Posts Tagged ‘Jack Douglas’

John Lennon’s voice

October 8, 2010

As odd as it sounds, John Lennon never really liked his own voice.

He constantly pushed Abbey Road’s engineers to modify the sound of one of rock ‘n roll’s greatest instruments. Thus, the Lennon we’re most accustomed to hearing is typically double-tracked (“Eight Days A Week,” “Tell Me Why”) bathed in 50’s style echo (“A Day In The Life,” “Come Together,” “Imagine”) distorted (“I Am The Walrus”) run through a Leslie organ speaker (“Tomorrow Never Knows”) or even reversed (“Rain”).

As the story goes, he was so interested in altering the recorded sound of his voice that he once asked if his voice could be directly injected into the tape machine, bypassing the need for a microphone. Producer George Martin told him no problem, so long as a jack plug could be implanted into Lennon’s neck!

Given Lennon’s ambivalence, it is somehow ironic that to celebrate what would have been Lennon’s 70th birthday tomorrow, his widow, Yoko Ono, has chosen to remix the album they had just released when he was murdered in December 1980 — Double Fantasy — to focus more attention on Lennon’s voice. (The new mix is accompanied by a remastering of the entire Lennon solo catalog done by the same team at EMI that handled the Beatles’ excellent remasters).

The goal, Ono has said, was to strip away some layers of production to better highlight that voice.

Make no mistake – Lennon had a voice without rival for its emotional power. And his versatility is matched only by his one-time partner, Paul McCartney. Both Beatles were equally effective at blistering rock and tender balladry.

The new release, “Double Fantasy Stripped Down,” demonstrates once again that versatility. And in paring back on the production, some of the songs actually gain power.

“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” one of Lennon’s most tender songs, actually sounds bigger and more expressive in the new treatment. With some of the background instruments and harmony vocals stripped out, the elements that remain — the lead guitar, the “oriental” strums and, of course, the clean, intimate lead vocal — gain prominence.

In “(Just Like) Starting Over,” with the 50’s-style slap-back echo removed, the change in vocal timbre is arresting. In that song — which he dedicates in this version to “Gene and Eddie and Elvis… and Buddy” — the echo seems so closely intertwined with the song’s style that I find I miss it.

By contrast, in “I’m Losing You,” the reduction of such vocal effects tends to bring Lennon’s voice closer to the listener, as if he’s standing in the living room in front of you.

That intimacy is most apparent in “Woman,” where layers of electric guitar and background voices are removed, leaving that vulnerable voice set against shimmering acoustic rhythm guitar and simple bass and drum parts.

Ono has been quoted as saying that the remixing process, which she did with original co-producer Jack Douglas, was painful for her. It’s easy to see why. With that voice closer, seemingly, than ever, it’s impossible not to feel a lump in the throat — especially when Lennon sings such hopeful, future-focused lyrics.

Yes, “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” gains some power from its back-to-basics style. And for many who love Lennon still, that power comes with a measure of pain — even today, thirty years after he left us.

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New details on remastered John Lennon releases

September 1, 2010

EMI has just announced the full track listings and other details for the newly remastered John Lennon albums to be released in October.

EMI will release eight remastered John Lennon solo albums and new titles including Double Fantasy Stripped Down, Power To The People: The Hits, Gimme Some Truth and the John Lennon Signature Box. The Double Fantasy Stripped Down might be the most interesting, with new remixes of each song on Lennon’s 1980 release done by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, who co-produced the original album with John. The mixes pare back on the sometimes lush production of the original songs.

Here is a quite moving blog post from Yoko on the remastering/remixing process.

And here’s the text of EMI’s press release with the details on the track listings:

For the first time, Lennon’s classic solo albums and other standout recordings have been digitally remastered from his original mixes. Double Fantasy, 1980’s GRAMMY Award winner for Album of the Year, will be presented with a newly remixed ‘Stripped Down’ version produced by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, Lennon’s original co-producers for the album. Some Time In New York City has been restored to include the six ‘Live Jam’ recordings featured on the original album.

