John Lennon’s Influential Plastic Ono Band Debut Album Receives Massive Eight-Disc Treatment

John and Yoko, 1970-Photo by Richard DiLello © Yoko Ono Lennon

The sessions that birthed John Lennon’s raw and deeply personal 1970 solo album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band receive the full unfettered treatment via a massive, lavishly crafted eight-disc super deluxe box set scheduled for release April 16.

The eleven songs on the original album were a cathartic release for Lennon amid his recent break from the Beatles. Now, 50 years later, the influential album is remixed and remastered in a collection that features 159 tracks across six CDs and two Blu-ray audio discs. Clocking in at a whopping 11 hours of music, each song is presented in multiple forms- dubbed Ultimate Mixes, Evolution Mixes, Element Mixes, Raw Studio Mixes and Demos which include new mixes, rough demos, outtakes, rehearsals and jam sessions.

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band Deluxe Box Set

A separate single disc will be sold which includes the Ultimate Mixes of the original album and Lennon’s first three non-album singles, and an expanded 2CD or 2LP version adds a disc of outtakes of each song. The Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band album, originally released at the same time and recorded with the same core musicians plus guests, including Ornette Coleman, is included on the Blu-Ray edition.

Everything in this comprehensive 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. 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 for the Ultimate Mixes.

John and Yoko, 1970-Photo by Richard DiLello © Yoko Ono Lennon
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – The Ultimate Collection – Unboxing Video

Quick takes on a few songs: Lennon’s guide vocal on the “God” Elements Mix alternates back and forth in sections between a talking vocal and a vulnerable sung vocal. “Mother” evolves from Lennon at home on guitar to experimenting with a tremolo guitar backing track before ultimately deciding on the piano version that opens the record.

George Harrison makes an appearance playing electric guitar on “Instant Karma (Raw Studio Mix)” an early take included here but recorded before the Plastic Ono Band sessions. Unsurprisingly, George’s jagged but melodic electric guitar work on this January 27, 1970 take of the song makes the track sound more like a continuation of the Beatles than a Lennon solo song. Other takes of “Instant Karma” feature Harrison on acoustic guitar.

“Give Peace A Chance” and “Cold Turkey,” two other pre-session tracks, are presented in work tape and rough versions. Interestingly, “Power To The People” and “Do The Oz,” two 1971 Plastic Ono Band songs included on the 2000 reissue, are not included here.

While Lennon only recorded two takes of the harrowing album closer “My Mummy’s Dead,” four versions are included on the box in slightly different mixes.

Pre-order here: https://johnlennon.lnk.to/PlasticOnoBand2021

Stream “Mother” (Ultimate Mix) here: https://johnlennon.lnk.to/mother-ultimate-mix

The common perception regarding Lennon’s frame of mind when he went in to record the music was that of an emotionally fragile man. He and Yoko had experimented with an intensive six-month therapy program called Primal Scream, which unlocked his emotional childhood traumas and provided the lyrical basis for many of the songs that wound up on the album.

The rawness is definitely oozing from the tracks, but as the box set and photos in the beautiful 132-page hardcover book in the deluxe edition reveals, Lennon was in a pretty positive ‘let’s make music’ frame of mind. This is particularly evident during the loose set of jams that occupy one disc in the deluxe box, collected from various dates over the month-long recording sessions. Lennon and the band warm up and run through a bunch of ‘50s tunes and more, including a joking Elvis impression medley.

The book also includes an extensive interview with Arthur Janov (the late psychologist who pioneered Primal Scream therapy), scores of master multitrack box photos, track recording sheets, commentary on each song from those involved in the sessions and a visual map layout of the surround sound’s instrumentation.

Engineer Paul Hicks explains the Elements Mixes: “When we were going through the outtakes and even the master takes in some cases, we found the occasional overdub where we could understand why they didn’t end up using it, but we thought was fascinating to hear. The conga on ‘I Found Out,’ the extra vocals on ‘Hold On,’ the alternative organ take on ‘Isolation’ and maracas on ‘Well Well Well’ are a few examples.”

“There were no set rules for any of the selections, really. It was just per song – what did we feel would be nice to isolate or show off, that might have escaped people’s initial listening experience.”

The liner notes also explain the Evolution Mixes. Each track has been edited down from all the original 8-Track multitracks, quarter-inch live recordings and mixes and a few demo cassettes. ‘These are ‘mini-documentaries that explore the development of each song through their elements, arrangements and the musicians that play on them.’

