28 December, 2009

GIMME SOME TRUTH, The Making of John Lennon's Imagine Album (1986/2000)

We can be grateful that John Lennon filmed just about everything he did. With very little in the way of narration, this fly-on-the-wall program is a fascinating insight into the birth of a classic.

It's hard to tell whether the film is shown chronologically or if it has been recut. What's clear is that there is an olive branch to Paul in the way the film has been edited. There is bitterness and derision towards Paul before and during the recording of How Do You Sleep? but immediately afterwards, they show John explaining to a bewildered fan who wandered onto the property that Carry That Weight was actually Paul's song, “but he was talking about all of us.”

We also get an interesting look into how Yoko earned her producer's credit. Her suggestions range from the insipid (“let's try and give them the right one”) to quite perceptive. She says, quite rightly, that there is too much improvisation in the early takes of How Do You Sleep? and that it should be a steady groove.

The music is remixed in Dolby 5.1 and while the film has plenty of music, it does make you long for a full length surround mix of the album – especially I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier and Gimme Some Truth.

With lots of mumbling and crosstalk, the subtitles become very handy – although there are times when even they give up and just say, “unintelligible.”

The bonus feature is the complete interview given to a journalist by John and Yoko about young people and sexuality. It's relevant to the documentary because it was the interview was done at the same time and excepts from it are used in the main feature. There's also a complete discography.

Highlight: John and George doing a take of Oh My Love.
Feature: * * * * *
Extras: * * *
Audio: Dolby Stereo, Dolby 5.1


  1. What's the difference between this and the original movie? Other than remixing and bonus features.

  2. Not sure what you mean by the original movie. As far as I know, this is the original film of the making of the Imagine album. I think it was first released in the 80s.

    It's not the be confused with "Imagine: John Lennon" which was the documentary film of John's life which was also assembled from home movies.

  3. Hello Bill,

    Came to this Blog, linked off www.karlwallinger.net, as you seem to be involved there too. This has proved somewhat synchronistic, since I originally met Karl whilst working on the production of his first three videos.

    My boss was the wonderful director Jeff Baynes, who was also a lighting cameraman and co-partner/owner of Tattooist International, a collective of camera and film people in London. The synchronism was that Nic Knowland, who was one of the founders of Tattooist, had been John Lennon's cameraman for many years and had shot his film "Rape", as well as the "Imagine" promo in the white room. Even more strangely, I finished "Shout" by Philip Norman, the biography of the Beatles, this morning, after a couple of days lying ill in bed.

    All I really wanted to do was say hello to other Karl aficionados, having just signed up to the website, but couldn't find the way to Post an introduction on the website forum there. Can you help? Apologies for being fairly net illiterate.

    Meanwhile, as 3 inches of snow fell here in one hour today, I remember spending a delightful Christmas in Sydney in 1982, and occasionally even now listen to TripleJ online on my Touch.

    I still love Karl's music and hoped to hear that he is well again and thriving, which apparently he may be. Great. I will look more at your Blog in due course. Now I am off to listen to the 54th Street Sessions which I found and "Is it like Today" in particular. I had heard/seen the youtube copy some years ago, so am pleased to find potentially good quality recordings. Please pass my thanks on to your fellows or whoever arranged access to all that material.

    Steve Hurrell