Plastic Ono Band

(1970), 8/10
Plastic Ono Band was John Lennon’s musical therapy after leaving The Beatles, with the self examining lyrics covering Lennon’s relationship with his mother, his identity, and religion. Producer Phil Spector uncharacteristically gives the songs a stripped down treatment, with John’s piano and guitar joined by Ringo on drums and bassist Klaus Voormann. ‘Isolation’, ‘Love’, ‘Look At Me’, and the second half of ‘God’ are all beautiful, benefiting from the stripped down treatment. ‘Look At Me’ is particularly appealing, with Lennon more vulnerable then elsewhere on the album. ‘Well, Well, Well’ is a nasty and memorable rocker, while ‘Working Class Hero’ is arguably the highlight with a left-wing critique of society’s conventions: ‘keep you doped with religion and sex and TV/and you think you’re all clever and classless and free/But you’re still peasants as far as I can see.” There are songs that feel more like exercises in therapy than inspired songwriting; the self-referential ‘Hold On’ doesn’t hold up, while songs like ‘I Found Out’ and ‘Remember’ are musically thin. Plastic Ono Band is an overrated record, but it’s still a fascinating listen; if you enjoy left-field Beatles’ tracks like ‘I Am The Walrus’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, it’s definitely interesting to find out more about the man behind them.

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