- John Lennon's 1970 official solo debut is as remarkable for its startling contrast to the Beatles as it is for the passion and force of its songwriting. Stripped-down, gripping, and emotionally resonant, PLASTIC ONO BAND has little to do with the hook-heavy pop of his early Beatles work, or the psychedelic, word-salad approach of his songs on SGT PEPPER'S LONELY HEART'S CLUB BAND and ABBEY ROAD. Instead, this is an album of intensely confessional songs that lay bare the personal demons Lennon was trying to exorcise at the time--the ghosts of fame, family, faith, and individual identity, among them.
- The sound of the album is straightforward and hard-hitting. Spare, lean rock arrangements with piano, drums, bass, and guitar frame the songs effectively, letting Lennon's narratives carry the weight. The songs are shot through with bitterness ("I Found Out"), disillusionment ("God"), and regret ("Mother"), but there are also moments of hope in "Hold On" and the achingly beautiful "Love," which ranks alongside the very best of Lennon's ballads. Lennon was undergoing primal scream therapy during these sessions and the results can be heard, overtly (the strained vocals of "Well, Well, Well"), and in the rage and anguish of his harrowingly honest songwriting. This is one of the finest singer/songwriter albums of this or any era.
Rolling Stone (12/11/03, p.104) - Ranked #22 in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums Of All Time" - "...Lennon's first proper solo album and rock & roll's most self-revelatory recording..."
Rolling Stone (6/10/99, p.126) - 5 Stars (out of 5) - "...every note reverberates....Lennon's singing takes on an expressive specificity that anyone in search of the century's great vocal performances would be foolish to overlook...."
Q (6/00, p.66) - Ranked #62 in Q's "100 Greatest British Albums" - "...Suddenly, you can see why Lennon was dissatisfied with the Abbey Road sessions..."
Q (12/00, pp.140-1) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...There is no better solo Lennon or solo Beatles album..."
CMJ (5/24/99, p.32) - "...an exercise in artistic expression through varying levels of mood and rage..."
Mojo (Publisher) (11/00, p.92) - "...Exactly what was on his mind....It was, and remains, an extraordinary album. No rock singer could sound as simultaneously warm and as acerbic as Lennon..."
NME (Magazine) (10/21/00, p.43) - 8 out of 10 - "...It's his starkest and best post-Beatles work....This is a lingering, slow-motion peer into the crater of the man's soul..."
Uncut (magazine) (p.108) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he most profound and perfectly realised confessional album that rock'n'roll has produced."