Adding this to your Lennon collection may not be a must but it’s pretty close. Since its original release in 1975, there have been a number of compilations of the man’s solo work, including some very nice single and double albums such as The John Lennon Collection and Lennon Legend. Shaved Fish, though, was the first – and the only one overseen by the man himself. It’s a slim volume. Just eleven songs made the cut, but what an eleven! There were non-LP singles such as “Instant Karma!,” “Power to the People” and “Cold Turkey,” there were edited album versions of songs that were also hit singles (“Mother” and “Woman Is the Nigger of the World”), and straight up hits like “Mind Games” and “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.” And then there were the truncated “Give Peace a Chance” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” in versions that were unique to Shaved Fish. The artwork was unique, too: each song had its own illustration to show you what it was about.
Last year Shaved Fish was reissued in a 180-gram pressing complete with the original artwork and inner sleeve (which included the lyrics on one side and a Japanese flag on the other), pressed for worldwide release in Europe (mine says it was pressed in France). It’s basically the same as the original, all the way down to the Apple labels on the record itself. I’m not sure what source the reissue was cut from, but it’s a very good sounding pressing, whether it’s from the original analog master tapes (doubtful) or from 24-bit/96kHz digital files (highly likely). Neither analog or digital is necessarily better – it’s all about making whatever source that’s being used sound its best. Naturally, us analog geeks want to believe that analog is always going to sound better, but that’s just not always the case.
If you want this particular collection in your collection, then, this reissue is a great way to get a great-sounding copy of Shaved Fish for a relatively great price. An original ’75 issue in pristine shape will set you back a whole lot more.