John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

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John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Studio album by
Released11 December 1970 (1970-12-11)
Recorded26 September – 23 October 1970
StudioAbbey Road, London; Ascot Sound, Berkshire
ProducerJohn Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector
John Lennon chronology
Live Peace in Toronto 1969
(with The Plastic Ono Band)

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Singles from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
  1. "Mother"
    Released: 28 December 1970
  2. "Working Class Hero"
    Released: 24 October 1975

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is the debut solo album by English musician John Lennon. It was released in December 1970, after Lennon had issued three experimental albums with wife Yoko Ono and Live Peace in Toronto 1969, a live performance in Toronto credited to the Plastic Ono Band. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was met with critical acclaim, with many praising the production, lyrics, and Lennon's performance. It peaked at number eight on the UK Albums Chart and at number six on the US Billboard 200.

Co-produced by Lennon, Ono and Phil Spector, the album contains a largely raw production sound with songs heavily influenced by Lennon's then-recent primal scream therapy. Its lyrics reflect Lennon's personal issues and includes themes of child-parent abandonment and psychological suffering. The tracks were recorded in September and October 1970 at Ascot Sound Studios and Abbey Road Studios, simultaneously with Ono's debut avant-garde solo album, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band. Both albums feature the same musicians (Lennon, Klaus Voormann, and Ringo Starr) and production team and nearly identical cover artwork.

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band came to be generally regarded as one of Lennon's finest solo albums. In 1987, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it fourth in its list "The 100 Best Albums of the Last Twenty Years" and in 2012, ranked it number 23 in their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It was voted number 244 in Colin Larkin All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).[2] The album was remastered in 2000 with two bonus tracks: Lennon's 1971 single "Power to the People" and "Do the Oz", which previously appeared on the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology.


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.[3]

– 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.[4] Janov's therapy technique emphasised emotionally reliving repressed childhood traumas rather than analytical discussion.[4] 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 includes the line "I don't believe in Beatles".[4] Lennon's therapy was never completed due to the expiry of his US visa.[5] With the experience he received from the therapy, he was able to channel his emotions into an album's worth of self-revelatory material.[5]


Having exhausted the extensions of their American visas, Lennon and Ono returned from the US on 15 September 1970.[6] Recording began at Abbey Road Studios between 26 September[7] and 27 October 1970 using Lennon, Klaus Voormann, and Ringo Starr as the core musicians,[4] with Phil Spector and Billy Preston each playing piano on a track.[3] 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".[4] "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,[7] to co-produce the album. Spector played piano on "Love",[8] 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 toward the end of October.[4]

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,[5] and the simple yet intense style of the album's music.[9] 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 things he does not believe in, including Jesus, Hitler, Buddha, Elvis, "Zimmerman" (Bob Dylan), and Beatles, Lennon proclaims that he believes only in himself and Ono.[10]

"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". Donovan claimed that he taught Lennon this technique while the two were in Rishikesh.[11] The album was released in Japan under the title ジョンの魂 (John no Tamashii), which translates as "John's Soul".


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 at Lennon's Tittenhurst Park estate 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 had no track listing on the back cover, which instead showed a school photo of Lennon in his youth.[7]


John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was released in both the UK and US on 11 December 1970,[4] the same day as Yoko Ono's matching album.[4] "Mother", backed with Ono's track "Why", was released as a single in the US.[4] 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][12] 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 and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[13]
Christgau's Record GuideA[14]
Mojo5/5 stars[15]
MusicHound Rock5/5[16]
Paste5/5 stars[18]
Q4/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[19]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[20]
Uncut5/5 stars[21]

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."[22] In early 1971, the album reached number eight in the UK and went to number six in the US, spending eighteen weeks in the Top 100.[22] 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.[23] Robert Christgau named it the best album of 1970 in his year-end list for The Village Voice,[24] and in a decade-end list, he ranked it 21st best from the 1970s.[25] In a retrospective review for Rolling Stone, he wrote that the lyrics are political, existential, and carefully thought, while Spector's production is elegantly simple so each instrument resonates, including Lennon's voice: "Left out in the open, without protective harmonies or racket, Lennon's singing takes on an expressive specificity that anyone in search of the century's great vocal performances would be foolish to overlook."[19]

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.[26] In 1987, the album was ranked fourth on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best albums of the period 1967–87,[27] and in 2003, it was placed at number 22 in the magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[28] and 23 in a 2012 revised list.[29] In 2006, the album was placed by Pitchfork Media at number 60 of its Top 100 Albums of the 1970s.[30] In 2006, the album was chosen by Time as one of the 100 best albums of all time.[31]

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)


Track numbering refers to CD and digital releases of the album.



