The dream wait is over, what can I say? The dream wait is over, yesterday….
It’s taken a while (there’s even been an official countdown clock ticking down just for the announcement) but Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon have at last revealed the release date (16 April), and the contents of the 50th anniversary box set of John Lennon’s legendary Plastic Ono Band solo album.
And it looks really good. The wait appears to have been worth it:
Rather than detail it all here it’s best to click through to the official John Lennon website which has all the information – and more – about what this 6 CD, 2 Blu-Ray Audio Disc Plastic Ono Band Ultimate Collection deluxe box set will contain. They’ve created a fantastic site with masses of information, images and memorabilia.
There is of course also a 2LP Half Speed Master release, a two CD edition, and a single CD release as well. Accurate track listings for each for each of these are also included on the Lennon site.
There’s a terrific exhibition on at the moment in Tokyo called Double Fantasy – John & Yoko:There are a couple of interesting collectors items that you can purchase from this exhibition. The first is the official exhibition catalogue – a thick book that serves as a comprehensive overview of everything on display:
We also liked the look of these two Limited Edition, 10-inch clear vinyl records which are only available through the Double Fantasy – John & Yokomuseum store:
These contain interviews with John and Yoko. The first is ‘John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Special Interview, January 25, 1971 at the Imperial (Teikoko) Hotel’.
The second is ‘John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Special Interview, September 2, 1971 New York’. They are both on the same label as Ono’s album re-issues for the Secretly Canadian/Chimera label in the US, and the Sony Records International label in Japan – featuring a cut grapefruit instead of an apple.
There’s also this Limited Edition Yoko Ono single on white vinyl, released on November 25. Again this appears to be exclusive to the exhibition store:
Double Fantasy – John & Yoko is a large-scale exhibit which was first mounted in John Lennon’s hometown of Liverpool (at the Liverpool Museum in England) between May, 2018 and November, 2019.
In 2020 that very same exhibition has come to Yoko Ono’s hometown, Tokyo.
There are many connections for the couple with Japan. John, Yoko, and Sean Ono Lennon visited the country every year between 1977 and 1979 and enjoyed numerous family trips to various places as John’s green card (granted to him in 1976) made it possible for them to once again travel outside the United States.
Japan’s NHK TV last week ran a story about the exhibition. It included this insightful interview with Sean who shared his memories of visiting Japan, about growing up as the son of two of the most famous people in the world, and the role his parents played in promoting peace – it’s well worth a look.
Yoko was deeply involved in the curation of Double Fantasy – John & Yoko and it contains a wealth of rare original historic documents, photographs, films, objects, artworks and personal items from key moments in the lives of the two. It apparently takes more than two hours to view everything and get a thorough overview of what is on offer: One of the treasures is John’s hand-made, teenage satiric magazine (from c.1957) containing his cartoons and drawings called The Daily Howl:
There’s also an original copy of Yoko’s book Grapefruit which she gave to John as a gift. First published in 1964, Grapefruit represents a seminal piece of conceptual art that had a direct influence on the lyrics and concepts behind the song ‘Imagine’:
Also on display are numerous handwritten lyrics by Lennon including ‘Imagine’, ‘In My Life’, ‘Give Peace a Chance’, ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’, and ‘Woman’.
There’s also one of the famous works that Yoko showed at her Unfinished Paintings and Objects exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London in 1966. It’s where John first encountered her art up close:Of course there’s also the previously mentioned Museum Shop offering a wide variety of other merchandise…..
Double Fantasy – John & Yoko opened at Tokyo’s Sony Music Roppongi Museum on October 9, the 80th anniversary of John Lennon’s birth.
It runs until January 11, 2021, and has marked the 40th anniversary of his death by setting up a place for visitors to remember John by leaving messages and floral tributes.
Looks like the Lennon camp is belatedly getting in on the coloured vinyl craze – but nothing as lavish/extensive/crazy as the McCartney team (see * links and **image below).
