Tuesday, December 18, 2018

John Lennon - 1970 - John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band

John Lennon 
John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band

01. Mother 5:36
02. Hold On 1:53
03. I Found Out 3:37
04. Working Class Hero 3:50
05. Isolation 2:53
06. Remember 4:36
07. Love 3:24
08. Well Well Well 5:59
09. Look At Me 2:54
10. God 4:10
11. My Mummy's Dead 0:49

Recorded: 26 September – 23 October 1970
Producers: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector
Released: 11 December 1970

John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, Hammond organ
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Billy Preston: piano
Phil Spector: piano
Ringo Starr: drums

John Lennon's first solo album remains one of the most remarkable musical statements ever released by a major artist. With confrontation of various demons, a demolition of The Beatles' legend, and at times a painfully honest account of a troubled man struggling to deal with a reality he couldn't change, the album saw Lennon stripping away layers of defence and artifice, leaving his most raw, direct and heartfelt collection of songs.

During The Beatles' break-up Lennon and Yoko Ono had immersed themselves, at various times, in peace campaigns, heroin addiction, a work schedule filled with publicity stunts, and occasional musical excursions. However, as 1969 gave way to the new decade, they retreated from public view at Tittenhurst Park, their 72-acre estate in Ascot, Berkshire, where they became increasingly isolated.

The extent of their fame made normal public excursions troublesome, and the press commonly portrayed them as freaks. The pair had kicked heroin, but were both using methodone as a substitute. Ono had suffered two miscarriages in the previous two years, and had another in 1970, and was locked in a custody battle for her daughter with her previous husband, Tony Cox.

Lennon, meanwhile, was attempting to deal with the pressures surrounding The Beatles' break-up. Although he was the primary instigator, the disintegrating relationships between the four men, not to mention the ongoing legal and business wranglings with Apple and Allen Klein, took their toll. He had tried seeking solace in drugs, but found their effects to be little more than an ephemeral escape.

Enter Dr Arthur Janov. The American psychotherapist had sent Lennon an unsolicited copy of his book The Primal Scream, subtitled Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis, based on the premise that people's neuroses were caused by repressed pain connected to childhood experiences.

Lennon was fascinated by the book, and is said to have read it in a single sitting. Ono summoned Janov to Tittenhurst Park from Los Angeles, in an attempt to help Lennon confront his unresolved formative traumas: losing contact with his mother after being sent to live with his aunt Mimi; her death in July 1958, when Lennon was 17 years old; and the sporadic, infrequent contact with his father during his childhood.

Janov conducted a number of Primal Therapy sessions at Lennon's half-built recording studio at Tittenhurst Park, but the chaotic state of the house prevented them from making progress. The sessions moved to London, where Janov made Lennon and Ono stay in separate hotels, but eventually Janov invited them to follow him to Los Angeles.

"They do this thing where they mess around with you until you reach a point where you hit this scream thing. You go with it – they encourage you to go with it – and you kind of make a physical, mental, cosmic breakthrough with the scream itself. I can compare it to acid inasmuch as you take the trip, and what you do with it afterwards when the drug's worn off is what you do with it afterwards when the drug's worn off. But there's no taking away from the initial scream. That's what you go for."
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Lennon and Ono spent four months with Janov in America. They underwent two therapy sessions each week, either in groups or individually, several of which were filmed for research purposes.

"Even under a daddy I'm not going to be filmed, especially rolling around the floor screaming. So then he started to berate us: 'Some people are so big they won't be filmed.' He said he just happened to be filming that session. 'Who are you kidding, Mr Janov?' He just happened to be filming the session with John and Yoko in it."
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Lennon told Janov he had grown up unhappy and isolated in the knowledge that his parents hadn't wanted him. He cried frequently, but, according to Janov, never screamed the words "Mama don't go, daddy come home". The Beatles were seldom mentioned, although Brian Epstein was discussed by the two men.

