Back in October I reviewed the new standard in home music listening High Fidelity Pure Audio. It was a pretty breathtaking experience and, if the sampler disc and Nirvana’s In Utero was anything to go by, future releases were something to be very excited about indeed.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of John Lennon’s Imagine and on receiving it was reminded of how much I really love the physical product when it comes to music. Yes downloads are fine; quick and easy to manage but nothing beats the feeling of opening an album to be welcomed with something to have, hold and read. The album (and all other Pure Audio albums) comes in a slim-line Blu Ray case which is sleek and just the width of your typical CD case. Inside Lennon’s Imagine you also have a full-colour inlay booklet with lyrics, photographs, drawings by John, a full image that spreads across the inside of the transparent casing, a code to download a digital (not Pure Audio) copy of the album and, of course, the album itself.
Opening with arguably Mr Lennon’s most famous track, ‘Imagine’ soothes through my speakers and it’s like rediscovering the song. I’d first heard this on a cassette of this very album and the difference is like listening to it through a pillow to sitting next to him as he played. It’s that good.
My previous experience with the format was replicated during my listening – everything you hear is far clearer, louder, wider, deeper and most enjoyably, closer. The awkward warmth of ‘Jealous Guy’ really comes through and the clarity of the piano keys is magnificent – that closeness really makes a notable difference.
‘Gimme Some Truth’ sounds incredible too; a new raw feel to the protest song gives it more power this time round, the anger in Lennon’s vocal more obvious and pained.
The other big highlight on this high-definition release is ‘How Do You Sleep?’ Imagine was recorded during a time when McCartney and Lennon weren’t exactly best of friends and the lyrical assault takes on new life. As with ‘Gimme Some Truth’ the raspy, rawness of Lennon at his famously acid-tongued best makes a huge impression through crystal clear audio quality. You can almost see him spitting out “Those freaks was right when they said you was dead”, let alone hear it. Also joining John on the track is George Harrison, who plays a lovely piece of slide guitar which has far more depth and presence than I remember it having on previous listens.
On hearing this album in this format you’ll be forgiven for forgetting that it was released in 1971. Even at over forty years old it’s as fresh-sounding as what is out there today. A must-hear for all Lennon fans out there.