- Incredible sound for this early UK pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades, an excellent way to hear these amazing songs
- Working Man’s Hero, Love, Mother — these are immortal Lennon tracks, all with stunning sound on these White Hot sides
- 5 stars: “It’s an unflinching document of bare-bones despair and pain, but for all its nihilism, it is ultimately life-affirming; it is unique not only in Lennon’s catalog, but in all of popular music. Few albums are ever as harrowing, difficult, and rewarding as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.”
Incredible sound for this John Lennon classic! I would be hard pressed to tell you whether this or Imagine is his best sounding recording, because on the very best copies they can both be killer. Our first White Hot copy only made it to the site in 2016 — it took us a long time to find the right pressings of this album, and then years more to get enough in stock to do a major shootout. As you can imagine, clean early UK pressings of Lennon’s albums are hard to come by and pricey when you find them.
Not to worry. Here at Better Records we are always on the hunt, and we expect you will be more than pleased with the result of our effort, this reasonably quiet Triple Plus Shootout Winner right here!
Tubey Magic Is Key
This early British pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of this Groundbreaking John Lennon Album have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the horns, guitars and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We Listen For on Plastic Ono Band
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
I Found Out
Working Man’s Hero
Well, Well, Well
Look at Me
The cliché about singer/songwriters is that they sing confessionals direct from their heart, but John Lennon exploded the myth behind that cliché, as well as many others, on his first official solo record, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Inspired by his primal scream therapy with Dr. Arthur Janov, Lennon created a harrowing set of unflinchingly personal songs, laying out all of his fears and angers for everyone to hear. It was a revolutionary record — never before had a record been so explicitly introspective, and very few records made absolutely no concession to the audience’s expectations, daring the listeners to meet all the artist’s demands. Which isn’t to say that the record is unlistenable. Lennon’s songs range from tough rock & rollers to piano-based ballads and spare folk songs, and his melodies remain strong and memorable, which actually intensifies the pain and rage of the songs. Not much about Plastic Ono Band is hidden. Lennon presents everything on the surface, and the song titles — “Mother,” “I Found Out,” “Working Class Hero,” “Isolation,” “God,” “My Mummy’s Dead” — illustrate what each song is about, and chart his loss of faith in his parents, country, friends, fans, and idols. It’s an unflinching document of bare-bones despair and pain, but for all its nihilism, it is ultimately life-affirming; it is unique not only in Lennon’s catalog, but in all of popular music. Few albums are ever as harrowing, difficult, and rewarding as John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was received with high critical praise upon release. Critic Greil Marcus remarked, “John’s singing in the last verse of ‘God’ may be the finest in all of rock.”
In early 1971, the album reached number eight on the UK and went to number six in the US, spending eighteen weeks in the Top 100. The album was particularly successful in the Netherlands, knocking George Harrison’s blockbuster All Things Must Pass from the top of the chart and remaining at number one for seven consecutive weeks.
Robert Christgau named it the best album of 1970 in his year-end list for The Village Voice, and in a decade-end list, he ranked it 21st best from the 1970s. In a retrospective review for Rolling Stone, he wrote that the lyrics are political, existential, and carefully thought, while Spector’s production is elegantly simple so each instrument resonates, including Lennon’s voice: “Left out in the open, without protective harmonies or racket, Lennon’s singing takes on an expressive specificity that anyone in search of the century’s great vocal performances would be foolish to overlook.”
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is generally considered one of Lennon’s finest solo albums. In 2000, Q placed John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band at number 62 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.
In 1987, the album was ranked fourth on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 best albums of the period 1967–87, and in 2003, it was placed at number 22 in the magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
In 2006, the album was placed by Pitchfork Media at number 60 of its Top 100 Albums of the 1970s.
In 2006, the album was chosen by Time as one of the 100 best albums of all time.