This studio work has it's 'roots' literally in the infamous separation period between John Lennon and Yoko Ono in October of 1973 when John split and went out to L.A. He hooked up with Phil Spector and recorded at both A&M Studios and Record Plant West. John had already had his Mind Games LP in the can and ready for release so to bleed off his frustration he just wanted to have fun and record some oldies with LA's top session musicians and old friends. The oldies idea was something stumbled upon during The Beatles Let It Be sessions and now seemed to be the time to scratch that itch.
To give some more context, John had written The Beatles hit "Come Together" and it was issued in 1969 on Abbey Road. Soon after he was hit with a lawsuit from Morris Levy, then the head of Roulette Records from which Chuck Berry had recorded and released "You Can't Catch Me" back in 1956 and now comes this Beatles tune with the line "Here come old flat top, he come grooving up slowly" - which was quite similar to the Berry-penned line "Here come old flat top, he was grooving up with me". The lawsuit in this matter took years to come to trial and here's John in Los Angeles, in the recording studio. Levy won the lawsuit around that time and as part of the settlement, John agreed to record 3 Big Seven Music Songs in which Levy owned. Since John was already recording some oldies he would just include some of these 50's or 60's tunes. Soon after the settlement the stories coming from these oldies sessions that Spector was out of control and threatening people with guns. Cutting to the chase, he ended up fleeing one night with the master 8-track reels.
In 1974 John was tired of waiting for Spector to hand the tapes back and began working on Walls And Bridges with Harry Nilsson. It became a problem with the release of this LP because the settlement called for 3 tunes on his "next" album. Finally he got the tapes back from Spector but after listening to the tracks he felt only 4 of them were worthy of putting out. Levy re-enters John's life and allows John to stay with him and rehearse as John wanted to go back in the studio and re-record some of the oldies tunes. Those re-recorded versions ended up on John's "Rock And Roll" LP but the Spector tracks ended up on the finished "oldies" album and eventually was sold via TV on Levy's own Adam VIII Ltd. mail-order label. John had tried to stop him from doing this since it was now 1975 and the idea didn't really jazz him anymore.
This CD release is the now fashionable "needle drop" of that Adam VIII Ltd. LP complete with the cheesy replica sleeve album art/design, if you can call it that. John even complained in court over this release that the silly photo of him dropped on the front cover no longer represented how he looked! The sound here is great and the music is timeless of course. John sounds great but after learning the story you can hear kind of what he was hesitant about. An interesting release - with the story! The disc comes with an insert that features label photos of the original Adam VIII Ltd. LP labels too.