In terms of a timeline, it really depends where you consider this album in Lennon’s career. It’s actually solo record #7. First there was the three albums of noise with Yoko, then there’s the first post-Beatles album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Then there’s the odds and ends political album, Some Time In New York City, and then finally this, 1973’s Mind Games.
You could argue though that it feels like solo record #2, after Imagine, if you disregard those experimental albums with Yoko, the omnibus feel of Some Time In New York City and – hold tight – the starkness of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Being the first post-Beatles release, of course that one is the first solo album, but Imagine always feels like his first proper stab at matching the output of his previous band. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, despite how much I love it, always comes across as something intended for Lennon’s therapist, not the record-buying public of 1970.
When discussing Mind Games before its release, Lennon talked it up as “like Imagine on speed”. It isn’t as accessible as Imagine, and without that album’s iconic song it struggles to hold its head above his other solo albums. There are fewer moments of brilliance on this album, but they’re still there regardless – just check out that fantastic piano break on Out The Blue.
It’s interesting that Lennon used an upper in his analogy. To me, Mind Games feels like much more of a chilled out record. I guess “like Imagine on a downer” doesn’t sound as attractive.
Hit: Mind Games
Hidden Gem: Meat City