Lennon v McCartney: How John eclipsed his old rival Paul with the Imagine box

Eight years into Paul McCartney‘s sloth-like reissue campaign and Yoko Ono has just announced a box set from his old bandmate and songwriting partner that eclipses any of McCartney s deluxe editions.

While Macca’s deluxe book editions have consistently offered classy presentation and mined a second-to-none photo archive, when it comes to the audio content, these have often fallen foul of a conservative approach and a reticence to really dig into the any album recording sessions. You have to conclude that either McCartney has been badly advised about what constitutes great audio content for a box set reissue, or he simply hasn’t listened to good advice.

The John Lennon Imagine box set offers both a hi-res stereo of the album on a physical disc and a 5.1 surround mix. Nine albums into Paul’s campaign and we’ve had neither of those for ANY of the deluxe sets.

The Imagine Ultimate Collection offers an almost forensic look at the songs on the album with different takes, demos, rehearsals and rebuilt-from-the-multi-tracks new mixes. The McCartney deluxe sets appear to be more concerned with narrative, often placing Paul in supposed career jeopardy (starting again post Fab Four) and occasionally actual jeopardy (Paul’s infamous mugging while in Lagos to record Band on the Run).

The McCartney and RAM deluxe sets are centred on post-Beatles blues, falling in love with your wife and falling out with your friends, while McCartney II signposts the end of Wings. Band on the Run is triumph over adversity (Paul and Denny Laine abandoned by bandmates to record the album alone) while the swagger of Wings Over America is just top-of-the-world triumph (underlined by the girth and excess of 2013’s box set) – with none of that pesky adversity!

Paul McCartney’s established pattern with his deluxe reissues is to offer a bonus disc of around 8-10 tracks which bring together previously released B-Sides, a few minor oddities and maybe some live performance (not always from the same era).

McCartney opts for the ‘neat and tidy’ approach and, as was well documented in 2017 with the Flowers in the Dirt fiasco, if he can’t grasp the value in including commercially released B-Sides on CD, in his box sets, then an alternate take of, say, Monkberry Moon Delight isn’t going to happen any time soon.

To be fair, no one expects – or probably even wants – the likes of Wings at the Speed of Sound or Wild Life as 135-track, six-disc explorations, but major works like Band on the Run, RAM and even Tug Of War really disappointed when it came to the audio. 2010’s Band on the Run deluxe even lazily re-presented the same bonus disc, from the 1999 25th anniversary edition and while no one can blame Paul for the absence of those demos stolen by the muggers, he should have at least included the Quad Mix and featured some sessions (perhaps a listen to the audio before Tony Visconti worked on a few tracks).

Paul McCartney / Flowers in the Dirt 4-disc deluxe edition
Paul’s Flowers in the Dirt box set was his last archival reissue

The mono mix of RAM was genuinely interesting, but the Imagine approach would have been totally justified for this now highly-regarded work, however it never materialised. All energies and ideas were expended on an admittedly excellent box set (Little Book of Sheep etc.) but much like going to an expensive restaurant and coming out hungry, it seemed good at the time but you reflect back on a disappointing experience.

Paul seems to be creating his sets for himself, not his fans. He has a history of being an unreliable witness when it comes to the quality and value of his own output (Take It Away and No More Lonely Nights were never performed live, for example) and it’s not hard to imagine him dismissing the idea of content he personally sees no value (5.1 surround sound) or thinks is pointless or simply not up to par (alternate takes of album tracks).

With Imagine you can almost hear Yoko and her team, sitting around a table, punching the air and saying ‘let’s see someone complain about THAT!” The Imagine set tries hard to delight in a way that simply has not happened with McCartney. We get 5.1 AND the Quad Mix! Is the Quad any good? Probably not, but it’s both a historical artefact and something interesting to listen to. It deserves to be included. Imagine embraces blu-ray audio, while 10 years after blu-ray was established as the premium delivery mechanism for video content, none of Paul’s deluxe sets have included the format. His big deluxe packages normally add a DVD which are often short and scrappy. These might include some brief – but nicely done – promo films, some videos and the like, but are often inessential.

The book included with the Imagine deluxe set is 10″ x 10″ and 120 pages

With only one archive reissue in almost three years, has Paul McCartney’s campaign run out of steam? Has he been left annoyed by lacklustre sales and instead of conducting a root-and-branch examination of why they have underperformed, his team have simply shrugged off disappointments, and moved on to easy ‘wins’ such as coloured vinyl reissues and focusing on promoting the new album. I do believe we will see more of the archive reissue campaign (with Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway likely to be next) but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the archive reissues have been de-prioritised and virtually everything in McCartney’s ‘to do’ list skips ahead of the bullet-pointed entry which reads “reissue the rest of my Wings and solo albums”.

The forthcoming Imagine box set should serve as a wake-up call to Paul. Yoko, on John’s behalf, has demonstrated that a six-disc archival set, packed full of interesting sounding content and a 120-page book can be delivered for around £65. This is almost exactly HALF of what Paul wanted fans to pay for his flawed Flowers in the Dirt package.

Will Yoko take any quiet satisfaction from outdoing Paul and delivering such an excellent set on behalf of Lennon? We can only speculate, but it’s time for McCartney to channel the competitive spirit that drove himself and John to such heights in the Sixties and respond to this reissue with something similar, next time around.

