February 2005

John Lennon - Mind Games
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDCD761
Format: CD
Originally released: 1973
Remaster released: 2004

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

John Lennon’s ambivalence about his positions as serious artist, spokesman, and symbol -- he alternately courted and scorned all three -- gave his best solo record, Plastic Ono Band, its lacerating power. Lennon, like George Harrison and Paul McCartney, had one album in him that approached the greatness of the Beatles, and it was that first one. Imagine, Lennon's other notable record, was marred by his bitterness towards McCartney, while his other recordings ran the gamut in quality, from the execrable Sometime In New York City (1972) to the workmanlike Mind Games (1973) and Walls and Bridges (1974).

After the horrendous reviews for Sometime In New York City, Lennon brought together a group of crack session players, including David Spinozza, Jim Keltner, and Michael Brecker, for a collection of polished, well-recorded songs. He continued to express his political concerns in songs like "Being on the Lucie (Freda Peeple)" and "Only People," but toned down, for the most part, the smugness that made Sometime such an unpleasant experience. "Intuition" and "Out the Blue" showed that Lennon’s talents as a pop craftsman were intact, as were his sense of humor and love of wordplay.

Mobile Fidelity has remastered Mind Games with its usual attention to the kinds of inner detail that bring a recording to life. Small keyboard and percussion details that were not easily audible before (at least not on my LP copy) are heard in sharper relief. Gordon Edwards’ melodic bass lines and Jim Keltner’s drums are brought into much clearer focus, and the recording flows along more effortlessly. Any Lennon fan will want to own this definitive version.