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Plastic Ono Band book all but confirms John Lennon album reissue

New book signposts album reissue

Thames & Hudson will later this year publish a book about John Lennon‘s 1970 album Plastic Ono Band.

The publishers did exactly the same back in 2018, with a tome about Lennon’s Imagine and that coincided with an extensive album reissue campaign and a 4CD+2 x blu-ray deluxe reissue. With John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it’s highly likely – all but certain, in fact – that we will see this album re-released with a similar approach.

Plastic Ono Band was the album before Imagine and was issued in December 1970. It’s known for its raw stripped-back style and features a core trio of musicians: John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Klaus Voorman on bass (Billy Preston does contribute some notable piano on ‘God’).

Highly acclaimed, the album was influenced by John’s Primal Therapy sessions and sees Lennon explore his childhood and his dig deep into his psyche – songs include ‘Mother’ (the only single, although not in the UK). ‘Isolation’, ‘Working Class Hero’, ‘God’ (“I don’t believe in Beatles…”) and the nursery rhyme-like ‘My Mummy’s Dead.’

Following their wedding in March 1969, Lennon and Ono decided that their future musical endeavours should be credited to a conceptual vehicle, the Plastic Ono Band. The band featured an ever-changing line-up of musicians, including Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Ringo Starr, Alan White, George Harrison, Billy Preston and Jim Keltner, all of whom played live with Lennon and Ono, and contributed to their recordings. This period of intense personal soul-searching and fearless honesty that John & Yoko inspired in one another had a huge impact on Lennon’s song writing, resulting in the creation of tracks that are intensely personal and unlike anything previously heard in popular music, including ‘Mother’, ‘Working Class Hero’ and ‘God’. This book takes those lyrics as a starting point and explores Lennon’s life, career and world view.

Like with Imagine, this new book will be fully approved by Yoko Ono and will include “first-hand commentary by Lennon, Ono and other members of the Plastic Ono Band” and is “packed with previously unseen photographs by those who documented their lives”. The publishers add that “this incisive volume offers new insights into the raw emotions and open mindset of Lennon after marriage to Ono and the break-up of the Beatles”.

It is scheduled to be published on 8 October this year, a day before what would have been John’s 80th birthday. Since 9 October in 2020 is a Friday, it seems likely that the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album will be reissued on that day.

The album’s last major reissue was back in 2010 when John’s entire catalogue was remastered although a Japanese stereo SACD was put out in 2014. This time around, I think we can expect a similar presentation to Imagine with the album remastered, new stereo ‘ultimate’ remixes, sessions and possibly a 5.1 remix.

A seven-inch single featuring an ‘ultimate’ stereo remix of non-album single ‘Instant Karma’ was lined up for this year’s Record Store Day, before it was postponed. That song will almost certainly be included amongst the bonus material on any Plastic Ono Band reissue.

I should stress that nothing has been officially announced at this time, but the book is available to pre-order, as can be seen below.

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John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band book

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57 responses to Plastic Ono Band book all but confirms John Lennon album reissue

  1. Zongadude says:

    The Imagine box set was excellent. (The 6-disc thing + The Bluray + The massive Deluxe book which all were brilliant ! – you could view this as a box set, with its elements sold separately for those you only want parts of it (no book, or no bluray, etc…. ).
    I would love to see the same happening this year with POB.
    Obviously no Bluray because they didn’t film the sessions (-they did it only for Imagine), but at last some well conceived audio archives, and a book, the latter being already confirmed.
    It would make sense to include Yoko’s POB album as well, because both albums are played by the same musicians, and the artwork mirrors one another. And in that case we could maybe have some unreleased jam outtakes between the three boys, I’m sure there was some during the recording of Yoko’s album.
    I really hope the audio content will be as interesting and as cleverly organized as the Imagine release.

  2. Reed says:

    About 5 years ago, for what would have been John’s 75th Birthday, a deluxe edition of the One to One concerts was due to come out. I read the tapes were remastered and sounded great and we would have gotten both shows on Blu-ray. Obviously that never happened. I wonder why.

