Label: Vigotone, VT-185/186
Total Time: CD1: 57:44 CD2: 61:57
How Do You Sleep?
1 First Rehearsal
3 Another Pass
4 Tuning Jam
5 Slow Rehearsal
6 A Bit of Reggae
7 “Slate 12” Low Vocal False Start
8 Low Vocal False Start 2 #2
9 Low Vocal Rehearsal
10 Piano Solo False Start
11 Piano Solo
12 Piano Solo Rehearsal
13 Eight-Track Take One
14 Phil’s Rhythm Instructions
15 Eight-Track Take Two
16 From George’s Solo
19 I’m The Greatest
It's So Hard
1 1. John Starts Tape
2 King Curtis Arrives
3 Intro Playback
4 John Demostrates On Acoustic
5 King Curtis Riffs
6 First Pass and More Riffing
7 Second Pass
8 King Curtis Asks John a Question
9 Third Pass
10 John Gives King Curtis Feedback
11 Another Pass at the Intro
12 Another Pass at the Intro #2
13 Last Pass
I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier Mama, I Don’t Want To Die
14 John Discusses the 1966 Tour
15 First Playback
16 Playback Continued + the First “Hit It”
17 Playback Continued + the Second “Hit It”
18 John & King Curtis Talk
19 First Pass
20 John Instructs King Curtis
21 Second Pass
22 Third Pass
23 Last Pass
Imagine...More Sessions Tapes takes you inside the sessions of one of the greatest Beatles solo albums. You get to experience the finishing touches as they are applied in the final stages of the recording process. Collected here for the first time are an uncut "How Do You Sleep" rehearsal, the complete King Curtis overdub session for "It's So Hard" and "I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die", along with some additional tracks offered with improved sonic clarity.
Imagine...More Session Tapes compliments our previous edition of Imagine outtakes, and together with that set gives you the most complete picture of any of the ex-Beatles' solo albums.
Imagine... if More Session Tapes from 1971 surfaced - of course you'd expect them to be added to Vigotone's on-going series examining the recorded work of John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (ret). This latest offering is actually a companion to Vigotone's earlier critically acclaimed 3CD set: John Lennon: Imagine...All The Outtakes (VT118-120), and there the listener will find an in-depth examination of the Imagine album, along with a broad range of alternate takes, rehearsals and demos. On this set we offer a narrower focus, examining a bit more closely the elements that go into making an album -- namely the rehearsals and overdubs that must be done as part of the working musicians' world. Admittedly, the repetitive nature and start and stop elements don't always lend themselves to the casual listening for pleasure that one might want at times, but as a way of looking into the mind and sometimes the heart of the artists, they can be quite revealing.
After the searing personal anguish of Plastic Ono Band, Lennon returned to calmer, more conventional territory with Imagine. While the album had a softer surface, it still was only somewhat less confessional. John has stated that "the first record was too real for people, so nobody bought it. Imagine ...because it is sugar coated is accepted. Now I understand what you have to do." If Imagine doesn't cut as deeply as POB, it is still a remarkable collection of songs that Lennon would never be able to better again.
how do you sleep?
(rehearsals and filming session)
From the recording sessions at the Lennons' Tittenhurst home, John leads the musicians through several rehearsal run-throughs of his scathing ode to his former partner. As the rehearsals proceed, one can hear Lennon taking the band slowly through the various riff changes, chord progressions and nuances that he obviously felt this song required. At this stage, most work is geared toward the instrumental elements of the song; when he does add vocals they are obviously intended just to guide the players through the song and not as proper performances. On at least one occasion a slate number is called out for the film crew documenting the sessions for an accompanying film version of the album. Some of this footage was also utilized in the Imagine: John Lennon documentary.
This version of "Imagine" features the same backing as the released version but has an alternate vocal marked take 7. Although this is the same version that opens Lost Lennon Tapes Volume 33, this is its first appearance from a tape source.
This track like the previous is the same version as that which appeared on the official Imagine album but with an alternate vocal. This tape source version supercedes its previous availability on Lost Lennon Tapes Volume 14 which was taken from a vinyl transcription disc.
i'm the greatest
This version of "I'm The Greatest" is different from the one that appeared on the earlier Vigotone set but is from the same session. It has appeared previously on the scarce After The Remember CD, but is taken here from a superior tape source.
After the basic tracks for Imagine had been recorded at the Lennons' Tittenhurst Ascot Sound Studios, they were then subject to overdubbing sessions at Record Plant studios in New York City during July 1971. While some songs were just given string overdubs, Lennon desired some grittier horn sounds on two of his harder-sounding songs on the album, "It's So Hard" and "I Don't Want To Be A Soldier". It was only natural then that for some authentic R&B horn parts that Lennon should want a top-flight R&B artist, and It (wasn't) So Hard to find a good one in sax player King Curtis.
King Curtis (born Curtis Ousley) was the last of the great R&B tenor sax greats. He came to prominence in the mid-50's as a session musician in New York, recording at one time or another for most of the East Coast R&B labels. A long association with Atlantic/Atco began in 1958 and his playing is heard on hit recordings by the Coasters among many others. He recorded singles under his own name for many small labels in the 1950's - his own Atco sessions ('58/'59), then Prestige/New Jazz and Prestige/TruSound for jazz and R&B albums in 1960 and 1961. In 1962 Curtis also enjoyed a #1 R&B hit with "Soul Twist" on Enjoy Records. He also contributed the sax solo on Buddy Holly's song "Reminiscing", a song covered by the Beatles during their Hamburg days. He was signed by Capitol for two years (1963-64), where he may have come into early contact with the Beatles through common label connections. He certainly made their acquaintance during the Beatles 1965 U.S. tour, appearing with them at their famed Shea Stadium concert. He later led Aretha Franklin's backing band and took an active studio role at Atlantic Records, contracting sessions and producing. He was murdered a month after doing overdub work for the Imagine album, stabbed to death during a punch-up in front of his apartment. It was Friday the 13th, August 1971.
it's so hard
As evident from this off-line tape, Lennon is in a relaxed, reflective mood as he greets King with remembrances of the last meeting from the Shea Stadium appearance. He's also in a productive mood as work begins right away on the overdubs for "It's So Hard". John clearly knows what he wants although, as George Martin once pointed out, he is not as technically expressive as brother Paul could be. Hence, his instructions to King come in the form of a lot of "ooh-oohs" and "ah-ahs" ads he tries to vocalize the parts he wants for the song. Fortunately King picks up on it rather effortlessly, soon nailing the opening sax bit, and riffing throughout the next couple of playback with an excited John calling out delighted encouragement ("...some great stuff on the solo!"). Certainly a good working atmosphere is evident this day.
i don't want to be a soldier
Next up comes a fairly straight-forward stab at everybody's favorite track on the album, after further reminiscing by John. This time it's about the scare the Beatles had on stage in the Bible Belt during the last 1966 US tour, with fireworks being thrown at the stage, and each of the Fabs looking about to see who had been shot. John seems amused as he remembers thinking that Ringo had got it! Again the tape shows work was done very efficiently for what would prove to be one of the last recording sessions for King Curtis. He delivers what John calls for during numerous playbacks...a true professional to the end.
In all, a brief, but interesting "fly on the wall" listening experience that can only make one appreciate even more one of the best post-Beatle albums by any of the Fab Four. What more could anyone want?