1970, Music

Plastic Ono Band (1970) by Yoko Ono

Lennon’s half of this record is my favourite post Beatles album and I think one of the great singer songwriter records of the 1970s. The fact that they recorded this (with one exception) at the same time is a tribute Lennon’s versatility in addition to being a great testament to Yoko Ono’s musical talent. (What, you don’t think Yoko Ono has musical talent?)

I must confess I’ve never listened to Lennon and Ono’s early records. I’ve read such terrible things about them and just sort of assumed they are album after album of “Revolution No. 9” whether or not that’s fair. But this record makes me wonder if maybe I need to. Along with Approximately Infinite Universe it sure makes me think I’ve got to listen to more Yoko Ono solo stuff.

Ono’s singing is not that far off Leon Thomas’ (of Pharaoh Sanders fame). (Maybe that’s why Ornette Coleman shows up!) She’s a little harder to accept, but perhaps that has much to do with her chosen backing music – generic rock music – than her voice. I only know of her and Tomas, in terms of people who sang like this at this time. And it really is something to behold – the control, for one thing, seems particularly impressive.

The band just jams behind her and doesn’t do that much but I remain impressed than Lennon and Starr are 2/3rds of it. Listen to any Beatles record and you might not believe it. Lennon sounds more free, for one thing.

The exception to the above is “AOS” – a remarkable meeting of minds where Ornette Coleman recognized a kindred spirit and her join his band on stage. If you don’t believe Yoko Ono has music talent, please take the word of one of the most important musicians of the 20th century, or just listen to this performance, it’s something.

Just a remarkable display of what the human voice is capable of. I don’t know if it qualifies as rock music but I don’t really care. It sure is something.


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