Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yoko Ono - Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band

The missing piece of a highly cacophonous puzzle. Ever wonder why John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band necessitated that title or why he's on the cover with a woman who doesn't really do anything? The answers could very well be "Why not?" and "Because she followed him everywhere," but you're not about to get off that easy, no, sir!

The fact of the matter is that like John Lennon the human being, his first solo outing was not without a complement, a soulmate, a pretentious naked Asian female, and to John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, the similarly titled Yoko Ono/Plastic Band was conceived to be all of those things.

While the Plastic Ono Band could only be described as a loosely knit collective of whatever musicians were willing to put up with these "artists" at any given point in time, history will remember them for that month long period in 1970 (and a bit of time during '71, but that's another review altogether!) when the POB truly was one of the great minimalist noise rock powerhouses this side of the Velvet Underground. Who can deny Klaus Voormann's thumping basswork, Mandingo Starr's bare bones basic yet highly singular drumming style, and John Lennon channeling future child star Steve Albini with some of the filthiest angular guitar strangulations this side of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain? We're all familiar with the driving power of such propulsive bangers as "Well Well Well" and "I Found Out" and sometimes you have to wish Lennon would have followed these by then splendidly refined avant-garde impulses and hooked up with Can or Suicide or something instead of cranking out rockabilly covers and syrupy muzak for the rest of his solo career.

Luckily, it's not just his critically jizzed upon solo debut that features the 1970 era POB's primal raw doggin'. First, the cover. As we all know, John's album features him leaning back on Yoko, symbolizing that he is relaxed and content to release an album of self-absorbed whining laid over plodding cock rock grooves. The cover of Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, on the other hand, features Yoko sucking off John through a fiery portal to Hell located in the back of her head. Recorded during the same sessions as Lennon's album (I think?), the music on Yoko's record is a similarly stripped down, rackety interpretation of rock 'n roll. Rather than actual "songs," however, the tracks here are all born from an extended improv session where the drums and bass lay down any number of one chord grooves over which Yoko's caterwauling vocals and Lennon's manic slide guitar compete for dominant shrillness.

Yoko does a lot of crazy shit here... making her voice wobble like somebody is shaking her, squawking like a demented ostrich, and oftentimes combining these two approaches. Side two opener "AOS," recorded with Ornette Coleman's quartet, contains her most violently throat mangling screams, although the first half provides the listener with more subdued sounds that are much appreciated. The rest of the record's musical accompaniment is largely made up of the POB's rock based slide guitar heavy jamming, although "Touch Me" and "Paper Shoes" take things into spacier territory, emphasized by the echo used on the latter's vocal track. Neither Yoko or her backing musicians are as graceful as Linda Sharrock and husband Sonny's group on Black Woman, nor does she go to the extremes of Ono disciples such as Adris Hoyos (Harry Pussy) or Maja Ratkje, but perhaps the more primitive rock approach combined with an occasionally patience testing fetish for the Japanese hetai vocal style makes the combination of low art (?) and high art (??!!!) elements all the more effective. A fascinating work from a fascinating and misunderstood artist! Buy it and challenge yourself for once.

Rating: Good if you dig some free jazz bullshit.

Download Link: "Touch Me"... no thanks, Yoko! XD

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have got to see this. Obama playing on XBox. Funniest video ever.