    • Keith Troy Brittain says:

      I didn’t know that, thanks. I’ve have wondered why the two “One to One” show haven’t seen a Blu-Ray/DVD and new CD release. They are great shows, and they are the sole source of a complete (post “Live Peace in Toronto”) John Lennon show. Paul, could you ask ahout this and will we ever see a “Double Fantasy”/”Milk and Honey” box?

  3. Keith Brittain says:

    While I am very excited this box is coming out – POB is a truly wonderful album – I am also disappointed. I hoped, instead, that a 40th Anniversary “Double Fantasy” / “Milk and Honey” box would be released. Was hoping, for example, that the unedited “Starting Over” (released as a 12 inch promotional) would finally officially be available. And beyond the Summer/Fall 1980 sessions there’s the earlier demos such as “Howling at the Moon.”

  4. Magoo says:

    Always interested in anything Yoko, a true artist that has always pushed the boundaries in music.
    Both live concerts I saw were fantastic.
    Glad, but not surprised to see respect on this site.
    Why people have so much hatred is shocking.

    Stay warm everyone.

    • George glazener says:

      just one mans opinion, and others may feel this way too, but I never “hated” Yoko for any reason, that is a word which is irrelevant to my feelings on the entire john and Yoko saga. I do however wish that her relationship with John had not distracted him from continuing to develop his music with the Beatles instead of without them. I wish that she had come along at a different time, but of course we cannot change the past. And while her style of music and art are not my cup of tea, again, I do not “hate” it, or her. I think that word is used too often in conversations about her when people should rather say ” I don’t like” her. There’s a big difference there.

  5. Tom says:

    How about, “I Found Out! ?
    Meet The Beatles had come out while my friends & I were in grade school. Paul’s “cherries” album made the split official the spring we graduated. My first year in college, when Working Class Hero hit the new FM airwaves, it was shattering.
    “It can’t do you no harm to feel your own pain.” – Unforgettable….

  6. Tom S says:

    It’s also the 40th Ann of Double Fantasy.. Wonder if we will see any release to celebrate that..

    • kook says:

      I’d really like to see a new release comprising just the Lennon tracks from both DF and ‘Milk and Honey’, although I doubt Yoko would sanction that. I get the whole “we come as a pair” policy but it always just seemed like a bit of a Trojan horse to me, and being a fan of someone’s work doesn’t necessarily make you a fan of their partner’s.

      (It’s not that I’m a ‘Yokophobe’ – I wouldn’t have appreciated Bruce Springsteen devoting half an album to Patti Scialfa’s songs either, or Courtney Love taking every other track on ‘In Utero’.)

      • CDM says:

        Disc 4 of the 1990 LENNON box set contains the 13 Lennon tracks from Double Fantasy and Milk & Honey + ‘Every man has a woman who loves him’ with Yoko mixed out. It’s an excellent album in this configuration which I was lucky enough to pick up from a split up box.

  7. Gerry Hassan says:

    I have lots of Lennon unofficial recordings and outtakes and am curious and interested about what they can put on this box set to give some us collectors don’t have. I like the idea of adding the Yoko Ono companion album – as it is a terrific sounding album. Although having everything Yoko recorded I would like to see extras in this too.

    One heretical thought for this site and thread is that I think Yoko’s solo career music is much more daring, original and interesting than John’s – from the experimental and proto-feminist 70s records to her late career as a dance diva. I kind of think John’s solo career after JL/POB which was magnificent and Imagine was one long descent and disappointment, whereas Yoko took chances and made stunning albums. Any one doubting this should listen to the last record Lennon played on and produced: Yoko’s ‘Walking on Thin Ice’ which is one of the greatest ever pieces of music post-Beatle from anyone associated with them.