The Imagine reissue is out on 5 October 2018. There are currently no announced reissues from Paul McCartney at the time of writing, but his new album Egypt Station is out on Friday.

Imagine – The Ultimate Edition: 6-disc Super Deluxe Edition

CD 1 

Remixed Stereo Album

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!

Remixed Singles and Extras

11. Power To The People
12. Well… (Baby Please Don’t Go)
13. God Save Us
14. Do The Oz
15. God Save Oz
16. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

CD 2 

Elements Mixes

1. Imagine (strings only)
2. Jealous Guy (piano, bass & drums)
3. Oh My Love (vocals only)
4. How? (strings only)

Album Outtakes

5. Imagine (demo)
6. Imagine (take 1)
7. Crippled Inside (take 3)
8. Crippled Inside (take 6 – alt guitar solo)
9. Jealous Guy (take 9)
10. It’s So Hard (take 6)
11. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (take 11)
12. Gimme Some Truth (take 4)
13. Oh My Love (take 6)
14. How Do You Sleep? (takes 1 & 2)
15. How? (take 31)
16. Oh Yoko! (Bahamas 1969)

Singles Outtakes

17. Power To The People (take 7)
18. God Save Us (demo)
19. Do The Oz (take 3)
20. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (alt mix)

CD 3 

Extended Album Tracks and Raw

1. Imagine (take 10)
2. Crippled Inside (take 6)
3. Jealous Guy (take 29)
4. It’s So Hard (take 11)
5. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die
6. Gimme Some Truth (take 4 – extended)
7. Oh My Love (take 20)
8. How Do You Sleep? (take 11 – extended)
9. How? (take 40)
10. Oh Yoko! (take 1 extended)

Outtakes Live

11. Imagine (take 1)
12. Jealous Guy (take 11)
13. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (take 21)
14. How Do You Sleep? (take 1)
15. How Do You Sleep? (takes 5 & 6)

CD 4

Evolution (from demo to final mix)

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!

Blu-ray Disc 1 – Imagine – The Ultimate Mixes 
Remixed Stereo Album, Singles, Extras & Outtakes 

Imagine – The Album
Remix in 5.1 & Stereo 24-96
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!

Singles & Extras
Remix in 5.1 & Stereo 24-96
1. Power To The People
2. Well… (Baby Please Don’t Go)
3. God Save Us (Bill Elliot vocal)
4. Do The Oz
5. God Save Oz (John Lennon vocal)
6. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

The Out-takes
New Mix in 5.1 & Stereo 24-96

1. Imagine (demo)
2. Imagine (take 1)
3. Crippled Inside (take 3)
4. Crippled Inside (take 6 alt guitar solo)
5. Jealous Guy (take 9)
6. It’s So Hard (take 6)
7. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (take 11)
8. Gimme Some Truth (take 4)
9. Oh My Love (take 6)
10. How Do You Sleep? (takes 1 & 2)
11. How? (take 31)
12. Oh Yoko! (Bahamas 1969)
13. Power To The People (take 7)
14. God Save Us (demo)
15. Do The Oz (take 3)
16. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (alt mix)

The Quadrasonic Mixes
Remastered in Quad 4.0 24-96
Original 1971 Quadsonic Album Remastered

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!

Blu-ray Disc 2 – In The Studio and Deeper Listening

The Raw Studio Mixes – Extended Album Versions – Live
New Mix in 5.1 & Stereo 24-96
Experience, in immersive Surround Sound, the moment John and The Plastic Ono Band record each song live, from a sonic soundstage at the center of Ascot Sound Studios at John & Yoko’s home in Tittenhurst

1. Imagine (take 10)
2. Crippled Inside (take 6)
3. Jealous Guy (take 29)
4. It’s So Hard (take 11)
5. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (take 4 – extended)
6. Gimme Some Truth (take 4 – extended)
7. Oh My Love (take 20)
8. How Do You Sleep? (take 11 – extended)
9. How? (take 40)
10. Oh Yoko! (take 1 – extended)

The Raw Studio Mixes – Out-takes – Live
New Mix in 5.1 & Stereo 24-96
1. Imagine (take 1)
2. Crippled Inside (take 2)
3. Crippled Inside (take 6 alt guitar solo)
4. Jealous Guy (take 11)
5. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (take 21)
6. How Do You Sleep? (take 1)
7. How Do You Sleep? (takes 5 & 6)
8. How? (takes 7-10)
9. How? (take 40 alt vocal)
10. Oh Yoko! (take 1 tracking vocal)

The Elements Mixes
From the Master Multitracks

New Mix in 5.1 & Stereo 24-96
Mixes from elements of the original multitracks that demonstrate some of the instrumentations from ‘behind the scenes’

1. Imagine (strings)
2. Crippled Inside (upright bass & drums)
3. Jealous Guy (piano, bass & drums)
4. It’s So Hard (strings)
5. I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die (guitar, bass & drums)
6. Gimme Some Truth (electric piano & guitar)
7. Oh My Love (vocals)
8. How Do You Sleep? (strings)
9. How? (strings)
10. Oh Yoko! (acoustic)

The Evolution Documentary
New Mix in Mono 24-96
The story of the songs from demo to master in rehearsals, studio chat and mixed multitrack elements

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!
11. Power To The People
12. Well… (Baby Please Don’t Go)
13. God Save Us/God Save Oz
14. Do The Oz
15. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
16. Tittenhurst Park

Imagine John & Yoko – The Elliot Mintz Interviews
New Mix in Mono 24-96
Tribute by DJ and family friend Elliot Mintz featuring revealing, philosophical, honest and humorous interviews with John & Yoko.