"I don't think anything else would work on me so well. But then of course I'm not through with it. It's a process that's going on – we primal almost daily. And the only difference – I don't really want to get this big primal thing going because it gets so embarrassing. And in a nutshell, primal therapy allowed us to feel feelings continually, and those feelings usually make you cry. That's all. Before I wasn't feeling things – I was having blocks to the feelings, and the feelings come through, you cry. It's as simple as that really."
John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

Throughout his adult life Lennon was susceptible to the promises of various idols or lifestyles that were claimed to be panaceas, whether they be LSD, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, politics or macrobiotics. Like Dr Arthur Janov, none sustained his interest for much more than a year, and disillusionment frequently set in once Lennon found they couldn't provide what he was searching for. Although Janov wanted Lennon to return to Los Angeles to complete his therapy, he never did.

"At first I was bitter about Maharishi being human and bitter about Janov being human. Well, I'm not bitter anymore. They're human and I'm only thinking what a dummy I was, you know. Although I meditate and I cry."
John Lennon, 1980

In the studio

John Lennon and Yoko Ono returned from Los Angeles to England on 24 September 1970. Lennon was 28 pounds heavier than he had been before leaving in April, a change he put down to "eating 28 different colours of ice-cream" in America. Two days after their return they entered EMI Studios at Abbey Road, London, keen to begin work on some of the songs composed in Los Angeles.

"They were laughing, crying and holding on to each other. Holding on to each other so close. Two grown-up people, and yet it's as though they were children. Not because they were saying silly stuff, but because of their emotions. They were crying, then screaming with laughter, then crying again, one after the other."
Klaus Voormann, 2010
Uncut magazine
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Lennon and Ono recorded two albums back-to-back with the same group of musicians: Klaus Voormann on bass guitar and Ringo Starr on drums, with Phil Spector or Billy Preston occasionally contributing piano parts. Lennon worked quickly, giving scant instruction to his band, content to present the songs in their most basic form.

"The simplicity of what Klaus and I played with him gave him a great opportunity to actually, for the first time, really use his voice and emotion how he could. There was no battle going on.
He would just sit there and sing them, and we would just sort of jam, and then we'd find out how they would sort of go and we did them. It was very loose actually, and being a trio also was a lot of fun."
Ringo Starr
Classic Albums: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

The sessions lasted for one month, during which the musicians recorded both John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and its more experimental counterpart, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band. They also jammed a number of rock 'n' roll classics, including Hound Dog, Matchbox, Glad All Over, Honey Don't and That's All Right (Mama).

Phil Spector had been booked as the producer on the sessions, but most of the songs were recorded without him being present in the studio. After the sessions were underway, in October 1970 Lennon published a full-page advertisement in Billboard magazine which simply said: "Phil! John is ready this weekend".

"I have no real memory of Phil producing this record at all. I remember he came in later, but I never felt Phil was like, oh he produced this record. Really, the engineer took down what we did and John would mix it."
Ringo Starr
Classic Albums: John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band

On the sleeve credits Yoko Ono was described as playing the wind. Lennon later explained that she "played the atmosphere" on the record.

"She has a musical ear and she can produce rock 'n' roll. She can produce me, which she did for some of the tracks when Phil couldn't come at first. I'm not going to start saying that she did this and he did that. You don't have to have been born and bred in rock. She knows when a bass sound's right and when the guy's playing out of rhythm."
John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

Although the subject matters of the songs were often honest to the point of discomfort, the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band sessions were reportedly often jovial and relaxed. Spector and Allen Klein, according to Voormann, proved a particularly amusing double act: "We would almost be rolling on the floor with laughter. They were a comedy act, typical New York."

"Spector would tell these wild stories about Lenny Bruce dying in his toilet. They were always having breaks for long stories. It was a really jovial album to make, which is funny when you think what the songs are about."
John Leckie, studio engineer
Uncut magazine, 2010

Lennon recorded a live vocal with each of the takes, as he disliked assembling songs layer by layer, part by part, as The Beatles had done in their later years. Often his guide vocals would be replaced once the backing tracks were completed.

The screams at the end of Mother were overdubbed once the rest of the vocals were recorded. Each night, towards the end of the sessions, Lennon almost tore his larynx to shreds while attempting the part; he avoided doing it during the daytime in case it adversely affected his voice.