    PS I was going to add and nearly forgot that I really appreciate the SDE site only finding out about it maybe a year and a half ago. Many thanks Paul your work and dedication is must appreciated.

    • Gerry Cirillo says:

      Thank goodness that there’s someone else out there who really gets Yoko! Yes,yes and yes!! She definitely pushes the musical boundaries and experiments with flair. I actually prefer her tracks to John’s MOR/AOR songs on Double Fantasy.
      I’ll probably get trolled to death for even suggesting the above…but there is an antagonism towards contemporary art especially from pop/rock fans – it’s a never the twain should meet scenario. Hence her demonisation. Oh and don’t get me started on the racism…
      Yoko just rocks!!

      • Tim Abbott says:

        Yoko’s own Plastic Ono Band album is incredible. People laugh when I say it’s got some of Ringo and John’s best performances, but it’s true.

        • Michael says:

          I agree, Tim. Even the legendary jazz musician, Ornette Coleman, played trumpet on “Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band.” Yoko’s two first albums: “Plastic Ono Band” and “Fly” really pushed the envelope, while “Season of Glass” was gut-wrenching and moving. I can appreciate what Yoko was trying to convey with her hetai-style shrieks and wobbly vocalizations. Yoko’s fluxist/conceptual art sensibility to music manifested as guttural vocalizations to further emphasize human emotion beyond language, or structured language as we know it.

          In this sense, Yoko is more experimental and daring than her husband, while John’s music is more structured and commercially acceptable. Because of this fracture between John Lennon’s music vs. Yoko Ono’s music, mixing the two together on one album makes for a an awkward listening experience. But, when John and Yoko record separate albums, each harnesses strength and legitimacy. Given that, I would welcome a second SDE or some clear division between John and Yoko on the same SDE boxset, allowing both respective Plastic Ono Band albums to be expanded.

        • Jarmo Keranen says:

          Hope someday they released version which contains only Ringo and John without Yoko’s howling!

      • Gerry Hassan says:

        That is a good comment about the conservatism of many rock/pop fans.

        One thing running through a large part of Lennon’s musical career was the thread of his commitment to a rock ‘n’ roll conservatism in sound, voice and often song, The exceptions to this are notable and brilliant: the 1966-67 kaleidoscopic explosion of the Beatles psychedelic period (and I am leaving aside Revolution 9 and Two Virgins out of this).

        What is interesting is that rock fans seldom understand their conservatism and their valorising of the genre and its endless repeating and replaying of the same sound. Lennon was a great artist, but to my judgement Yoko Ono was the much more innovative and illuminating one.

        And obviously Paul McCartney was the more experimental, constantly changing and taking risks Beatle; and even more so in his solo career (which did involve sometimes falling flat on his face!). That constant changing and evolving was why the ‘rock genre’ fans and those arbiters of what was and wasnt cool such as Rolling Stone so detested. Paul and Yoko any day!

  8. Jeff Burger says:

    Lennon fans might want to check out my 2016 book, Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon (Chicago Review Press)

  9. Phil Cohen says:

    If this doesn’t happen because of the corona virus or Amazon’s restrictions on what goods it will stock, it won’t be a disaster. The album’s sparse sound means that it’s not a natural fit for surround sound, and, as for outtakes, 3 discs’ worth of outtakes circulate unofficially wih full fidelity. I have CD-R’s of that material. Not sure if I’ve ever played them.
    My biggest regret in the near or total shut down of archival CD boxed set product, is the loss of Beatles group material. Obviously more Beatles albums would have received the Super Deluxe boxed set treatment. Their music was an important part of the soundtrack of my childhood. “Revolver” was one of the first two albums that I ever bought (back in 1966). The Beatles disbanded one month before I turned 14.

  10. Patrick Martin says:

    It’s also the 50th anniversary this year of All Things must Pass, which I think would sound great in a 5.1 mix.

