John Lennon: Raw and Simple, 50th Anniversary edition Plastic Ono Band (2021)

Produced John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Phil Spector (original album). New edition produced and supervised by Yoko Ono.

Just like it was done with Imagine, we get this re-issue of Lennon’s first album. It is one of rock’s most important albums because I don’t think never before had an icon like a former Beatle bare his soul in such away. No symbolism, the lyrics were as clear and open like I have not heard before or since. Lennon was able to express himself in his music and it came across in this album.

He was raw in I found out and Working Class Hero, hopeful with Hold on, reminded us that Love is wanting to be loved. With Remember we get a glimpse of how John felt growing up, with Mother the pain of wanting to be with his parents and with the simple but hauntingly beautiful My mommy’s dead we hear in his voice that he still misses like we all would, his mother. That song is a perfect example of the power in his voice. And on God what a statement about The Beatles splitting up, I might not agree on his God view, but I love this song. I understand what he means and the last part is so honest, and the melody!!

I got the digital version, but the box set includes 6 CDs, 2 blu ray and a book. I bought the book they released last year so I felt I was ok with the digital. But it’s a great purchase if you don’t have the book. I won’t do a review of the album itself just the content.

The first cd is the remixed original album with the addition of Cold Turkey and Instant Karma. It sounded great, the voice sounded so clear and great showing that Lennon is one of rock’s best voices in my opinion. The album speaks for itself. The second cd is what they call Elements Mix and the third cd is different takes of the songs.

The real gem for me is the names of the tracks Evolution documentary because we get to hear John in the studio having fun. It was amazing that the album was him, Ringo, and Klaus. Hearing John leading the session and joking with Ringo was great.

Also, the Jam cd was great hearing John relax and playing music. And what these different mixes and tracks do is solidify John’s place in rock music history as one the best. I always admire John’s ability to write songs, he can write from his heart like few artists do, not looking for hits and the glory of his Beatles days, and achieving even more, a connection to those who listen. His lyrics are raw and not at all times we might agree, but at least he was an honest artist.

This album might not be my favorite Lennon album, but I recognize its importance. Like Pepper for The Beatles, I know what that record meant, but for me, they made better albums.

If you are a fan of John, you will enjoy this box set, and if you’ve never heard the album but want to discover Lennon’s music I recommend you get it. Thanks Yoko and those involved for giving us fans a chance to go deeper in the recording of his albums, can’t wait for Mind Games and Walls and Bridges.

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