‘Double Fantasy – John & Yoko’ Exhibition – Tokyo

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:

It’s in Japanese and English, and packed with a wealth of great photos detailing all the displays. It’s available through the gift shop at the exhibition venue (Tokyo’s Sony Music Roppongi Museum), from Amazon Japan, or The Blue Sheep Shop.

We also liked the look of these two Limited Edition, 10-inch clear vinyl records which are only available through the Double Fantasy – John & Yoko museum 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.

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.

Double Fantasy – Lennon & Ono in Vanity Fair Magazine

For those of us not well-heeled enough to shell out A$870 (for the standard edition), or A$1933 (for the deluxe art edition), perhaps this Vanity Fair magazine slideshow of images from a new book by photographer Kishin Shinoyama will just have to do….Double_Fantasy_1Double_Fantasy_2

Double Fantasy: John Lennon and Yoko Ono is published by Taschen Books:Double Fantasy 3

The Taschen site has some additional images in a slideshow, too.

Shinoyama’s 800 images were captured in just two days in 1980 – during the period John Lennon and Yoko Ono were in recording sessions for their album Double Fantasy. It was Shinoyama’s images that were used for the record and CD cover, front and rear:Double Fantasy 4Double Fantasy 5

And also for 1884’s Milk and Honey:Milk and Honey 1Milk and Honey 2

John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes

Yoko Ono has launched a WhyHunger fund-raising iPhone/iPad app called John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes.Lennon Bermuda Tapes 5

The app documents the 1980 sailing trip undertaken by Lennon to the island of Bermuda – a journey which re-ignited his creative spark and led to the writing of the songs that formed the albums Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey. Integrating excerpts of demo tapes recorded in Bermuda alongside game play and documentary storytelling, John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes takes users down two paths:LEnnon Bermuda Tapes

One is called “Play” which immerses users into the eventful boat journey itself; and one is called “Listen” which contains intimate demo tapes of several Lennon songs written while he was in Bermuda including “Woman”, “I’m Losing You”, “(Just Like) Starting Over”, “Nobody Told Me”, “Dear Yoko” and a previously unreleased demo version of “Stepping Out.”Lennon Bermuda Tapes2Lennon Bermuda Tapes 3Lennon Bermuda Tapes 4

To find out more you can read the full press release here and there’s also an official online site dedicated to the app. We’ve downloaded the app and it is very detailed and interactive. The graphics and they way they tell the story are creative. It’s very involving and you certainly learn a lot of things about John Lennon that maybe you didn’t know before. Well worth the money – and it goes to a good cause as well.

Net proceeds from the sale of the app go to benefit the not-for-profit WhyHunger organisation and its global Imagine There’s No Hunger campaign, in partnership with Hard Rock International and Yoko Ono.

John Lennon – Double Fantasy (Stripped Down)

At long last my copy of the John Lennon and Yoko Ono “Double Fantasy – Stripped Down” two CD set has arrived.

I know, it was released way back in October as part of the Lennon 70th birth-date celebrations, along with the big LennonSignature” box set, the “Gimme Some Truth” 4 CD box set, and the two versions of the “best of” John Lennon compilations called “Power to the People – The Hits”.

The lengthy delay for me in getting “Double Fantasy – Stripped Down” was caused by a bad Ebayer who disappeared off the face of the earth after taking my (and many other peoples) money. After waiting weeks the item just didn’t turn up, and he didn’t reply to emails. Fortunately I’d paid  using PayPal and after lodging a refund claim with them I got my money back. I must say here that it was all very efficiently done by PayPal – so I’d recommend using them as a way to pay for anything you order on Ebay as it comes with this sort of buyer protection.

After quite a few weeks that dispute was solved and I placed another Ebay order – this time with a store in the US. I particularly wanted a US copy of “Stripped Down” to go with all the US versions of Lennon’s other titles contained in the “Signature” box set. They sent it surface mail or something and it also took a while to get here – but this time at least it has finally arrived.

You’ve probably gathered by now that I’m quite interested in the packaging, small print text, and the images used for the covers of LPs and CDs. (If you are too, you might like a page called “Sleevage” that specialises in album music, art and design of all types).

Clearly, this late in the day, this CD cover isn’t new to you. Its been out since October and everyone has come to terms with the fact that both the front and rear covers are cleverly based on sketches of the original LP’s black-and-white shots of John and Yoko taken back in 1980. I think its a nice touch that they asked Sean Lennon to do this. Yoko says in the booklet liner notes (quote):

“And thank you Sean, after many days of hesitation, you finally did the drawings for the front and back covers…for your dad and your mom. All sorts of memory of that time came back to you, you said.. I know how hard it must have been. This is a thank you from me and your dad.”

