Plastic Ono Band is the début solo album by English rock musician John Lennon. It was released in 1970 after Lennon 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 Yoko 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. Plastic Ono Band is generally considered one of Lennon's finest solo albums and a landmark recording. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is generally considered one of Lennon's finest solo albums and a landmark recording. Rolling Stone named it the twenty-second greatest album of all time.
The "Plastic Ono Band" in the album's title refers to the conceptual band Lennon and Ono had formed in 1969 of various supporting musicians they would use on their various solo albums.
After The Beatles' break-up in April 1970, both Lennon and Ono undertook Primal therapy with the guidance of Arthur Janov for four months in Los Angeles. Forced to confront the traumas of his childhood (abandonment, isolation and death), Lennon finally let his submerged anger and hurt rise to the surface and dealt with it through his art. Similarly, Ono's concurrently-recorded album, Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band was a form of catharsis for her.
Returning to England that September, Lennon and Ono called upon Phil Spector, who had produced Lennon's hit Instant Karma! earlier that year, to co-produce both their albums with them at Abbey Road Studios. Ringo Starr played drums, while Klaus Voormann, an old pal of The Beatles from Germany – and a former member of Manfred Mann – played bass. Billy Preston, who had already worked with The Beatles, supplied piano for God. Lennon himself performed all guitar duties, playing most of the piano as well. The music itself was kept very basic and direct in arrangement.
Throughout the album, Lennon touches upon many issues: the abandonment of his parents in Mother; the castigation of class issues in Working Class Hero (one of the first pop songs to feature the word "fuck"); a reminder that despite his rage and pain, Lennon still embraces Love; and God, a renouncement of external saviours, including, famously, the Beatles. Here Lennon states that he believes only in himself, and his wife Yoko.
In 2000, Yoko Ono supervised a remixing of 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 1/2 speed mastered GAIN 2 Ultra Analog in vinyl reissues.
The album's cover is almost identical to Ono's companion piece Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band—the 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 Daniel Richter who 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. Instead, the back cover showed what appears to be a school photo of Lennon in his youth (circa 1946).
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." In early 1971, the album reached #11 in the UK and went to #6 in the US, spending eighteen weeks in the top 100.
In 2000 Q magazine placed Plastic Ono Band at number 62 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 1987, it was ranked #4 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 best albums of the period 1967-1987, and in 2003, it was placed at #22 in their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
In 2006, the album was placed by Pitchfork Media at number 60 of its Top 100 Albums of the 1970s list. In 2006, the album was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 best albums of all time.
Phil Spector, a co-producer on this album, played piano on Love.
Look At Me dates from The Beatles period, and is built on a finger-picking guitar pattern very similar to the one Lennon used in Dear Prudence, Happiness Is a Warm Gun and Julia. Lennon learned this guitar technique from Donovan while the two were in Rishikesh.
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