Release Date: Dec 11, 1970
Genre: Rock & Roll, Singer/Songwriter
Number Of Tracks: 13
The cliche about singer/songwriters is that they sing confessionals direct from their heart, but John Lennon exploded the myth behind that cliche, as well as many others, on his first official solo record, "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band."
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
benthegrunge, on july 07, 2014 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Written during his period of primal therapy, this album sees Lennon at his most raw, exposed and confessional. Therapy albums can often be neurotic and self-indulgent affairs (cue Metallica), but "Plastic Ono Band" tackled universal themes and painted a far more promising image of solo Lennon than its "avant-garde" predecessor "Two Virgins." Rather than making noise collages, utilizing wife Ono's strangled cat vocal experiments, this time the ex-Beatle reverted to type, resulting in probably his best collection of songs ever.
Though starkly arranged balladry is perhaps the album's specialty ("Mother," "Working Class Hero," "Love Is Real" and "Look at Me," in which "White Album" fan's will recognize the same picking pattern and soothing melancholy as "Julia") there are also blues-based rock 'n' roll numbers that really sweat with intensity. Lennon has always been a natural at these, "Yer Blues" and "Come Together" being shining examples. My recommended tracks of this kind would be "Well Well Well" and "I Found Out," sung through clenched teeth over a pulse of tom-tom-centric drumming and muted rhythm guitar, occasionally giving way to deranged stabs of lead. Lennon admitted he was even more rudimentary on piano than guitar, saying this can help in the writing process as he often surprises and inspires himself through mistakes. This shows on the beautiful "Isolation," a mournful chord progression that could fool the untrained ear into believing he were a virtuoso. Music on "Plastic Ono Band" definitely matches the gravity of his vocal, making for heavy, emotionally charged listening and inconceivable progression from the Beatlemania period. // 10
Lyrics: "Mother," though not my favourite musically, is about as gutsy an opener as anyone can ask for, and immediately sets the tone; this is not a fun, light album. People buying "Plastic Ono Band" should expect real emotional communication with a very human superstar. Lennon was known to absorb philosophies like fads, become obsessed in the short-term, and then dismissive. His soul searching had come to a head in 1970. Any anesthetic he tried wore thin, leaving hard reality. This is captured in "God," a joint contender with "Mother" for most pained rendition, in which he reduces God to "a concept by which we measure our pain." "I Found Out" similarly knocks religion, proclaiming "no guru can see you through your own eyes." "Working Class Hero" is an anthem, detailing most people's experience of the system as a mere meat grinder you are processed through. The precision neatness with which he reduces big issues of our world into songs is outstanding and surely the dream of any serious songwriter. While the Beatles were poster boys (or certainly in the early years), solo Lennon had free reign to let his bullshit radar call out every cultural farce - it works because the listener recognizes themselves and their suffering too. // 10
Overall Impression: I always understood but disagreed with those who said Lennon lost his shine after The Beatles; consider there was only a decade between The Beatles' demise and his own death, plus he was on hiatus for much of this time, and suddenly the solo catalog doesn't look so slim. His was a glittering solo career by any standard, and "Plastic Ono Band" was the high water mark. There is no gloss on this album, the gatekeeper of a new Lennon who was able to convey incredible emotion and penetrate through falsehood, never more so than here. So why was this album not as glorified as a "Revolver" or "Sgt Pepper"? "Plastic Ono Band" is no firework display, cannot sell lingerie or soundtrack an election campaign, but is absolutely John Lennon. // 10
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Sloopy, on september 18, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Plastic Ono Band is John Lennon's first real solo album after the breakup of the Beatles in 1970. From the outside, you see a record filled with melodramtic pop songs and tales that only Mr. Lennon himself could create, but after a few listens you really get to understand who Lennon really is at this point of his life. He's lost the Beatles, but he's gained a strong partnership with Yoko Ono, he's still mourning the loss of his mother, but he's now able to express whatever he wants without the constriction of the Beatles. Overall, this record does not disappoint but is probably better suited for someone whose listened to lots of John Lennon before so. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics are pure brillance. From the gritty 'Working Class Hero' to the beautiful 'Love' every track is beautifuly thought out and the words just flow with the music effortlessly. McCartney can try all he wants to achieve lyrics as good as John's, but he'll just never do it. The sadness he can evoke in the overly simple 'Mother', and in the same vein 'Isolation', is awe-inspiring. His voice is good, not perfect, but good. I can't imagine another voice singing these words. // 10
Overall Impression: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is really balanced as far as Lennon records go, not as commerical or poppy as Double Fantasy or Imagine, and that gives it a 'diamond in the rough' aura. It's not a well known record, but it's highly favoured among Lennon fans. I just can't get enough of the undertones that sweep the music. I can't explain it, you'll just have to find out yourself. // 9