As luck would have it, today I was lucky enough to get a hold of a copy of the brand new 2 CD Deluxe reissue of John Lennon;s classic “Imagine” album!
The reissue is scheduled to be released next Friday, October 5th but I thought I would give those Lennon or Beatlephiles out there a sneak preview.
This new 2 CD set features the complete album plus some stray single and other songs on Disc 1 newly (and I must say excellently) remixed with Disc 2 featuring some tasty element mixes of the songs as well as out-takes of each song on the album.
I spent the better part of the day listening to this terrific new reissue/collection and I’ve decided to share my first thoughts of it below.
So let’s take a look at this set from top to bottom.
The Remix: Disc 1
Imagine – superb bass, Lennon’s voice front and center. Very respectful of the original mix but MUCH clearer. Certainly not as loud as the re entry Tug of War remix. Love how the strings stand out but aren’t obtrusive
Crippled Inside – again very clear and clean. Sounds like the original mix but with a layer taken off. Not nearly as loud as previous remix from 2000.
Jealous Guy – this song has never sounded better. The strings, just like Imagine, take on a new freshness and clarity without being overbearing. Bass too. Strings and bass biggest improvements on this new remix
It’s So Hard – the bass and sax just dance in the mix. I’m impressed with how much this sounds like a much improved version of the original mix! Things stand out better like Lennon’s two vocals and the piano but aren’t in your face. There’s a smoothness to the mix that’s very easy on the ears
I Don’t Want to Be a Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die – very similar to the original mix. Still thick sounding but certainly better than any other version out there and more open separation. Drum work is a highlight but not in your face, just sounds more present than before and so respectful of Lennon’s mix.
Gimme Some Truth – again very similar to original mix. More like getting a two generations better sounding tape than sounding like a modern remix. The guitar has such sting and presence but doesn’t hurt your ears. Sound has been widened and stereo but not losing the vibe of the original
Oh My Love – STUNNING is the only word that comes to mind. Dramatically better sounding mix, everything is defined beautifully and so damn clean and clear. Oh how I wish Tug of War was remixed like this. Perfect sounding.
How Do You Sleep? – again, shit this sounds SUPERB! they certainly made their goal of a much better sounding version of Lennon’s mix. Strings are superb!!! Sounds like stereo and more open but still thick just less murky than the original
How? – again, superb. The strings stand out as never before but aren’t in your face.
Oh Yoko! – the vocals really shine on this mix! Superb bass too but the vocals stand out in such clarity but thankfully aren’t glaringly so. Lovely. Nice extended harmonica at the end.
Power to the People – the bass is superb. Still a bit murky like the original mix but more powerful. Sax stands out more as well as background vocals but still feels like original mix just cleaner and fade goes on longer
Well … (Baby Please Don’t Go) – clean mix, sounds like Plastic Ono Band material with sax added. Actually reminds me of Hendrix funnily enough
God Save Us – If this was remixed you cant tell a huge difference, it just sounds like a cleaner version of an original vintage mix. Bill Elliot sounds so much like Lennon. I prefer Lennon’s vocal but this is a nice punchy mix
Do the Oz – same as above, sounds like a nicely mastered version of the original not overdone unlike the song lol
God Save Oz – Lennon vocal. Much cleaner mix, Lennon’s vocal up front, great mix. Clean and crisp and slightly murky but not as closed in as an original Lennon mix
Happy Xmas (War is Over) – now we’re talking, stunningly clear mix. Great bass, much more presence and the vocals and separation are outstanding. Yoko sounds great too. Best mix I’ve ever heard of this song by far
There’s no contest for me, this new remix is the best remix I’ve ever heard of any of The Beatles or solo Beatles material! So well done and so listenable – no trace of jacked up sound that I can hear.
You never think you’re listening to a new mix, its the same album it just sounds like you’re listening to a much better master – cleaner and clearer, more presence and separation but the same vibe as Lennon’s mix.
I can hear things down in the mix more, more open but they never sound as if they are some kind of reworking of what Lennon created, just improved.
