John Lennon really could imagine all the people in the latter part of 1971, because so many of them were buying his Imagine album with the Plastic Ono Band. In late October, it would achieve the notable feat of becoming a simultaneous, transatlantic No. 1, but on the US chart of 18 September, it made a surprisingly modest start.
The album was released in America fully a month before it hit the shops in the UK, and debuted on that survey at a low-profile No. 163. It went straight to No. 1 in Lennon’s home country on 30 October, the day it also hit the top in its seventh chart appearance in the States. That was fuelled by the popularity of its title track single, which raced 20-6 that same week.
As a period reminder, it’s amusing to note that the Imagine long player also moved to the top of that week’s Tape Cartridges chart, pulling ahead (as it did on the main album survey) of Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells A Story. That was also the LP that it unseated to claim the UK crown.
“Lennon has emerged as the real British Dylan,” Billboard had said in its enthusiastic review of the Imagine album, adding “Move over Sgt. Pepper.” Alan Smith, writing about the LP for NME, was even more effusive: “The album is superb,” he wrote. “Beautiful. One step away from the chill of his recent total self-revelation, and yet a giant leap towards commerciality without compromise. The songs have structure, direction and melody; guts, sensitivity and class.”
As a measure of the love and respect that the American record-buying public held for Lennon, Imagine was certified gold there less than a month after release. When Capitol entered the album for updated certification in November 1991, it then went both platinum and double platinum on the same day.
Imagine: The Ultimate Collection is released on 9 October. Exclusive bundles including a limited edition clear vinyl version and Imagine theatrical poster are available in the uDiscover store.