Since, in real time, I am starting to think of how to rank the best albums of 2016 (happy almost Halloween everybody) the coverage of albums is going to continue to be patchy for a little while. All things being equal this list should be the easiest to finish as I could be incredibly passive and just listen to the remaining 130+ albums and tick them off as I go.
Still, this is not what Before I Kick is about. This blog is over 3 years old now (what the what!?) and I make sure to be as active as I can when it comes to engaging with the media on the many lists.
Hand up time. I do not like John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. It’s one of those songs that has found itself repeated ad nauseam and, despite how well meaning and philosophical it is, I find it mildly irritating. I don’t think the “you who”s and “a-ha”s help.
With ‘Imagine’ in mind I have to say I was surprised by the music on John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Probably shouldn’t have been considering his background with the Beatles and the fact that Yoko Ono was with him every step of the way.
Yoko Ono’s supportive presence is really important here as Plastic Ono Band is, in effect, the first solo record from John Lennon. This means that after listening to tracks about walruses, submarines and a girl named Jude, we get proper insight in Lennon himself that doesn’t have to be filtered through the lens of a band.
The result is something lyrically very interesting. You just have to look at both ‘Mother’ and ‘God’ to see where Lennon is psychologically. Before this album Lennon and Ono went through months of primal therapy together (a lot of screaming ensued) and this album really feels like a result of that.
You just have to listen to ‘Working Class Hero’ to hear how this is very different to what John Lennon had released before. I know it sounds quaint to say this, but I had never thought of John Lennon swearing until these lyrics.
A few tracks later you have ‘God’ where he systematically denounces a long list of people and organisations in just over 4 minutes. Again, this feels very much non-Beatles and very someone else.
I can imagine contemporary fans of the Beatles, and by extension John Lennon, being a tad put off by this. It would be like Harry Styles releasing an album outside of the mainstream (I’m thinking electro-babymetal). Sure, there would be some fans that stick but there would be others feeling betrayed. Or maybe not.
Still, it’s interesting to hear what the stage was between The Beatles and Imagine the album. I have I feeling I’ll end up preferring John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, but we’ll see when we get there.