February 19, 2010 Playlist

"Plastic Ono Band" by Yoko Ono (1970)
Yoko Ono  "Plastic Ono Band"  1970 (Japan)
Yoko Ono just turned 77 years old this week, and even more remarkably she brought forth a new edition of the Plastic Ono Band for an album and concerts in 2009 (with son Sean Lennon replacing the late John Lennon on lead guitar, along with new faces like Cornelius and Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto.)  Although she will probably always be best known as John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono is in fact one of the major artists of the 20th century.  Her early "situationist" art was revolutionary for its time (and paved the way for the "performance art" movement in later decades.)  Before meeting Lennon, she had already performed avant-garde concerts with the likes of John Cage and her first husband, the reknowned electronic modernist Toshi Ichiyanagi.  But perhaps her greatest musical achievement was this album, featuring a "conceptual supergroup" whose members also included two of the Beatles (Lennon and Ringo) along with special guests The Ornette Coleman Quartet.  Released in conjunction with Lennon's highly acclaimed 1970 album also called Plastic Ono Band (which has a nearly identical cover), I personally find Yoko's record to be the much more interesting of the two.  Lennon's songwriting skills seriously deteriorated after the Beatles broke up, and though his album is a very "emotional" one, the songs themselves are a patchwork of cliched chord progressions he'd already been recycling for years.  Meanwhile, Yoko's record is an all-out "free rock" assault comparable to The Velvet Underground at their noisiest.  OK so Yoko's singing may be an aquired taste (I personally have grown to love her shrieking!), but it's undeniable that Lennon played the most scorching guitar of his life on this album and it is worth hearing for that reason alone.
The first time the Plastic Ono Band appeared in concert was at the Live Peace in Toronto Festival in 1969 (with Eric Clapton and Alan White from Yes!) -- the resulting album features an entire side of screaming and feedback which is one of the classic moments in her discography.  Though the influence of Yoko's uninhibited style on "no wave" and "post punk" music has often been noted, the fact she was the first world-famous Japanese FEMALE musician is also very important -- she became a genuine culture hero in her homeland, as this solo performance before a rapturous audience live in Japan 1974 demonstrates.  And here's the Plastic Ono Band of 2009 performing the first track from the 1970 album, "Why" (Yoko may not hit the high notes like she used to, but she's SEVENTY SIX YEARS OLD in this clip!  And Sean's doing his father proud on guitar.)
(N) = New Release
Artist Song Album Year (label) Country
Black Sabbath Supernaut Volume 4 1972 UK
Grand Funk Railroad Nothing Is The Same Closer To Home 1970 USA
Buffalo Sunrise (Come My Way) Volcanic Rock 1973 Australia
Budgie Rape Of The Locks Budgie 1971 UK (Wales)
Yoko Ono Why Plastic Ono Band
1970 Japan
Yoko Ono Why Not Plastic Ono Band
1970 Japan
Black Sabbath Children Of The Grave Master Of Reality 1971 UK
Yoko Ono Mind Holes Fly 1971 Japan
John Lennon & Yoko Ono Cambridge 1969 (excerpt) Unfinished Music Volume 2: Life With The Lions 1969 UK/Japan
Jimi Hendrix
Valleys Of Neptune Valleys Of Neptune (N - posthumous release) 2010 (Sony Legacy) USA
Mondo Drag
Fade Out New Rituals (N) 2010 (Alive Naturalsound) USA
Melt Away Himalaya (N) 2009 (self release) USA
Moon Duo
Motorcycle, I Love You Escape (N) 2010 (Woodsist) USA
Träd, Gräs och Stenar Svärmors Brudpolska (Wedding Reel) Homeless Cats (N) 2009 (Gashud/
Subliminal Sounds)
Crimson Baby Awkward Diary (N) 2010 (Zirzamin) Iran
Fuck Buttons Ribs Out Street Horssing 2008 UK
Jookabox Gonna Need The Guns/Doom Hope Dead Zone Boys (N) 2009 (Asthmatic Kitty) USA
Matt Stevens
West Green Echo (N) 2009 (KEA) UK
Solus 3
B5 Bounce The Sky Above The Roof (N) 2010 (Solus 3 Recordings) UK
Spacejunk unreleased recording (N - provided by artist) rec. 2008 (self release) UK
Lightning Bolt
The Sublime Freak Earthly Delights (N) 2009 (Load Records) USA
Clouds Magic Hater
   / Quartulli Dub
Legendary Demo 2007 USA
Caravan Here Am I Blind Dog At St. Dunstan's 1976 UK
Steppenwolf Renegade Steppenwolf 7 1970 Canada/USA
Andy Williams My Sweet Lord (George Harrison) Love Story 1971 USA
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