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.

 

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John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth Box

This is the next installment of close-up, detailed photos of the current John Lennon re-issue program. We’ve already had a look at the “Signature” box set containing freshly remastered editions of all the original studio albums, plus two CDs of singles, home recordings and outtakes.

Now its the turn of the other box set issued as part of the program called “Gimme Some Truth”. First thing to say is that it is much smaller that the “Signature” box set (although that’s not saying much as the “Signature” set is huge). Its really just a slipcase kind of affair, designed to hold four CDs in cardboard sleeves plus a book. The other thing to say is that there’s nothing new here audio-wise for the avid collector. These are compilations completely made up of previously released tracks – most of which have been re-issued in a variety of forms many, many times…

The front and rear photos on the box are of John and Yoko in New York, only they’ve been superimposed on a drawing of New York Harbour (as imagined by John Lennon). It was taken by Scottish photographer Iain Macmillan, best known for his photo for the cover of “Abbey Road”:

"Gimme Some Truth" - front cover

And the rear:

"Gimme Some Truth" - rear cover

Here’s a shot from the same photo session with Iain Macmillan:

Inside the box are four themed CDs that gather John Lennon’s songs into categories. The first is “Working Class Hero”:

This photo is taken by Bob Gruen, a long-time friend and frequent photographer of Lennon who has taken some of his most iconic shots, including the images for the “Walls and Bridges” album, and he did the photograph used on the recent biography of John by Philip Norman. There are 18 tracks on this CD and they include “Power to the People”, “Steel and Glass” and “Give Peace a Chance”.

The second CD is called “Woman”, and gathers together love songs and songs specifically about the women in Lennon’s life:

This image is by Lilo Raymond, and is a photograph from the same sessions as the one used for the front cover of the 1983 posthumous LP release called “Heart Play – Unfinished Dialogue” which contained conversations with John and Yoko recorded in 1980:

The “Woman” CD also contains 18 songs, such as “Mother”, “Hold On” and “Jealous Guy”.  The third CD is “Borrowed Time”:

Got to be one of the saddest photos of John, don’t you think? So much potential there and a baby boy he won’t get the chance to see grow up….. Songs include “Nobody Told Me”, Watching the Wheels”, and of course “Borrowed Time”. The image was taken by Nishi Saimaru, who’s 1990 book “The John Lennon Family Album” features intimate family photographs taken over a three year period with the Lennon’s in New York, Miami, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. She also took the cover photo for that other four CD box set released in 1990, simply called “Lennon“.

The fourth and final disc collects Lennon covering tracks from his youth – early rock’n’roll standards plus a couple of other more contemporary rockers.

This is one of a series of famous images taken by Jurgen Vollmer of a young John Lennon in a Hamburg doorway. Vollmer, Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann met the Beatles in Germany in the early 60’s. Later, John was to write: “… Vollmer was the first photographer to capture the beauty and the spirit of The Beatles…We tried very hard to find someone with his touch after we returned from Hamburg, Germany…nobody could…The photographs…speak for themselves.” One of his photos from the same session was used on the cover of the 1975 album “Rock ‘N’ Roll”:

The “Gimme Some Truth” box also contains a 24-page book featuring an article (“Truth In All It’s Forms – The Songs of John Lennon”) by Anthony DeCurtis. DeCurtis also wrote the essay for the “Signature” box. It is illustrated with additional photographs, Lennon drawings and hand-written lyrics.

The front and rear covers of the book feature a Lennon drawing with his face morphing into Yoko Ono’s, and vice versa:

The final inclusion in the box is a business card-sized piece of cardboard with the word “Online” on one side and instructions and a PIN code for you to access the John Lennon Universe on the web on the other.

I’m not sure, but I think this card and PIN get you access to less comprehensive content in the “Universe” to that of the “Signature” box one. If anyone confirm that let me know.

See also the John LennonSignature Box” revealed, and the Paul McCartney Deluxe “Band on the Run” CD and vinyl sets.

John Lennon – Signature Box

Well, our copy of the new John Lennon “Signature Box” has finally arrived safely in the post, thanks to Amazon, all the way from America.

