John Lennon with the Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)
Seeing as I did All Things Must Pass for my last Classic Album Tuesday I figured I’d crank out another Beatles solo work. Named after the conceptual band that John put together for such recordings as Live Peace in Toronto 1969. This followup of sorts is surprisingly sparse, featuring mostly just John, Klaus Voormann and Ringo Star along with guest spots from Billy Preston and co-producer Phil Spector. Recorded concurrently with Yoko’s debut album, which I care not to listen to because I can’t stand her voice. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is a raw, emotional album from the always compelling and introspective Lennon.
Confronting both personal and political issues Lennon’s surprisingly stripped down and passionate approach leaves for a stark yet moving listening experience. Lennon digs down into dirty blues/rock on songs like “Well Well Well” and “I Found Out” but it’s ballads that mostly make up this album. Pouring out his heart on songs like “Mother” reflecting his abandonment as a child and “God” a controversial religious piece. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band can feel gloomy or bittersweet at times but that’s really what makes it so affecting.
Lennon’s politically charged ballad for the working man “Working Class Hero” is another striking song in both it’s message and bare-bones arrangement. “Look At Me” is another highlight, written during The White Album period is a personal favorite of mine. With it’s angelic picking pattern and soft spoken vocals, it’s one of my favorite recordings of Lennon’s solo career.
Imagine would prove to be an equally excellent followup album but I still lean towards Lennon’s debut. It’s recently re-ignited my interest in Beatles’ solo work and cements Lennon as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
Favorite Tracks: “Isolation”, “Look At Me”, “Love”
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