Double Fantasy is the fifth album by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, released in November 1980 on Geffen Records. Produced by Lennon, Ono and Jack Douglas, it was the seventh and final studio album released by Lennon during his lifetime. The album marked Lennon’s return to recording music full-time, following his five-year hiatus to raise his son Sean. Recording sessions took place at The Hit Factory in New York City between August and October 1980. The final album features songs from both Lennon and Ono, largely alternating between the two in its track listing. Other tracks recorded by Lennon from the sessions were compiled by Ono for release on Milk and Honey in 1984.
Upon its release, the album stalled on music charts and received largely negative reviews from music critics, with many focusing on the album’s idealisation of Lennon and Ono’s marriage, which was highly criticized as well. However, following Lennon’s murder three weeks after its release, it became a worldwide commercial success and went on to win the 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year at the 24th Annual Grammy Awards in 1982. In subsequent decades, the album has been viewed favourably, with Lennon’s songs in particular garnering praise as some of his finest.
In 2010, Ono, Douglas and Jay Messina released a remix of the album, titled Double Fantasy Stripped Down, which featured less lavish production than the original.
Released as a two-disc set, it included a newly remastered copy of the original album along with an alternative version of the album featuring simpler arrangements without the original’s lavish production, with cover artwork by Sean Lennon. Ono said of the remix: “This new version really allows us to focus our attention on John’s amazing vocals. Technology has advanced so much that, conversely, I wanted to use new techniques to really frame these amazing songs and John’s voice as simply as possible. By stripping down some of the instrumentation, the power of the songs shines through with an enhanced clarity.”
Stripped Down is a complete remix of the original album carried out by Ono, Douglas and Messina in order to shine a new light on the songs which were felt to have been clouded by the original production.
Douglas and Messina launched their digital mixing and mastering service in June 2020 to continue their work with artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clients can send them audio files (.wav or .aiff) and they will draw on their experience and extraordinary expertise to create dynamic new mixes and (if desired) masters. With Messina working out of his studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and Douglas out of his home up the Hudson in Nyack, the two create mixing sessions via Zoom. Messina has his Pro Tools program open for Douglas to see and hear, and through Audio Movers, they’re able to share a full bandwidth audio in real time.
Messina says, “I’ll get it into somewhat listen- able shape and we’ll use that session to talk it down and figure out how we can take it sonically to the next level. We may replace their original drum tracks if the track needs it. If they used bad samples on the original session, we will contact them and ask if we can use our own samples to improve it.” Douglas, who is currently building a studio in LA for future recording, scoring and orchestral projects, adds, “Working remotely this way is as good as us both being in the room. The result will sound 75% better and much like a Jack Douglas/Jay Messina production. We’re both very critical of every sonic detail and set a high bar. Hopefully, we’ll bring something to the party the client had not thought of. We will send them our first pass and ask for their comments and anything they might want to change, within reason. We have always created a studio and control room environment that has been conducive for artists, and we are simply extending that to fit the needs of this unique time. Jay and I are in the business of making music fun, and we really enjoy it, or we wouldn’t keep doing it.”
Watch the video below to learn more about this once in a lifetime production duo!