on 15 February 2005
In the spring of 1970 John & Yoko came off Heroin, stuck to a microbiotic diet and travelled to California to undergo a series of theropy sessions with Dr Arthur Janov, the author of the book The Primal Scream.
The Primal scream is a process of anger relief that allows you regress to times of trouble and release the pain caused by them.
This caused john to go back to his childhood and finally come to terms with the death of his Mother,Julia, who was killed in a road accident by an off duty police officer.
This, the resulting album is the most brutally honest piece of work ever produced by a pop star. The songs have very few overdubs and feature very basic arrangements of of Guitar/Piano (Lennon), Bass (Klaus Voormann) and Drums (Ringo Starr).
They deal with the death of his mother (Mother, My Mummy's Dead), The Beatles split (I found Out, God)a generally unhappy childhood (Remember,Working Class Hero, Look at Me) and songs that look to the future (Hold On, Love).
Every single song on this album is there for a purpose and every one is a masterpiece. The heights of which John would never reach again. This is his best solo work and indeed the best album of any solo Beatle.
There is both rock and ballads here and I cannot recommmend this album highly enough.
I am ignoring the extra tracks on this album as they have no buisness being there. If ever there was a case for less is more, than this is it. How Yoko allowed these pointless add ons, I will never understand. This is a serious peice of work not a flimsey pop record. Power to the people is not relevant to this work and was recorded after this album was released. Who would want to hear Power to the People after My Mummys Dead? The album is supposed to end with this song, thats the whole point - The closing of the chapter. Die hards will want this album as it was intended and the casual listener will not buy this album just because Power to the People is on it because they will already have it on Lennon Legend or Shaved Fish, it's rightful place.
Do the Oz is a rarity but its no great shakes and for completists only and they will have it on the Lennon Anthology anyway so who benefits from these extras?
Make no mistake this a 5 star album but if you can get hold of the CD without the extras try to do so.
on 20 February 2004
This is an album that is mixed with emotion from pain to love to anger to sorrow. It is awe inspiring and probably John's best solo work. It was this album, (with Imagine) that showed the gulf in talent between Lennon and McCartney for me. Especially in their solo careers.
"John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band" mixes Dr Janov's Primal Scream Therapy in "Mother" with the Dylanesque "Working Class Hero" the very eerie "My Mummy's Dead" and the Athiestic, (in every way),"God" with the Line 'I don't believe in Beatles....'. Which was John's way of saying, 'we're not getting back together, I said I wouldn't be singing "She love's you" when I'm thirty and I meant it.'
I remember when I bought that album after hearing the song "Working Class Hero" my Mum saying to me that it was the only time she accepted the use of the word f***.
on 6 July 2003
I first heard this album when I was 9 in 1981 shortly after Lennon's death. It was my fathers scratchy record when I first heard the anger,sadness,sorrow,rage and fury on this record. What makes this album so great is Lennon's willingness to put it all on the line. For someone of Lennon's musical stature,it really took alot of courage to make this album in my opinion. Of course he did make the naked album cover a few years before,but this was his first offical solo album away from The Beatles. So in that context,it took alot of balls to make this. The musicmanship is not what this album is about. Lets be honest,Lennon was an average guitar and piano player. The entire album rides on Lennon's intensity and emotion. The other three former Beatles could have never pulled this off. I've listened to this album quite a few times since 1981,and it really stands the test of time. It is truly a one of a kind album that is not for the casual Lennon fan. It may be too intense for the casual listener who may expect a sappy user friendly like 'Imagine' type of tune. The song Well Well Well made my girlfriend flee the room in horror when I was listening to the 'screaming' track earlier...she was expecting 'Imagine'.
on 25 February 2011
"N.M.E. said "Lennon put his balls on the line and the train ground to a halt out of sheer respect" As a 12 year old, I listened to this in awe and amazement! The first track "Mother" was so full of pain and honesty, it stopped you in your tracks. I had lost my own mother at 9 years old, so I could relate to the loss. Other tracks like "Working Class Hero", still sound great to me. "God" was a jaw breaker with its " I don't believe in list.......finishing with the Beatles, and "the dream is over, so my dear friends you just have to carry on", had their ever been such honesty on a record? Other great tracks like "Remember", the beautiful "Love" ,"Isolation" "Look at me" (could easily have been on the "White" album) were superb tracks, with not quite the publicity of the more famous tracks. Some friends of mine didn't like the album, too personal, too much pain, but to me it stands up as a great piece of work."
on 22 May 2002
The Beatles in a solo context is always hard to categorise or summarise. Saying one artists work is overall better than the work of their former colleagues or associates is folly. Each member of The Beatles brought different aspects to the whole "work", so therefore when they are separated, it is easier to see what the contribution was they provided on an individual standpoint. "Plastic Ono Band" is by far Lennon's best solo album, though I find the songs from 1971's "Imagine" are more memorable, if less focused. Their's a raw intensity on Lennon's first real solo album that he never matched in The Beatles or on his own, some of the songs bordering on punk (ie "I Found Out"). The benefits of Janov's Primal Scream therapy are throughout this album, but as a showcase for Lennon's thoughts or standpoint about himself as a person, it is as indecisive as the man himself throughout his life. What you do have here is a brilliantly played and executed album, with alot of emotion in it, but I cannot say that I remember how many of the songs go a few years away from it. The standouts are "Mother", "Isolation", "Working Class Hero", "I Found Out". When Lennon was in good form, he made McCartney look somewhat amateurish, and I feel the only real contender in the Beatles solo works was Harrison, not because he's dead as well, but because his work shows an open honesty that Lennon tended to hide behind caustic commentary, rather than lay bare what was within. I still say Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" is by far the best of the solo Beatles work, if we are going to merit them as if they were still a band, but Lennon's Plastic Ono Band is a very close runner up based on sheer power and abrasiveness. Though not as melodically strong as "Imagine" is, which makes it a harder album to
absorbe, it is a must have Lennon fan or observer's first choice.
