John Lennon Plastic Ono Band Gets 50th Anniversary Box Set

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1970’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album

The 50th anniversary of the album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, will be commemorated this year with the release of a variety of new editions including a super deluxe box set on 8 discs featuring 159 new mixes including outtakes, demos, jams and more. The set, also available on 2-CDs and 2-LPs, arrives on April 16 via Capitol/UMe.

The album, which Lennon once described as “the best thing I’ve ever done,” was originally released on Dec. 11, 1970. Watch the official trailer for the new collection, which answers the question “Who Are the Plastic Ono Band?” below.

Photo: Richard DiLello © Yoko Ono Lennon; used with permission

The Super Deluxe Edition, says the March 4 announcement, on 6-CDs and 2-Blu-ray discs is completely remixed from the original multi-tracks by Grammy Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks, and overseen by producer Yoko Ono Lennon. The recordings feature Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Klaus Voormann, and Phil Spector. The set spans more than 11 hours including Ultimate Mixes, outtakes, “elements,” raw studio recordings, “evolution,” demos, jams and Ono live sessions featuring brand new HiRes 192/24 transfers. The Blu-rays high-definition, studio quality 192kHz/24bit audio in stereo and enveloping 5.1 Surround and Dolby Atmos mixes. The 6 CDs include 102 new mixes, and span 6+ hrs. There are 87 never-before-heard recordings. The edition comes with a 132-page hardback book with rare photos, memorabilia and extensive notes, plus a WAR IS OVER! poster and two postcards.

A 2-CD version includes the Ultimate Mixes of the original album plus three singles, “Give Peace A Chance,” “Cold Turkey” and “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On).” The second CD contains outtakes of each. A 2-LP gatefold edition includes a second LP of outtakes. All mastered at half-speed, pressed on 180gm vinyl, with a booklet and WAR IS OVER! poster. A single CD includes the Ultimate Mixes of the original album plus the three singles (above).

While John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band had no big radio hits, one of its best known songs is “Mother.” Listen to the Ultimate Mix.

On February 14, for Valentine’s Day, Lennon’s social media platforms shared various mixes of the album’s “Love,” in a film montage. Watch it below.

Much more info, including the complete track listing, is below the links.

Super Deluxe 6-CD Track Listing

CD1: THE ULTIMATE MIXES (53 mins)
1. Mother
2. Hold On
3. I Found Out
4. Working Class Hero
5. Isolation
6. Remember
7. Love
8. Well Well Well
9. Look At Me
10. God
11. My Mummy’s Dead
12. Give Peace A Chance
13. Cold Turkey
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

The original John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album has been faithfully remixed from the ground up by 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. Says Hicks: “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.”

CD2: THE ULTIMATE MIXES/THE OUT-TAKES (49 mins)
1. Mother/Take 61
2. Hold On/Take 2
3. I Found Out/Take 1
4. Working Class Hero/Take 1
5. Isolation/Take 23
6. Remember/Rehearsal 1
7. Love/Take 6
8. Well Well Well/Take 2
9. Look At Me/Take 2
10. God/Take 27
11. My Mummy’s Dead/Take 2
12. Give Peace A Chance/Take 2
13. Cold Turkey/Take 1
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)/Take 5

The collection includes unreleased stereo outtakes of each song which have been mixed with a balance and EQ more akin to the original album mixes, with a little bit of additional effects – in the style of a “rough listening mix” that John & Yoko and Phil Spector would have used to play them back at Abbey Road. Highlights include “Mother” (Take 61) which removes the opening bell and has the drums mixed in mono, “Love” (Take 6) with John performing the song on acoustic guitar without the aid of Spector on piano and the first rehearsal of “Remember” (Rehearsal 1), which started off as a slower, more subdued, song than the rollicking one it evolved into, “Well Well Well” (Take 2) which ends with an instrumental jam, the alternate clawhammer strumming on “Look At Me” (Take 2) and “Cold Turkey” (Take 1) with some seriously funky guitar playing by John and Eric Clapton.

CD3: THE ELEMENTS MIXES (60 mins)
1. Mother
2. Hold On
3. I Found Out
4. Working Class Hero
5. Isolation
6. Remember
7. Love
8. Well Well Well
9. Look At Me
10. God
11. My Mummy’s Dead
12. Give Peace A Chance
13. Cold Turkey
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

CD4: THE RAW STUDIO MIXES (74 mins)
1. Mother/Take 64
2. Hold On/Take 32
3. I Found Out/Take 3 Extended
4. Working Class Hero/Take 9
5. Isolation/Take 29
6. Remember/Take 13
7. Love/Take 37
8. Well Well Well/Take 4 Extended
9. Look At Me/Take 9
10. God/Take 42
11. My Mummy’s Dead/Take 1
12. Give Peace A Chance/Take 4 Extended
13. Cold Turkey/Take 2
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)/Take 10
15. Mother/Take 91
16. I Found Out/Take 7
17. God/Take 1

