Announcement of a remastered version of John Lennon's Imagine album made warning flags go up in fans' heads: "Why are they messing with a classic?"
All too often, digital remixes have a little too much remixing, introducing instruments that were mixed out for good reasons in the first place. In the case of some of the Frank Zappa remixes - even though Zappa did them himself - the end result had very little resemblance to the original album.
But the new version of Imagine has apparently been painstakingly restored with a mind toward keeping its original mix and feel, but improving the sound by restoring the high and low frequencies that got lost in Phil Spector's tape-to-tape production processes. Amazingly, the album does not sound "digitized." The instruments are crisper but not digitally metallic; George Harrison's guitar solos soar without losing their anolog warmth; King Curtis' saxophone still sounds like it was recorded decades ago, but comes through with a new soulful clarity; Klaus Voorman's bass punches through like never before; John Lennon's vocals are still superb, and the original analog methods of placing effects on his voice have not been replaced with obvious digital wizardry.
The overall quality jumps out and caresses you like never before, but the muddied soulfulness of the Imagine album has been left intact.
After you get used to it, you'll never be able to listen to the original version again.
The new package includes an informative booklet.