    • Phil Cohen says:

      Dhani & Olivia Harrison have already confirmed that a 50th anniversary edition of “All Things Must Pass” is being worked on. No idea if it will include any remixes, but it definitely will include demos. But given the present circumstances, who knows if it will be released, even if Dhani & Olivia want it to be released. It’s Universal Music’s decision.

      • George glazener says:

        Why should it be delayed? Buy it on Amazon or wherever, and when it arrives, just keep it in the garage for a few days until the stupid virus on the cardboard dies. Then bring it in and read it. We need things like this to keep our spirits up and the world working.

  11. Normand says:

    A real bombshell! My favorite John Lennon album for 50 years. Maybe we will finally hear the wind played by Yoko Ono with a 5.1 mix? ;-)

  12. Mikey Bones says:

    What really should be included here is a proper remaster of both the cd and dvd for “Live Peace in Toronto.” This short and powerful set has never been properly treated and would be a perfect fit for this set.

    And although this is something to look forward to, I must ask when is Macca gonna releaese the “London Town” and “Back To The Egg” boxes? Long overdue.

    Stay safe all, I’m safe distancing in NYC and any new cd boxes would be a big help right now.

    Mikey Bones

    • Ken Michaels says:

      Paul is due to have Flaming Pie out as an archival release on July 24, unless it gets pushed back.

  13. David Fisher says:

    Bring it on. Lennon’s most powerful statement. I’ve got all the LOST LENNON TAPES outtakes but it would be great to have them in top quality. There’s quite a lot of interesting potential extra material there. Not sure how anyone could create much of a surround mix with so sparse an instrumental arrangement though. To understand the work properly you need to have read the late Dr Art Janov’s “The Primal Scream”. Some of it is highly questionable from a modern perspective but I think he was certainly on to something important about the nature of stored pain that mainstream psychiatry has missed. It would be nice if they included Yoko’s sister album which has always been a favourite of mine – one of the most viscerally exciting albums I’ve ever heard but not to everyone’s taste of course!

  14. John Orr says:

    Will look forward to this also, cheers Paul. Mother was also released as a single in the New York area. Still need to acquire it in reasonable condition, to add to my John Lennon singles collection, which exceeds 200. Yep, I was stunned at just how many 7″ single variations there were around the world too. Theoretically, John’s solo output only lasted about six years. It’s quite pricey though, hopefully one day.

  15. mark browne says:

    This is fantastic news, especially as I rate this album as good as, if not better than imagine album. I bought the sde of imagine which was a fantastic presentation. So I would expect the same here, the two aforementioned albums are in my opinion John’s best solo work. Give or take a few great singles before John untimely death in 1980

  16. Michael Platt says:

    Judging by the 5 CD boxset of Plastic Ono Band studio outtakes and demo’s I own a deluxe edition should be well stocked

    • jason roth says:

      Michael, how do you like that box? I’m considering pushing the button on it myself… thanks for any info/review/thoughts you can share!

  17. dom says:

    My sister, when she was in a major obsessed with Lennon period, often played Working Class Hero. Having found the lyrics a bit (IMHO) nauseating, after the “A working class hero is something to be” line, I used to sing ” I wrote this song in my mansion that’s in Surrey”. For some reason she didn’t appreciate this. Must give the album a spin though, like the sound of it being quite stripped back.

  18. Sean Hewitt says:

    Can’t wait for this. Been waiting for it ever since the excellent Imagine box – snapped up through a great deal I saw on SDE! – made me see that album in a new light. The Plastic Ono Band record is a great, classic release and my favourite Lennon solo record. I’d definitely be interested in this box.

  19. Dave H says:

    Do you think that they will pair it with the Yoko companion album?

  20. Éamonn Ó Catháin says:

    ‘Mother’ was released as a single in Ireland (and other European countries). I own a copy.

  21. Miguel Rocha says:

    Is it possible, Let It Be and Plastic Ono Band deluxe sets in the same year?! Happy 50th to me, indeed!!!