One other piece of information that caught my attention reading the small print in the cover notes was that two of the photographs used on the inside panels of the cover are actually significant. This shot of John and Yoko leaving the Dakota building was taken on their  way to the Hit Factory studios in New York on August 4, 1980, for the first day of recording for what would become the “Double Fantasy” album:

From inside the gatefold cover: John and Yoko leave the Dakota for the studio and the very first day of recording "Double Fantasy" - August 4, 1980

And this photo on another panel of the gatefold for “Stripped Down” was taken on 44th Street, New York on December 6, 1980 – the last day of recording:

Another image from the packaging: John and Yoko on 44th Street on the very last day of recording "Double Fantasy"

Its not the first time that photo of the pair leaving the Dakota Building has been used. It appeared as the picture sleeve for the US release of one of the three singles taken from the original “Double Fantasy” LP – the song called “Watching the Wheels”:

The same Dakota photograph was used for the vinyl single "Watching the Wheels", released on 27 March, 1981

Interestingly, when you purchase the LennonSignature Box“, which reissues all his original solo albums, you get “Double Fantasy” remastered in its original form – a single disc with the 1980 cover art and without the “Stripped Down”  version as an additional CD:

In the booklet for this edition of “Double Fantasy” you get a different short essay by Paul Du Noyer, but it has all the same photographs as those used in the booklet for the “Stripped Down” booklet.

Also, I’m not sure that you can purchase this single disc 2010 remastered version of “Double Fantasy” as a stand-alone item. I had a quick look around on the web and couldn’t find it for sale anywhere and so I think it may only be available by getting the “Signature” box. If anyone has any info on that one please let us know.


New Lennon Film + Behind the Scenes Podcast Series

As part of an ever-growing number of events, books and CD re-issues to mark what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday, comes a new documentary film. In a couple of days (on September 25th) “LennoNYC” will make it’s premiere as part of the New York Film Festival. It will also be broadcast on PBS TV in the United States (on November 22nd), and released commercially as a DVD (on November 23).

The film, which looks to be well-researched and gets access to a number of the main players in John Lennon’s life, traces his love affair with the city of New York and how, with the city’s help, he was able to reinvent himself both artistically and in his private life. It also delves into how he worked as a composer and recording artist.

In the lead up to the television premiere the makers of the film – Susan Lacy, Series Creator and Executive Producer of the American Masters series and a producer of “LennoNYC”, and Director/Writer Michael Epstein – are making ten, hour-long, exclusive podcasts freely available. These all contain extended and largely uncut versions of the interviews that were recorded for the film with those who knew and worked with Lennon intimately during his time living in the city.

The first is with Jack Douglas, co-producer (with Lennon and Yoko Ono) of the “Double Fantasy” LP, released just prior to Lennon’s death in 1980. Its timely because he’s just been involved in preparing the special “stripped down” edition of the album which will be released the week after next.

Here is Jack Douglas from the PBS podcast talking about his work on the new stripped down version:

In the hour-long podcast interview Douglas also reveals how “Double Fantasy” was made in top secret – and surprisingly – much of it in John Lennon’s bed:

There are many other great insights and stories from Douglas. He’s particularly poignant about John’s death and its impact on him and others who knew him closely. You can download the full podcasts here, or go to the iTunes store and subscribe there. New episodes will be posted weekly every Thursday until the Thursday after the TV broadcast on November 22.  The final podcast will be a question and answer session using the best questions submitted by users via email.

The “Imagine Peace” website has extensive coverage, information and articles about the film “LennoNYC” (scroll down the page), and there’s also been a trailer for the documentary uploaded to YouTube:

“Starting Over” – New Lennon Book Coming

Its the season for new biographical books. There’s a new Paul McCartney biog just released.

And now comes news of a new book associated with the massive John Lennon CD reissue release program that’s planned for October. The book is about the making of the “Double Fantasy” album which when reissued next month will contain the original recording remastered, plus a new “stripped down” version as well.

“Starting Over – The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy” will be published by Simon & Schuster on October 19:

Starting Over - front cover

The book is written by author, musician and columnist Ken Sharp who’s previous works include whats regarded as the definitive biography of Kiss.

To quote from the PR blurb:  “Starting Over is an oral history of the making of Double Fantasy and the definitive account of John Lennon’s last days. From early demos to sessions at New York City’s The Hit Factory, from the electrifying chemistry of the studio band to keeping the project under wraps to the album’s release and critical reception, here is fascinating, insightful commentary from all of the key players involved in its extraordinary creation: Yoko Ono, David Geffen, producer Jack Douglas, engineers, arrangers, session musicians, music journalists, and even Lennon himself via archival interviews.”

The book will feature never-before-seen photos of John and Yoko in the studio, by David M. Spindel and Roger Farrington.

Thanks to Scott Segelbaum of the “Beatle Briefs” podcast for the info on this one.

Speaking of the forthcoming reissue of  “Double Fantasy – Stripped Down”, the new cover art was revealed a couple of weeks ago:

Clearly its a pencil drawing (signed Sean Ono Lennon, 2010) based on the famous photograph used on the original LP and CD covers. It also appeared in a more closely cropped version on the 45 rpm vinyl single “(Just Like) Starting Over”: