The John Lennon "Imagine" Box Set On Deluxe Blu-ray (Also Double LP)

(Sorry I had the assassination date wrong! I can't understand how the Demo label maker punched out the wrong year! It was 1980). Former N.Y.C. Deputy Mayor Edward Morrison's obituary appeared in today's New York Times. Morrison was instrumental in helping John Lennon remain in America at a time when Richard Nixon was trying to deport him. Lennon's anti-war political agitation bugged Nixon. The deportation was going to based on an old pot bust. Morrison intervened and helped Lennon to remain in America by having him declared a "valuable cultural asset to New York City".

The obit's appearance prompted AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer to produce this video review of both the 2 LP edition and the deluxe double Blu-ray, 4 CD plus hard cover book edition. The set's release didn't coincide with an anniversary of note— either of the original LP's debut on September of 1971 or Lennon's assassination on December 8th, 1980 and nothing in the book explains it either. Not that it matters. Imagine was Lennon's most loved album, though it could be easily argued that his first solo album Plastic Ono Band was a more enduring and significant record. It certainly makes for more difficult but rewarding listening!

The title song's idealism rubbed some the wrong way upon its release, but Lennon defended it saying it was meant as a children's song. Today, we could use more idealistic songs like "Imagine"! There's not a clunker among the ten songs and all have stood the test of time.

This is the second attempt at a re-mix: the first was in 2000. That not particularly distinguished version was re-issued by Mobile Fidelity on vinyl. The original, mastered by Sam Feldman at Bell Sound is a worthwhile version as was the George "Porky Prime Cut" Peckham U.K. original, though Lennon didn't like his voice and was happy to have it purposefully muffled. This reissue includes a carefully done re-mix produced similar to what Giles Martin has twice done with Beatles albums: the original multitrack elements were transferred to 96/24 and carefully mixed down to reflect the original, but with far greater well deserved clarity in Lennon's voice.

Working from original "stems" not pre-mixes results in greater transparency and John and Yoko made sure Phil Spector didn't put his reverb signature on the pre-mix tracks, which were dry. That gave the remix engineer Paul Hicks far more to work with as did the original stereo string recordings that were pre-mixed to mono for the original.

As good as the re-mix is, for me, the "Raw Studio Mixes" are far more exciting and put you right in the studio as an "ear witness". Those are only available on the Deluxe Blu-ray and CD sets, which make them worth getting. The box includes demos, outtakes, the original Quadrasonic four channel mix as well as a new 5.1 channel mix also very well done and not at all gimmicky.

The book is very well done in every way and it's filled with great information as well as full credits going back to the original recordings and forward to the remix project. Watch the one take unscripted video:

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azmoon's picture

..great sound and love the deep dive into the music.

I love vinyl but have not bought this one yet. Who cut this to vinyl? Sounded like you didn't think it sounds very good?

MalachiLui's picture

Ron McMaster cut the double LP which GZ pressed.

WesHeadley's picture

I've tried three copies of the vinyl-- all suffer from excessive surface noise and non-fill. The mastering is excellent, the remix sounds great. The poor pressing quality ruins what would otherwise be an excellent release. GZ Media has a history of cranking out lousy pressings...

azmoon's picture

..other than the poor pressing, does it sound really good? Is the 2nd disc worth the cost of getting this on vinyl?

Wimbo's picture

I was skiing with my wife to be at Zell AM Zee in Austria at the time.

Michael Fremer's picture
I know that now. I have no idea how or why the wrong date appears on that cassette because I made that mix tape the next morning.....
PeterPani's picture

Try “Imagine” on Yoko Ono’s 2018 vinyl Warzone to get the lyrics in their full bloom.

firedog's picture

This and the Giles Martin Beatles remixes are what digital remixes of analog should all be: added clarity, better detail resolution, and fidelity to the original sound while still making improvements.

John didn't like the sound of his voice and always tried to bury it in the mix or hide it some way. Yoko did exactly the right thing by asking that his voice be made a little more prominent. It's only a plus. This sounds better than any previous digital version and in a big way.

recordhead's picture

If Nixon succeeded and had him deported, maybe he'd be alive today.

Puffer Belly's picture

...was for what would have been Lennon's 78th birthday on Oct. 9. That's a strange anniversary to honor, so it probably just happened to fall on when the project finished and Yoko decided to honor 78.

jl99's picture

I dodged the draft by half a hair. I had a high draft number and was a certain candidate as a trigger puller of some sort in the Green Machine. The Beetles had nothing to do with it, but sensing that certainty of being drafted added some mixed feelings about all the things I thought I believed. The Beetles provided the background tunes for all that, Yellow Submarine and Donovan's Mellow Yellow especially.

Jim Tavegia's picture

the jacket said from 2010 and 2015 on the Apple label at 33.3 . It also came with a postcard size print with two people in a tree and something playing a pan flute(?) and another with Lennon holding a hog by the ears. It also came with a full poster with Lennon seated at a white grand piano singing and playing. The LP sound great as well. The jacket says printed in Germany and maybe the LP was pressed at Pallas?
I have no photos in the center of the record sleeve.

feinstei's picture

From what I'm able to hear, the "Quadrasonic Mix" of "Imagine" on the new set is in stereo and is not actually quad. I wonder what their reasons for not giving us the actual 4-channel mix was?

Paul Boudreau's picture

...coming up for RSD next month.