CD5: THE EVOLUTION DOCUMENTARY (72 mins)
1. Mother
2. Hold On
3. I Found Out
4. Working Class Hero
5. Isolation
6. Remember
7. Love
8. Well Well Well
9. Look At Me
10. God
11. My Mummy’s Dead

CD6: THE JAMS & THE DEMOS (71 mins)
1. Johnny B. Goode (Jam)
2. Ain’t That A Shame (Jam)
3. Hold On (1) (Jam)
4. Hold On (2) (Jam)
5. Glad All Over (Jam)
6. Be Faithful To Me (Jam)
7. Send Me Some Lovin’ (Jam)
8. Get Back (Jam)
9. Lost John (1) (Jam)
10. Goodnight Irene (Jam)
11. You’ll Never Walk Alone (Parody) (Jam)
12. I Don’t Want To A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (1) (Jam)
13. It’ll Be Me (Jam)
14. Honey Don’t (Jam)
15. Elvis Parody (Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog/When I’m Over You) (Jam)
16. Matchbox (Jam)
17. I’ve Got A Feeling (Jam)
18. Mystery Train (Jam)
19. You’re So Square (Jam)
20. I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (2) (Jam)
21. Lost John (2) (Jam)
22. Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For A Hand In The Snow) (Jam)
23. Mother (Home Demo)
24. Hold On (Studio Demo)
25. I Found Out (Home Demo)
26. Working Class Hero (Studio Demo)
27. Isolation (Studio Demo)
28. Remember (Studio Demo)
29. Love (Home Demo)
30. Well Well Well (Home Demo)
31. Look At Me (Home Demo)
32. God (Home Demo)
33. My Mummy’s Dead (Home Demo)

Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, which sometimes included Yoko, Billy Preston and Phil Spector, had fun in between takes by spontaneously jamming classic rock ‘n’ roll songs, improvisations and even early versions of some of Lennon’s other songs. For the first time, these 22 jams are being made available and are presented in the order they were recorded. Some of the many gems include impromptu performances of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame” Little Richard’s “Send Me Some Lovin’” and a sendup of Elvis Presley. Other highlights include loose run throughs of “Hold On” and a couple early attempts of “I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier Mama, I Don’t Want To Die,” which would end up on his next album, Imagine.

2 Blu-ray Track Listing

THE ULTIMATE MIXES (53 mins)
1. Mother
2. Hold On
3. I Found Out
4. Working Class Hero
5. Isolation
6. Remember
7. Love
8. Well Well Well
9. Look At Me
10. God
11. My Mummy’s Dead
12. Give Peace A Chance
13. Cold Turkey
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

THE ULTIMATE MIXES/THE OUT-TAKES (49 mins)
1. Mother/Take 61
2. Hold On/Take 2
3. I Found Out/Take 1
4. Working Class Hero/Take 1
5. Isolation/Take 23
6. Remember/Rehearsal 1
7. Love/Take 6
8. Well Well Well/Take 2
9. Look At Me/Take 2
10. God/Take 27
11. My Mummy’s Dead/Take 2
12. Give Peace A Chance/Take 2
13. Cold Turkey/Take 1
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)/Take 5

THE ELEMENTS MIXES (60 mins)
1. Mother
2. Hold On
3. I Found Out
4. Working Class Hero
5. Isolation
6. Remember
7. Love
8. Well Well Well
9. Look At Me
10. God
11. My Mummy’s Dead
12. Give Peace A Chance
13. Cold Turkey
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

THE DEMOS (45 mins)
1. Mother (Home Demo)
2. Hold On (Studio Demo)
3. I Found Out (Home Demo)
4. Working Class Hero (Studio Demo)
5. Isolation (Studio Demo)
6. Remember (Studio Demo)
7. Love (Home Demo)
8. Well Well Well (Home Demo)
9. Look At Me (Home Demo)
10. God (Home Demo)
11. My Mummy’s Dead (Home Demo)
12. Give Peace A Chance (Home Demo)*
13. Cold Turkey (Home Demo)*
14. Instant Karma! (Studio Demo)*

THE RAW STUDIO MIXES (59 mins)
1. Mother/Take 64
2. Hold On/Take 32
3. I Found Out/Take 3 Extended
4. Working Class Hero/Take 9
5. Isolation/Take 29
6. Remember/Take 13
7. Love/Take 37
8. Well Well Well/Take 4 Extended
9. Look At Me/Take 9
10. God/Take 42
11. My Mummy’s Dead/Take 1
12. Give Peace A Chance/Take 4 Extended
13. Cold Turkey/Take 2
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)/Take 10

