Lennon ‘Imagine’ Re-Issue Rumours Abound

With a press release and first photos issued earlier this week giving details of a new book about the making of John Lennon’s 1971 LP Imagine – plus a social media marketing blitz for the book getting under way yesterday (coordinated Tweets from @yokoono@johnlennon; and the publishers @thamesandhudson and @GrandCentralPub, not to mention Facebook) – the rumour mill is ripe with talk that the book will also be accompanied by a significant re-issue of the recording.

The book, which looks to be an impressive 320 page hardback, is due in store on October 9th:From the press release: “Imagine tells the story of John & Yoko’s life, work and relationship during this intensely creative period. It transports readers to home and working environments through artfully compiled narrative film stills, Yoko’s closely guarded archive photos and artefacts, and stitched-together panoramas taken from outtake film footage that recreate the interiors in evocative detail. Each chapter and song is introduced with text by John & Yoko compiled from published and unpublished sources and complemented by comments from Yoko today. Fresh insights are provided by musicians, engineers and staff who took part, many of whom feature on the inner sleeve’s enigmatic picture wheel, in which the identities are finally revealed. All the minutiae is examined: the locations, the key players, the music and lyrics, the production techniques and the artworks – including the creative process behind the double exposure Polaroids used on the album cover.”

Even the page edges have been given a special cloud treatment:

Imagine will be published in the USA by Grand Central Publishing, and the UK by Thames and Hudson.

So much for the book….what about a re-mixed Imagine CD, vinyl, or deluxe box set to accompany it?

Some weeks back The Beatles Daily blog had this, quoting former Beatle aide and insider Tony Bramwell that a “song and dance” version of the album was in the works, while on the popular Steve Hoffman Music Forums they are talking about a new remix, possible DVD and Blu-Ray, and maybe a box set to be bundled with the book…..

So far it is all speculation. If there’s something in the works expect an offical announcement soon I guess.

One thing is certain: Yoko Ono is using the opportunity to further establish herself as central and a co-creator of the now classic John Lennon Imagine project…..something that’s causing consternation amongst some fans.

Again, from the official press release: “In 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono conceived and recorded the critically acclaimed album Imagine at their Georgian country home, Tittenhurst Park, in Berkshire, England, and in the state-of-the-art studio they built in the grounds and at the Record Plant in New York. The lyrics of its title track were inspired by Yoko Ono’s ‘event scores’ in her 1964 book Grapefruit, and she was officially co-credited as writer in June 2017.

If there is to be some sort of re-issue later this year, it will become the very first to carry that new co-writer song credit for the song ‘Imagine”.

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John Lennon – 2018 US Postal Service Stamp Update

The US Postal Service recently issued a little bit more information on the John Lennon Forever stamp, part of its Music Icons commemorative series.

The stamp will be issued on September 7 in New York City, and with more details of the design being made public there’s been a bit of a surprise twist: there will be not one, but four different stamps in this issue.

As you can see above, because the stamp will be issued in a pane of 16 (with the stamp pane made to look like the sleeve of a 7″ record – which is kind of cool), the stamps in each row are to be treated in different gradient colors, creating four different varieties.

The colors on the stamps in the first row change from light orange to red; the second row changes from red to light purple; the third row is light purple to dark purple; and the fourth is dark purple to blue.

The image on the reverse of the pane is the black-and-white photograph taken by Peter Fordham at about the time of the Imagine album release in 1971. It is of Lennon at his white piano. His signature is in white above, and there’s a Music Icons logo bottom left.

The John Lennon stamp was designed by Neal Ashby and Antonio Alcala was the art director.The US Postal Service press release is here.

Strange/Unusual Finds of the Month – Nowhere Man and Double Fantasy

Every couple of months the Lifeline organisation (which offers a free phone crisis and suicide prevention counselling service in Australia) holds a huge fundraising book fair. They always have, as a side note, lots of second-hand CDs, and usually a few records too. These are usually placed in one corner and any Beatle titles would be scattered in amongst hundreds of other artists.

However, the Lifeline book fair last month had its very own Beatles section!

Obviously someone had donated a large collection and the volunteers had hived off a dedicated section of the tables just for Beatle stuff. There were books, a small selection of LPs and CDs, plus a very large stack of 45 singles. By the time we got through the door though another collector was well into sifting through the 45’s and so we had to wait patiently by for him to finish. Sadly (for us) he took just about all of them, and we were left to pick over the remains.

Much to our delight though we discovered a very clean copy of a Beatle EP that had been missing from the collection – one that is now considered rare and fetches hefty prices on eBay. It’s the Australian pressing of the band’s Nowhere Man EP, released on November 3, 1966:This one has the flipback tabs on the rear cover, and the early black and yellow Parlophone label with the Northern Songs royalty stamps included:We’d been looking for a copy of this EP for ages, so to find a copy in good condition was a real bonus. It completes a full set of all the Beatles’ Australian EP releases.

While biding time waiting for the other collector to sift through the stack of 45’s we checked out the books and the small number of Beatle albums on offer. Amongst these was this LP: This is the rarer Half-Speed mastered pressing of the John Lennon/Yoko Ono disc Double Fantasy. It is on the Geffen/Nautilus Superdisc label and dates from 1982. This limited edition release should come with a poster and a lyric sheet insert. Both these are missing, but it does have the original Nautilus ‘blue disc’ poly inner “Super Sleeve”:So, another strange/unusual find on what turned out to be a pretty good day.

Label Variations Part Eleven – Happy Xmas (War is Over)

A Christmas theme for the next installment in our occasional Label Variations segment.

