John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

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John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Studio album by John Lennon
Released 11 December 1970 (1970-12-11)
Recorded 26 September – 23 October 1970, Abbey Road Studios & Ascot Sound Studios
Genre Rock
Length 39:45
Label Apple
Producer John Lennon, Yoko Ono & Phil Spector
John Lennon chronology
Live Peace in Toronto 1969
(with The Plastic Ono Band)
(1969)
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
(1970)
Imagine
(1971)
Singles from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
  1. "Mother"
    Released: 28 December 1970 (1970-12-28)

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is the debut solo album by English rock musician John Lennon. It was released in 1970, after Lennon had issued three experimental albums with Yoko Ono and Live Peace in Toronto 1969, a live performance in Toronto credited to the Plastic Ono Band. The album was recorded simultaneously with Ono's debut avant garde solo album, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, at Ascot Sound Studios and Abbey Road Studios using the same musicians and production team, and featured nearly identical cover artwork. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is generally considered one of Lennon's finest solo albums, documenting with honesty and artistic integrity his emotional and mental state at that point in his career. In 1987, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it fourth on "The 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years." In 2012, the magazine ranked it number 23 on its list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Background[edit]

The level of his pain was enormous ... He was almost completely nonfunctional. He couldn't leave the house, he could hardly leave his room. ... This was someone the whole world adored, and it didn't change a thing. At the center of all that fame and wealth and adulation was just a lonely little kid.[1]

– Arthur Janov, on Lennon's psychological state

Following the Beatles' break-up in April 1970, John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono undertook primal therapy with the guidance of Arthur Janov for four weeks at his London offices, before the three flew to Los Angeles to continue the therapy for four months.[2] Janov's therapy technique emphasised emotionally reliving repressed childhood traumas rather than analytical discussion.[2] In July 1970, Lennon started to record demos of songs he wrote that would show up on John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, and on one particular day, the 26th, Lennon recorded numerous demos of his song "God", which features the line "I don't believe in Beatles".[2] Lennon's therapy was never completed due to the expiry of his US visa.[3] With the experience he received from the therapy, he was able to channel his emotions into an album's worth of self-revelatory material.[3]

Recording[edit]

Lennon and Ono returned from the US on 24 September 1970, to start working on Lennon's album a few days later.[2] Recording began at Abbey Road Studios between 26 September[4] and 27 October 1970 using Lennon, Klaus Voormann, and Ringo Starr as the core musicians,[2] with Phil Spector and Billy Preston each playing piano on a track.[1] The group jammed to a variety of songs in between recording new tracks: "When a Boy Meets a Girl", "That's All Right Mama", "Glad All Over", "Honey Don't", "Don't Be Cruel", "Hound Dog", and "Matchbox".[2] "Plastic Ono Band" refers to the conceptual band Lennon and Ono had formed in 1969 of various supporting musicians they would use on their various solo albums. Lennon asked Spector, who had produced Lennon's hit "Instant Karma!" earlier that year,[4] to co-produce the album. Spector played piano on "Love",[5] but Lennon and Ono produced the album largely on their own, as Spector was unavailable during most of the recording sessions. Spector mixed the album for three days towards the end of October.[2]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Lennon's experience in primal therapy strongly influenced both the lyrical content of the album, pushing him toward themes of child-parent relationships and psychological suffering,[3] and the simple yet intense style of the album's music.[6] Throughout the album Lennon touches on many personal issues: his abandonment by his parents, in "Mother"; the means by which young people are made into soldiers, in "Working Class Hero"; a reminder that, despite his rage and pain, Lennon still embraces "Love"; and "God", a renunciation of external saviours. In the piano-driven climax of "God," after listing a handful of "idols" he does not believe in, including Jesus, Hitler, Elvis, Zimmerman (Bob Dylan), and Beatles, Lennon proclaims that he believes only in himself and Ono.[7]

"Look at Me" dates from the period of The Beatles, and is built on a fingerpicking guitar pattern very similar to the one Lennon used in "Dear Prudence", "Happiness Is a Warm Gun", and "Julia". Lennon learned this technique from Donovan while the two were in Rishikesh.[8] The album was released in Japan under the title ジョンの魂 (John no Tamashii?), which translates as "John's Soul".

Album artwork[edit]

Lennon's album cover is almost identical to Ono's companion piece, the subtle difference being that on Ono's cover, she is lying on Lennon's body. The photo was snapped with a consumer-grade Instamatic camera by actor Dan Richter, who also worked as an assistant for the Lennons at the time. The initial compact disc issue of the album listed the title and artist, while the 2000 remastered version restores the original artwork. In addition, the original LP did not feature a track listing on the back cover, which instead showed a school photo of Lennon in his youth.[4]

Release[edit]

