Imagine – Raw Studio Mixes
Record Store Day 2019
Imagine — Raw Studio Mixes will be pressed on Limited Edition audiophile grade 180 gram black vinyl.
Available this Record Store Day, 13th April 2019.
Experience the moment John and The Plastic Ono Band record each song, raw and live, from a sonic soundstage at the centre of Ascot Sound Studios at John & Yoko’s home in Tittenhurst. The tracks are devoid of effects (reverb, tape delays, etc.) offering a unique, unparalleled insight & an alternate take on the record. These mixes have been pressed in the original album sequence appearing for the first time on vinyl.
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- Imagine – Take 10
- Crippled Inside – Take 6
- Jealous Guy – Take 29
- It’s So Hard – Take 11
- I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die – Take 4, Extended
- Gimme Some Truth – Take 4, Extended
- Oh My Love – Take 20
- How Do You Sleep? – Take 11, Extended
- How? – Take 40
- Oh Yoko! – Take 1, Extended
Live at the centre of Ascot Sound Studios
• Original Recordings Produced by John & Yoko and Phil Spector
• 2016-2018 Remixes Produced by Yoko Ono
• Mixed by Rob Stevens
• Mix Engineer: Paul Goodrich at Merlin Studios
• Mastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound, New York & Nashville
• Compilation Producer & Production Manager: Simon Hilton
Rob Stevens: Imagine Imagine. There was John, there was Yoko, and there was Phil. An iconic triumvirate. Sadly, she’s the only one still both surviving and thriving, on this plane anyway. Yoko was there, a full and equal participant in, and witness to, the sessions that led to the finished album. She knew the initial basic track performances that spawned the album were as aggressively visceral and emotionally touching, if not more so, than the ones that made up John’s Plastic Ono Band album, if such a thing is possible.
Before the strings and the saxophone, before the brilliant application of sound shaping techniques that were used to produce the iconic album, there were the original, unadorned performances that were the foundation of the Imagine album. So Yoko and I set to work, mixing versions of the Imagine album and select out-takes in a way that’s being presented as ‘Raw’.
The mixes are devoid of effects (reverb, tape delays, etc.), whether on John’s voice or the instruments in the room, a far cry from the finished product, which, in order to reach as many people as possible, made full use of techniques that were shunned in John’s initial solo outing.
John is directly in front of the listener, and the imperfections are chillingly perfect; the flaws flawless. John’s voice, which in the height of irony, he himself wasn’t fond of and often sought to mask with the above-mentioned reverbs and delays, is both ferocious and painfully vulnerable, at times within the same composition. The intention was to separate the players, even in stereo, as much as possible in order to hear the performances without them being part of the eventual wall of sound. We intentionally left in the buzz of amps and other imperfections that the musicians would have heard in the room. The album was recorded in what was, essentially, a makeshift home studio, so there is extraneous noise and requests like, ‘all quiet in the kitchen, please.’ It was an intensely intimate setting, and as a result, at times there will be, say, drum leakage on John’s vocal mic. Our reaction to that, while mixing, was ‘Great! This is what happened!’ There’s also the the ‘pre and post roll’ chatter before and after most of the takes.
Prime examples: When we heard John’s inhalation and exhalation before he sings ‘Imagine’, we teared up. Clearly a conveyance of deep convictions was about to take place.
Prior to recording ‘Oh Yoko!’, Yoko gives input through the talkback system, and Phil Spector rudely comes close to cutting her off in a dismissive way. Yoko wanted that left in because it reflected the attitude of the times not only towards Yoko and what she had to deal with and work through, but how men most often treated women, and, frankly, still do.
Stripped down, the songs and performances are put into sharp focus: Listening to ‘Gimme Some Truth’ with no slap echo on the voice, you can feel the froth coming out of John’s mouth. The song could have been written and recorded this morning.
On some of John’s guide vocals, say ‘How Do You Sleep? (takes 5 and 6)’, the out-take vocal is arguably more effective than the final version.
If one takes the Raw Studio Mix of ‘I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die’ and lines it up with the Ultimate Mix of the song, then switches back and forth between the two, there’s no better demonstration of how the vitality of a live performance can be turned into a masterful record that feels very little like that of the original performance.
In short, Yoko courageously provides us with a gift that is exceptionally generous of spirit: we are allowed to witness John as a full and extraordinary human being.