How John Lennon Filled a Void With ‘Shaved Fish’
John Lennon was very visible throughout the early '70s. Besides releasing a number of classic singles and albums, he and wife Yoko Ono were fixtures on the political landscape, attempting to instigate social and political changes on a number of levels.
Ultimately, legal and personal battles would overtake much of Lennon's life, even though musically he was still at the top of his game in 1974, when Walls and Bridges and its single, "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night," both shot to the top of the Billboard charts.
Even though fans didn't know it at the time, this would be Lennon's last '70s-era hurrah as a solo recording artist.
The following year, he released Rock 'n' Roll, a tribute to his early inspirations, where Lennon covered songs by Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent and other pioneering rock 'n' roll heroes. The album reached the Top 10, but it contained no new Lennon songs.
On Oct. 20, 1975, Capitol Records decided to fill this void with Shaved Fish, a retrospective of his solo material up to that point.
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The LP contains 11 tracks, including all of Lennon's bestselling singles: "Instant Karma," "Power to the People," Mind Games," "Imagine" and "Whatever Get You Thru the Night." In addition, significant pieces of Lennon's catalog – such as "Cold Turkey," "Mother" and "#9 Dream" – are collected here.
Many of the singles weren't available on any album, and some of the tracks featured different edits and mixes from those that were previously released, like a shorter version of "Give Peace a Chance" and the LP-ending "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"/"Give Peace a Chance (Reprise)."
Shaved Fish was the first compilation of solo material to be released by one of the Beatles. It sold well throughout the world, hitting the Top 10 in the U.K. and falling just shy of that mark in the U.S. It was the only collection of Lennon's solo material for years.
Following his death in 1980, the album stormed back up the charts, ultimately bringing its total sales into platinum territory. Even today with all of the other Lennon collections available, Shaved Fish remains a tightly focused view of his first five years as a post-Beatles recording artist.
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