Unsurprisingly, Lennon did grim smarter than Black Sabbath. The historic scale and analytic detail of "Working Class Hero," "I Found Out," and "Isolation" have always been rare virtues in political pop, and the patterns of oppression they lay out have only gotten worse since. Because the existential anxieties of "Hold On" and "God" are thought through, they're more harrowing than the usual adolescent angst-mongering, too. And as you listen deeper you realize that the music isn't stark at all. While canning his customary furbelows, coproducer Phil Spector works to make this de facto manifesto grand in its spareness. Every note reverberates. The drums Ringo Starr pounds seem funereal, just as the piano Lennon pounds seems orchestral. And left out in the open, without protective harmonies or racket, Lennon's singing takes on an expressive specificity that anyone in search of the century's great vocal performances would be foolish to overlook.
Rolling Stone, June 10, 1999