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Excited as I am at the content of these I feel like vinyl collectors get overlooked.
I love this album, but am not going to buy a 6CD box set when it is seemingly like an obsolete format. Obviously I understand the appeal of the 5.1 and quad and understand they are platform specific but… like many reissue campaigns (including Pepper) i just give a cursory glance to the audio on streaming platforms to ‘hear’ them but the audio quality is too limited for any true appreciation,
Same with the last Flaming Lips best of, the 3 CD version had all the interesting material but vinyl fans are left out in the cold. At least a pre-order system would allow to cater for this demand (pretty sure I cant’t be the only one!) and not leave the manufacturers out of pocket (GIANT IRONY ALERT)


Well Paul, you’re clearly a CD head and can’t see the vinyl side.
CDs are such an outdated format, I deeply regret sinking so much money into them in the 90s and am now re-buying on vinyl.
The collectors vinyl market is huge (most of the people I know now buy vinyl only) and all these box set releases just neglect that consumer base by giving an abbreviated version of the major release.
This is patronising to the point of being insulting to vinyl consumers.
Having said that I guess I was told vinyl was obsolete in the 90s to I shouldn’t really say it now.
Surely there is room for both?


You have a valid point regarding the supply/demand response, but in terms of difference of CD and vinyl quality… You just have to know that CDs are compressed to 16bit/44.1kHz and therefore vinyl has a clear advantage if they carry a higher quality master, which, in many cases, they do. It should be noted though that DVD and Blu-ray discs should have supplanted CDs by now and the John Lennon box should just carry 2 Blu-ray discs carrying all of the audio, saving money, time, space, plastic, the environment etc…

Chris Squires

Please think Patrick.

On just about every Vinyl thread over the last three years someone has said exactly what you are saying but with Vinyl and CD reversed. Some thoughtless posters, fed up with 8 LP Vinyl box sets when their only interest is CD, invariably moan about it. Irrespective of how many CD only boxsets are released when one they are interested in comes out only in Vinyl they can get very self-absorbed and stroppy.

It’s been the devils own game to try and correct stupid inaccuracies (beards / hipsters / crackly / pointless etc).

Saying that Paul is “clearly a CD head and can’t see the vinyl side” says only one thing to me. You clearly don’t understand a damned thing about this website (yet), maybe because you haven’t been here long enough, give it time and you will see Paul bats for every side as long as it’s physical.
There has never been one post *EVER* where Paul has shown bias one way or another with regards to format. He has always lamented the lack of options where no other options are available, but as he says above there are times when he has to be a realist and CD only is better than nothing at all. I had this very discussion with him over the Paul Young set when I wanted to see a 4 / 6 LP highlights version. Sony just wouldn’t go for it. He asked.

It’s going to be very tough to stop people moaning about Vinyl only sets when people are seen to be moaning about CD only sets.

As others have said before and better. Lets celebrate the physical and cherish everything that still gets released. CD is not, and never will be, the enemy.


Peters, please read this:


I left vinyl behind 30 years ago for a reason.


The Clear vinyl is back on sale (5/10 @9.00am) at Recordstore.co.uk £32.99 + post also The Book Depository has the signed version of Imagine John Yoko for pre-order, apparently they have stock. They also have the US one available for pre-order slightly cheaper but you may need to pay import etc, whether these will become available is another thing!

Elizabeth Ursula Hirst

The Imagine set looks really good, but I need to see what the promised White Album SDE looks like before I commit the funds.


This is great!! POB next! Then W&B and R&R.
I would also go for 135 +/- track retrospectives of SoS, V&M, BoTR, RRS, and maybe even Wild Life, too, not to mention RAM and McC / McCII. I’d go for the same on all of GHs Apple albums, too, and 33 1/3 and Cloud Nine (come on Dhani! :) But me I’m a real Beatles fan

hendry doran

With loads of money Nick(lol)

John Montagna

Hate to say it, but I can’t argue with this.

Nass Khan

Lets be honest

There was nothing innovative musically in the Solo Beatles career for any 4 members. They peaked as the Beatles.

Gimme Some Truth, Comming Up . Yes for sure some nice songs but innovative like White Album, Revolver. No way.

Ben Williams

Simply cannot agree with that..

Band On The Run, All Things Must Pass and Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band are all up there with the greatest albums of all time.

Tom Schreiber

Another positve aspect to me is the price: you can pre-order Imagine for about 70,- € and had to pay about 130,- € for Macca’s deluxe sets.


So now John Lennon is the Beatles standard on reissues. We’re going to ignore the 1990 Lennon Boxset & the 1998 Anthology that offered answering machine message quality material.

Ian Mears

It is so good to have a site like SDE, where the daily updates are useful and interesting, and the reader’s comments actually add to the value of the articles.

So many good points made in the comments, and as a huge fan and obsessive collector of The Beatles and solo material, i agree with contradictory opinions.

