Friday, September 26, 2008

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band - It's Gonna Be Alright

Label: His Master's Choice, HMC 002

CD 1

1. Mother [alternate mix with alternate vocal and longer fade] 5:02
2. Hold On [take 1] 3:13
3. Hold On [take 2] 2:52
4. I Found Out [rough 'carl wolf' mix] 3:57
5. Working Class Hero [censored version] 3:47
6. Remember [take unknown] 0:50
7. Remember [take unknown] 3:21
8. It'll Be Me [improvisation] 1:17
9. Love [acoustic guitar rehearsal] 1:19
10. (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care [improvisation] 0:24
11. Love [acoustic guitar rehearsal] 1:19
12. Well, Well, Well [rough mix] 5:54
13. Look At Me [rough mix] 2:51
14. God [acoustic guitar demo] 3:42
15. God [acoustic home demo] 2:11
16. My Mummy's Dead [complete acoustic guitar demo] 1:15
17. Hold On [unknown up-tempo take] 1:05
18. Hold On [take 30] 1:00
19. Hold On [instrumental take unknown] 2:15
20. Hold On [take unknown] 1:55
21. Love [acoustic guitar rehearsal] 2:40
22. Love [acoustic guitar rehearsal] 2:03
23. Love [acoustic guitar rehearsal] 2:29
24. Love [acoustic guitar rehearsal] 1:29

All tracks written by John Lennon, except track 8 written by Jack Clement and track 10 by Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller

CD 2

1. Love [piano rehearsal] 1:09
2. Love [acoustic guitar/piano take 1] 4:02
3. Love [acoustic guitar/piano take 2] 3:02
4. Love [improvisation] 0:41
5. Love [acoustic guitar/piano take 14] 1:33
6. Love [acoustic guitar/piano take 15] 3:18
7. Love [acoustic guitar/piano take 16] 3:58
8. Love [acoustic guitar/piano takes 17 & 18] 1:26
9. Love [acoustic guitar/piano take 19] 3:09
10. Love [acoustic guitar/piano take 20] 1:09
11. Love [acoustic guitar/piano take 21] 3:12
12. Love [acoustic guitar/piano takes 21 & 22] 0:40
13. Love [acoustic guitar/piano take 23] 3:13
14. Hold On [take 3] 1:52
15. Hold On [take 4] 2:17
16. Hold On [take 5] 1:52
17. Hold On [take 6] 2:48
18. Hold On [take unknown] 3:33
19. Hold On [take unknown] 0:55
20. Hold On [take unknown] 1:54
21. Hold On [take unknown] 1:52
22. Hold On [take unknown] 2:04
23. Look At Me [take unknown] 0:48
24. Hold On [take unknown] 1:52
25. Hold On [take unknown] 1:53
26. Hold On [take unknown] 2:05
27. Hold On [take unknown] 2:27

All tracks written by John Lennon

Lennon on Janov

"His [Arthur Janov's] thing is to feel the pain that's accumulated inside you ever since your childhood. I had to do it to really kill off all the religious myths. In the therapy you really feel every painful moment of your life - it's excruciating, you are forced to realise that your pain, the kind that makes you wake up afraid with your heart pounding, is really yours and not the result of somebody up in the sky. It's the result of your parents and your environment. As I realised this it all started to fall into place. This therapy forced me to have done with all the God shit... Most people channel their pain into God or masturbation or some dream of making it... [It's] facing up to reality instead of always looking for some kind of heaven."
from the Red Mole Interview, 1971

"There's no way of describing it, it all sounds so straight just talking about it, what actually you do is cry. Instead of penting up emotion, or pain, feel it rather than putting it away for some rainy day... I think everybody's blocked, I haven't met anybody that isn't a complete blockage of pain from childhood, from birth on... It's like somewhere along the line we were switched off not to feel things, like for instance, crying, men crying and women being very girlish or whatever it is, somewhere you have to switch into a role and this therapy gives you back the switch, locate it and switch back into feeling just as a human being, not as a male or a female or as a famous person or not famous person, they switch you back to being a baby and therefore you feel as a child does, but it's something we forget because there's so much pressure and pain and whatever it is that is life, everyday life, that we gradually switch off over the years. All the generation gap crap is that the older people are more dead, as the years go by the pain doesn't go away, the pain of living, you have to kill yourself to survive. This allows you to live and survive without killing yourself."
from the Howard Smith Radio Interview, 1970

Fresh from his London April and California summer of Primal Scream therapy to exorcise the various demons that had been "torturing and scaring him for twenty-odd years", John had written a batch of songs that reflected what the therapy had made him face: the pain of his mother-and-fatherless childhood, the death of his mother, and the sometimes-Hell of Beatlemania and the subsequent breakup, among other topics.