THE RAW STUDIO MIXES/THE OUT-TAKES (50mins)
1. Mother/Take 91
2. Hold On/Take 18*
3. I Found Out/Take 7
4. Working Class Hero/Take 10*
5. Isolation/Take 1*
6. Remember/Take 1*
7. Love/Take 9*
8. Well Well Well/Take 5*
9. Look At Me/Take 3*
10. God/Take 1
11. My Mummy’s Dead/Take 2*
12. Give Peace A Chance/Take 4*
13. Cold Turkey/Take 2*
14. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)/Take 5*

THE EVOLUTION DOCUMENTARY (93 mins)
1. Mother
2. Hold On
3. I Found Out
4. Working Class Hero
5. Isolation
6. Remember
7. Love
8. Well Well Well
9. Look At Me
10. God
11. My Mummy’s Dead
12. Give Peace A Chance*
13. Cold Turkey*
14. Instant Karma (We All Shine On)*

THE JAMS/LIVE AND IMPROVISED (36 mins)
1. Johnny B. Goode
2. Ain’t That A Shame
3. Hold On (1)
4. Hold On (2)
5. Glad All Over
6. Be Faithful To Me
7. Send Me Some Lovin’
8. Get Back
9. Lost John (1)
10. Goodnight Irene
11. You’ll Never Walk Alone (Parody)
12. I Don’t Want To Be To be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (1)
13. It’ll Be Me
14. Honey Don’t
15. Elvis Parody (Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog/When I’m Over You)
16. Matchbox
17. I’ve Got A Feeling
18. Mystery Train
19. You’re So Square
20. I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (2)
21. Lost John (2)
22. Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For A Hand In The Snow)

YOKO ONO/PLASTIC ONO BAND – THE LIVE SESSIONS (110 mins)
1. Why*
2. Why Not*
3. Greenfield Morning I Pushed An Empty Carriage All Over The City*
4. Touch Me*
5. Paper Shoes*
6. Life*
7. Omae No Okaa Wa*
8. I Lost Myself Somewhere In The Sky*
9. Remember Love*
10. Don’t Worry Kyoko*
11. Who Has Seen The Wind*

On October 10th, the day after Lennon’s 30th birthday, Yoko, John, Klaus and Ringo recorded a freeform experimental jam session that would be edited into Yoko’s concurrent album, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band. For the first time ever, the full session, more than three times the length of the original album, can be heard as part of the Blu-ray in its entirety. Newly mixed by Sam Gannon, it is being presented in high-res audio and in its originally performed speed with no edits, with tracks like “Why” clocking in at 18 mins and “Why Not” exceeding 21 minutes. The live session is bolstered by three improvisations that have never been released before: “Life,” “Omae No Okaa Wa” and “I Lost Myself Somewhere In The Sky.”

*BLU-RAY DISCS ONLY

Last fall, on Nov. 17, 2020, a book, John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band, from Thames and Hudson, and credited to authors John Lennon and Yoko Ono, arrived roughly one month after what would have been Lennon’s 80th birthday.

The John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band book includes first-hand commentary by John & Yoko, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and many others. It also includes previously unseen photographs by Annie Leibovitz, Ethan Russell, Richard DiLello, Iain Macmillan, John Reader and David Nutter.

The book is available for order in the U.S. here and the U.K. here. and is described as “a definitive, in-depth, revelatory exploration of John Lennon’s intensely personal first major solo album after the breakup of the Beatles.”

Cover art for the John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band book

new collection of Lennon’s solo work, titled Gimme Some Truth, was released on Oct. 9, his 80th birthday.

After the Plastic Ono Band album was released in 1970 on the Apple label, it ultimately peaked at #9 in the U.K. and #6 in the U.S. To put the album in historical context, Lennon’s acclaimed LP, Imagine, was released nine months later in Sept. 1971.

On Aug. 20, Lennon’s Facebook page shared Starr’s extensive essay. “[The] emotion on this record… is just mind-blowing,” he writes. “The sparseness of the band, the force of John. That’s why he’s one of the greats.”

The new “Love” video includes various alternate takes and mixes of the recording, all of which will presumably included in the album’s 50th anniversary edition.  It features the story behind the song in Lennon’s words.

Filming was done at Battery Park, New York, on September 4, 1971; South Beach, Staten Island with the Verrazano-Narrows bridge in the background, on September 10 1971; and at Sperone Westwater Fischer Gallery, 142 Greene Street, New York, on November 26 1980.

Watch “Love,” the story behind the song

The Lennon-Ono social media team has set up a website for the Plastic Ono Band project.

From the book’s announcement: Described by Lennon as “the best thing I’ve ever done,” and widely regarded by critics as his best solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was released on 11 December 1970. With first-hand commentary by Lennon, Ono and other members of the Plastic Ono Band, and packed with previously unseen photographs by those who documented their lives, this incisive volume offers new insights into the raw emotions and open mindset of Lennon after marriage to Ono and the break-up of the Beatles, through heroin addiction and primal therapy under Arthur Janov, to the making of the album and revealing interview with Jann Wenner in December 1970.