What i like about this Imagine box is that it is surely the last word, until technology develops and allows for a previously unavailable experience.
My frustration with some of the Macca boxes is that I suspect somewhere down the line some desirable content that should have been on them will be released.

That is not to say everything from each era should be there as he shouldn’t diminish his reputation with throwaway or boring out-takes – and it is this point that i think ties in to the point made by others, he’s still alive and able to apply his judgement on that. Albeit that his judgement over the years has sometimes been questionable and there are plenty of examples in interviews with industry insiders where he is not good at taking advice.
Each of the Beatles appears to have been less interested in the ‘product’ than the fans are. They often don’t know which song was on which LP, or which was a single. We should be glad of that as it means they are off making music rather than poring over marketing decisions. Maybe there is an argument for fans and archivists to have more say on the SDE reissues (but certainly never the new or original work). I’d value them having a good ear for interesting versions rather than every version of a track or mix.

John Pei

great article -great comment thread! all a very good read! Thanks

George Steven

Well, go to this party really late – but hey, Paul, you hit the nail on the head –with a sledgehammer. Totally agree that I would not need (nor desire, frankly) a six-disc retrospective of Pipes Of Peace, for instance, I sure would have plunked down for 6 discs of Band On the Run!!
What would I do if I didn’t have my cache’ of great boots? (Like I could put together the CD that Paul wanted me to freakin download and do my self – so I did, but using my own acquired source material. I have forgiven Yoko many things over the years – and again, I am impressed that she understands how we felt about the Beatles – all of them – and that we appreciated John’s IMagine to no end – and so why not deliver it in as many incarnations as makes commercial sense??? Mine’s already reserved….

Carl Smukall

As usual, excellent article Paul. Macca does indeed seem to make the deluxe editions for himself – the audio content options could be so much more expansive. Excellent point about Macca not recognizing the quality of his work by never performing Take It Away or No More Lonely Nights live. I am curious to know if the lack of diversified audio content in his deluxe editions is because he gets bad advice or doesn’t listen to good advice – or both!

Mathew Lauren


Nice article, Paul. Well done. Solid piece of writing with good, objective points (along with some learned, subjective insight) addressing the question of whether the Lennon, “Imagine” SDE eclipses that; which the Macca camp has been releasing. Hope Macca’s camp takes notice.

Again, Kudos.

Kenneth Tilley

I just don’t get this blind hero worship with the comments here, if he recited a telephone directory and put that out would you think it a masterpiece ?

Chris Squires

If the beloved Kate can recite pi to the hundredth number and it’s still a thing of beauty then probably, yes.

Kenneth Tilley

I can’t disagree about Kate, but Macca has put out some howlers.

Sean Murdock

I think Paul’s Archive Collection campaign has been *mostly* successful, given that its original mission wasn’t as ambitious as Yoko’s for the Imagine box. It may be moving at a glacial pace, and its evolution has been painfully incremental — but we have seen an expansion on the original “6-8 bonus tracks, no outtakes” rule. RAM, V&M, Macca II and FITD have all broken that rule, and given us mostly good new stuff. The One Hand Clapping tracks in stereo have been awesome — albeit spread out over several releases. Nobody really expected the rejected Costello-produced Flowers tracks (misleadingly labeled “studio demos”) to be released, but they were. Yes, the download “disc” of b-sides was frustrating. The RAM box was probably the closest he’s gotten to “perfect” — and even that should have had an extra CD of studio alternates and outtakes, like all those songs that would get finished and released on Wild Life and RRS (although in fairness they may turn up on next year’s releases).

The Beatles are an incestuous bunch — no jokes about George and Mo, please! — when something works for one of them, they all copy each other. Tasteful Abbey Road remasters with the logo stripe down the left-hand side of the cover? Cue both the Archive Collection and Lennon’s 2010 remasters. In addition to everything you said in your article, Paul, I’d like to add that I hope Olivia is paying attention to all this, and if she was planning anything at ALL for the ATMP 50th, she’s now thinking, “Hmmm … we can go bigger.”

Kenneth Tilley

there’s a few comments from real die hard Macca fans who will buy anything from him and say all is wonderful. They miss the point completely with his “deluxe” sets. I gave up on solo Macca ages ago. This imagine box beats anything Macca has put out Deluxe or other wise hands down. I go further and say it beats his latest solo offering.


I’d rather have McCartney focus his energy on new creative work than fussing over and polishing the presentation of material he made decades ago.

The man is a melodic genius.

He owes us nothing.

Be grateful that he is still giving us new work.

Kenneth Tilley

issuing below par “new work” doesn’t give him the right to cock up his deluxe sets

Paul Wren

So Lennon wins this battle from beyond the grave. How does anyone know what input McCartney has had to his reissues? Has he been involved at all?

John Winston

You seem to be making a career/name out of moaning about the McCartney sets. They’re great. Give it a break. One cock-up doesn’t render the whole series a mess.

The Lennon set looks interesting, but there’s a load on there that’ll be lucky to get more than a couple of plays from all but the most obsessive fans.