This reissue is fully authorized by Yoko Ono, 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 engineer Paul Hicks and mixers/engineers Rob Stevens and Sam Gannon.

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band original cover (Updated and color-corrected)

The Blu-Ray features the original album, outtakes and remixes plus exclusive versions of these tracks:

Cold Turkey (Home Demo)
Give Peace A Chance (Home Demo)
Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) (Studio Demo)
Hold On (Take 18, Outtake-Raw Studio Mix)
Working Class Hero (Take 10, Outtake-Raw Studio Mix)
Isolation (Take 1, Outtake-Raw Studio Mix)
Remember (Take 1, Outtake-Raw Studio Mix)
Well Well Well (Take 5, Outtake-Raw Studio Mix)
Love (Take 9, Outtake-Raw Studio Mix)
Look At Me (Take 3, Outtake-Raw Studio Mix)
Give Peace A Chance (Take 4 Stripped Down-Extended-Raw Studio Mix)
Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) (Take 5, Out-take-Raw Studio Mix)
Cold Turkey (Take 2 Stripped Down- Raw Studio Mix)
My Mummy’s Dead (Take 2, Out-take-Raw Studio Mix)
Yoko Ono-Why (YOPOB Live Sessions)
Yoko Ono-Why Not (YOPOB Live Sessions)
Yoko Ono-Greenfield Morning I Pushed an Empty Baby Carriage All Over the City (YOPOB Live Sessions)
Yoko Ono-Touch Me (YOPOB Live Sessions)
Yoko Ono-Life (YOPOB Live Sessions)
Yoko Ono-Paper Shoes (YOPOB Live Sessions)
Yoko Ono-Omae No Okaa Wa (YOPOB Live Sessions)
Yoko Ono-I Lost Myself Somewhere In The Sky (YOPOB Live Sessions
Yoko Ono-Don’t Worry Kyoko (YOPOB Live Sessions)
Yoko Ono-Remember Love (YOPOB Live Sessions)
Yoko Ono-Who Has Seen The Wind (YOPOB Live Sessions)

Track Listing:

1. Mother (Ultimate Mix) 5:35
2. Hold On (Ultimate Mix) 1:52
3. I Found Out (Ultimate Mix) 3:37
4. Working Class Hero (Ultimate Mix) 3:47
5. Isolation (Ultimate Mix) 2:5
6. Remember (Ultimate Mix) 4:32
7. Love (Ultimate Mix) 3:22
8. Well Well Well (Ultimate Mix) 5:57
9. Look At Me (Ultimate Mix) 2:53
10. God (Ultimate Mix) 4:12
11. My Mummy’s Dead (Ultimate Mix) 0:51
12. Give Peace A Chance (Ultimate Mix) 4:54
13. Cold Turkey (Ultimate Mix) 5:02
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) (Ultimate Mix) 3:20

1. Mother (Take 61 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 4:18
2. Hold On (Take 2 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 2:11
3. I Found Out (Take 1 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 3:46
4. Working Class Hero (Take 1 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 3:50
5. Isolation (Take 23 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 2:51
6. Remember (Rehearsal 1 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 3:11
7. Love (Take 6 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 2:36
8. Well Well Well (Take 2 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 3:34
9. Look At Me (Take 2 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 2:50
10. God (Take 27 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 4:05
11. My Mummy’s Dead (Take 2 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 1:15
12. Give Peace A Chance (Take 2 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 6:00
13. Cold Turkey (Take 1 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 5:23
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) (Take 1 / Out-take / Ultimate Mix) 2:53

1. Mother (Elements Mix) 4:59
2. Hold On (Elements Mix) 1:52
3. I Found Out (Elements Mix) 5:25
4. Working Class Hero (Elements Mix) 3:10
5. Isolation (Elements Mix) 2:44
6. Remember (Elements Mix) 8:38
7. Love (Elements Mix) 5:39
8. Well Well Well (Elements Mix) 5:57
9. Look At Me (Elements Mix) 2:56
10. God (Elements Mix) 4:09
11. My Mummy’s Dead (Elements Mix) 0:53
12. Give Peace A Chance (Elements Mix) 4:54
13. Cold Turkey (Elements Mix) 5:02
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) (Elements Mix) 3:20