There’s going to be an exclusive US Target store Opaque Blue release for the recent Gimme Some Truth 2 LP set:This Gimme Some Truth double gatefold, previously only available on good old black vinyl, will hit Target stores in the United States on February 19, 2021.
With COVID-19 restrictions now easing quite a bit in most parts of Australia (sadly still not for our friends in Melbourne, Victoria – we’re thinking of you guys!), some of the previously closed opportunity shops around Sydney are re-opening and getting back to normal.
One near us that’s been completely closed for at least six months has suddenly opened its doors once again, and so a forage there over the weekend turned up a couple of interesting items.
With what would have been John Lennon’s 80th birthday looming large this coming Friday, it was a coincidence that all three of the finds where Lennon-related.
They are two books, We All Shine On – The Stories Behind Every John Lennon Song, 1970-1980 and John Lennon – In My Life.
We All Shine On – The Stories Behind Every John Lennon Song, 1970-1980 is by journalist and author Paul Du Noyer.
This is an original Australian edition paperback in a large format, dated 1997. It’s a book that’s been published and re-published numerous times over the years. According to Du Noyer’s website, the latest version is from 2020. The book is also available in German, Spanish, Italian and Czech language editions.
The title says it all: it is the track-by-track story of John Lennon’s last ten years, revealed through the music he made.
In fact we already had a revised and updated UK edition of this same title (in a small paperback format from 2010), but this earlier edition has a slightly different layout. Here are some images of what’s inside:
The second book is quite a fascinating account from former Lennon friend and personal assistant, Pete Shotton (as told to Nicholas Schaffner):
Pete Shotton’s friendship with John Lennon spanned more than thirty years, from the time they met as children in Liverpool to their last meeting in John’s Dakota apartment building in New York. They grew up together in the leafy Liverpool suburb of Woolton and Pete stayed close right through his friend’s rise to fame, wealth and stardom – not as a hanger-on, but as a trusted buddy or mate whom Lennon valued. He was someone who knew Lennon well and didn’t treat him like a star.
Nicholas Schaffner is an author and acknowledged Beatle expert – probably best known for his book The Beatles Forever. In this book Shotton and Schaffner reveal an insider’s view of many of the key public events in Beatle history, but also the private life of John Lennon throughout his career.
As you can see, the text is accompanied by many photographs and documents to help tell the story. This book is well worth seeking out if you haven’t got it already. It was first published in 1983. Here’s the rear cover (and yes, it’s a reverse image of the front):
Also in amongst the CD’s at the opportunity shop was this Apple recording. The photos are ‘as-found’ as they tell a bit of a story in themselves:
This is John Tavener’sThe Whale. Tavener was a young classical composer signed to The Beatles’Apple label in 1969. And it was John Lennon who was influential in making that happen. From the CD booklet:
“Although it was Ringo Starr who became Tavener’s main contact at Apple and who was responsible for getting The Whale onto disc, it was in fact Lennon – contrary to stories elsewhere – who took the first initiative and provided the composer with an introduction to the company. [They] first met in 1969, at a dinner party in London’s Hereford Square, and they marked the occasion by swapping tapes of their latest works. Lennon brought along his avant-garde experiments with Yoko Ono, whilst Tavener played extracts from his opera Notre Dame Des Fleurs, and the BBC recording of The Whale. On the strength of the opera, Lennon invited Tavener to join Apple, although it was The Whale which eventually sufaced on the label.”
The Whale is based on the the story of Jonah and the Whale, and has been described as both a ‘dramatic cantata’ and a ‘Biblical fantasy’. It is performed by the London Sinfonietta and the London Sinfonietta Chorus, conducted by David Atherton. It was recorded in 1970. This CD edition though came out as part of the Apple Records re-issue program in 1991/1992.
It’s interesting to note that the original purchaser of this disc (her name and address is on a sticker on the back) paid $46.99 Australian for it at the time! That’s US$33.74 by today’s exchange rate, or £26 UK pounds. That’s a lot of money – even today. It would have been a huge amount in 1992. The record store JB Hi Fi (it’s a big Australian music chain store) has put a “JB Hi Fi Special Import Sticker” on the spine of the jewel case.