Let me start off by saying, I’m enjoying the McCartney reissue series. I think the remasters are spectacular and the insights revealed in the books and other printed material, for the most part, are incredible.
A perfect series, it is not.
The quality of the One Hand Clapping videos is jarring. And there is a shortage of the truly rare material that we know lurks out there.
But here’s the thing.
The point of the McCartney series is to showcase the albums proper, in the best light as possible. It’s not a bootleg series, it’s not an immersive series. And never was.
However, it seems as if the McCartney series suffered mission drift at its midpoint.
We know the series began, 8 years ago, with Band On The Run. And it was a handsome book/CD/DVD package at about the $50 price point, if I recall. And that template continued for the next few releases, and I didn’t hear much complaining. All was well in Macca Land.
Then came RAM and things started changing; bigger box, more goodies, higher price.
It’s a trend that’s hit its crescendo with Flowers. I wouldn’t call that download issue a fiasco, more an annoyance, like the Tug Remix. Flowers contains a lot of previously unreleased material, so much that it’s almost a little Pepper box.
Now go back and compare Flowes on your shelf to that tiny $50 Band On The Run book.
What happened?
My guess is the Archive series was part of Hear Music’s pitch to the McCartney team to switch labels, and, at the outset, the series was created in Hear Music’s image.
Somewhere along the line, the success of the series (Grammy awards, positive reviews) led to a re-think, over-think and we are where we are today.
The next releases, curated under the Capitol deal will, I think, tell us where this is going.
As for the Imagine set, it sure looks like a beauty. But I may take a pass.
And this is no one’s fault, but, between the Lost Lennon series, the Lennon Anthology box, the various Imagine era film, I feel like I’ve heard it all, and seen it all.
If I spring for this big Imagine set, I don’t think I’ll listen to it very often; I can’t remember the last time I played the Imagine album itself (I know the songs backwards and forwards) ,and I must have it in a half dozen or more formats now, with multiple vinyl copies.
It’s great the Lennon estate has discovered a new way to present Imagine to the public, but, for me, I’m burned out on the material.
It pains me no end to say this, because I love Lennon’s solo work as much as McCartney’s.
These are just some observations from a long time fan.
You make some excellent points in your article. I agree, let’s hope the McCartney Archive (which I think, despite some shortcomings is generally excellent) will refocus and be better than it was.
And pick up the pace.

M Rosin

As a McCartney fan, I am more than satisfied with his deluxe reissues. I don’t need 50 takes of each song. I’ve found I play those outtake discs once and never again. I buy McCartney’s deluxe reissues for the terrific books they include and the remastering of the main album.

And I’m not bothering to buy Yoko’s upteenth Imagine cash grab for that very reason. I don’t need those pointless demos that some fans have been seduced into thinking are essential. Imagine is the most over-rated album by an ex-Beatle anyway. It’s half a great album and the rest mediocre filler.


While I do see your point that McCartney should have included alternative takes and more “cold cuts” that weren’t released. And he’s probably got a ton of stuff he could have included, but it probably wasn’t really good which is why it wasn’t released in the first place.

The thing is, pretty much all of this Imagine stuff has been reissued already. A lot of the alternative takes have been issued as bootlegs. This is really just putting it all in one place. I do not like those evolution of versions, that is just listenable really only once. This is really just building on Peter Gabriel’s So box, and McCartney’s Ram reissues. Ram was reissued 6 years ago. When it came out, everyone was going on about incredible it as, and it was at the time.

I have six copies of Imagine, including that last record store day box, I don’t need another.


I prefer the McCartney Deluxe editions the way they are. I don’t want to hear any more “Women kind”-ish stuff, thank you very much :) It’s just my opinion, but I have the feeling that Paul’s songs are better to be heard in their finished state. All polished and produced.
Wherehas it makes more sense to dig in the making of songs for John’s. It’s always fascinating to hear him search and demo stuff. Paul’s art is in the well-executed and classy craft, John’s art is in the raw, not-too-much polished work.
As for the Imagine reissue, I suppose it’s ok. Too much “fake” outtakes included, IMHO. (basically the ELEMENTS and the EVOLUTION discs.)


I recall McCartney’s manager, when responding to SDE re: the Flowers In The Dirt download issues, that MPL were considering a multidisc set – similar to a Dylan set being referred to by SDE as an comparison example – Is there any update on that, or any other updates / comments from MPL? Do they read SDE, I ‘d be interested in their comments re: the Lennon set ?

Apollo C Vermouth

Great piece Paul – such a shame that Macca has largely botched his reissues to date (Venus and Mars is really the only one I think he’s really nailed) as it promised so much when first announced. Hopefully Imagine will give him a kick in his complacency. Yolo has done a great job with John’s archive releases on the whole, both Paul and the Harrison estate need to take note. I suspect we’ll be waiting until after the 50th anniversary White Album arrives before we get any announcement on Wild Life and Speedway – word is that they’re done, but as you say, everything else seems to take priority. My money’s on a Spring 2019 release, but who knows when we’ll get the others (I’m not that hopeful of ever getting my personal favorite, Back to the Egg).

Paul Fraser

I get the impression that Paul would rather emulate Bowie’s late return to critical relevance with original material than curate respected retrospectives with his reissues. I suspect he’d rather be compared with Beyonce’s latest release than a well-thought through Led Zeppelin boxset. Not sure Egypt Station is going to be that, judging from the tracks released so far.

But say he does it. Say, in the future, he does release a track that is picked up by the kids, that pleases everyone from 1st Gen Beatles fans to the general populace. That final lap of honour would satisfy him more than a good review on SDE for a comprehensive boxset of music he recorded thirty, forty, fifty years ago.