1. Mother (Take 64 / Raw Studio Mix) 5:12
2. Hold On (Take 32 / Raw Studio Mix) 1:51
3. I Found Out (Take 3 / Extended / Raw Studio Mix) 5:34
4. Working Class Hero (Take 9 / Raw Studio Mix) 4:07
5. Isolation (Take 29 / Raw Studio Mix) 2:52
6. Remember (Take 13 / Raw Studio Mix) 4:58
7. Love (Take 37 / Raw Studio Mix) 4:27
8. Well Well Well (Take 4 / Extended / Raw Studio Mix) 6:47
9. Look At Me (Take 9 / Raw Studio Mix) 3:07
10. God (Take 42 / Raw Studio Mix) 4:26
11. My Mummy’s Dead (Take 1 / Raw Studio Mix) 0:53
12. Give Peace A Chance (Take 4 / Extended / Raw Studio Mix) 6:34
13. Cold Turkey (Take 2 / Raw Studio Mix) 5:06
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) (Take 10 / Raw Studio Mix) 3:31

1. Mother (Evolution Documentary) 9:16
2. Hold On (Evolution Documentary) 8:46
3. I Found Out (Evolution Documentary) 6:01
4. Working Class Hero (Evolution Documentary) 3:34
5. Isolation (Evolution Documentary) 9:39
6. Remember (Evolution Documentary) 7:01
7. Love (Evolution Documentary) 7:36
8. Well Well Well (Evolution Documentary) 4:50
9. Look At Me (Evolution Documentary) 5:51
10. God (Evolution Documentary) 8:0
11. My Mummy’s Dead (Evolution Documentary) 1:36
12. Give Peace A Chance (Evolution Documentary) 7:29
13. Cold Turkey (Evolution Documentary) 4:51
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) (Evolution Documentary) 8:47

1. Mother (Home Demo) 5:00
2. Hold On (Studio Demo) 2:17
3. I Found Out (Home Demo) 4:08
4. Working Class Hero (Studio Demo) 3:50
5. Isolation (Studio Demo) 2:55
6. Remember (Studio Demo) 5:24
7. Love (Home Demo) 2:38
8. Well Well Well (Home Demo) 1:15
9. Look At Me (Home Demo) 2:48
10. God (Home Demo) 3:51
11. My Mummy’s Dead (Home Demo) 1:18
12. Give Peace A Chance (Home Demo) 2:39
13. Cold Turkey (Home Demo) 3:34
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) (Studio Demo) 3:32

1. Johnny B. Goode (Jam) 1:02
2. Ain’t That A Shame (Jam) 1:54
3. Hold On (Jam 1) 2:22
4. Hold On (Jam 2) 1:36
5. Glad All Over (Jam) 1:12
6. Be Faithful To Me (Jam) 0:44
7. Send Me Some Lovin’ (Jam) 1:05
8. Get Back (Jam) 1:05
9. Lost John (Jam 1) 1:55
10. Goodnight Irene (Jam) 1:50
11. You’ll Never Walk Alone (Jam) 1:43
12. I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier Mama, I Don’t Wanna Die (Jam 1) 3:30
13. It’ll Be Me (Jam) 1:07
14. Honey, Don’t! (Jam) 1:39
15. Elvis Parody (Don’t Be Cruel, Hound Dog, When I’m Over You) (Jam) 2:48
16. Matchbox (Jam) 1:57
17. I’ve Got A Feeling (Jam) 0:19
18. Mystery Train (Jam) 2:44
19. (You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care (Jam) 0:28
20. I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier Mama, I Don’t Wanna Die (Jam 2) 1:46
21. Lost John (Jam 2) 0:48
22. Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For A Hand In The Snow) (Jam) 2:06

1. Mother (Take 91 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 3:59
2. Hold On (Take 18 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 2:07
3. I Found Out (Take 7 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 7:51
4. Working Class Hero (Take 10 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 3:43
5. Isolation (Take 1 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 0:35
6. Remember (Take 1 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 2:52
7. Love (Take 9 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 2:33
8. Well Well Well (Take 5 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 5:05
9. Look At Me (Take 3 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 3:12
10. God (Take 1 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 2:27
11. My Mummy’s Dead (Take 2 / Out-take / Raw Studio Mix) 1:19
12. Give Peace A Chance (Take 4 / Stripped Down / Extended / Raw Studio Mix) 6:32
13. Cold Turkey (Take 2 / Stripped Down / Raw Studio Mix) 5:01
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) (Take 5 / Out-take / Raw Stud

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