(As usual, click on any of the images to see larger versions)
Today comes the announcement that, as part of the celebrations for John Lennon’s 80th birthday, a new selection of his solo recordings have been completely re-mixed from scratch for a new collection called (you guessed it), Gimme Some Truth: Huh? What’s this all about, and why?
This is yet another “Best Of” selection, this time around chosen by Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon, and in physical format it will be issued in a plethora of ways:
1 CD (19 tracks); 2 LP (19 tracks); 2 CD’s (36 tracks); 4 LP Box Set (36 tracks); and a Deluxe Box Set with 2 CD’s + Blu-Ray (audio only with High Definition 24-96 Stereo,
5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Atmos mixes) + 124 page book, poster, postcards and sticker (36 tracks).
Of the 36 tracks on offer here, 30 of them were already included on the 2010 Gimme Some Truth box.
However, the Lennon official site says that what differentiates this 2020 Gimme Some Truth is that all the tracks have now (quote) “…been completely remixed…using brand new transfers of the original multi-tracks, cleaned up to the highest possible sonic quality…radically upgrading their sonic quality, presenting them as a never-before-heard Ultimate Listening Experience.”
This new box set has been mixed and engineered by multi GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks.
It was Hicks who did the mixes for Imagine – The Ultimate Collection in 2018 and, it has to be said, he did an exceptional job so it’ll be interesting to hear the improvements to these 36 tracks.
“After weeks of painstaking preparation, the final mixes and effects were completed using only vintage analogue equipment and effects at Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles (formerly A&M Studios, where John had recorded some of the Rock ‘n’ Roll album), and then mastered in analogue at Abbey Road Studios in order to ensure the most beautiful and authentic sound quality possible.”
Have a listen and make up your own mind on this preview track on YouTube:
So, there will be the inevitable claims of another cash grab and that this is another go at selling us music we already have. Personally, I’m looking forward to these tracks being presented in the best possible audio. But that’s just me. What do you reckon? Let us know in the comment section below.
The question a lot of collectors are now asking is does this mean we won’t be getting the rumoured big re-issue campaign for Plastic Ono Band, John’s 1970 masterpiece which has its 50th anniversary later this year? It seems we won’t.
The official site now states that “RSD is scheduled to be celebrated with special, properly distanced release dates on Saturdays in August, September and October…..The titles on the RSD 2020 Official List, launched on March 5th, will be released at participating record stores on one of these three RSD Drops.”
The first of these “drops” will be on August 29th, the second is on September 26th, and the final is slated for October 24th.
A new version of the RSD 2020 Official List, with newly assigned RSD Drops dates will launch on June 1 – so check back here for a look at when you’ll be able to pick up the titles on your wishlist at your local record store.
Of course the titles we’ll be on the hunt for remain Paul McCartney’s Half Speed Master of his solo debut LPMcCartney; John Lennon’s re-mixed ‘Instant Karma’ single; and the first ever vinyl release of the George Harrison produced Chants of India. But which RSD “drop” dates will they be assigned to? We’ll just have to wait until June 1 to find out.
It’s been a bit quiet on the new Beatle product front for a while. Then comes the 2020 Record Store Day official lists – and not one, but three titles that will be of ineterst to collectors.
First up, Paul McCartney and yet a further re-issue of his first solo album from 1970, simply called McCartney:
This time around, for it’s 50th anniversary, McCartney is getting the Half Speed Master treatment. There will be just 7000 copies produced. If you’d like to know more about Half Speed Mastering UMe has produced this article. Abbey Road Studios engineer Miles Showell (who worked on this 2020 re-issue of McCartney) explains more here:
And, as one wag said on one of the better re-issue forums (Super Deluxe Edition – which we love): “Just as he did fifty years ago, Paul’s making sure his solo album gets released before Let It Be hits the streets…” That’s actually very funny. History repeats.