But the latter is well within his grasp. I hope someone from his team reads this thread and passes on what some of his most passionate fans are saying. He may not see himself as a heritage act, but he would do himself a great service if he handed over the curation of his box sets to someone who could take a more fan-focused and historically rich approach to his reissues. And – here’s the important bit – give them free rein.

Someone take the car keys off Granddad, and drive his legacy for him.


Yeah pretty ridiculous comparison considering “Imagine” is the only album worth doing a deluxe edition on(They might try to do a “Double Fantasy” but no one will care). McCartney is a control freak but he has a lot of hit albums so he can do whatever he wants. I wish he would give the go ahead for “Let It Be” movie though.


The only version of ‘Double Fantasy’ I’d ever buy would be some sort of redux that bins the Yoko tracks and replaces them with the Lennon half of ‘Milk and Honey’. I guess that would rather negate the original title but they could always call it ‘Fantasy Milk’ or something.

I get the whole “we come as a pair” thing, I just don’t appreciate musicians using their own popularity as a Trojan horse to make people listen to their other half’s warblings, whether they want to or not. I’m not sure how thrilled Bruce Springsteen’s fans would be to find that half of his next album (if it ever comes out) had been written and performed by Patti Scialfa. And she can sing.

As for ‘Let It Be’, surely the smart money must be on a 50th anniversary album and film reissue in a couple of years? Either then or never…

Kenneth Tilley

I really hope the 50th anniversary finally sees the release of let it be on dvd and blu-ray, but i’m not going to hold my breathe, i honestly can’t see it being reissued in Macca’s lifetime. It doesn’t show him in a good light

Andrew B

Good to see Lennon still sticking it to McCartney, even from beyond the grave.

An LP like Band on the Run should derserve love and attention and a 5.1 and an exploration like Imagine.

Seriously McCartney is out of touch with his fans and what the fans want. Seems McCartney is only interested in quick kills and making more and more money.

Get a grip Macca and wake up or sit back and see how Lennon will make a killing on the Imagine box set, oh and please ditch the hair dye.

Mikko Suhonen

Is a normal blu ray player enough to enjoy the two audio discs of Imagine? Or does one need a special blu ray audio -player to enjoy these two discs?

Inge Kjetil Bratset

Don’t really understand what’s so great about the Imagine deluxe set. Okay, the price is very good, but come on, the same 15-16 songs over and over and over again.

John Barleycorn

It seems that Macca is the lightning rod for a lot of discontent on this site which is a shame for such an iconic musician. If Macca was making a cup of tea then I am sure someone here would pipe up with “but I want strong Kenyan coffee, with two sugars as well”. There are a lot of passionate collectors out there.

I think Paul Sinclair is onto something when he contends “it’s not hard to imagine him (McCartney) dismissing the idea of content he personally sees no value (5.1 surround sound) or thinks is pointless or simply not up to par (alternate takes of album tracks).”

It’s quite clear that the McCartney team boobed on many levels with the main one, for me, being the actual price of the damn thing coming in at around £120+. For 3CDs and a DVD plus book that was going to be vastly over-priced for even the diehard fans of FITD and selling purely on name (brand McCartney) alone.

However, before everyone cracks out the champagne and sticks pins in their Macca doll, bear in mind that not all comparisons are equal because comparing FITD to Imagine is comparing apples to oranges.

First off, personally I don’t have the technology at my disposal to take advantage of 2 discs of blu-ray audio so those two discs would be superfluous to me. Good luck if you do but I don’t. Secondly, you need to stump up an extra £12/£14 for the documentaries. Thirdly, are we really served well with 15 different versions of the song “Imagine”, 14 versions of “How Do You Sleep” and 13 of “Jealous Guy”? For some this is what they call ‘Immersive’ but for others, like me, it is just bloated. Collecting for collecting’s sake?

So, yes, overall this is “better value” than FITD if you are happy with what it gives to YOU but let’s not pretend it’s anything other than a binge of an album that contained 10 songs and was perfect for that.


Paul is Paul. If there is one thing I have no doubt about, it is that he totally controls what he does, at least as far as his solo discography is concerned. As John said, he is the best public relations in the world. And, in addition, it is a money-making machine.
Going back to the Deluxe Editions:
It would be nice – apart from the physical format – that we could have links to download copies of the books. Being paper editions are perishable. In 10 years they will be deteriorated and, honestly, they are very nice editions – and also expensive – and it would be good if they lasted so that we and our grandchildren could see them as they were when they were published. For that reason I totally agree to include the blu-ray discs in the McCartney universe. It is clear that it is less beautiful but it is much more practical and with more possibilities. And so music downloads -something I’ve never understood- may disappear.
I have seen more quality in some videos of ‘McCartney Years’ than in those that are included in deluxe editions although I think it’s good that the latter have recovered the original 4: 3 format. Moreover, both could be included in a blu-ray.
We will see what happens with the future edition of the White Album. And with ‘Abbey Road’. Imagine a blu-ray of ‘Let It Be’ with the included film and music – original and alternative shots – all in high definition!.

And I wonder if John Lennon or George Martin had accepted the change of ‘She’s Leaving Home’ … A painting by Velázquez or Van Gogh is not modified. It is restored and accompanied by the edition of a book of sketches, if any.

