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Released 11 December 1970, Plastic Ono Band was John Lennon’s first proper solo album. While he’d done four prior solo albums, they were all collaborations with Yoko Ono, not 100% his own songs.
There were also two Plastic Ono Band albums released that day, with slightly different covers, though most people are only familiar with John’s album of that name. Yoko’s POB only reached #182 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and none of the six songs became singles.
John’s POB was the very first solo album by him I got, in January 2002. At the time, John was still my favorite Beatle, so it made sense to start my journey into the band’s solo work through him.
These songs are so raw and emotional, strongly influenced by the Primal Scream therapy John had recently undergone with Arthur Janov. He’s laying his heart, soul, and mind bare for the world to see, exposing these deep pains and traumas which had stalked him for so many years.
The first time I heard the opening track “Mother,” maybe two years before I got the album, I deeply sobbed through almost the entire song. That was one of the most emotional listening experiences I’ve ever had.
Penultimate track “God” is also one of the three songs which always gives me full-body goosebumps, getting stronger and stronger with each “I don’t believe in…” declaration. (The other two are The Monkees’ “Zor and Zam” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Seven o’Clock News/Silent Night.”)
Track listing, with stars by the bonus tracks. (Though it just seems wrong for there to be any bonus tracks! The album was already perfect as-is.)
“Mother” (#3 in Switzerland, #9 in Austria, #10 in The Netherlands, #12 in Canada, #26 in West Germany, #30 in Japan, #43 in the U.S., #57 in Australia)
“Hold On” (includes John’s impression of Cookie Monster)
“I Found Out” (he so gives the finger to everyone in this song!)
“Working Class Hero”
“Remember” (ends with a reference to Guy Fawkes Night and the sound of an explosion)
“Well Well Well”
“Look at Me”
“My Mummy’s Dead” (only 49 seconds long)
“Power to the People”*
“Do the Oz”*
My favorite tracks are “God,” “Love,” “I Found Out,” “Mother,” and “Working Class Hero.”
The album reached #1 in Canada and The Netherlands, #3 in Australia, #4 in Norway, #5 in Japan, #6 in the U.S., #8 in the U.K. and Sweden, and #39 in West Germany.
POB is widely considered John’s greatest solo album by far, and it’s always been my personal favorite as well. Many of those incessant best-of lists rank it quite highly.
It goes without saying that I highly, highly, highly recommend this album!