The deluxe 11CD and digital John Lennon Signature Box includes 13 previously unreleased home recordings, and Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, and Julian Lennon have each written personal essays for the lavish collection.

The cover art for the new titles includes original drawings by Sean Lennon for Double Fantasy Stripped Down, while the cover of 1974’s Walls and Bridges is restored to its original artwork.

John Lennon’s life and music will be specially feted this fall with a variety of commemorative releases and events around the world. Please visit http://www.johnlennon.com for official announcements and updates.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: THE HITS [CD; Digital]

1. Power To The People

2. Gimme Some Truth

3. Woman

4. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

5. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

6. Cold Turkey

7. Jealous Guy

8. #9 Dream

9. (Just Like) Starting Over

10. Mind Games

11. Watching The Wheels

12. Stand By Me

13. Imagine

14. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

15. Give Peace A Chance

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: THE HITS (EXPERIENCE EDITION) [CD/DVD]

CD

(tracklist same as above)

DVD

1. Power To The People

2. Gimme Some Truth

3. Woman

4. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

5. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

6. Cold Turkey

7. Jealous Guy

8. #9 Dream

9. (Just Like) Starting Over

10. Mind Games

11. Watching The Wheels

12. Stand By Me

13. Imagine

14. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

15. Give Peace A Chance

GIMME SOME TRUTH [4CD; Digital]

Working Class Hero

1. Working Class Hero

2. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

3. Power To The People

4. God

5. I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die

6. Gimme Some Truth

7. Sunday Bloody Sunday

8. Steel And Glass

9. Meat City

10. I Don’t Wanna Face It

11. Remember

12. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World

13. I Found out

14. Isolation

15. Imagine

16. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

17. Give Peace A Chance

18. Only People

Woman

1. Mother

2. Hold On

3. You Are Here

4. Well Well Well

5. Oh My Love

6. Oh Yoko!

7. Grow Old With Me

8. Love

9. Jealous Guy

10. Woman

11. Out The Blue

12. Bless You

13. Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down And Out)

14. My Mummy’s Dead

15. I’m Losing You

16. (Just Like) Starting Over

17. #9 Dream

18. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

Borrowed Time

1. Mind Games

2. Nobody Told Me

3. Cleanup Time

4. Crippled Inside

5. How Do You Sleep?

6. How?

7. Intuition

8. I’m Stepping Out

9. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

10. Old Dirt Road

11. Scared

12. What You Got

13. Cold Turkey

14. New York City

15. Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox)

16. Borrowed Time

17. Look At Me

18. Watching The Wheels

Roots

1. Be-Bop-A-Lula

2. You Can’t Catch Me

3. Medley: Rip It Up/Ready Teddy

4. Tight A$

5. Ain’t That a Shame

6. Sweet Little Sixteen

7. Do You Wanna Dance

8. Slippin’ and Slidin’

9. Peggy Sue

10. Medley: Bring It On Home/Send Me Some Lovin’

11. Yer Blues (Live)

12. Just Because

13. Boney Moronie

14. Beef Jerky

15. Ya Ya

16. Hound Dog (Live)

17. Stand By Me

18. Here We Go Again

JOHN LENNON SIGNATURE BOX [11CD; Digital]

Original Albums [digitally remastered]

– John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

– Imagine

– Some Time In New York City

– Mind Games

– Walls and Bridges

– Rock ‘n’ Roll

– Double Fantasy

– Milk and Honey

Home Tapes

1. Mother

2. Love

3. God

4. I Found Out

5. Nobody Told Me

6. Honey Don’t

7. One Of The Boys

8. India, India

9. Serve Yourself

10. Isolation

11. Remember

12. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

13. I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die

Singles

1. Power To The People

2. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

3. Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

4. Cold Turkey

5. Move Over Ms. L

6. Give Peace a Chance

ORIGINAL ALBUMS (REMASTERED) [CD; Digital]

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)

