John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band
Universal 0735429 (2 discs)
From the haunting, funereal bells and emotional wails of opening track “Mother,” it was immediate – John Lennon’s first solo studio album was unlike anything he had made before. Recorded in 1970, shortly after the demise of The Beatles, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band saw John stripping away the artifice and ornamentation for a visceral artistic exorcism that was confessional, raw, painfully honest, and revelatory. Inspired by the primal scream psychotherapy he and wife Yoko Ono had been practicing with Dr. Arthur Janov, John, joined by the minimalist Plastic Ono Band – Ringo Starr on drums and Klaus Voormann on bass, and producer Phil Spector – confronted his demons, professed his love for his wife, railed against false idols and declared the dream was over on his most personal album. Today it stands as the towering achievement of his solo career – the moment the biggest rock star in the world bared his soul for all to hear – as real as it was revolutionary.
This year, Yoko Ono Lennon and Capitol/UMe celebrate 50 years of John’s transformational and influential masterpiece, with the eight-disc super deluxe box set, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – The Ultimate Collection: an immersive, deep listening experience and in-depth exploration of the album John described as “the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Fully authorized by Yoko Ono Lennon, who oversaw the production and creative direction, and from the same audio team that worked on 2018’s critically acclaimed Imagine – The Ultimate Collection, including triple GRAMMY®-Award winning mixer/engineer Paul Hicks and mixers/engineers Rob Stevens and Sam Gannon, the Ultimate Collection puts listeners in the center of the studio and explores the album’s 1970 recording sessions at EMI Studios 2 & 3, Abbey Road along with John’s post-Beatles singles, “Give Peace A Chance,” “Cold Turkey” and “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)” from inception to the final master through scores of unreleased and rare demos, rehearsals, outtakes, jams and studio conversations, revealing how these beloved songs came to be.
Everything in this expansive box set has been newly mixed from scratch from brand new 192kHz/24bit hi-res transfers. In addition to the various new mixes, the set boasts 87 never-before-heard recordings.
This historical, remixed and remastered collection features 159 tracks across six CDs and two Blu-ray audio discs for more than 11 engrossing hours of music and includes two postcards (“Who Are The Plastic Ono Band?” and “You Are The Plastic Ono Band”) a “WAR IS OVER!” poster and a comprehensive 132-page hardback book with lyrics, rare photos, tape box images, memorabilia and extensive notes.
Designed and edited by Simon Hilton, the Compilation Producer and Production Manager of the Ultimate Collection series, the book tells the story behind each of the songs and the making of the album in John & Yoko’s words and the words of those who worked alongside them, through archival and brand new interviews.
Yoko Ono Lennon writes in the preface of the book:
“With the Plastic Ono Band albums, John and I liked the idea of this really raw, basic, truthful reality that we were going to be giving to the world. We were influencing other artists, giving them courage, giving dignity to a certain style of vulnerability and strength that was not accepted in society at the time. It was a revolution for a Beatle to say, ‘Listen: I’m human, I’m real.’ It took a lot of courage for him to do it.”
This truly unique expanded edition includes the lively improvised jams John and the band would play between takes, belying the intense subject matter of the album, and the full live recording session of Yoko’s companion LP, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, which for the first time presents the songs in their full, unedited lengths and original speeds, and includes three unreleased improvisations.
Similar to the previous Ultimate Collection, the set offers a variety of new listening experiences that are at once immersive and intimate, ranging from the brand new Ultimate Mixes of the timeless album, which put John’s vocals front and center and sonically upgrade the sound, to the Elements Mixes, which isolate and bring forth certain elements from the multitrack recordings to reveal even deeper levels of detail and clarity, and the Raw Studio Mixes,which allows listeners to experience the moment John and the Plastic Ono Band recorded each song, mixed raw and live without effects, tape delays or reverbs.
The Evolution Documentary is a unique track-by-track audio montage that details the evolution of each song from demo to master recording via instructions, rehearsals, recordings, multitrack exploration and studio chatter. The Blu-rays present an array of listening options including high-definition, studio quality 192kHz/24bit audio in stereo and enveloping 5.1 Surround and Dolby Atmos mixes.
Plastic Ono Band will also be released in concurrent multiple physical and digital configurations, including as a 1CD that includes the Ultimate Mixes of the original album and the three non-album singles and as an expanded 2CD or 2LP version that adds a disc of outtakes of each song.
THE ULTIMATE MIXES
The original John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album has been faithfully remixed from the ground up by the aforementioned Paul Hicks at Abbey Road Studios under the supervision of Yoko Ono Lennon. Hicks utilized high-definition 192kHz/24bit audio transfers of the original first-generation multitrack recordings to create the best possible recreations of the originals. The result is these new Ultimate Mixes now reveal whole new levels of sonic depth, definition and clarity, especially in 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Atmos.
“Yoko is very keen that in making The Ultimate Mixes Series, we achieve three things: remain faithful and respectful to the originals, ensure that the sound is generally sonically clearer overall, and increase the clarity of John’s vocals. ‘It’s about John’ she says. And she is right. His voice brings the biggest emotional impact to the album.”
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