"This time it was my album. It used to get a bit embarrassing in front of George and Paul 'cause we know each other so well: 'Oh, he's trying to be Elvis, oh he's doing this now,' you know. We're a bit supercritical of each other. So we inhibited each other a lot. And now I had Yoko there and Phil there, alternatively and together, who sort of love me, okay, so I can perform better. And I relaxed. I've got a studio at home now and I think it'll be better next time 'cause that's even less inhibiting than going to EMI. It's like that. The looseness of the singing was developing on Cold Turkey from the experience of Yoko's singing – she does not inhibit her throat."
John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

One song in particular caused particular problems for Lennon. Working Class Hero was recorded dozens of times, with Lennon's frustration building with each failed attempt. Ultimately he failed to complete it in a single take; the version on the album included a verse recorded in a different studio from the rest of the song, with a clear edit on either end.

Three songs, Hold On, I Found Out and Isolation, were rough mixes made at the end of the sessions for reference, which Lennon felt were good enough to include on the album. The tape speed was 7.5 inches per second, half that of normal mastering tape, leading to a slight degradation in sound quality.

The songs
By tackling so many subjects on his solo debut, John Lennon left subsequent releases with little in the way of tangible themes. Where is there to go when you've covered drugs, religion, sex, women's liberation, childhood, social inequality, love, and the breakup of the greatest band in the world? In his search for originality he turned to politics on Some Time In New York City, released a couple of albums with little or no message in Mind Games and Walls And Bridges, before eventually retreating into domestic harmony on Double Fantasy.

The writing of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band proved cathartic for Lennon, allowing him to allay many of his demons, if only temporarily. Three songs in particular were key works in the collection: Mother, Working Class Hero, and God.

Mother began with the funereal toll of a bell, before Lennon tackled headlong the main cause of his pain: the rejection and loss of his mother and father. If listeners were expecting Beatle John, they were likely to be disappointed. Mother pulled no punches, featuring bleak lyrics and some of Lennon's most harrowing vocals.

Working Class Hero looked back to Lennon's school days, and expressed his belief that freedom from conformity needed to take place at a personal as well as societal level. Influenced by left-wing political thinkers of the time, the song encouraged revolution in the head as well as the heart.

While the lyrics provide much to ponder, the song's two uses of the word 'fucking' caused Lennon's record label EMI some discomfort. They threatened to censor the recording, but eventually told him they wouldn't allow the word to be printed on the lyric sheet. Lennon's solution was to substitute the word with an asterisk, but inserted the words "Omitted at the insistence of EMI" beneath, to make it clear .

"I put it in because it does fit. I didn't even realise there was two in till somebody pointed it out. And actually when I sang it, I missed a bloody verse. I had to edit it in. But you do say 'fucking crazy,' don't you? That's how I speak. I was very near to it many times in the past, but I would deliberately not put it in, which is the real hypocrisy, the real stupidity. I would deliberately not say things, because it might upset somebody, or whatever I was frightened of."
John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

Lennon's acoustic guitar backing on Working Class Hero was felt by many to be inspired by Dylan, although Lennon later denied the connection. In the song God, however, he went further, adding Robert Zimmerman to the list of disavowed names.

"Like a lot of the words, they just came out of me mouth. It started off like that. God was stuck together from three songs almost. I had the idea, 'God is the concept by which we measure our pain'. So when you have a [phrase] like that, you just sit down and sing the first tune that comes into your head. And the tune is the simple [sings] 'God is the concept – bomp-bomp-bomp-bomp' 'cause I like that kind of music. And then I just rolled into it. [Sings] 'I don't believe in magic' – and it was just going on in me head. And I Ching and the Bible, the first three or four just came out, whatever came out.
I don't know when I realised I was putting down all these things I didn't believe in. I could have gone on, it was like a Christmas card list – where do I end? Churchill, and who have I missed out? It got like that and I thought I had to stop... I was going to leave a gap and say, just fill in your own, for whoever you don't believe in. It just got out of hand. But Beatles was the final thing because it's like I no longer believe in myth, and Beatles is another myth. I don't believe in it. The dream's over. I'm not just talking about The Beatles is over, I'm talking about the generation thing. The dream's over, and I have personally got to get down to so-called reality."

John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

God stripped away all vestiges of ideology and idolatry, until the central litany ended with the final declaration: "I don't believe in Beatles. I just believe in me, Yoko and me." It was intended to draw a line under the band that had led a generation through the 1960s, and did so with characteristic bluntness. The walrus was dead: here stands John Lennon, a mere mortal human being.

