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Plastic Ono Band

By Zack Taylor
October 29, 2004
Rating: 10.0

John Lennon was a man with issues. Abandoned by his mother Julia, he was raised by his Aunt Mimi. When John was a teenager, Julia returned, but the two were just getting to know one another when she was killed crossing the street. He became an angry young man, never known to cry or apologize. Bitterly cynical, when the Beatles were a band, he had little respect for the phenomena of the Beatles; as others hailed them as the great artists, he dismissed much of his own work as rubbish. When the group finally split, Lennon, deeply in love with his new wife and surrogate mother Yoko Ono, felt free for the first time in his life.

Ono also changed John’s aesthetic point of view: art is all about the artist. Primal Scream therapy with the renowned Dr. Arthur Janov stripped Lennon’s emotional walls to expose the pain of his mother’s neglect and loss of her death, as well as the artifice of his life as a Beatle. His first solo album Plastic Ono Band chronicled this process, unveiling the “real” John Lennon, and shockingly de-bunking what he considered the Beatles myth.

Recorded sparsely, drenched in echo, the album chills in its urgency and desperation. “I needed you. You didn’t need me,” he sings to the dead Julia. Bravely, he bids her farewell, and warns his listeners not to repeat his mistake, but to face their problems, which John does right before our ears, pleading “Mama don’t go/Daddy come home” until he’s screaming at the top of his lungs at the fade. You can picture tears finally pouring down his cheeks.

“Hold On” chronicles his new routine with Yoko; a quote from “Cookie” from Sesame Street hints at a new humor and embrace of his heretofore suppressed memories of childhood. “I Found Out” rocks out while skewering religion; “Working Class Hero” takes on the British social order in a chilling two-chord drone. The astonishing “Isolation” justifies to his old band mates his need to be alone. He doesn’t blame them; like him, he sings, “you’re only human; a victim of the insane” monster the Beatles became.

“God,” the album’s stunning climax, states his theme explicitly: Don’t believe in any religious or secular heroes or idols—especially a group called the Beatles. Believe only in yourself. Over lovely, loping piano chords, he breaks the news to the world that “John Beatle,” alas, is no more. It’s one of the most moving quatrains ever recorded:

I was the dream weaver, but now I’m reborn
I was the walrus, but now I’m John
And so dear friends, you’ll just have to carry on
The dream is over; the dream is over.

To listen to some soundclips from Plastic Ono Band or to purchase it click on Plastic Ono Band or John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - Alibris


By T.H.
January 15, 2004
Rating: 7.5

In the careers of the solo Beatles, they each had one stand-alone album; this was John’s. John’s political beliefs and all out geniuses come out in this album.

The title track is an example of this. According To Yoko, it was "John's plan for the world". "Jealous Guy" could definitely be one of John's best songs. With just overall great songwriting. "It’s so hard" is another of John's protest songs. A great track.

In the 1986 movie Imagine (not the documentary of this album), you can see the making of "Oh Yoko" and it gives you a new look at the making of one of John's songs.

This album stands, almost 32 years later, as a touching tribute to the genius that was John Lennon.

To listen to some sound clips from Imagine or to buy it, click on: Imagine (

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