Is John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band a very hard listen for you?

I think John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is a great album, however, it isn’t one I listen to often. Maybe once a year, at most

John had just been through primal scream therapy, and was determined to let everything out on his first real rock album of his solo career. He’d released the avant-garde albums with Yoko as well as the Live Peace in Toronto album, but this was his first ‘normal’ album since leaving the Beatles.

The album runs the gamut, John’s anger towards his parents, people who worship the Beatles as gods, attacks on religion, relations between the social classes. and pretty much any other difficult topic.

I often compare Plastic Ono Band to the film Schindler’s List. They’re both great artistic achievements, but I really don’t want to go there often.

It’s certainly not a cheery album, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “very hard listen”. I guess it’s because it’s not just depressing/depressing/depressing like some albums … the angry songs (like “Well Well Well”, “I Found Out” and “Remember”) have an energy that gives me a lift… basically, they rock. And even in the sad songs, there’s an emphasis on catharsis so it’s not just “Oh yeah, the world sucks, guess I’ll slit my wrists”… no, they give you an opportunity to SCREAM about it! And then there’s “Love” and “Hold On John” that provide that note of reassurance. So I’d say it’s a lot less tough to listen to than, say, Berlin.

I feel it was a cathartic album for him. dalej42, besides what you mentioned, he still had a lot of anger towards Paul that he was working through also.

You’re also forgetting “Look at Me,” which has one of the most beautiful melodies John ever wrote (not to mention the coolest chord change, between “look at me” and “oh, my love”).

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band struck me as a very stark but very honest album, and that was its appeal to me. I listened to it over and over when it came out, but I have to admit it’s been awhile since the last time.

The full album is a hard listen. I just listen to “Mother” and “Working Class Hero” about every 2 or 3 or 5 years, and that lasts me.

John had a vastly inflated ego after he left the Beatles, encouraged by Yoko Ono. That did not translate to good music. Curiously, he lives on in Bono who has been channeling him for ages.

I’m struck by the album’s spare, hard-edged, percussive sound–there’s a lot of piano, played as a percussive instrument–which Lennon combines with beautiful lyrical melodies.

It’s a difficult combination to pull off; for sure, not always an easy listen.

In a sense, it resembles some of Thelonious Monk’s work–Monk is often characterized as jagged and dissonant, but he’s also very melodic and lyrical [sometimes…]

There’s a tension between these extremes.

Lennon was a man of many moods, phases, passing enthusiasms. I read somewhere that he abandoned “primal therapy” before completing it.

Lennon abandoned it right after the “therapist” conducting the training, or whatever one calls it, told Lennon he wanted to bring in a film crew to record Lennon’s sessions.

I agree with your first sentence, but not with your second. Whether it’s Lennon, Bono, or anyone else, ego can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on what results from it at any given moment.

As an artistic statement, I believe John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is the greatest Beatles solo album — and I include its music along with its lyrics when I say this.

This doesn’t mean it’s the most listenable Beatles solo album, of course. Paul was better overall as far as producing great ear candy — and I don’t use this phrase insultingly. Ear candy is an achievement in itself, and when combined with genuine emotion (such as “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which is arguably the best solo Beatles song of all), you really have something.

John’s solo career (like Paul’s, George’s and even Ringo’s) featured both great music and horrible dreck. The same can be said of most any other artist, too.

The album is John’s primal scream record. It had songs about self reflection and a few songs which is said to be either Beatles rejects or songs John had never finished before finished.

My personal list from best to…

Working Class Hero
Look at Me
Hold On
I Found Out
Well Well Well
My Mummy’s Dead

and yes I did buy this album when it originally came out, and again later on iTunes.

I agree with the Primal Scream analogy.

I remember listening to Working Class Hero in my bedroom and having my Father pop in to see what all the noise was about. He only caught a few lyrics and said “Working class hero, eh? That’s what they’re singing about these days?” Then he closed the door just in time to miss “You’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.” Whew, that was close!

I used to listen to it quite a bit. Ringo’s drumming was great as usual. I hardly ever listen to it anymore mainly because I don’t have the album now, but also because I’d rather listen to other music.

Fantastic record; easily the best solo effort by a Beatle. It sure ain’t muzak to the ears.