Region Certification
United States (RIAA)[43] Gold



  1. ^ UK EMI JLB8[12]


  1. ^ Grimstad, Paul (4 September 2007). "What is Avant-Pop?". Brooklyn Rail. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  2. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 111. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Miles, Barry; Badman, Keith, eds. (2001). The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970–2001 (reprint ed.). London: Music Sales Group. ISBN 978-0-7119-8307-6.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Madinger, Chip; Raile, Scott (2015). LENNONOLOGY Strange Days Indeed - A Scrapbook Of Madness. Chesterfield, MO: Open Your Books, LLC. p. 210. ISBN 978-1-63110-175-5.
  7. ^ a b c Noyer 2010, p. 21
  8. ^ Cadogan, Patrick (19 August 2008). "The Making of John Lennon's "Love"". Abbeyrd's Beatle Page. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  9. ^ Kane, Larry (2005). Lennon Revealed. Philadelphia: Running Press. p. 224. ISBN 0-7624-2364-1.
  10. ^ Cadogan, Patrick (2008). The Revolutionary Artist: John Lennon's Radical Years. Morrisville, North Carolina: Lulu. p. 131. ISBN 978-1-4357-1863-0.
  11. ^ Interview with Donovan (2004)
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band at AllMusic
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0899190251. Retrieved 2 November 2018 – via
  15. ^ Doyle, Tom (November 2010). "John Lennon Signature Box". Mojo. p. 114.
  16. ^ Gary Graff & Daniel Durchholz (eds), MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press (Farmington Hills, MI, 1999; ISBN 1-57859-061-2), p. 667.
  17. ^ a b "John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band CD Album" > "Product Reviews". CD Universe/Muze. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
  18. ^ Kemp, Mark (23 October 2007). "John Lennon – Reissues". Paste. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
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  20. ^ "John Lennon: Album Guide | Rolling Stone Music". Archived from the original on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
  21. ^ Mullholland, Garry (November 2010). "John Lennon – Remasters". Uncut. p. 108. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  22. ^ a b Blaney 2005, p. 56
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  24. ^ Christgau, Robert (1971). "Consumer Guide (16)". The Village Voice (11 March). New York. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  25. ^ Christgau, Robert (1979). "Decade Personal Best: '70s". The Village Voice (17 December). New York. Retrieved 2 May 2015.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  26. ^ Q Magazine Staff (June 2000). "The 100 Greatest British Albums Ever". Q. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine Staff (18 November 2003). "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 4 January 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  29. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  30. ^ Pitchfork Staff (23 June 2004). "Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 1 July 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  31. ^ Tyrangiel, Josh and Alan Light (13 November 2006). "The All-TIME 100 Albums". TIME. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  32. ^ Blaney 2005, p. 61
  33. ^ Du Noyer 2010, p. 18
  34. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  35. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 14, No. 22, January 16, 1971". RPM. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
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  37. ^ "a-ビートルズ – Yamachan Land (Archives of the Japanese record charts) – Albums Chart Daijiten – The Beatles" (in Japanese). 30 December 2007. Archived from the original on 14 February 2012. Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  38. ^ " – Norwegian harts portal". VG-lista. Retrieved 17 September 2011.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
  39. ^ "The Official Charts Company – John Lennon And Plastic Ono Band". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  40. ^ "allmusic ((( Plastic Ono Band > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Retrieved 3 October 2011.
  41. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1971" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  42. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (25 December 1971). 1971 Year-end Albums – The Billboard Pop Albums. p. 15. Retrieved 3 October 2011. billboard 1971 84 plastic ono band.
  43. ^ "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]