You’ll no doubt see lots and lots of small photos of the exterior and YouTube “un-boxing” videos, so I thought I’d scan in some extreme close ups of what’s inside to give you an idea of the contents from that perspective.

As you know (and any Google Image search will reveal) the exterior of the “Signature Box” and it’s main parts look like this:

You can see above that it is really a box-within-a-box as the entire exterior (which has the word “Lennon” in sky blue lettering on top, and a Lennon signature embossed in white on the front) slides up and off to reveal an inner box. What you first see at the very top of that box are three items: the first is a 60-page, hard-cover book with simply the word “Yes” deeply embossed in blue on the front cover:

There is a deep blue ribbon underneath this book to help you lift it out of the box neatly (those of you with the Beatles Remastered Stereo boxes will have seen something similar used in that box to help you lift out the CDs). This book contains a lengthy essay called “John Lennon – The Life and Afterlife” by Anthony DeCurtis. It is illustrated lavishly with photographs, drawings and hand-written lyrics. Also with the book at the top of the box is a four-page cardboard fold-out sheet with this on the front:

On one side are three separate messages about John Lennon and his legacy from Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon, all signed August 9th, 2010. On the other side are four words: Give Peace A Chance. The final item you find at the top of the box is a business card-sized piece of cardboard with the word “Online” on one side and instructions and a PIN code for you to access the John Lennon Universe on the web on the other.

(If you don’t have a PIN code you can still have a snoop around the “Universe” – only with a lot of the functionality disabled).

Once you have lifted these three items out you can see the CD’s tucked away vertically inside underneath the book. They’re held in place by a piece of white soft foam with finger cut-outs so that you can get the CDs out a little more easily:

All the CDs are housed in redesigned cardboard gate-fold covers, utilizing the original artwork but in the now-familiar style of all the newly remastered Beatles CD covers. (Incidentally, the new Paul McCartney archive re-issues [starting with “Band on the Run” next month] will also have this new look). The re-issued and remastered CDs now all have booklets with sleeve notes (by Paul Du Noyer), lyrics and additional photographs.  The only thing here that’s new music content-wise are two CDs housed together in a unique, plain white gate-fold cover. One of them contains six singles which are not on the albums:

The other contains 13 tracks which are previously unreleased studio outtakes or home recordings:

Then, at the bottom of the box is a slide-out drawer (its got a small blue ribbon tab so you can pull it out). It contains a white, hard covered folder with John Lennon’s signature embossed in white on the front. The drawer also has a long blue ribbon under the folder to assist you in lifting it out. Inside is a John Lennon 70th Birthday art print on high quality paper:

This tasteful art theme is continued on two sides of the inner box, with a further Lennon drawing appearing on the left-hand side:

And again on the right-hand side:

I hope this has given you a different perspective on the contents. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the packaging to try to make it hang together artistically in both design and colours. The strongest motifs are clouds, blue sky, and plain white). Its a MUCH bigger box than you’d expect – in fact the nine CDs inside look quite small by the time you get to them. There is a lot of packaging around them. It is significantly larger than the John Lennon  “Anthology” four-CD set and book that came out in 1998 (and which has some very similar design elements).

The Second Disc has written a comprehensive review of the “Signature Box”.

Next post will be a similar close-up, in-depth look at the new 4 CD “Gimme Some Truth” package.

See also the Paul McCartney Deluxe CD set, and the two disc vinyl.

“Stripped Down” – First Photos

Maybe the very first images of the full packaging for “Double Fantasy – Stripped Down” have been posted on the web.

Apparently the full range of the “Gimme Some Truth” releases (including the 11 CD box set) are already available for sale in a CD shop in Brussells:

The site these come from is in French and Google Translate says something like this:

“No need to wait for the official release date (October 4th), all the new Lennon are already (and apparently have been for 1 or 2 days) at a record store in Brussels in the “old quarter”…The big box (at 145 € euros), the single CDs, compilations…and “Stripped Down” (at 19 € euros). The packaging is like those for the CD stereo Beatles remasters: soft cardboard (which shows fingerprints and the ink of which will undoubtedly be transferred onto neighboring CDs in a rack – just like the Beatles ones). The CD slid out without any protective inner sleeve.”