A montage of many of the photos in the book

After the Bed-In for Peace events held in Amsterdam in March 1969 Lennon and Ono decided that their future artistic endeavours would be credited to a conceptual vehicle, the Plastic Ono Band. The band featured a rotating line-up of musicians, including Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Ringo Starr, Alan White, George Harrison, Billy Preston and Jim Keltner, all of whom played live with Lennon and Ono, and contributed to their recordings.

Ono, Lennon and Starr in the studio in October 1970 (Photo via Insight Editions; used with permission)

Recording sessions began at Abbey Road Studios on Sept. 26, 1970.

Primal therapy had a huge impact on Lennon’s song writing, resulting in the creation of tracks that are intensely personal and soul-baring, including “Mother,” “Working Class Hero” and “God.” This book takes those lyrics as a starting point and explores Lennon’s life, career and self-perception, from “performing flea” with the Beatles to authenticity as a solo artist.

2020 was expected to be another big year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of various 1970 Beatles-related titles. On March 10, 2020, it was announced that the Peter Jackson-directed film, The Beatles: Get Back, would be released in theaters on Sept. 4. That announcement noted, “the film will showcase the warmth, camaraderie and humor of the making of the legendary band’s studio album, Let It Be, and the entire 42-minute performance of their final live concert as a group, the iconic rooftop set on London’s Savile Row.” However, on June 12, the film was moved to Aug. 27, 2021, due to the pandemic.

A companion audio edition for the film has yet to be announced.

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8 Comments so far

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  1. Rick
    #1 Rick 27 March, 2020, 20:09

    Will the original Let It Be album be re-issued? As well as the Plastic Ono album?

    Reply this comment
  2. Norm
    #2 Norm 1 April, 2020, 00:42

    According to recordstoreday.com, one of the greatest solo debuts in rock history, Paul McCartney’s McCartney, will receive a special 50th anniversary release in a limited-edition half-speed mastered vinyl pressing on June 20th, 2020, if the date does not change. This album was originally released in April 1970, one month before Let It Be, and saw Paul getting back to basics. This 50th anniversary Record Store Day limited edition of McCartney should be pressed from a master cut by Miles Showell at half speed using the original 1970 master tapes at Abbey Road Studios and should be made as a vinyl specific transfer in high resolution and without digital peak limiting for the best possible reproduction. I expect for a John Lennon / P.O.B. limited-edition half-speed mastered vinyl pressing at Black Friday RSD and I dream of Let It Be as a Get Back package for October 9th… or vice versa?

    Reply this comment
  3. Gus
    #3 Gus 8 June, 2020, 03:38

    “Greatest solo debut”? I think “patchy” at best. With the exception of George’s first two (proper) albums and John’s Imagine, most of the individual Beatle’s albums proved that you needed the sum of the parts to make a whole load of brilliance. Like McCartney’s early works, Lennon’s early solo works have their flashes of genius, but unfortunately there is a lot of dross in between. We all wanted to have Beatles x 4 in terms of creativity and quality, but sadly, the individual efforts produced barely a 1/4 of the group’s quality.

    Reply this comment
    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 8 June, 2020, 10:35

      The story doesn’t use the phrase “greatest solo debut,” Gus.

      Reply this comment
      • Ray
        Ray 14 August, 2020, 19:59

        The story may not use “greatest solo debut,” but Norm’s comment about McCartney’s solo debut album described Paul’s album as such … and the response from Gus was spot on.

        Reply this comment
    • David
      David 13 August, 2020, 03:28

      I think your comments are fair enough for the huge majority of Beatles solo records, but not this one. It is an absolutely astonishing and unique record, and consistently strong. Perhaps the most relentlessly personal album ever released. It’s compelling and extremely moving. Following the last two songs, “God” (chills) and “My Mummy’s Dead” (tears) I find it impossible to play anything else for a while until I recover.

      Reply this comment
    • Rick
      Rick 14 February, 2021, 12:39

      After all of these years it still stands up.

      Reply this comment
  4. MIKE
    #4 MIKE 6 October, 2020, 06:55

    I love this album by John as he showed his honest side—-Angry but truthful.The real story of the Beatles break-up was because of Bankcruptcy ,Family in which John was longing for and the too much time being spent on every Beatles record.He was simply fed up.Although the whole album sounded thin and less layered,It became my favourite record of 1970.A song called “Look at me” is worth buying the Lp but,I hear an influential similarity to Smokey Robinson’s—- ‘You really got a hold on me’.Overall,it became a masterpiece matching’ Walls and Bridges,’and Imagine.

    Reply this comment

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