Friday, October 26, 2012

You Should'a Been There

As part of a legal arrangement with music publisher Morris Levy, John had recorded songs from the Big Seven music catalog (including "You Can't Catch Me", which precipitated the issue) on his oldies LP. When John presented him with roughly-mixed tapes of the album, Levy enthused and proposed a TV campaign to sell the album via mail order (an increasingly popular, if somewhat tacky, way to hawk music in the mid 70's).

John tentatively agreed, but when he proposed the idea to Capitol's legal team, they nixed it immediately. Undaunted, Levy took the handshake agreement and ran with it, pressing up albums from the rough mixes, and slapping on an ugly cover with an inappropriate 1968 Lennon photo, calling the whole mess John Lennon Sings The Great Rock And Roll Hits: Roots, and releasing it on his own Adam VIII label.

Levy's TV spots began to air the weekend of February 8th-9th, by which time John had rushed to complete his own EMI-approved LP, Rock 'N' Roll. It omitted two songs ("Angel Baby" and "Be My Baby") and altered others via early fades and editing. While the lawyers went to work sending cease and desist orders to TV stations and record distributors, John set about promoting the new album, making sure to emphasize that Levy's package was inferior and unlicensed.

Towards the end of his 1974 appearance on WNEW-FM with Dennis Elsas, John had lamented that he missed reconnecting with DJ Scott Muni. He made up for that by giving Muni the first crack at airing Rock 'N' Roll. John brought the album, fresh off the presses, with him on February 13th, and spent three hours on the air with Scott, playing and chatting about each song from the LP.

The real bombshell, dropped in toward the end of the show, was John's announcement that he was now officially back together with Yoko, and that "their separation was a failure". He had abruptly moved back in to the Dakota a few days earlier, leaving a shell-shocked May Pang behind and scotching any plans to record with Paul in New Orleans.

Sometime in February, John also made a return visit to the airwaves of 3XY in Melbourne, once again talking with John O'Donnell about the new album.

Rock 'N' Roll was rushed to US shops by February 17th, accompanied by a radio commercial in which John advised listeners, "You should'a been there". The LP came out four days later in the UK, and would hit the top 10 in both countries; Levy's Roots would sell fewer than 2,000 copies before vanishing from the market.


  1. Ha, never saw that pic. John with Scottso!

    Hey, I am so happy to be able to give a little back, at's two short interviews with Paul and Linda back in Nashville, '74.....I know we're passed it, but I just happened to notice this on a Macca boot and I don't think we had this here! So here 'tis! Just two little scraps!

  2. Man oh man, Scott Muni just will NOT SHUT UP! Could never stand him!

  3. Ok, wait, I've got ANOTHER thing to share!

    I think this is a slightly longer - or at least different- version of the George/John interview on KHJ! In this version, George talks about his encounter (and unfavorable impression) of David Bowie, while John dissents and sticks up for his new buddy!

    Now this clocks in (chatwise) as about a minute and a half longer than the mp3 already posted here. (the timing is longer but that's because it contains the full 2:11 of "Eleanor Rigby" while this has it cut).

    The reason that I think it may be different is that the final words George says in the mp3 you already posted seems to be missing here....though I could be wrong, I have to go and listen closely.

    Anyways, here it is, George and John on KHJ, from a Black Cat boot, with at least a little extra George and John:

  4. Thanks for those contributions! I did have the Paul/Linda ones, as part of the Nashville monitor mixes tape, but never thought to classify it as an interview. I will compare the KHJ interview to Black Cat's version and try to do a more complete edit from the two.