Also on this year’s Record Store Day list, a Ravi Shankar Centennary Edition of his Chants of India album, produced by George Harrison in 1997. In what is the first physical product to come out of the new distribution relationship between BMG and Harrison’s Dark Horse Records, this LP is being issued for the first time on vinyl – and it will be on red coloured vinyl to boot! 3000 copies are being pressed, and the 2LP set will come in a gatefold cover with an exclusive photo print:
Finally, a John Lennon title is included in the 2020 RSD list. A 7″ black vinyl single of his 1970 hit ‘Instant Karma!’ is being billed as the 2020 Ultimate Mixes. The single will feature newly mixed audio and a faithful reproduction of original UK sleeve artwork. 7000 copies are being pressed:
Record Store Day this year is on Saturday, April 18. Check here for the full list of what is planned for release. You can find the US RSD store here. The official RSD UK store is here.
It really works, don’t you think? Composer Robbie Robertson and Playing For Change producer Mark Johnson talk about the making of the track here and, like Robbie says, “It gives it a very special soul to me, seeing music come together like that.”:
Playing For Change have also recorded and filmed (in 2011) a version of John Lennon’s‘Imagine’:
Playing for Change grew from a dream to make the world a little brighter, and now supports musicians all over the world. For $5 a month you can become a member and enjoy the entire PFC music catalogue (with exclusive content), receive a 25% discount in their shop, and know that 20% of your membership is donated directly to the Playing for Change Foundation. Just click on the Become A Member button on the site.
Got the chance on the weekend to visit Melbourne Museum and the second-to-last day of a significant exhibition (mounted in conjunction with The Victoria and Albert Museum in London) called Revolutions: Records + Rebels – Five Years That Shook the World.
This extensive collection explores five explosive years between 1966–1970, focussing on the immense cultural shifts being experienced around the world by a liberated, post-war generation coming of age. It’s the 60s we’ve heard about brought to life with a massive amount of memorabilia, fashion, books, art, posters and music.
And of course, The Beatles are scattered liberally throughout.
The project highlights many of the key subject areas that shaped the late 60s: revolution, fashion, drugs, sub-cultures, human rights, feminism, war, protests, consumerism, festivals… all the while set against an awesome rock & roll soundtrack of the time.
On display are some iconic Beatle items, including original posters advertising their albums:
Beside this poster for the album Revolver (above – eye reflections are in the glass) is another one called ‘A is For Apple’, designed by the Dutch artists The Fool whose psychedelic and colourful work was highly influential on The Beatles. This poster promoted the band’s short-lived Apple Boutique on Baker Street in London:
Also on display were John Lennon’s hand-written lyrics for ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’:
And the brocade frock coat he wore while filming the historic 1967 Our World broadcast of the Beatles song ‘All You Need Is Love’:
Of course Lennon’s original Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band uniform drew a big crowd:
There were also two original, hand-lettered Hair Peace and Bed Peace signs from 1969 and the ‘Bed-In For Peace’ events held by John Lennon and his newly-married bride Yoko Ono. The one in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada was where they recorded ‘Give Peace a Chance’ with Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg and others. These two come from the collection of Yoko Ono:
Another item from her collection is this notepad sheet from the The New York Hilton containing hand-written lyrics to Lennon’s ‘Imagine’:
And just across from it, the jacket that John wore when filming the song at the white piano in the couple’s lounge room in their Tittenhurst Park estate:
Apple Records has just uploaded the full 2019 mix video of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ – rounding out the teasers for the 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles legendary Abbey Road. The album is officially released today in multiple formats!
The film – part animation, part archival photos and footage – takes us on a journey from EMI’s Studio 2 at Abbey Road (where the album was recorded) to John Lennon’s home at Tittenhurst Park and TheBeatles’ final photo shoot as a band.
Included is some lovely film footage of the band there during the shoot – taken by Linda McCartney – that has possibly been restored by Peter Jackson. If that’s correct then it’s a harbinger of good things to come when he releases his take on the Let It Be film, which is due early next year. It looks crisp and beautiful.