JOHN LENNON & YOKO ONO
JOHN & YOKO/PLASTIC ONO BAND
Weldon Owen (Hardcover)
By Gillian G. Gaar
This excellent book goes far beyond simply looking at the musical activities of the Plastic Ono Band. It’s a lavishly illustrated chronicle of two very heady years in the ballad of John and Yoko.
The music is central, of course. Each song is examined in detail, with commentary from the participants, reproductions of handwritten lyrics, photos and ads. But there’s further context throughout that fleshes out the story: Apple publicist Derek Taylor’s interview about the Plastic Ono Band concept, Arthur Janov elaborating on primal scream therapy, details about the POB’s live shows in 1969, the couple’s film work and exhibitions, childhood reminiscences. This conveys far more than just how the songs were written and recorded; it illustrates the extent to which the couple’s art reflected their lives.
There’s also a bounty of visual material: reproductions of the dedications Lennon wrote in the copies of The Primal Scream he gave away to friends (“Read this and see if you recognize yourself!” he writes to Pete Townshend); the note the queen received from Lennon when he sent back his MBE; the ad Lennon took out in music industry newspapers, begging his producer to show up for recording sessions (“PHIL! John Is Ready This Weekend”). Most poignant is an Easter card Lennon received from his mother in 1957, who affectionately addresses him as “Dear Stinker,” writing, “See you when your [sic] 21” — a birthday she would sadly never live to see. And that’s a very few examples of the wealth of photos and memorabilia that make this book such a delight to look through.
An essential volume that fits nicely alongside the similar book compiled for the reissue of Imagine. Let’s hope there’s such a book for every Lennon solo album.