Price) – 4:25


*John Lennon: Guitars, vocals
*Jesse Ed Davis: Guitar
*Jim Calvert: Guitar
*Eddie Mottau: Acoustic guitar
*José Feliciano: Acoustic guitar
*Michael Hazelwood: Acoustic Guitar
*Steve Cropper: Guitar
*Klaus Voormann: Bass guitar, answer vocal on "Bring It on Home to Me"
*Leon Russell: Keyboards
*Ken Ascher: Keyboards
*Jim Keltner: Drums
*Hal Blaine: Drums
*Gary Mallaber: Drums
*Arthur Jenkins: Percussion
*Nino Tempo: Saxophone
*Jeff Barry: Horn
*Barry Mann: Horn
*Bobby Keys: Horn
*Peter Jameson: Horn
*Joseph Temperley: Horn
*Dennis Morouse: Horn
*Frank Vicari: Horn


External links

* [ Lennon v. Levy - The "Roots" Lawsuit]
* [ The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll]

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