Revisiting the John Lennon’s debut solo album “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band”

A brilliant masterpiece

Revisiting the John Lennon’s debut solo album “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band”

The debut solo album by John Lennon it’s perhaps his best. Recorded and released in 1970, on the aftermath of The Beatles break up, Lennon distances himself on purpose from all the musical structure The Beatles did. By the time the album was recorded, Lennon already had been dabbed into experimental music with Yoko Ono, however, this was the first official release featuring a complete track selection, not to be cannot compared to the 1968 “Two Virgins” for example. This is a great record, filled with good music, generally it’s a common place to say that Yoko “had a bad influence” on John, but, if any, the influence was good. In this album Lennon opens up for a world of different music and tones, he matures as a songwriter and artist, and you can clearly hear that in tracks such as “Well, Well, Well”, “Working Class Hero” and the opening track “Mother”. The visceral use of his vocals is amazing, for he first time Lennon let’s all his shredding vocal potential come out.  It’s also notorious the Plastic Ono Band members on this record, Klaus Voormann’s bass sounds nothing like McCartney’s, and the drummer, well, Ringo Starr, sounds nothing like “The Beatles drummer”, and then you have the old friend and guest at the piano, the talented Bill Preston. It’s a big evolution step for Lennon, and while The Beatles as a band did tremendous music together, as solo artists they failed to achieve the same success, but that is nothing that can be judged. There are little to none known cases of bands as notorious as The Beatles that were able to replicate their success as solo artists, The Rolling Stones couldn’t do it, The Doors couldn’t do it, Led Zeppelin couldn’t do it and the list can go on. The point is, no matter how good you are as a composer and musician, it’s hard to replicate a formula that you’ve got famous for. The audience don’t allow it, the press doesn’t cooperate, however, with John Lennon, without being slightly bias, the music he did as a solo artist in some cases was much better than some he did with The Beatles. His career was cut short, sure, but he achieved some great Rock classics during that period. “Look At Me”, “God” and “Isolation” are beautiful songs of self-reflection and exposition to his fans. He declares the end of The Beatles in “God” when he sings “I Don’t Believe In The Beatles”, couldn’t be put more bluntly than this. The successor of “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band”, “Imagine”, it’s a superior album, and with songs that became far more popular, but from all John Lennon albums, this is the one you should start from. The Phil Spector production (together with Ono and Lennon) is far better than the work he “tried” to do with “Let It Be”, you can clearly hear the interest and enthusiasm of Spector on producing this album. On a side note, if you can, listen to the companion album “Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band”, a great and underrated experimental album by Yoko featuring the same back up band including Lennon, that can be put in the same category as “The Velvet Underground & Nico”, ahead of it’s time.

Side 1
1 “Mother” – 5:34
2 “Hold On” – 1:52
3 “I Found Out” – 3:37
4 “Working Class Hero” – 3:48
5 “Isolation” – 2:51

Side 2
6 “Remember” – 4:33
7 “Love” – 3:21
8 “Well Well Well” – 5:59
9 “Look at Me” – 2:53
10 “God” – 4:09
11 “My Mummy’s Dead” – 0:49

All songs written by John Lennon

Personnel:
John Lennon: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, keyboards[2] Ringo Starr : drums
Klaus Voormann: bass

Additional Personnel (as stated on the original record release credits)
Phil Spector: piano on “Love”
Billy Preston: piano on “God”
Yoko Ono: “wind”
Mal Evans: “tea and sympathy”

Produced by: Phil Spectos, John Lennon, Yoko Ono
Recorded during: 26 September – 23 October 1970 at Abbey Road Studios, London; Ascot Sound Studios, Sunninghill, Berkshire
Released: December 11th, 1970
Label: Apple

Singles:
“Mother”/ “Why” Released: 28 December 1970

Strongest Tracks:
“Mother”, “I Found Out”, “Working Class Hero”, “Love” , “Well Well Well”, “God”, “Look at Me”

Watch the music video for “Working Class Hero” by John Lennon

 

Listen to “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” on Spotify

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