John Lennon’s 78th birthday celebrated with six-disc Imagine box set: Stream

Overseen by Yoko Ono Lennon, the 160-track project includes rare outtakes and previously unreleased demos

John Lennon

    Tomorrow, October 9th, marks what would have been the 78th birthday of John Lennon. To honor the legendary Beatle, Geffen and UMe have released Imagine — The Ultimate Collection, an expansive box set celebrating his landmark 1971 album. It’s available to stream in full below via Apple Music and Spotify.

    As its name suggests, The Ultimate Collection spans a whopping 140 tracks, spread out over four CDs and two Blu-ray discs, including rare outtakes, previously unreleased demos, and isolated track arrangements. Yoko Ono Lennon oversaw the project herself, leading its creative direction, and worked to give listeners a full picture of the creation of the original album from demo to mastering.

    “Yoko was very keen that these Ultimate Mixes should achieve three things – to be totally faithful and respectful to the originals, be generally sonically clearer overall and should increase the clarity of John’s vocals,” said engineer Paul Hicks in the collection’s accompanying 120-page book. “‘It’s about John’ she said. And she was right. His voice brings the biggest emotional impact to the album.”


    Disc one features the original Imagine remixed in stereo sound along with additional singles and extras. Outtakes from the record are included on disc two, which also contains four tracks known as Elements Mixes: string-only renditions of “Imagine” and “How?”, a vocals-only version of “Oh My Love”, and a instrumental take on “Jealous Guy”.

    Disc three, meanwhile, is filled with Raw Studio Mixes, produced by Ono Lennon and mixed by engineer Rob Stevens. These tracks “are devoid of effects – no reverb or echo, and sans strings – just live, unvarnished and raw.” Presented in 5.1 surround sound, they place “the listener in the center of Ascot Sound Studios with Lennon in front and the band playing all around and behind.”

    The fourth and final CD contains The Evolution Documentary. Engineered in mono by Sam Gannon, the audio documentary chronicles the journey of each individual Imagine track “from demo to master take via instructions, rehearsals, recordings, multitrack exploration, and studio chatter.”


    The first Blu-ray includes Hicks’ mix of the original album and its singles, as well as an updated Quadrasonic mix, the first time such a remix has been done in almost 50 years. Subtitled “In the Studio and Deeper Listening”, the  second Blu-ray includes Imagine in surround sound and stereo, outtakes, and the Element Mixes. It also features a 29-minute tribute from DJ/longtime Lennon family friend Elliot Mintz that includes interviews with Lennon and Ono.

    In addition to the box set, the new mixes of Imagine will be made available as a two-CD deluxe edition, a single-CD remaster, a double-LP black vinyl, and a limited-edition double-LP clear vinyl. The digital version found on streaming platforms collects all the audio included on the four CDs.


    John Lennon Imagine – The Ultimate Collection Artwork:

    John Lennon: Imagine – The Ultimate Collection [6-disc box set – 4CD+2BD] Tracklist:

    CD1 – Imagine
    The Album – The Ultimate Mixes Disc 1
    Remix in Stereo 16-44.1
    Remixed Stereo Album, Singles & Extras

    01. Imagine
    02. Crippled Inside
    03. Jealous Guy
    04. It’s So Hard
    05. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die
    06. Gimme Some Truth
    07. Oh My Love
    08. How Do You Sleep?
    09. How?
    10. Oh Yoko!

    The Singles & Extras

    11. Power To The People
    12. Well… (Baby Please Don’t Go)
    13. God Save Us
    14. Do The Oz
    15. God Save Oz
    16. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

    CD2 – The Ultimate Mixes Disc 2
    New Mix in Stereo 16-44.1
    Elements Mixes and Album & Single Outtakes

    Elements Mixes

    01. Imagine (strings only)
    02. Jealous Guy (piano, bass & drums)
    03. Oh My Love (vocals only)
    04. How? (strings only)

    Album out-takes

    05. Imagine (demo)
    06. Imagine (take 1)
    07. Crippled Inside (take 3)
    08. Crippled Inside (take 6 – alt guitar solo)
    09. Jealous Guy (take 9)
    10. It’s So Hard (take 6)
    11. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (take 11)
    12. Gimme Some Truth (take 4)
    13. Oh My Love (take 6)
    14. How Do You Sleep? (takes 1 & 2)
    15. How? (take 31)
    16. Oh Yoko! (Bahamas 1969)

    Singles out-takes

    17. Power To The People (take 7)
    18. God Save Us (demo)
    19. Do The Oz (take 3)
    20. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (alt mix)

    CD3 – Raw Studio Mixes
    New Mix in Stereo 16-44.1
    Extended Album Tracks & Outtakes – Live At Ascot Sound Studios

    Extended Album Versions – Live

    01. Imagine (take 10)
    02. Crippled Inside (take 6)
    03. Jealous Guy (take 29)
    04. It’s So Hard (take 11)
    05. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die

    (take 4 – extended)

    06. Gimme Some Truth (take 4 – extended)
    07. Oh My Love (take 20)
    08. How Do You Sleep? (take 11 – extended)
    09. How? (take 40)
    10. Oh Yoko! (take 1 extended)

    Out-takes – Live

    11. Imagine (take 1)
    12. Jealous Guy (take 11)
    13. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (take 21)
    14. How Do You Sleep? (take 1)
    15. How Do You Sleep? (takes 5 & 6)

    CD 4 – The Evolution Documentary
    New Mix in Mono 16-44.1

    Album tracks only

    01. Imagine
    02. Crippled Inside
    03. Jealous Guy
    04. It’s So Hard
    05. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die
    06. Gimme Some Truth
    07. Oh My Love
    08. How Do You Sleep?
    09. How?
    10. Oh Yoko!


    To further celebrate Lennon’s birthday, Eagle Vision will release completely restored versions of the Imagine and Gimme Some Truth films from 1971 as well as remastered and remixed versions of their respective soundtracks. There is also a new book called Imagine John Yoko by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, published by Thames & Hudson/Grand Central Publishing. The release was compiled and curated by Ono and uses previously unpublished material to tell “the definitive inside story” of the making of Imagine.

    Additionally, Lennon’s hometown of Liverpool will present a special screening of the aforementioned Imagine and Gimme Some Truth films at The Museum of Liverpool. London’s famed Abbey Road Studios will also paint its iconic wall white with the message “imagine all the people living life in peace” and are encouraging fans to join in and write their own hopeful messages.

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