The album comes full circle with the brief coda My Mummy's Dead. A low-fidelity mono recording made in Bel Air, California, it was a simple four-line song based on a three-note descending melody, but was perhaps the most raw and emotionally-naked piece of songwriting he ever wrote.

Whereas John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band begins with primal howls of anguish, it ends with weary acceptance. If this was Lennon's bid for closure for the heartbreak of losing his mother, the effect was of numb emptiness rather than sorrow.

The release
Lennon and Ono recorded albums back to back with the same musicians. He considered calling his Primal and hers Scream, but they eventually chose their names followed by Plastic Ono Band.

The front covers, too, were near identical. Dan Richter, an actor who was working as the couple's assistant at the time, took the photographs using a cheap Instamatic camera. On Lennon's cover he is pictured lying on her body; on hers she is lying on his.

"People don't know about Yoko's because mine got all the attention. The covers are very subtly different. On one, she's leaning back on me; and on the other, I'm leaning on her. We shot the covers ourselves with an Instamatic."
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The back cover of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band featured a childhood monochrome photograph from Lennon's schooldays, taken in the 1940s. Ono's counterpart release featured a similar shot of her.

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was released on 11 December 1970. In the United Kingdom it peaked at number 11. It fared slightly better in the United States, reaching number six.

One single was issued from the album. Mother, backed with Yoko Ono's song Why, was released in the US on 28 December 1970. It was not a success, peaking at number 43 on the Billboard Hot 100.

"All these songs just came out of me. I didn't sit down to think, 'I'm going to write about my mother' or I didn't sit down to think, 'I'm going to write about this, that or the other.' They all came out, like all the best work of anybody's ever does."
John Lennon, 1970
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner

Paul McCartney is often cited as the Beatle who had the most trouble dealing with the group's break-up. Although Lennon's bravado prevented him from admitting as such, he felt the weight of their legacy equally as he contemplated a solo career. Yet whereas McCartney was tentative in his first moves, Lennon was bold, presenting his naked self to his fans more brazenly than even the Two Virgins cover could have been.

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band saw the closure of a chapter of Lennon's past, a fresh beginning with a blank page, and a cautiously optimistic look towards the future. His subsequent career had its highs and lows, both commercially and artistically, but never again would he release a collection with such consistent vibrancy, purity and revelation.

"I came up with Imagine, Love, and those Plastic Ono Band songs – they stand up to any songs that were written when I was a Beatle. Now, it may take you twenty or thirty years to appreciate that; but the fact is, these songs are as good as any fucking stuff that was ever done."
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

It is interesting that after the failure of the back-to-basics Let It Be/Get Back sessions, both John and Paul took the back-to-basics approach for their first solo albums. Although the emotional impact of the two albums couldn’t be much more different–“McCartney” being warm and comfortable, “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band” being wrenching.

John uses the finger-picking pattern he learned from Donovan in India here on “Look At Me”. Very “Julia”-like.

He also uses a lot of pentatonic scales for melodies here, as he did with “Don’t Let Me Down” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. E.g. in “Well Well Well”, “Hold On”, and “I Found Out”. These melodies don’t sound quite like the blues and don’t sound quite like the Far East–something in between.

A lot of John’s Beatle songs, even as late as Abbey Road (“Because”, “Sun King”, the 6/8 part of “I Want You”), had unorthodox chord progressions that moved the song along maybe even more than the melodies did. Here the harmonic complications are for the most part stripped away. Stripped away also is the Beatles-era Lennonesque word play. This lets the literal meaning of the straightforward and emotionally-charged lyrics hold center stage.

My copy of the LP (bought in the US around the time of its release) has the uncensored lyrics to “Working Class Hero” presented on the inner sleeve. No asterisks.

I think the only instrumental solo-type part is the piano on the fade out of “Love”. Instead of guitar solos or piano solos, he uses extended vocal/screaming parts sort of like in “Well Well Well”, “I Found Out”, and “Mother”. While this was no doubt the primal scream influence, it is also a lot like what he does on the full-length take of “Revolution 1”.

I like how he plays a droning 7th note together with the pentatonic melody in “Well Well Well”. Nice lead guitar playing.

