Hi, I’m JotaKa. I’m a rocker by birth and grew listening to rock discs and long plays by the dozen. Since I didn’t have time to complete it within the month of November, I decided to continue it anyways, sorry for the delay. Continuing the Ex-Beatle Debut Month!
#4 – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon
After the three albums of each other Beatle, Lennon made this one. So, this time, I think, a background is required:
John Lennon created the Beatles. He started as one of the Quarrymen, when McCartney joined his ranks, still as a Quarrymen when George Harrison made the try-outs for guitarist, although being fourteen years old, and later already as the Beatles when Ringo replaced Pete Best at the drums. Throughout the years of the Beatles, Lennon would make, with McCartney, their most famous songs, and allegedly was himself that ended the Beatles, well, because he could, he started them. John Lennon wasn’t a very decent guy before and during the Beatles (he hit women, he hit men, he had sex constantly with a hell lot of women, including Yoko Ono and May Pang, he had something for Asians that are butt ugly, he was jealous, he tried to make Beatles more like his idea of the Beatles) and, with all that said… he is my favorite Beatle. I guess that when you count the chips down, he died the same day I was born (although different years) and he was the more humane of the Beatles… as much as I enjoy the other three, one became religious, one became an asshole and one was swallowed by the void, only to appear from time to time to narrate Thomas the Tank Engine. As I stated previously, With a Little Help from My Friends is my favorite song, but most of the others are from Lennon himself.
After the disunion, he made one of the worst decisions of his career, aggregating everything he had with Yoko Ono. Like, let’s take for example this album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. There was, also, a Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band with virtually the same cover, just so people would buy one (in this case, Yoko’s) thinking it was the other, and when putting it on the pick-up waiting for… good songs, and hearing… well… bad songs. I will have to relisten to it since the only time I listened to it was way back as a child, and I recall hating it, so not really in the mood.
Lennon also went to release 5 studio albums after this one and got involved with a lot of… hmm… how to put it… stupid political activities. And when I say stupid, I say so stupid that people know about it, worldwide, to this date. And he said so himself: “Yoko and I are quite willing to be the world’s clowns if by doing it we do some good”… and well, they did stupid things. Bed-Ins and Bagism entered the world’s dictionary as acts of silliness. His first son, Julian Lennon, became a musician with moderate success now and there, nothing too spectacular. His… offspring with Yoko Ono (the kid is uglier than sin) Sean Lennon also became a musician, with more success than his stepbrother, but again, nothing too great to be mentioned. December 8th 1980, Lennon was shot by a religious extremist because of something he said that was misinterpreted by anyone in the US.
The album features the cover before mentioned and… I don’t like Yoko Ono, so I’d classify it as a bad cover, with the photo having a bad quality. The idea is cool, but… it really is an uninteresting cover. The entire album clocks in 39:39, the closest of the four to what I call a perfect running time, with the longest song being “Well Well Well” with 5:49 and the shortest one being the final track with “My Mummy’s Dead”. Just a little slip of information I didn’t know where to add: Lennon didn’t have a good childhood and this album was right after going through primal therapy so… be prepared to see a lot of songs related to “my mommy”.
This album is considered a landmark album and an inspiration for many people. Critics regard it as one of the best, Time magazine placed it on the top 100, however, the only place where it topped All Things Must Pass was in the Netherland, only god knows why. Although considered to having an average solo career when compared to Harrison’s, this album in particular is noted as his best, even if it doesn’t have his “best song ever”, Imagine. So, let’s get this “theme month” over with already: this is John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon.
1st track: “Mother” – I firmly believe that the first song on your album has to be filled with energy, motivating the listener to try the album after the first song. When you start your album with funeral bells, you are shooting your clientele. With an immediate transition to something resembling a song, “dense” is the word that would fit the most. With some strange sections, a somewhat lame drums and a guitar that is definitely not his best, is his piano that leads the drama song around, with a lyric that talk about his parents. I know it is hard to guess, but this song was encouraged by the therapist responsible for the primal thingy. As a first song in the album, it really makes it hard to listen to the rest of it, mostly because of the screaming at the end of it (part of primal therapy). This was not a good start, more so if compared to I’d Have You Anytime of All Things Must Pass.
2nd track: “Hold On” – I don’t like tremolo guitar, but this time around is sounds quite good, with the lyric structure reminding me a lot Strokes’ “Last Nite” on the first and second verse. The drums are of Starr authorship, and you can really hear it. I also don’t like back vocals and vocals sung by the same guy, as this song presents, but again, it’s okay. This song is tame but it isn’t bad. In the middle of the song… well… Lennon imitated the cookie monster… shit you not. If it had anything to do with the song; if it was a song for one of his son… but the song is straight to him and his wife, Yoko. At least it’s better than Mother.
3rd track: “I Found Out” – This is an angry song, but… it is kind of a uncreative stupid and boring anger song. It is a giant anger issue going everyway; even, of course, to the Beatles: how he got Ringo to drum this one will always be a doubt, since he explicitly says bad things about Hare Krishna, which at the time was Harrison’s big thing. The song is broken and the guitar is straight out blandness without anything creative onto it, showing that most good guitar sections on the Beatles were Harrison’s idea. The lyrics should be studied to understand Lennon’s frustrations at the time, but… the song is bad. Avoid it.
