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Review: John Lennon 'Plastic Ono Band' DVD

John and Yoko Lennon with their Plastic Ono Band albums
John & Yoko showing the back covers of their 'Plastic Ono Band' albums
The 'Plastic Ono Band' DVD is part of the “Classic Albums” DVD series. It's about the making of the 1970 'Plastic Ono Band' album, which was the first proper solo album by John Lennon. The video explores the creation of this painful masterpiece via archival footage, detailed analysis and includes new interviews with Yoko Ono, Ringo Starr (drums), Klaus Voormann (bass), Jann Wenner (Rolling Stone Magazine), Dr. Arthur Janov (Primal Scream therapy), Mark Lewisohn (Beatles Historian/Author), Richard Williams (Journalist), and from EMI Studios: Richard Lush, Phil McDonald and John Lockie. Through archival interviews we hear from John Lennon himself. Also included are performances such as “Instant Karma” from the BBC’s “Top Of The Pops” and “Mother” live at Madison Square Garden.
Ringo Starr interviewed
Ringo Starr interviewed about the making of the album

There's some Beatles history on the video to lead up to the forming of the Plastic Ono Band. John didn't want to go through "getting stuck with another set of people" so there were no permanent members of the band. It was an "imaginary" band, and in a way, everyone was a member.

As a musician, I can especially appreciate on the DVD where the EMI Studios engineers play parts of the original multitrack tapes and isolate various tracks and instruments. We're able to hear John's vocals in an intimate and clear way that we normally wouldn't be able to. Same thing for John's guitar and piano playing, Klaus's bass lines and Ringo's drumming.

Klaus Voormann playing bass
Klaus Voormann demonstrating bass lines that he played on the 'Plastic Ono Band' album

During the Klaus Voormann interview there are a few times when Klaus actually plays some of the bass lines (and even chords) that he played on the album. I think Klaus has a great bass tone and playing style, and he was perfect for this album, as Ringo was as well for drums. Klaus and Ringo were the two main musicians on the album, along with John, and their interviews give great insight into the making of the album and how it was recording with John.

The main program of the video is over 52 minutes in length and the bonus material adds another 35 minutes. To me it seems like the bonus material could have been mixed in with the main program as it's similar in content. I suppose the main difference is that in the bonus section the studio engineers spend more time with the original multitrack tapes.

Some quotes from the DVD:
JOHN LENNON: "I think it's the best thing I've ever done. I think it's realistic, and it's true to the me that has been developing over the years. I like first-person music."

RINGO STARR: "It's so incredible. The emotion on this record is just mind-blowing."

KLAUS VOORMANN: "John is so special because he writes right away what he feels."

DR. ARTHUR JANOV: "He sent me the album and I had group therapy that night, and I played it, and I saw 50 people in a heap, all crying, it just touched them enormously."

ELLIOT MINTZ: "It was almost exhausting, the first time you heard it."

RINGO STARR: "I wouldn't like to be interviewed on a lot of records, but this, I don't mind, because it's a beautiful record and he was a beautiful man and I'm privileged to feel he was my friend."

If you're a John Lennon or Beatles fan, I would definitely recommend the DVD. I found it very interesting and I learned quiet a few things. For example, it is mentioned that although Phil Spector was credited with producing the album, most of it was actually done without him.

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