After returning to England, John and Yoko rounded up familiar faces for what would become the sessions for the couple's respective Plastic Ono Band LPs, which would be recorded in tandem as well as released simultaneously that December. Ringo and old Beatle pal/bassist Klaus Voormann would make up the core backing group to match the sparse tunes John had penned (Billy Preston can be heard on God). Many of the songs had been written prior to the trip, but these were polished and several more were composed in California. As John stated, "the ones I play on guitar I wrote on guitar, the ones I play on piano I wrote on piano". Sessions began on September 26, 1970 with pre-production work beginning two days earlier. In usual Lennonesque fashion, they were swift, described by John as being "done in ten days". Ten sessions would have been a more accurate assessment.

Phil Spector, having proved his mettle on Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) and Let It Be as well as George's forthcoming All Things Must Pass brought his "back to mono" sensibility to the sound of the record, resulting in it being a very "in your face" LP. Other than this element though, one would be hard-pressed to know that Spector was even involved, given the lack of his usual kitchen-sink production. Work on the LP, including all overdubs (which were few) and mixing, took place on the 8-track desk at EMI. The Beatles Book Monthly reported sessions taking place at EMI on 7 days in October, with initial mixes being produced on the 22nd. All other work was completed by the October 29th.

The tapes were delivered to EMI on October 29th, with acetates of the final lineup cut at Apple the next day. Upon release it was hailed as the best solo Beatle release yet, and to this day stands as arguably John's most consistent effort. It's a harrowing listen even 30 years on: however this did not deter it becoming a top-ten LP.

from MOJO magazine's John Lennon special (2000)

How did you come to treat John and Yoko?
I think, unbeknownst to me, the publisher sent him a review copy of The Primal Scream (Janov's first book on the subject). Then he or Yoko called me and asked me if I could come to England. I said there was no way, and so I hung up. But at that time, I had two kids who were fully into Beatlemania - so when I told them we weren't going to England they started screaming and yelling. They said "You've got take us". They were about 10 and 13. So I took them out of school, and it was the best time of their lives.

Can you recall your first meeting?
Oh... we did a lot of the therapy at Tittenhurst Park. That huge white house. We did a lot of it in the recording studio, while they were building it. That was kind of difficult. But it went very, very well. John had about as much pain as I've ever seen in my life. And he was a very dedicated patient. Very serious about it. When I said to him, "You've got to come to L.A. now, I can't spend the rest of my life in England," he said, "Fine," and he came.

In lots of Lennon books, his treatment is written about very melodramatically: "John screamed helplessly like a child, while Janov pulled him deeper and deeper into the darkest corners of his past..."
Oh God. That's just nonsense. We don't do anything like that.

He responded well to therapy, anyway?
Yeah. He had tremendous insights. I just found out this morning that they're re-releasing the Primal album [John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band]. And if you look at that album, it's very evident what he got out of it. I love that album. After he finished it, he sent it to us, and I played it to a group of about 50 people, and they were all in a heap. They really understood what he was doing. It sent off everybody into their Primals. It was a whole new direction for him, the level of simplicity was amazing.

Were you aware that he was writing the album in L.A.?
He and I talked a lot about some of that stuff. He would say, "What about religion?" and I would say something like, "People in pain usually seek out religion". And he would say, "Oh, God is a concept by which we measure our pain". So some of those songs came out of our discussions.

Did he talk to you about acid and its effects on him?
Well, I knew about it. I can't disclose specifics, but in general, I'll tell you this: LSD is the most devastating thing for mental health that ever existed. To this day, we see people who've been on LSD, and they have a different brain-wave pattern, as if their defences are totally broken down. It stays.

Timothy Leary was in favour of the idea of ego-destruction...
I think he destroyed so many people by touting LSD. It's a very, very dangerous drug.

To what extent was John's therapy cut short by the U.S. Immigration authorities?
One day, John came to me and said, "We've got to get out of the country". The immigration services and, he thought, Nixon was after him. He said "Could you send a therapist to Mexico with me?" I said "We can't do that, John". We had too many patients to take care of. They cut the therapy off just as it started, really. We were just getting going.

Inside two years of the release of John Lennon/Plastic Ono band, John was back in L.A., in the worst possible frame of mind - doing drugs, drinking...
Well, that wouldn't be surprising to me. We had opened him up, and we didn't have time to put him back together again. I told him that he had to finish it, but... I forget what happened then... he moved to New York, so it wasn't possible.

Was that a source of regret?
It would be with any patient. John was really a genius, but he was just another patient. We care about everybody we treat, and we try very hard not let anybody go too early.

You used the word 'genius' then. So you think there's a lot of truth in that notion...
Oh, I think so. He had this perception - he could see inside people in a way that I've rarely seen.

Did you find, in the wake of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, that you became a fashionable name to drop?
Yeah. John wanted to put an ad in the San Francisco Chronicle saying "This is it: Primal Therapy." I said to him, "I don't want you to do that. This therapy's far more important than The Beatles in the long run of history, and I think it's got to stand on its own." I couldn't stop it... but we've since done a tremendous amount of science and research, and it holds up.

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