4th track: “Working Class Hero” – Finally a more famous song. The song has a Dylan feel to it, with the guitar only accompanying the singing, which is prominently the only thing the song has to offer, and it works. The lyrics are great, and although many people attribute this song as being autobiographical, I don’t see it that way: I don’t think Lennon would say that he is a working class hero; he wouldn’t say he is a hero, no matter what he did. He knew his position, and this song he know as well: he isn’t a working class hero, but he can help the working class wish it was the working class. I guess this song was made for the place he came from: he was son of working class mother and father, a song not aimed at anyone in particular, but to a whole group of people, and to be honest, I do enjoy a heck out of this song, although it isn’t always that I find it amusing, sometimes I can’t stand it. It’s the sort of music that you can’t really hear anytime.
5th track: “Isolation” – The song starts much as Fool on the Hill, and I think that was made on purpose. This song is mostly forgotten, but I feel it is a strong song, with some blues into it and a very jazzy feel, even though it is as dense as the first song. It talks about, you guess it, Isolation, with some themes and stories being mixed, gently, but not overbearing the song. It is better than Working Class Hero and should be listened, if you can abstract from the “Isolation” every two lines. The song has some organ and Starr’s drums (again, noticeably Starr) which makes the song standout even more. Definitely a must listen to song.
Turn the disc. Side 2. Man, after All Things Must Pass, I’m really happy to be past the midpoint with only one turn of the disc.
6th track: “Remember” – One strange song, with happy theme and dark lyrics, again with the primal therapy making he remember stuff. I tried really hard to enjoy this song: it has that Cocker’s “The Letter” with the sort of western piano feel good trick to it, but the song comes out as obnoxious temper and a sad lyrics, culminating to a Guy Fawkes connection “Remember Remember The Fifth of November” and the sound of an explosion, that are clearly the highlights of the song. Let me say it again: Guy Fawkes and explosion are the best part of the song. The second side is not by any chance a promising side.
7th track: “Love” – This song is cute, but I can’t say it is excellent. It has a nice feel to it, it is a very warm feel lyric for the theme of the song, and the piano played by Phil Spector is superb, overcoming what I thought would be the best piano on the album in “Isolation”. The song, overall, is really good and all, but unfortunately, it lacks brains on the lyrics (it is a good play on words, but it is redundant all the way to the bank) and, although sung superbly, this song is well… a silly love song. It kind of betrays everything he said to McCartney through the years. I can see the appeal in this song, I can… but it doesn’t appeal to me. This song has an accolade, but it sure as hell is silly.
8th track: “Well Well Well” – The longest song on the album sounds like the singer is McCartney… dead serious. It is boring, repetitive, has a lyrics basically saying about Ono, with boring repetitive guitars and a boring and repetitive singing. This song is just boring and repetitive, and ends at about two minutes… again, dead serious. This song is what people think when the word “filler” is used. Two minutes, we have the whole song, but Lennon felt the need to spread the whole shit through 6 entire minutes of the same crap over and over and over, until we turn off our audio systems and go play some Brawl. I don’t think you got it, this song made me stop listening to John Lennon. A Beatle! Not even Revolution 9 makes me want to stop listening to a Beatle! This song is fucking powerful; it has such a political meaning (with the depth of a tea spoon) and such intense lyrics (intensely annoying) that you feel the power through you (the power to stop listening to music and jab a needle inside your ear). Stay the fuck away from this song.
9th track: “Look at Me” – As researched (and proving my skills) this song was made during the White Album, but was shelved: and it shows. The guitar technique is definitely the same as Julia and Dear Prudence… however those were interesting songs, with some enjoyment to it. At first, I thought it would be pretty enjoyable, but again, the lack of evolution and, to be quite honest, a beat really makes the song seem deep, but in fact is shallow. The lyrics are him asking who he’s supposed to be. Yeah, that’s deep. But since then, a lot of groups worked on that theme (from the top of my head, Logical Song by Supertramp) and it has been showed that it could be vastly improved if not stayed to the basics. Most of you may be thinking “Yeah, but they came afterwards”, well, first, genius are independent of time measures, and John Lennon undoubtedly heard his song and thought “Yeah, it’s okay”, so he knew it was bad. No offense, John, but seriously… this album need some help.
10th track: “God” – See, this is exactly what I said. He gets these concepts and fucks them up. This song is seriously deep… at least the lyrics are. I mean, we could make posters, great posters by the way, and glue them all over NY and it would astonish people, but as a song, it fails miserably. It is almost 1 minute repeating himself (he says so in the song), then two minutes on what he doesn’t believe (the same fucking way over and over again), then some more deep lyrics, but as a song, it’s bland, boring, repetitive, uncreative and merciless. When most of your work is about yourself, you should look back and rework. This album needs rework: if Lennon was still alive, he would probably remake this album in the ’00s.
11th track: “My Mummy’s Dead” – Depressing. I was expecting a “Tea for the Tillerman”, but instead, I got a bag of shit. It’s just Three Blind Mice with the lyrics being about, you guessed it, his childhood. I know you childhood sucked: in fact, many people in the music industry had lives that were made out of miserable moments. Kurt Cobain is one of them. And… well, many others probably, you don’t see them complaining all the fucking time, get over it. I know he is dead, but come on: we have to agree that this side of this album sucked beyond any measure.
All does it all hold up? Nailed to a fucking wall. This album is really really bad. The first side has average tunes, with two songs that are savable, with the rest being miserably average to piss poor bad, but not that you couldn’t listen to. The second side is complete garbage. 6 songs and none of them save anything. How this album was able to take out All Things Must Pass in any chart is beyond me, but at least, and when I said this it may be the little fanboy inside of me saying it, it’s better than McCartney’s. It ranks 3rd of the four albums and sincerely, how it is considered a good album is beyond me. Avoid this album at all cost. Collector’s item only.
So, that’s the end of the theme month. Hope you enjoyed it. This is JotaKa, signing off.