New ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’ Box Set Announced
Shortly after its release in 1970, John Lennon described John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band as "the best thing I've ever done." Now, 50 years later, the album is being relaunched as an eight-disc Super Deluxe box set, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – The Ultimate Collection.
The set, which arrives on April 16, features 87 previously unheard recordings and remixes over six CDs and two Blu-rays for 159 tracks and more than 11 total hours of music, including hi-res and surround mixes. (Single- and double-disc versions will also be available.) The Super Deluxe set also includes a book, poster and more.
Overseen by Yoko Ono, the project incorporates nearly every aspect of the collaborations that went into making John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, along with Lennon's non-album era singles “Give Peace a Chance,” “Cold Turkey” and “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)." The set includes demos, rehearsal tapes, studio conversations and more, offering fans a comprehensive look into the complex and sometimes conflicting nature of Lennon's debut post-Beatles work.
"The dream is over," Lennon said to Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner in early 1971, about a month after the album's December 1970 release. "I’m not just talking about the Beatles, I’m talking about the generation thing. It’s over, and we gotta – I have to personally – get down to so-called reality."
In addition to a disc of "The Ultimate Mixes" of the original album tracks, the box will include various discs of outtakes, "Element Mixes," demos, raw studio mixes and "Live and Improvised" jams.
You can watch an unboxing video of the new set below.
For Lennon, getting down to reality resulted in John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. And while the Beatles dream may have been over, he still brought in some familiar past collaborators, including drummer Ringo Starr, bassist Klaus Voorman and producer Phil Spector.
"I learned a lot on this album, technically," Lennon said. "I didn’t have to learn so much before. Usually Paul [McCartney] and I would be listening to it, and we wouldn’t have to listen to each individual sound. But as a concept and as a whole thing, I’m pleased, yes. That’s about it, really. If I get down to the nitty gritty, it would drive me mad, but I do like it really."
The box-set reissue, however, does get down to the nitty gritty. The inclusion of various unreleased recordings and studio takes provides an additional layer of artistry to an album already well-loved for its unbridled attitude.
"I express myself best in rock," Lennon said. "I had a few ideas to do this with 'Mother' and that with 'Mother,' but when you just hear, the piano does it all for you, your mind can do the rest. I think the backings on mine are as complicated as the backings on any record you’ve ever heard, if you’ve got an ear. Anybody knows that. Any musician will tell you, just play a note on a piano, it’s got harmonics in it. It got to that. What the hell, I didn’t need anything else."
The remastered songs will give Lennon's vocals a chance to state his claim again, a valuable concept for any 50-year-old set of songs. “The way we listen to music is different today,” Ono told The New York Times in 2016. (Some of her albums have been reissued in recent years, including Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, which was originally released on the same day as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.)
An audio montage labeled "The Evolutionary Documentary" takes listeners through every song on the album, detailing the creative process from demo to master recording. "All these songs just came out of me," Lennon said. "I didn’t sit down to think, 'I’m going to write about 'Mother' or I didn’t sit down to think 'I’m going to write about this, that or the other.' They all came out, like all the best work that anybody ever does." You can pre-order John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – The Ultimate Collection now.