DeLuxe “Imagine” coming up

Poster, originally included with the Imagine album.

According to Beatles aide Tony Bramwell, a “song and dance” version of the classic John Lennon album “Imagine” from 1971 is in the works, to be released in the autumn. When asked what he meant with “song and dance” by Steve Marinucci, Bramwell replied “Just remixed and fiddled about with.”

“Imagine” is the most popular of John Lennon’s solo works and the title track is considered one of Lennon’s finest songs. In 2012, “Imagine” was voted 80th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. George Harrison also played on the album, alongside seession musicians. It featured Lennon’s most vitriolic stab at his former songwriting partner in the form of the song “How Do You Sleep?”, where Lennon addresses McCartney, saying “the only thing you’ve done was ‘Yesterday'”. However, the two patched up their friendship pretty soon again after that – without telling anyone.

Apple Records issued Imagine on 9 September 1971 in the United States and a month later, on 8 October, in the UK. Early editions of the LP included a postcard featuring a photo of Lennon holding a pig, in mockery of McCartney’s similar pose with a sheep on the cover of Ram. A poster of John Lennon sitting behind his white grand piano was also included, and the inner sleeve featured credits printed in a circle. “Imagine” was also released in quadrophonic, which was a seventies surround sound system, using four speakers.

“Imagine” inner sleeve.

“Imagine”, backed with “It’s So Hard”, was released as a single, in the US on 11 October 1971, and in a number of other countries, including Norway. The album went to number 1 worldwide and became an enduring seller, with the title track reaching number 3 in the United States. “Imagine” would not be issued as a single in Britain until four years later, to coincide with the release of Lennon’s “Shaved Fish” singles collection.

Imagine – front cover

The front cover was a Polaroid taken by Andy Warhol. The back cover photograph was taken by Yoko Ono. A quote from Ono’s book Grapefruit (which the Lennons were in the process of promoting the re-release of in the UK) was also included on the back cover: “Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in.”

Side one

“Imagine” – 3:01

“Crippled Inside” – 3:47

“Jealous Guy” – 4:14

“It’s So Hard” – 2:25

“I Don’t Want to Be a Soldier” – 6:05

Side two

“Give Me Some Truth” – 3:16

“Oh My Love” – 2:50

“How Do You Sleep?” – 5:36

“How?” – 3:43

“Oh Yoko!” – 4:20

In 1972, Lennon and Ono released an 81-minute film to accompany the Imagine album which featured footage of them at their Berkshire property at Tittenhurst Park and in New York City. It included many of the tracks from the album and some additional material from Ono’s 1971 album Fly. Several celebrities appeared in the film, including Andy Warhol, Fred Astaire, Jack Palance, Dick Cavett and George Harrison. Derided by critics as “the most expensive home movie of all time”, it premiered to an American audience, on TV on 23 December 1972.

VHS video edit

An edited down version, featuring only John Lennon’s music videos was released for the home video market after John’s death, on VHS, Beta and Laser disc. It has not been re-released in the DVD and Blu-ray age. Perhaps this “song and dance” re-release of the album will include this film as a bonus DVD?

A DVD which did come out, was “Gimme Some Truth – The making of John Lennon’s Imagine“, which benefitted from priceless footage of Lennon’s creative process, independently edited from original 16-millimeter footage by producer-director Andrew Solt with the hands-off approval of Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono. Incorporating footage from John and Yoko’s original film “Imagine”, Gimme Some Truth presents Lennon, Ono, co producer Phil Spector, and a host of gifted musicians in a fluid context of conflict, community, and craftsmanship. Bearing witness to every stage of the recording process, the 63-minute documentary succeeds as a visual diary, a study of familiar music in its infancy, and a revealing portrait of the then-30-year-old Lennon–from witty clown to confrontational perfectionist–at the peak of his post-Fab Four inspiration. The DVD featured remastered sound–which was carefully remixed for Dolby Digital 5.1-channel stereo at Abbey Road studios.

Previous re-releases

In 2000, a remixed version of the “Imagine” album was released, with Yoko Ono supervising the remixing procedures.

In October 2010, a remastered version of the album was released, the mix however was reverted back to the 1971 original.

On Record Store Day 2011, in honour of the album’s 40th anniversary, “Imagine” was re-released on 180gram vinyl with an additional 12″ white vinyl record entitled Imagine Sessions, featuring six tracks taken from the John Lennon Anthology. Only 6,700 copies of this release was made, for worldwide distribution.

2LP version of “Imagine” for Record Store Day 2011.

In January 2014, “Imagine” was released by Universal Music on the High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray format, featuring PCM, DTS HD and Dolby Tru HD audio tracks, based on the 2010 remaster.

Audio Blu-ray, back cover.

So, I guess what we are trying to say is that this album has been exploited by the record company many times over, and yet – it looks like we are going to buy it once more. Gotta sing – gotta dance.

11 Responses

  1. Gabor Peterdi says:

    Maybe they release the 2000 remix in HQ audio and 5.1. We'll buy it anyway out of curiosity, but really Im quite happy with the 2000 mix already. Just a 24 bit download version of the 2000 remixes would be a better option. And then they should close the shop.

  2. Unknown says:

    Is that the sound of a barrel being scraped..?

  3. cubemediaworks says:

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  4. db says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. The BEATLES says:

    I agree with Gabor Peterdi. I think the 2000 remix is the BEST version of the album, and that version should be on Spotify and iTunes. The 2010 remastered version is not too good.

  6. Rich says:

    I agree with the scraping the barrel comment. Unless it includes some previously unreleased outtakes it's not worth purchasing. The world doesn't need another remix

  7. Unknown says:

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  8. Unknown says:

    John's mixes were not the best to be honest. Yoko Ono supervised the Abbey Road mixes/mastering in 2000. Those versions sound the best.
    I think that is alle we can ask for regarding the Lennon catalogue.


  9. sandandglue says:

    I'd hate think that 'Imagine' would become 'Pet Sounds' – A thousand iterations on various different formats, very few of the precious outtakes that we need (Though I might argue that if we're missing anything from those sessions, it's ver, very little)

  10. piper909 says:

    A reissue of the "Imagine" film on DVD, all cleaned up, would be reason enough for me to buy a new package. That's a very good little concept video, from back before the term had been invented, and I worry that my VHS tape will only get more worn or my machine will die.

  11. Unknown says:

    Perhaps they’re doing another Stripped Down, as they did with Doubke Fantasy? That would be interesting to me. If not that, or a multi-disc set with a ton of unreleased outtakes, I’d agree that we don’t need to revisit Imagine with another slight remix. The 2000 mix really sounds as if he’s right beside you, you can’t top that. I’m just hoping and praying for something previously unheard.

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