Punk rock... a term thrown around so loosely these days. Hardcore, grindcore, pop-punk, ska, speed metal, 77 punk, and numerous other genre's have sprung up from these two words. The one thing that as always remained pure though no matter what genre it is, is that the music comes from your soul, no bullshit it always come from what the singer/songwriter is feeling. There have been many great albums and bands sprung up from this idea...that the music is what matters getting your opinions and emotions out is what counts. Of all those though I believe though one record stands out as the most raw album ever, it is punk rock in the sense that it is real, genuine, painful, emotional, life affirming, and honest. Everything punk stands for.
That album is the Plastic Ono Band by John Lennon.
Never in any other genre will you find the sense of pain found in Lennon's voice on the opening track "Mother." Numerous groups have given great throat shredders or emotional pleas but what Lennon gives is pure pain, the real kind. Lennon's mother died when he was just a teen and his father abandoned him before he ever got to know him. This is a man singing lyrics that are real, he knows what it really means to be abandoned, what it really is to feel all alone. When he screams "Mama don't go! Daddy come home!" there is no mistaking the feeling of hurt. No one else in music has ever come close to hitting that point since.
Ever song on the album bleeds real and sincerity but I will only point out the ones that need to be heard, other than should be heard. The plea for help in "Hold On" is the best song ever written about going on. So many groups recently have talked about suicide as a way to escape the pain, Lennon gives the life affirming praise that it hurts but hold on things will get better, in the music the listener can literally feel that he's right.
The angry "Working Class Hero" is the best anthem without drums. The songs lyrical rawness about being proud of being a working stiff, of being an indivdual in a world that demands conformity, is incredible to hear. It's one of the few songs that can really inspire someone, that can make the listener really feel proud of who they are.
"God" even the title is powerful, but don't be fooled this is not a religious hymn. Like Working Class Hero this is a song about believing in one's self over running to others for answers. Not only religious icons but leaders, musicians, people in history who we know follow Lennon sweeps off, including his old band. The song is a clean slate really, for John and for the listener, it is life affirming when he says "The dream is over" because it feels more as if he is telling to quit living the dream and life your life. Don't follow icons or others follow yourself.
The album does not have a bad cut and I recommend this as an album to just light a joint to, sit back, and just let the songs roll, let them enter your mind really listen. There's no pop here, no catchy tunes, or political slogans, only a human being giving the most emotionally record ever recorded. Punk rock has always preached being real and being true, Lennon than is the truest of them all, he walked like he talked, he never sold out, he sang only of what he believed was true, and he didn't care if anyone is listening, he wasn't looking to back a canidate, or help our a specific cause, his only belief was we are all humans and we should all love one another, no arguments.
That is life, that is raw, that is real, that ladies and gentleman is the Plastic Ono Band.