This was posted on September 30th. Thanks to the French Beatles forum yellowsub.net for these images.

Also, as to the sound of “Stripped Down” there’s a nice side-by-side comparison been posted by Willard on the Never Get Out of the Boat blogsite.

John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth

To mark what would have been the 70th birthday of the late John Lennon Yoko Ono, EMI Music and the Lennon Estate are to embark on what can only be described as a huge re-issue and release program – starting on October 4, 2010.

Called the “Gimme Some Truth” campaign, it will comprise a series of Lennon albums remastered from the original mixes as well as new collections compiled for CD and digital download release. One of the new releases will be a “naked” version of the Grammy Award winning album “Double Fantasy” – made available for the first time in a newly remixed, stripped down version produced by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, co-producers of the original album with Lennon. The new version will come in an expanded 2 CD edition which will include with the original mix, remastered.

Eight of  the original solo albums and other recordings have also been newly digitally remastered.  These include:

• A hits compilation in two editions titled “Power To The People: The Hits”

• A 4CD set of themed discs titled “Gimme Some Truth”

• A deluxe 11CD collectors box with the remastered albums, rarities, and non-album singles, titled “The John Lennon Signature Box”

Yoko Ono said: “In this very special year, which would have seen my husband and life partner John reach the age of 70, I hope that this remastering / re-issue program will help bring his incredible music to a whole new audience. By remastering 121 tracks spanning his solo career, I hope also that those who are already familiar with John’s work will find renewed inspiration from his incredible gifts as a songwriter, musician and vocalist and from his power as a commentator on the human condition. His lyrics are as relevant today as they were when they were first written and I can think of no more apposite title for this campaign than those simple yet direct words ‘Gimme Some Truth’.”

The albums have been digitally remastered from their original mixes by Ono and a team of engineers led by Allan Rouse at EMI Music’s Abbey Road Studios in London, and by George Marino at Avatar Studios in New York. All of the remastered titles will be packaged in digisleeves with replicated original album art and booklets with photos and new liner notes by noted British music journalist Paul Du Noyer.

The albums to be reissued are:

• John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)

• Imagine (1971)

• Some Time In New York City (1972)

• Mind Games (1973)

• Walls and Bridges (1974)

• Rock ‘n’ Roll (1975)

• Double Fantasy Stripped Down (2010) / Double Fantasy (1980)

• Milk and Honey (1984)

Yoko Ono added: “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” really allows us to focus our attention on John’s amazing vocals. Technology has advanced so much that, conversely, I wanted to use new techniques to really frame these amazing songs and John’s voice as simply as possible. By stripping down some of the instrumentation the power of the songs shines through with an enhanced clarity. “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” will be complemented by the original album in the 2 CD format. It was whilst working on the new version of this album that I was hit hardest emotionally, as this was the last album John released before his passing.”

“Power To The People: The Hits” will gather 15 of Lennon’s most popular songs, and will be available as a 15-track single-disc, and as whats being called an “Experience Edition” with additional content. Both versions will be packaged in digisleeves with booklets including a new liner note essay by Du Noyer. “Gimme Some Truth” will be packaged in a slipcase with rare photos and a new liner notes essays by respected American music journalist and author, Anthony DeCurtis. It will contain 72 of Lennon’s solo recordings on four themed CDs:

• ‘Roots’ – John’s rock ‘n’ roll roots and influences

• ‘Working Class Hero’ – John’s socio-political songs

• ‘Woman’ – John’s love songs

• ‘Borrowed Time’ – John’s songs about life

The “John Lennon Signature Box” is a deluxe 11 CD and digital collection of the eight remastered albums, a disc of rare and previously unreleased recordings, and an EP of Lennon’s non-album singles. The CDs will be housed in digisleeves within a deluxe box including a collectible limited edition John Lennon art print and a hardbound book featuring rare photos, artwork, collages, poetry, and new liner notes by DeCurtis.

Check out johnlennon.com for more info, official announcements and updates as the release dates for these new John Lennon collectables draws closer.