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was released on the same day in both the UK and US, 11 December 1970.[2] Ono's matching album, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, was released on the same day.[2] "Mother", backed with Ono's track "Why", was released as a single in the US.[2] After Lennon's death, the album, along with seven other Lennon albums, was reissued by EMI as part of a box set, which was released in the UK on 15 June 1981.[nb 1][9] In 2000, Ono supervised a remixing of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band for its remastered CD reissue, including two bonus tracks: Lennon's 1971 hit "Power to the People", and "Do the Oz", which had appeared on the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology. In 2003, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissued the album in 24-karat Gold CD audio and 180 gram half-speed mastered GAIN 2 Ultra Analog in vinyl reissues. In 2010, a digital remaster of Lennon's entire discography was released, using original mixes and artwork.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[10]
Robert Christgau A[11]
MusicHound 5/5 stars[12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[13]

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was received with high critical praise upon release. Critic Greil Marcus remarked, "John's singing in the last verse of 'God' may be the finest in all of rock."[14] In early 1971, the album reached number eight on the UK and went to number six in the US, spending eighteen weeks in the Top 100.[14] The album was particularly successful in the Netherlands, knocking George Harrison's blockbuster All Things Must Pass from the top of the chart and remaining at number one for seven consecutive weeks.[15]

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is generally considered one of Lennon's finest solo albums. In 2000, Q placed John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band at number 62 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.[16] In 1987, the album was ranked fourth on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best albums of the period 1967–87,[17] and in 2003, it was placed at number 22 in the magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[18] In 2006, the album was placed by Pitchfork Media at number 60 of its Top 100 Albums of the 1970s.[19] In 2006, the album was chosen by Time as one of the 100 best albums of all time.[20]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by John Lennon, except where noted.

Side one
  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 two
  1. "Remember" – 4:33
  2. "Love" – 3:21
  3. "Well Well Well" – 5:59
  4. "Look at Me" – 2:53
  5. "God" – 4:09
  6. "My Mummy's Dead" – 0:49
2000 reissue bonus tracks
  1. "Power to the People" – 3:22
  2. "Do the Oz" – 3:07 (Lennon/Ono)

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ UK EMI JLB8[9]
Citations
  1. ^ a b c d e f Norman, Philip (2009). John Lennon: The Life. HarperCollins UK. ISBN 978-0-00-734408-6. Retrieved 2 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Miles, Barry; Badman, Keith, ed. (2001). The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970–2001 (reprint ed.). London: Music Sales Group. ISBN 978-0-7119-8307-6. 
  3. ^ a b c Noyer, Paul Du (2010). John Lennon: The Stories Behind Every Song 1970–1980 (Rev. ed.). London: Carlton Books Ltd. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-84732-665-2. 
  4. ^ a b c Noyer 2010, p. 21
  5. ^ Cadogan, Patrick (19 August 2008). "The Making of John Lennon's "Love"". Abbeyrd's Beatle Page. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  6. ^ Kane, Larry (2005). Lennon Revealed. Philadelphia: Running Press. p. 224. ISBN 0-7624-2364-1. 
  7. ^ Cadogan, Patrick (2008). The Revolutionary Artist: John Lennon's Radical Years. Morrisville, North Carolina: Lulu. p. 131. ISBN 978-1-4357-1863-0. 
  8. ^ Interview with Donovan (2004)
  9. ^ a b Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0. 
  10. ^ John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band at AllMusic
  11. ^ "CG: john lennon". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  12. ^ Gary Graff & Daniel Durcholz, MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press (Farmington Hills, MI, 1999), p. 667.
  13. ^ "John Lennon: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  14. ^ a b Blaney 2005, p. 56
  15. ^ a b "dutchcharts.nl John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band". Hung Medien, dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  16. ^ Q Magazine Staff (June 2000). "The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever". Q. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  17. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine Staff (August 1987). "Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Albums from the Last Twenty Years (1967–1987)". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  18. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine Staff (18 November 2003). "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  19. ^ Pitchfork Staff (23 June 2004). "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  20. ^ Tyrangiel, Josh and Alan Light (13 November 2006). "The All-TIME 100 Albums". TIME. Retrieved 23 August 2008. 
  21. ^ Blaney 2005, p. 61
  22. ^ Noyer 2010, p. 18
  23. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  24. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 14, No. 22, January 16, 1971". RPM. Retrieved 2011-09-30. 
  25. ^ a-ビートルズ "– Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) – Albums Chart Daijiten – The Beatles" (in Japanese). 30 December 2007. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  26. ^ "norwegiancharts.com – Norwegian harts portal". VG-lista. Retrieved 2011-09-17. NOTE: Reference mistakenly indicates "Some Time in New York City" was placed at number-four on the chart, but it was not recorded as of 1971
  27. ^ "Chart Stats – John Lennon And Plastic Ono Band". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  28. ^ "allmusic ((( Plastic Ono Band > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  29. ^ "Album Search: John Lennon: John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  30. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1971" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  31. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (25 December 1971). 1971 Year-end Albums – The Billboard Pop Albums. Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  32. ^ "American album certifications – John Lennon – Plastic Ono Band". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]

Preceded by
All Things Must Pass by George Harrison
Dutch Mega Chart number-one album
13 February – 27 March 1971
Succeeded by
Sinfonías by Waldo de los Ríos