That’s what we want, dear Paul. Take advantage of the technology of the 21st century to reach the highest levels in the images in the videos and songs to try to achieve what could be called the ‘final’ edition.

And for many people who come behind – and without belittling anyone – we are the ones who have grown up with the Beatles and their songs, with Wings and their songs, those who discover happiness, love, disappointment, life in general through from the magic of your music, those who really want, need and deserve those editions (preferably before we finish drinking coffee with Eleanor Rigby …)

Daniel ( from Berlin )

i wish that every great 80’s album
( “dare” / “sweet dreams are made of this” / “visage” / “quartet” / “lexicon of love”…..)
would released in such a great “deluxe edition” like “imagine” from 1971 now.
it must be the heaven for every john lennon fan.

Nigel D Day

Looks like a fantastic package. Shame I don’t like Lennons solo stuff.

Wish this was how they’d released the Bowie back catalogue this way.

Edwin Muller

Maybe this is because mr Bowie had a say in this himself. I can imagine that perfectionists such as Bowie and McCartney don’t like all their sketches and alternates being in the open. And maybe, if John was still alive this box set might also be a bit more modest.

Edwin Muller

Haven’t heard that one yet, maybe better not buy that cd.

But what I mean is that I doubt if a lot of these artists would be willing to share their stuff the way it is done on the Imagine box. It’s great, gives a nice insight comparable to the letters of van Gogh but if John were alive, would he have done it this way? Not for the money anyway.

Mathew Lauren


Mikko Suhonen

What I love about the Imagine box is the price, which is affordable 70€ instead of luxurious 140€. I was planning to get the deluxe editions of Tug of war and Flowers in the dirts, but the high cost (and the fact that there was an interesting Beatles release at the same time) made me not to buy either. But with half cheaper Imagine box I just might be persuaded. It may be, though, that the imminent announcement of the White album deluxe edition will change my priorities.


Yes, I have it the same.


I’m just wondering if Macca will scr?w the fans by releasing the albums that already had super editions again say 5-10 years and maybe still not release part of the catalogue. And then some of the audio in the original release won’t be in the new editions.
While I am not a fan of Lennon, the Imagine box set looks more like an ultimate release with everything on CD and BR.
The same goes for Pink Floyd’s Early Years box set[s] although didn’t really need the DVD if had the BR. Or Marillion’s Misplaced Child was close to perfect [concert not on BR].

Wayne Olsen

Very well said. I think RAM got the love it always deserved with the reissue, but it’s frustrating that Paul isn’t interested any more in having Back to the Egg (it’s obvious he disliked the last Wings band) or London Town similarly looked at.
I was fairly excited about Wild Life. The second side is A plus, and there has to be lots of early live Wings to put alongside it.
I nominate any one of us to assume the duties of the reissue campaign.
On the John side, because there were really only seven pop solo albums, Yoko and her people can concentrate on those rather than having to deal with Paul’s almost-half-a-century of real jewels and absolute crap.

Fabrice Dray

Early mc Cartney boxes had an advantage, if you only wanted the extra audio content, you could have it on double cds releases and not pay crazy money. It’s true the contents are far from what he could offer but Wings Over America is still the benchmark to me. Granted, he could have added so much more, but what a great looking box set


Good on Yoko for doing this. Stones fans still await any type of deluxe set covering the 60s glory years. The recent ‘Satanic Majesties’ reissue was an(other) opportunity missed. And I dare say the 50th anniversary of ‘Beggars Banquet’ will come and go with nothing to show for it. Apparently relations between Jagger and Richards with Klein’s heirs are better than they were with Allen Klein himself. So I hope something comes out while there are still some first generation Stones fans left….


“Would he want every discarded take and studio fart to be released?”

Have you heard “Two Virgins” or “The Wedding Album?” I’m thinking that the answer to your question is a resounding “yes!” (And I actually listen to those first 3 john/yoko records, so I’m not trying to be a troll!)

Kenneth Tilley

Two Virgins and The Wedding Album were meant as art pieces, not musical pieces, so you miss the point by quoting them


Wow! Working on a Sunday?!

I have the strange feeling that at some point the remaining albums will simply be dumped back onto the market without any deluxe editions. Much like “Chaos,” “Off The Ground” and “Run Devil Run.”


Yoko has always shown her love of John in the reissue projects. As it is all retrospective, and there is no new John Lennon albums in the making, or creative hindsights, it is hard to compare a living aritst’s archival releases to posthumous ones. As painters are known to touch up their art years after the fact objectivity is hard for the creator, letting go is not easy, songs get filed away never to be heard, just look at U2 or Bruce Springsteen, or Peter Gabriel, or Robert Smith re-recording vocals years after the performances. U2 have released two boxes for The Joshua tree, yet there remains many recordings from that era that remain in the archives. This new release is definitely a high watermark for a reissue, not unlike The box for Smile by The Beach Boys. Likewise Lennon has been gone for nearly 40 years, and the archives have been long tapped, at this stage the final word is coming in, sure ther might be something leftover, but what now? I’m sure the McCartney camp would like to leave some goodies archived to remain releasing “new” material for the next 50 years or more.