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

Imagine (1971)

1. Imagine

2. Crippled Inside

3. Jealous Guy

4. It’s So Hard

5. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die

6. Gimme Some Truth

7. Oh My Love

8. How Do You Sleep?

9. How?

10. Oh Yoko!

Some Time In New York City (1972)

DISC ONE

1. Woman Is The Nigger Of The World

2. Sisters, O Sisters

3. Attica State

4. Born In a Prison

5. New York City

6. Sunday Bloody Sunday

7. The Luck Of The Irish

8. John Sinclair

9. Angela

10. We’re All Water

DISC TWO

1. Cold Turkey (live)

2. Don’t Worry Kyoko (live)

3. Well (Baby Please Don’t Go) (live)

4. Jamrag (live)

5. Scumbag (live)

6. Au (live)

Mind Games (1973)

1. Mind Games

2. Tight A$

3. Aisumasen (I’m Sorry)

4. One Day (At A Time)

5. Bring On The Lucie (Freda Peeple)

6. Nutopian International Anthem

7. Intuition

8. Out The Blue

9. Only People

10. I Know (I Know)

11. You Are Here

12. Meat City

Walls and Bridges (1974)

1. Going Down On Love

2. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

3. Old Dirt Road

4. What You Got

5. Bless You

6. Scared

7. #9 Dream

8. Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox)

9. Steel And Glass

10. Beef Jerky

11. Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down And Out)

12. Ya Ya

Rock ‘n’ Roll (1975)

1. Be-Bop-A-Lula

2. Stand By Me

3. Medley: Rip It Up/Ready Teddy

4. You Can’t Catch Me

5. Ain’t That A Shame

6. Do You Wanna Dance

7. Sweet Little Sixteen

8. Slippin’ And Slidin’

9. Peggy Sue

10. Medley: Bring It On Home To Me/Send Me Some Lovin’

11. Bony Moronie

12. Ya Ya

13. Just Because

Double Fantasy Stripped Down (2010) / Double Fantasy (1980)

Stripped Down

Original Album, Remastered

1. (Just Like) Starting Over

2. Kiss Kiss Kiss

3. Cleanup Time

4. Give Me Something

5. I’m Losing You

6. I’m Moving On

7. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

8. Watching The Wheels

9. Yes, I’m Your Angel

10. Woman

11. Beautiful Boys

12. Dear Yoko

13. Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him

14. Hard Times Are Over

Milk and Honey (1984)

1. I’m Stepping Out

2. Sleepless Night

3. I Don’t Wanna Face It

4. Don’t Be Scared

5. Nobody Told Me

6. O’Sanity

7. Borrowed Time

8. Your Hands

9. (Forgive Me) My Little Flower Princess

10. Let Me Count The Ways

11. Grow Old With Me

12. You’re The One

New Lennon remasters coming, along with stripped down “Double Fantasy”

June 29, 2010

Yoko Ono has authorized the remastering of eight of John Lennon’s solo albums and has participated in a complete remix of the final album he recorded, “Double Fantasy.”

(NOTE: Find my review of the remix here and updated info here.)

Ono says the new mixes in “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” delete instrumentation and production to highlight his voice. Ono and Jack Douglas, who co-produced the original album, performed the remixes.

“Technology has advanced so much that, conversely, I wanted to use new techniques to really frame these amazing songs and John’s voice as simply as possible,” Ono says in an EMI press release I received this morning. “By stripping down some of the instrumentation the power of the songs shines through with an enhanced clarity.”

Abbey Road’s Allan Rouse, who led engineering efforts for the Beatles’ remasters, headed the remastering team.

Here’s the entire release:

London, England – June 29, 2010 – Eight of John Lennon’s classic solo albums and other standout recordings have been digitally remastered from his original mixes for a global catalogue initiative commemorating the music legend’s 70th birthday, which falls on October 9.

Overseen by Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” campaign will launch on 4 October (5 October in North America) with the worldwide release of eight remastered studio albums and several newly-compiled titles.

