On October 9 in honor of John Lennon's 78th birthday, Apple Records will release a new box set Imagine--the Ultimate Collection, a special reissue of Lennon's critically acclaimed second solo album featuring a remaster of the original mix plus new re-mixes, the original 1970s quad mix, outtakes, demo's, and more as well as John and Yoko Ono's 1971 films Imagine and Gimme Some Truth.  The box set also features an 'Evolution Documentary' that shows off each song in all its stages including rehearsals, multi-track recording, and overdubs. The original tapes were remastered in 5.1 high definition audio and remixed by GRAMMY winner Paul Hicks at Abbey Road Studios in London.  

"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," said Hicks. "‘It’s about John’ she said. And she was right. His voice brings the biggest emotional impact to the album."

The original Imagine sessions were produced by John and Yoko and Phil Spector and were recorded and filmed at Lennon's home studio Ascot Sound and at the Record Plant in Manhattan. "John & Yoko had hired very skilled and experienced sound engineers who used high quality equipment and knew how to mic and record onto tape with great expertise, so the technical quality of the recordings was also excellent," continued Hicks. "Phil Spector generally tended to record instruments directly onto the tape with all the reverb effects included. For the Imagine recordings, John & Yoko deliberately had all the tracks recorded dry. This made the album easier to remix with greater sonic clarity, because we had so much more individual control over each track. "I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier" has a big soup-y reverb all over it, but "Crippled Inside" is really dry and raw. And that’s the beauty of John & Yoko’s collaboration."

Imagine--the Ultimate Collection also features a remaster of the 1971 film of the sessions featuring Phil Spector and George Harrison in which Lennon is seen playing his Epiphone Casino (as well as complaining it needs a new set-up after six years of heavy Beatle work!).  Visit JohnLennon.com for details and look to Epiphone for more news soon. In the meantime, read our history of the Epiphone Casino as well as our eye-opening interview with Beatles musical gear expert Andy Babiuk. (Thanks to Andy for the terrific photo of Lennon's Casino.)

"George and John had this thing about having matching guitars which goes back to a Shadows kind-of-thing," Babiuk told Epiphone.  "They both had J-160Es, then George got a Rickenbacker and painted it black so it would look like John's Rickenbacker, they both had Rickenbacker 12-strings and then they both had Strats. So in 1966, lo and behold, they send Mal (Evans, Beatles roadie) to get two Epiphone Casinos. And I think it was highly influenced by Paul because he had one. When it came time to recording or going out on the road or performing on television, they took out their new guitars. It was probably as simple as that. The Casinos were lightweight, they sounded nice, so they took them on the '66 tour."