on 31 May 2003
this is genius, it's so great it's up there with the best of the beatles albums.I used to think all things must pass was the best solo beatles album, but it isn't. Lennon's voice is amazing and songs that i didn't think much of before which were on the legend album (mother,working class hero) now sound superb. All the tracks are standouts, but i like god,isolation and love the best.Oh and "hold on", but they're all so great. An album to adore and cherish, and it confirms lennon's genius yet again.
on 9 January 2002
This songs on this album are straightforwardly based on Lennon's emotions at the time. Still, this is not a frustrated Lennon singing, but a Lennon desperating trying to get some 'peace of mind' by shedding his 'favourite-son-in-law'/ Beatle image in order to get some true artistic freedom. Fed up with his Beatles status, fed up with the musical straightjacket the Beatles had become, he sings in his own way about what he thinks is important- mostly his own feelings. Great songs, some filled with raw emotional power ('Mother') some filled with tender emotional power ('Love'). This album did much in enhancing his independent, true artist status - laying the foundations for the "integer artist" icon he became in the 90's. Classic nonetheless - Lennon is writing and singing from his utmosts depths - unlike anything the Beatles would have released. Listening to this album, late at night, with my earphones on, some chills rolled down my spine, as Lennon opens his heart to you in a very direct - almost frontal way.
on 5 October 2000
JOHN LENNON/PLASTIC ONO BAND is absolutely remarkable. I feel that this album, which contains some of Lennon's most emotional works ever, rivals the genius of most of the Beatle's albums. The main reason that I love this album so much is that Lennon's lyrics and songs are "quite simple" when compared to some of the psychadelic, yet obviously great works, he compiled while being a Beatle. It is like he turned over a whole new leaf into a world that seemed to not exist while being in the world's most popular band. The album's first song entiltled "MOTHER" is a profound example of John's ability to communicate his feelings through music as you feel a pain that he obviously has. The song "GOD" absolutely blows my mind. It is, as I have already mentioned, a compleate 180 degree turn from his days as a Beatle; and he mentions the Beatles in a surprising way. The album's seventh song, and my favorite Lennon song ever, is called "LOVE". This is truely the most beautiful song with lyrics that I have ever heard. Any memory or experience of love or someone you love can be brought to the forefront of your mind while listenging to this song's brilliant simple elegance. I recommend this album for any Beatle or John Lennon fan, or for anyone that just enjoys great, heart-wrenching music.
If there was ever any question as to the differences between John Lennon and Paul McCartney's artistic/songwriting approach it was well and truly answered with the release of this, John's first (proper) solo album 'John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band'. McCartney may have been a more melodic tunesmith but neither he nor any of his contemporaries could ever have conceived of recording anything quite so raw and brutally honest as this album.
I think hindsight is a wonderful thing because at the time 'John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band' didn't go down particuarly well - not least with the Beatles fans who found its raw sound, lack of melody and hard hitting lyrics quite unpalatable. The magic of this album has become more apparent with the passing of time and particuarly since John's death.
It's a harrowingly autobiographical album which borders on self obsession. It is well known that at the time John was having 'primal scream therapy' (which was his way of exorcising his demons (the death of his mother, abandonment of his father etc.)). The fact that he decided to incorporate these insecurities into his art is what makes this album so compelling.
The opening song 'Mother' sets the tone with John pleading for his mother's return. There's deep anger here as on most of the proceeding songs be it religion ('I Found Out'), social status ('Working Class Hero'), or his own perceived position ('God'). All of these songs are performed in the sparse arrangements of piano, guitars and drums.
Ultimately for all its hurt and anger 'John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band' is perhaps John's best album (and arguably the best of any ex-Beatle). Its standing has improved over time because it's taken on some added poignancy with John's brutal murder. John's murder has given him iconic status and like all iconic figures there's a hunger in trying to get closer to the man. Fortunately there's no better way to start than with this, his first and most brutally honest solo album.
on 20 July 2000
JOHN LENNON/PLASTIC ONO BAND is absolutely remarkable. I feel that this album, which contains some of Lennon's most emotional works ever, rivals the genius of most of the Beatle's albums. The main reason that I love this album so much is that Lennon's lyrics and songs are "quite simple" when compared to some of the psychadelic, yet obviously great works, he compiled while being a Beatle. It is like he turned over a whole new leaf into a world that seemed to not exist while being in the world's most popular band. The album's first song entiltled "MOTHER" is a profound example of John's ability to communicate his feelings through music as you feel a pain that he obviously has. The song "GOD" absolutely blows my mind. It is, as I have already mentioned, a compleate 180 degree turn from his days as a Beatle; and he mentions the Beatles in a surprising way. The album's seventh song, and my favorite Lennon song ever, is called "LOVE". This is truely the most beautiful song with lyrics that I have ever heard. Any memory or experience of love or someone you love can be brought to the forefront of your mind while listenging to this song's brilliant simple elegance. I reccomend this album for any Beatle's or John Lennon fan, or for anyone that just enjoys great, heart-wrenching music.