This time it’s John Lennon, Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band, with the Harlem Community Choir  and the 1971/1972 song ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’. Early versions (and some re-issues) were on green vinyl to suit the season.

The US Bell Sound test pressing:

Other US variations:

Some of the UK releases:

And Australia/New Zealand:

Here are some European releases. First Spain ‘Feliz Navidad’:

The Netherlands:

Italy:

France:

Greece:

Sweden:

An EU-made CD single from 2003:

Back to vinyl, this one is from Yugoslavia:

And a couple of South American countries, including Venuzuela ‘Felices Pascuas (Se Acabo La Guerra)’:

Brazil:

Mexico ‘Feliz Navidad (La guerra termino)’:

Here’s one from Japan ‘ハッピークリスマス戦争は終わった’:

Later on, when John Lennon was signed briefly to Geffen Records, that label released ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’ too:

(As usual, click on most images to see larger versions)

Please note that not all these are from our collection! Check out this link to a ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’ 40th Anniversary page. Catch some others in the Label Variations series here. And visit the Imagine Peace (War is Over!) site.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers.

Some Sgt. Pepper’s Holiday Listening

With the holidays upon us, and to celebrate the release of the 2017 remix of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (on 180 gram vinyl) in single LP form – plus the Sgt. Pepper vinyl picture disc, here are a couple of Pepper-related items for your listening pleasure.

They all come from the Australian Radio National program, The Music Show – hosted by Andrew Ford.

For the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper earlier this year The Music Show spoke to singer Barb Junger (whom you’ll hear has a record of Beatle covers out) and writer Joyce Morgan about their memories of first hearing the album back when it was first released in the Summer of Love:

The Music Show also spoke to Beatle biographer extraordinaire, Mark Lewisohn:

The program’s final Pepper installment came from Joanne Petersen, Brian Epstein’s personal assistant. Petersen, who now lives in Australia, recalls the time she heard a test pressing of Sgt. Pepper’s; details some of the launch activities (including John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls Royce); and George Harrison refusing to cuddle British DJ Kenny Everett:

Their Pepper special also came with a special bonus. It’s a link to a fantastic mini documentary on the background to the people (and horses!) mentioned in the poster John Lennon used to inspire his song, ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite’. And, believe it or not, there’s another Australian connection:

All audio is ex ABC Radio National. Visit The Music Show website for more of their great programs.

 

John Lennon – 2018 US Postal Service Stamp

Looks like the US Postal Service is to honour John Lennon in 2018.

The newest stamp in its Music Icons series will honor singer and songwriter John Lennon (1940–1980), “….a rock ’n’ roll hero successful both as a founding member of the Beatles and as a solo artist.”

If the photograph for the stamp looks familiar, it was most recently used on the cover of Philip Norman’s book John Lennon – The Life, which came out in 2008. The image is by legendary rock photographer Bob Gruen who knew Lennon well and has taken many iconic images of him. The photograph comes from a photo shoot for the cover of his 1978 album Walls and Bridges:  

The Postal Service has previously honoured The Beatles as a group on a 1999 postage stamp as part of its Celebrate the Century series. That issue depicted the Yellow Submarine from the animated movie and soundtrack Yellow Submarine. The upcoming Lennon release will be the first to feature an actual likeness of one of the Beatles on a U.S. stamp.

In 2007 Britain’s Royal Mail issued ten different stamps celebrating the importance of The Beatles to Britain and the world. These depicted album covers (With The Beatles; Help!; Revolver; Sgt. Pepper; Let It Be; and Abbey Road, plus the single ‘Love Me Do’), along with images of Beatle memorabilia. For more detail on those releases click here.

Detailed information and the issue date for the Lennon US Postal Service stamp will be revealed later. The stamp design is preliminary and subject to change until issuance dates.

The Salvos Take On a Vision for Strawberry Field in Liverpool

After a battle with local authorities The Salvation Army has finally received a full planning go-ahead to build a much-needed training and work placement hub for young people with learning disabilities at its Strawberry Field site in Liverpool. The site, which has been closed to the public for years, will also house an exhibition centre where visitors can find out more about John Lennon and his connection to the parklands, as well as a place to explore spirituality. It’ll look something like this:

The next phase of the project is to raise the money needed to move the Salvos plans from vision to reality. And that’s where you come in.

To find out how you can donate, purchase merchandise and support the project, visit www.strawberryfieldliverpool.com

You’ll be helping young people like Jordan Clark to overcome their learning difficulties, get jobs, and make a real contribution to the community:

One of the fundraising projects launched recently saw a group of young people from the City of Liverpool College and the Salvos’ Steps to Work programme come together to form a choir to record a version of John Lennon’s legendary ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. They did it at the Abbey Road Studios in London, no less:

To hear the song in full, click here.

Jules Sherwood, Development Manager for The Salvation Army, said: “We believe Strawberry Field is the final piece of the Beatles jigsaw in Liverpool and once open will offer a magical experience to visitors who will be able to follow in the footsteps of the young John Lennon.”

“The very latest technologies will be adopted to create an exhibition where visitors will enter a space where “nothing is real” as they experience the wondrous, intertwined histories of the house, John Lennon and the writing and recording of the iconic song. The gardens will be filled with messages of peace and love which we hope will inspire visitors as Lennon himself was inspired.”

Strawberry Field is an iconic part of Liverpool’s history, as well as an important part of the local community in Woolton. The Salvation Army has owned the site since the 1930s and ran a children’s home there until 2005. John Lennon was inspired to write ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ after climbing over the wall and playing in the grounds. For him, it was a special place which had a lasting impact on his life.

If you’d like to help you can donate here, plus there’s lots of cool merch in the official Salvos store