John Lennon 
John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band Session
(MisterClaudel MCCD391-395)

101. Mother  - Demo
102. Mother  - Alternate Take # 1
103. Mother  - Alternate Take # 2
104. Mother  - Rough Take # 1
105. Mother  - Rough Take # 2
106. Mother  - Instrumental Backing (with voice over)
107. Mother  - Monitor Mix
108. Mother  - Acetate Rough Mix
109. Hold On - Rock version Take 1 (breakdown)
110. Hold On - Rock version Take 2
111. Hold On - Take 1
112. Hold On - Take 2
113. Hold On - Take 3
114. Hold On - Take 4
115. Hold On - Take 5
116. Hold On - Take 6
117. Hold On - Takes 7, 8 & 9
118. Hold On - Take 10
119. Hold On - Take 11
120. Hold On - Take 12
121. Hold On - Takes 13 & 14
122. Hold On - Takes 15, 16 & 17
123. Hold On - Take 18
124. Hold On - Take 19
125. Hold On - Takes 20 & 21
126. Hold On - Glad All Over (jam)
127. Hold On - Takes 22 & 23
128. Hold On - Takes 24, 25, 26, 27 & 28
129. Hold On - Take 29 (fast version)
130. Hold On - Take 30

201. Hold On - Take 31
202. Hold On - Take 32
203. Hold On - Monitor Mix
204. I Found Out - Demo # 1
205. I Found Out - Demo # 2
206. I Found Out - Alternate Rough take # 1
207. I Found Out - Alternate Rough Take # 2
208. I Found Out - Alternate Rough Take # 3
209. Working Class Hero - Alternate Take - Well Well Well (coda)
210. Working Class Hero - Censored version
211. Isolation - Alternate Take # 1 (breakdown)
212. Isolation - Alternate Take # 2
213. Isolation - Alternate Take # 3
214. Isolation - Rehearsal
215. Remember - Piano Demo
216. Remember - Rehearsal / God (coda)
217. Remember - It'll be me (improvisation)
218. Remember - Take 1
219. Remember - Take 2
220. Remember - Take 3
221. Remember - Take 4

301. Remember - Take 5 / Tutti Frutti (coda)
302. Remember - Takes 6 & 7
303. Remember - Take 8
304. Remember - Takes 9 & 10
305. Remember - Take 11
306. Remember - Take 12
307. Remember - Take 13
308. Remember - Takes 14, 15 & 16
309. Remember - Take 17 (Rough Mix)
310. Love - Demo
311. Love - Acoustic Rehearsal
312. Love - (You're So Square) Baby I Do not Care
313. Love - Rehearsal # 1
314. Love - Rehearsal # 2
315. Love - Rehearsal # 3
316. Love - Rehearsal # 4
317. Love - Rehearsal # 5
318. Love - Rehearsal # 6
319. Love - Piano Rehearsal
320. Love - Take 11
321. Love - Take 12
322. Love - Improvisation
323. Love - Take 14
324. Love - Take 15

401. Love - Take 16
402. Love - Takes 17 & 18
403. Love - Take 19
404. Love - Take 20
405. Love - Take 21
406. Love - Take 22 (engineer mistake "Take 21")
407. Love - Take 23
408. Love - Take 24
409. Love - Take 25
410. Love - Take 31
411. Love - Take 32
412. Love - Take 36
413. Love - Takes 37 & 38
414. Love - Stereo Remix
415. Well Well Well - Demo
416. Well Well Well - Alternate Rough Take
417. Look At Me - Demo Take 1
418. Look At Me - Demo Take 2
419. Look At Me - Rehearsal
420. Look At Me - Alternate Take
421. Look At Me - Alternate Rough Mix # 1
422. Look At Me - Alternate Rough Mix # 2 with overdubs
423. God - Demo # 1
424. God - Demo # 2
425. God - Demo # 3
426. God - Demo # 4
427. God - Alternate Take # 1
428. God - Alternate Take # 2

501. God - Monitor Mix
502. My Mummy's Dead - Demo # 1
503. My Mummy's Dead - Demo # 2
504. Yoko Ono Poem Game
505. When A Boy Meets A Girl - Demo # 1
506. When A Boy Meets A Girl - Demo # 2
507. Long Lost John
508. That's All Right (Mama)
509. Glad All Over # 2
510. Honey Do not - Do not Be Cruel - Matchbox
511. Something More Abstract
512. Between The Takes
513. Slow Blues
514. Fast Rocker
515-Acoustic improvisations
516. Power To The People (1971 Session) - Rehearsal
517. Power To The People (1971 Session) - Alternate Take
518. Power To The People (1971 Session) - Alternate Rough Take # 1
519. Power To The People (1971 Session) - Alternate Rough Take # 2
520 Power To The People (1971 Session) - Rough Mix
521. God Save Us - Demo
522. God Save Us - Alternate Take # 1
523. God Save Us - Alternate Take # 2
524. God Save Us - Acetate Version