To be fair, at least the SDEs of Achtung Baby, So, Darkness On The Edge Of Town (The Promise) and The River (The Ties That Bind) have plenty of untouched outtake material. I agree that recording new vocals “breaks the wall” of authenticity, but I can understand it sometimes when there isn’t a suitable recording. At least they’re trying.



Well spoken Sir. I assist that pov.

Kevin Wollenweber

Well, I’d already said this elsewhere, but I am eagerly awaiting the remainder of Paul McCartney’s back catalog and am not really here to disqualify this or that album but more to revisit each album as it is reissued, and that is what i’m still hoping to do if he’s willing to reissue in the usual way, going back and revisiting, himself, albums that he’d omitted, like RED ROSE SPEEDWAY and the first Wings album. Hey, the bonuses could surprise us all, and I hope they do! No, I’m not expecting a six disk rollout with every album. There are times that I’ve thougth this was overkill, but my curiosity had gotten the better of me. Besides, I’d gotten one or two of the deluxe McCartney reissues and I was shocked to find that the packages were far larger than I originally thought they’d be! For example, I would have preferred RAM to have given me the mono and stereo versions as part of teh two disk version, but okay…hey, it must be a daunting enough task for these artists or their estates to read through our comments whenever something is going to be released as a major super deluxe!! I do hope that McCartney continues his reissue campaign and, yes, I also hope that John Lennon’s PLASTIC ONO BAND album sees the super deluxe treatment. In other words, I’m not necessarily looking for yet another go-round of the Lennon Vs. McCartney debate! Here’s to the “white” album in hopes that the bonus material is genuinely worthwhile…and, again, I must cry out “where are Ringo’s solo albums as reissues?” Where is something like RINGO STARR–THE APPLE YEARS?


Precisely. I absolutely agree on every point.


I agree that this new Imagine set is “setting the standard” for box sets. Hopefully Paul will take notice and be more generous with the audio (and video) content of future Archive releases. Looking at the “Wingspan” DVD, it appears at least one Wings concert from 1972 was professionally filmed. Do you think we’ll get the complete concert as the DVD in the deluxe “Wild Life”? Don’t hold your breath!

John S

Macca’s cleaned up/minimal extras/no messy bits practise is nothing new, you only have to remember what he did to Let It Be in 2003 with the Naked Album. It’s already been mentioned but it’s a relief that he wears a different hat when dealing with Beatles material otherwise we might never have heard the Anthology series and the Deluxe pepper editions.
I guess now isn’t a good time to ask about Carnival of Light then!

Craig Hedges

I thought Paul wanted Carnival of Light released to show his avant grade side but it was vetoed by George at the time of Anthology, I think the reason given by Giles was ‘It wasn’t part of the Pepper project’ as to why we didn’t get it last year, I think they could have put it on the DVD/Bluray as the background to a photo montage and not made a fuss about it. I think Paul has the master tape. I’ve recently read Hunter Davies 1968 biography and it was interesting how many of the Beatles ‘legends’ first appeared in that book including the whole ‘John writes the rockers and Paul writes the ballads’ myth which Paul has spent most of his career trying to dispel. Which again is bizarre as to why he hasn’t included his demos and more interesting experiments, which have appeared on bootlegs, on the box sets. Paul is an amazing artist but he is very insecure and very controlling which has led to him making some very bad decisions throughout his career. Thats why The Beatles worked, John was lazy and needed someone to spur him on. They both helped each other, sadly they ignored George in the process.

Ben Williams

Let’s hope Paul does try and out-do Yoko with audio content on the next box set; would be good to release a massive Anthology set of Wings/Solo work now that he his years into an album reissue series. I definitely think there is a market for it, even if the writer of the songs doesn’t put as much value on the songs as much as his Beatles material.


Nice article Paul. The Quad Imagine has some interesting differences, How Do You Sleep for instance has the missing orchestral tune up at the start.

Be nice to get the same treatment for the rest of Winston O’Boogie’s albums including the never released quad mix of Mind Games and the really weird quad mix of Walls & Bridges. Whatever Gets YouThrough The Night quad mix has JL and Elton chatting and giggling all the way through

James W

I thought Paul did a pretty good job of putting together the Tug Of War box set. We got a remastered standard mix, a 2015 remix, an okay DVD and a pretty good bonus CD. All of the B-Sides were there, plus some interesting demos of some of the album’s songs. I think Flowers In The Dirt would have been just as good, if not for the download only fiasco. But yes, this Imagine box set is much better.


“…not hard to imagine him dismissing the idea of content he personally sees no value…or thinks is pointless or simply not up to par.” There’s also his reticence circa Anthology to support outtake versions of completed tracks that could, in his mind, have the potential to supplant or diffuse the released take in the public’s eye. I am not arguing that this is necessarily realistic, as the general public is never going to concerned with such minutia and terrestrial radio is certainly unlikely to confuse the audience with anything other than the 7″ version of, say, “My Love” even if there’s an unreleased alternate. OTOH he’s since signed off on Pepper and White Album projects with a deeper focus.

Gary C

On paper the Imagine box set looks very substantial, but it may suffer from a lack of different tracks, b-sides and unreleased ‘new’ songs or even something live.
The Tears For Fears SFTBC box set springs to mind, with so few tracks repeated in different versions.
That said, very interested in the Quadrasonic iteration…

Electric Sydney

All very well illustrated Paul. I particularly like the image you left me with of Yoko “punching the air”!