    • Phil Cohen says:

      But the unlikelyhood that there will be any cinemas open in which to play the Peter Jackson film means that it won’t be released any time in the foreseeable future, and Apple’s license(for cinematic distribution) to Disney may preclude a direct to DVD & Blu-Ray release. Many assumed that a “Let it Be” CD/Blu-ray boxed set would also be released, but Apple never indicated that any such project was in development. Apple has also departed from their claim that the original “Let It Be” film would be offered on DVD or Blu-Ray.
      It’s going to take a while (after nearly 54 years as a collector of recorded music), to re-train my mind to no longer care what happens. But, like it or not, the well has run dry.

      • Paul Sinclair says:

        Phil, this new found negativity is weird. Apple only ever said that the original Let It Be would be restored alongside the new film. I’m sure the film will come out as planned, and I’m sure we’ll also get a Let It Be box set this year. The box may or may not have the new Peter Jackson film in it, but it will definitely happen.

        • Phil Cohen says:

          But Apple has recently said that a reissue of the original “Let It Be” film will occur “later”( after the release of the Peter Jackson film). “Later” is the word that an Apple spokesman used.

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            They said it would come out (i.e. “don’t worry fans we’re not going to airbrush history”) and nothing has changed as far as that is concerned. Since they never said exactly when this would happen, they haven’t broken any promises.

  22. Michael says:

    I’ve always considered “Plastic Ono Band” to be John Lennon’s quintessential album. The visceral honesty and stripped-to-the-bone musical arrangements stunned Beatle fans, and perhaps even offended a few — but that’s what makes it great!

    I believe John Lennon’s “Plastic Ono Band” with it’s gut-wrenching raw, unapologetic approach to songwriting and presentation, was the album that would give license to punk rock in the late 1970’s, and then became the keystone for grunge bands in the 1990’s, like Nirvana, The Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins and Hole. Because of this, I consider “Plastic Ono Band” to be one of the most important and influential albums of all time, and an SDE box set presentation would definitely be in order.

  23. Andrea says:

    That (incredible) album is so stripped down, mostly just Lennon, Voorman and Starr – and there lies its beauty – that it’s hard to imagine (see what I did there) a “5.1 remix” (!).

    I certainly don’t feel the need for it…

    Let’s hope there are some great outtakes and alternate versions

  24. Rob says:

    The Imagine book also came out in a variety of presentations (with a standard version, a limited expanded version and an even more limited Yoko Ono signed version.) I wonder if that will happen with this one.

  25. JasonC says:

    I hope that the box covers both John and Yoko’s respective Plastic Ono Band albums together.

  26. Alan Blevin says:

    There are similar books up for preorder in late September and early October for both Let It Be and more interestingly All Things Must Pass.Beatlemania 2020 style.3 box sets close together?

  27. Stuart says:

    There has been a tonne of great sessions from this album on bootleg over the past 10 years, I’d really like them to find something really new and not fart around with ‘sessions’ which made the “Imagine” deluxe a snore.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      “Find something new”? Like what? Pretty sure it’s ‘sessions’ and that’s it. I thought Imagine was amazing.

      • Stuart says:

        I’m speaking for the collecting fraternity I guess – I’m looking for Rock n’ Roll oldies – A singular session take for ‘God’ I haven’t heard or mix of ‘Remember’ that I’ve only heard from acetate previous.
        I’m sorry I’m not on everyone’s side but “Walls And Bridges” I’d accept a deluxe box for – “Imagine” is maybe just over played in my house.

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          The point is it’s irrelevant how many bootlegs have been out, all of that material is ‘unreleased’ and therefore should be issued officially if it’s any good.

  28. DaveM says:

    Bring it on as it’s my favourite album of all time. Can’t wait to see what is in the vaults for this one, as we have already seen alternative takes on Anthology, tracks on one of the bonus CDs with the Signature box and there has already been a remix although Imagine, which had already been remixed, was remixed again for the 2018 box. I also hope there is a similar choice of formats as Imagine.

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