M Claudel's latest work is the third series of culmination of John's solo album demo, outtake, rough mix, monitor mix. It becomes a session sound source of "the soul of John". The first John 's solo album "Soul of John" is a simple instruments organization, so powerful power is overflowing with it, therefore, the charm of John has been condensed in the state of a historical name album known as a famous album . The lyrics content is also poetic and beautiful, and it contains the abyssal meaning as if subliming the world of haiku. Each songs range from personal things such as "mother", "enlighten" "loneliness" to "Baby Dylan-like songs such as" working hero of working class "and extremely private things like" mother's death " "Primary Therapy" (Primary Therapy)), which had been overwhelming to the influence of the primary therapy) has also been reflected dramatically. 

 John's early childhood picture is used in the back jacket of the original album, the concept that the life span of my heart is traced from childhood by primary therapy is projected in part of the album by the primary therapy I will. A sort of crazy John, whose first song starts with 'Mother', lyrics appear in father, and finally ends with 'Mother's Death', noticing his own madness and acting in a pseudo manner It is an album as if I am suffering from myself, it is an album where my heart hurts. In addition to this child's jacket there is John in early childhood, mother Julia, now father Fred who is a poisonous parent now, mother aunt Mimi etc on the face of the board, cute and brilliant John, how have you grown I can make you think about how we became John Lennon.

This work covers the sound source of such a historical name board on five disks, if it is this, it is a decision board, not only the songs on the album but also demo sound sources of the same period and singles only for the same period Including the first appearance sound source, there was none of the titles aggregated so systematically so far. Especially this time the first appearance "Power to people" alternate take is a sound source from acetate, which has not been fully announced until now. 

The first John Lennon solo album has had its fair share of acclaim. It was well-reviewed upon its release, and reached the top ten in both the US and UK, despite the absence of a major hit single. In the 40 years since it has routinely turned up in all those critics’ lists of best-ever albums, albeit way, way below the most admired Beatles sets. It’s firmly established as one of those grown-up rock classics that grown-up rock fans should own. But here’s the rub: Plastic Ono Band is still grossly underrated.

One suspects that Plastic Ono Band’s standing might be somewhat more elevated if its maker was still alive. But this 40-minute, 11-song exercise in stark sonic claustrophobia and bitter autobiographical purging doesn’t fit with the sentimentalised posthumous image of Lennon as Utopian dreamer and modern-day Jesus. The biographical context doesn’t help – anyone could be forgiven for imagining that a record inspired by Arthur Janov’s primal scream therapy and Lennon’s twin obsessions with Yoko Ono and his dead mother Julia would be hard work at best, and a bunch of self-indulgent avant-garde ravings at worst.

But the reality of Plastic Ono Band is that it contains eleven of Lennon’s most accessible and gorgeous melodies and riffs; it’s pure Beatles, but with the layers of studio sophistry stripped away to reveal the nub of the confessional crux. The heartbreaking scream of loss that is Mother. The mirror image of My Mummy’s Dead and its invention of all things lo-fi. And, in-between, the savaging of aspiration in Working Class Hero, the pinched proto-punk fury of I Found Out and Well Well Well, the fear and self-loathing of Remember and Isolation, the poignant grasps for comfort within Love and Hold On, and the slaughter of gods, monsters, The Beatles and the false idols of the 1960s in the peerless God, which is still, very possibly, the most thematically ambitious and courageous rock song ever recorded.

All this, and a sound sculpted by Lennon, Ono and Phil Spector which drops you smack dab in the middle of a room at Abbey Road studios feeling the most famous man of his generation bare his soul and flaunt his demons to a world which didn’t want that much information. Plastic Ono Band’s greatest achievement is that, the more Lennon reveals about himself, the more universal his themes become. It’s this mysterious magic that makes Lennon’s solo debut a definitive work of art about how, and why, the personal and the political are one and the same.