For many, John Lennon’s post-Beatles solo career never got better than it did when he released his iconic, Phil Spector-produced album Imagine in 1971. Now, just in time for what would have been Lennon’s 78th birthday on October 9, you can dive deeper into the sessions that produced that rich work than ever before, thanks to a massive, six-disc, 140 track box set that was overseen by his widow Yoko Ono.
Comprehensive doesn’t even begin to describe how much material has been packed into this new collection. It seems like they’ve gathered every conceivable piece of material that was available, including outtakes, isolated track arrangements, and demos, and arranged them in such a way to get the clearest sense possible for how this record came together. They’ve also gone back and cleaned up the finished tracks on the album for the most pristine sound yet.
“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,” engineer Paul Hicks wrote in the 120-page book that comes with the set. “‘It’s about John’ she said. And she was right. His voice brings the biggest emotional impact to the album.”
If you’re a Beatles fan — and who among us isn’t? — and have a special affinity for Lennon’s musical contributions in particular, the Imagine (Ultimate Collection) is a can’t-miss proposition. You can stream the entire thing below.