Hands down from now on this is the mix I will listen to when I want to hear this album, it’s that good. I really hope that McCartney takes note of this set. his reissues sound good as well but the way this set was put together with all the out-takes and elements is just great!
Disc 2 – Elements and Out-takes
Imagine (elements mix) – superb strings only. Reminded me of a 1940’s Christmas movie. Lovely by itself, seems like a whole new song
Jealous Guy (elements mix) – lovely piano driven instrumental mix with just piano, bass and drums. Damn fine piano playing by Nicky Hopkins. So good I can’t wait to dig into more of this on the bigger box version. Thought I may be bored with elements but this is superb
Oh My Love (elements mix) – Stunning vocal only mix. Just lovely with Lennon’s vocals alone. Great stuff.
How? (elements mix) – just the strings. SUPERB. Like Imagine previously sounds like it could come from some movie soundtrack, gives the song whole new feeling with just strings, lovely
Imagine (demo) – Fantastic demo with just Lennon on the piano and a ton of echo. The Plastic Ono version of this track
Imagine take 1 – Love this. More hesitant and world weary sounding than the finished take. Sounds more childlike on this take
Crippled Inside take 3 – so clean and laid back. Nice take, the vocals area bit more hesitant than the finished take but instrumentally this take sounds great!
Crippled Inside – take 6 with alt guitar solo – this is where multiple takes can be a bit overkill. Nice take, nice alt solo but I prefer take 3 because it sounds more different from the finished take and is cleaner sounding than this take
Jealous Guy – take 9 – really nice take. Much different feel from the finished version, I may prefer this actually. Reminds me of the alternate version of Across the Universe from The Beatles Anthology disc. Lighter version but nice. Not complete though
It’s So Hard – take 6 – great sounding take with nice fat bass! Less echo om Lennon’s vocal which is nice actually. Fun listen more bluesy sounding than the finished take.
I Don’t Want to Be a Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die – take 11 – more raw take. Sounds interesting but I prefer the finished take. This one is a little more tedious to listen to but okay
Gimme Some Truth – take 4 – nice raw take. Sounds good but not dramatically different than the master but no solo.
Oh My Love – take 6 – lovely, does this song ever sound bad! Nice alt take but very similar to released take. Fun to hear though vocals are rougher
How Do You Sleep? – takes 1 & 2 – nice funkier takes on the song! I like the way Lennon sings on these. Nice, one of the highlights of the out-takes. Take 1 superb, with great Harrison slide work. Says takes 1 & 2 but I only heard one take, take 1
How – take 31 – nice alternate take, again not dramatically different but nice. Softer approach.
Oh Yoko! (Bahamas 1969) – Low-fi demo of just John and Yoko. Charming actually. Nice
Power to the People – take 7 – nice raw version without all the echo of the finished master. Nice, another highlight of the set.
God Save Us – demo – love this demo. Better than the actual master. Typical Lennon demo, unfinished but fun with congas
Do the Oz – take 3 – Yoko version, heavier and funkier. Not much of a track but fun
Happy Xmas (War is Over) (alt mix) – love this mix. No choir but really nice. Lovely stripped down version.
There’s a ton packed into this 2 CD set. I feel there’s more than enough to satisfy even major Lennon fans with just this set. You get the terrific remix plus the various elements and out-takes.
Truth be told I could be just fine with this set but the elements were so enjoyable I’d love to hear more. I have the box on order but this set is so nice I’m not sure if more would be overkill or not. I may just stay with this set but odds are I’ll wonder into overkill territory.
The out-takes actually sound a bit more closed in than the superb remix of the album but are a nice listen. Not sure that the box would be better or a bit too much.
Surprisingly the highlight of Disc 2 was listening to the element mixes of the songs. i really enjoyed hearing just the strings and/or stripped down parts of the songs as it gives a whole new feeling to the music and sounded just beautiful.
TERRIFIC SET!!! One of, if not the best reissues of a classic album I’ve ever heard. The sound throughout is great, no added compression, very respectful of the original vision of the material while making it sound improved and more engaging.