Double Fantasy, 1980’s GRAMMY Award winner for Album of the Year, will be presented in a newly remixed ‘Stripped Down’ version remixed and produced by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, co-producers of the original mix with John Lennon. The new stripped down version of the album comes in an expanded 2CD and digital edition pairing the new version with Lennon’s original mix, remastered.

The campaign’s other new collections include:

·        A hits compilation in two editions titled Power To The People: The Hits

·        A 4CD set of themed discs titled Gimme Some Truth

·        A deluxe 11CD collectors box with the remastered albums, rarities, and non-album singles, titled the John Lennon Signature Box

All of the remastered albums and collections will be available on CD and for download purchase from all major digital service providers

YOKO ONO said: “In this very special year, which would have seen my husband and life partner John reach the age of 70, I hope that this remastering / reissue programme will help bring his incredible music to a whole new audience. By remastering 121 tracks spanning his solo career, I hope also that those who are already familiar with John’s work will find renewed inspiration from his incredible gifts as a songwriter, musician and vocalist and from his power as a commentator on the human condition. His lyrics are as relevant today as they were when they were first written and I can think of no more apposite title for this campaign than those simple yet direct words ‘Gimme Some Truth’.”

The albums have been digitally remastered from Lennon’s original mixes by Yoko Ono and a team of engineers led by Allan Rouse at EMI Music’s Abbey Road Studios in London and by George Marino at Avatar Studios in New York.  All of the remastered titles will be packaged in digisleeves with replicated original album art and booklets with photos and new liner notes by noted British music journalist Paul Du Noyer. The albums to be reissued are:

·        John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)

·        Imagine (1971)

·        Some Time In New York City (1972)

·        Mind Games (1973)

·        Walls and Bridges (1974)

·        Rock ‘n’ Roll (1975)

·        Double Fantasy Stripped Down (2010) / Double Fantasy (1980)

·        Milk and Honey (1984)

YOKO ONO added:  “Double Fantasy Stripped Down really allows us to focus our attention on John’s amazing vocals. Technology has advanced so much that, conversely, I wanted to use new techniques to really frame these amazing songs and John’s voice as simply as possible. By stripping down some of the instrumentation the power of the songs shines through with an enhanced clarity. Double Fantasy Stripped Down will be complemented by the original album in the 2CD format. It was whilst working on the new version of this album that I was hit hardest emotionally, as this was the last album John released before his passing.”

Power To The People: The Hits gathers 15 of Lennon’s most popular songs, and will be available as a 15-track single-disc and digital package, and as an Experience Edition with additional content.  Both versions will be packaged in digisleeves with booklets including a new liner note essay by Du Noyer.

Gimme Some Truth, to be packaged in a slipcase with rare photos and a new liner notes essays by respected American music journalist and author, Anthony DeCurtis, presents 72 of Lennon’s solo recordings on four themed CDs:

·        ‘Roots’ – John’s rock ‘n’ roll roots and influences

·        ‘Working Class Hero’ – John’s socio-political songs

·        ‘Woman’ – John’s love songs

·         ‘Borrowed Time’ – John’s songs about life

The John Lennon Signature Box is a deluxe 11CD and digital collection of the eight remastered albums, a disc of rare and previously unreleased recordings, and an EP of Lennon’s non-album singles. The CDs will be housed in digisleeves within a deluxe box including a collectible limited edition John Lennon art print and a hardbound book featuring rare photos, artwork, collages, poetry, and new liner notes by DeCurtis.

One of the world’s most celebrated songwriters and performers of all time, John Lennon was killed at the age of 40 on December 8, 1980.  Lennon has been posthumously honoured with a Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award and two special BRIT Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  In 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him in the Top 5 of the magazine’s “100 Greatest Singers Of All Time” list.

In celebration of his 70th birthday on 9 October, 2010, John Lennon’s life and music will be specially feted with a variety of commemorative releases and events around the world. Please visit www.johnlennon.com for official announcements and updates.