page details the original UK and US vinyl 12" LP's and 7" singles as issued
in the late 1960's and early 1970's.
The text is largely based upon Neville Stannard's John Lennon and Yoko Ono sections of his Beatle volume Working Class Heroes
published by Virgin books in 1983. Highest chart positions are based on Record Retailer in the UK and Billboard in the US.
- Apple/Track SAPCOR 2
UK Mono - Apple APCOR 2
November 29th 1968
Did not enter the UK top 40
USA - Apple
January 6th 1969
Highest chart position #124
John and Yoko’s first release was this mysterious home-made recording of sound effects and free-form vocals. It was recorded in May 1968 between midnight and dawn (probably the 19th/20th) when John invited Yoko to his home in Weybridge, his wife Cynthia was away on holiday in Greece with Jennie Boyd and Apple "inventor" Magic Alex. John had been experimenting with various recordings of his own for some time in his attic music room, Yoko was naturally interested in his way-out sound collages and so they decided to record something together. Their 'at arms-length' 18-month relationship was finally consummated after John audibly declared at the end of the tape “I’ve had enough now”. The naked cover photographs for the album were later taken in the basement of Ringo's flat in Montagu Square, London, with John using a delayed action shutter release as he was too embarrassed to allow a professional to take the nude pictures. Although there is a tracklisting, the start and end points of each piece is impossible to identify, indeed neither of the later CD releases made any attempt to split the complete recording into more than one or two tracks.
Two Virgins 1 / Together* / Two Virgins 2 / Two Virgins 3 / Two Virgins 4 / Two Virgins 5
Total time 14:14
Two Virgins 6 / Hushabye, Hushabye** / Two Virgins 7 / Two Virgins 8 / Two Virgins 9 / Two Virgins 10
Total time 15:11
* 'Together' is actually an old
record which can be heard just over nine minutes into side one (it was
composed by DeSilva, Brown and Henderson).
**Another record, 'Hushabye Hushabye', can be heard just under four minutes into side two but the composer for this is unknown.
John "I expected some noise about it, but not
as much as we got. I'd planned to produce an album with Yoko before we
became lovers. Paul has Mary Hopkin; George has Jackie Lomax, so I wanted
to do something with Yoko. I was in India meditating about the album, thinking
what would be the best LP cover, when it suddenly hit me. I thought, 'A
Ha! Naked!' So I wrote to Yoko, with a drawing."
Yoko "He wrote to me from India and sent me this drawing of me sitting naked on a glass ball and said, 'How about this for a record cover?' "
John "She thought, 'Hello? What? He's coming forward,' telling her that I planned to have her in the nude on the cover. She was quite surprised but nowhere near as much as George and Paul. Paul gave me long lectures about it and said, 'Is there really any need for this?'. It took me five months to persuade them. It was a natural turn of events that I got in the picture as well, because we both made the record."
Even when John had eventually persuaded the other Beatles to allow him
to go ahead and issue the album, EMI refused to handle it unless he changed
the sleeve photographs. However, John was adamant in wanting to use the
images and personally appealed to Sir Joseph Lockwood, chairman of EMI,
who assured John that he would do all he could but was in fact sending
notes to EMI offices around the world telling them not to publish it. Eventually
it was agreed that the album would be tucked inside an additional brown
bag to prevent the nude pictures from being seen on general display and
distributed in Britain by Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp's Track Records
(to whom Jimi Hendrix and The Who were signed) as Track 613012*. Even then,
problems arose with printing the sleeves and when it was ready for release
many shops refused to stock the record and no advertisements for the album
appeared in the music press as no editors would accept advertising copy
for it. Unsurprisingly, the album did not enter the British charts, it
only sold about 5,000 copies. In the USA - where the release was delayed
until January 1969 and distributed by Bill Cosby's
record company - 25,000 copies were sold, but a further 30,000 were reported
to have been confiscated from a warehouse in Newark, New Jersey by Police.
Although Paul McCartney was strongly opposed to the album being issued, he still supplied a sleeve note which arbitrarily read "When two great Saints meet. it is a humbling experience. The long battle to prove he was a Saint".
*A small Track Records logo was included on the stereo British labels (on the right hand side on top of the regular Apple images), but not on the mono versions. Some sleeves included text on the front, whilst others had all of the text on the back. The back of the brown outer cover included quotes from the Book of Genesis Chapter 2.
After a steady trickle of unofficial re-issues,
issued an official CD of the album in mid-1997 as part of their Yoko Ono
catalogue, though for some reason the final 30 seconds of the album were
hacked off (as well as 2 seconds from the beginning of Side Two). The 1969
Plastic Ono Band b-side Remember Love
was added as a bonus track.
A complete un-clipped version of Two Virgins had been released on
CD in 1991 on the Rock Classics label.
UK - Zapple
May 9th 1969
Did not enter the UK top 15*
Only the top 15 were published during this period
USA - Zapple
May 26th 1969
Highest chart position #179
John and Yoko's second instalment in the “Unfinished” series of albums again featured very avant-garde tracks, this time a recording of a live Ono/Lennon performance in the University city of Cambridge and 'home made' taped material made during their stay in a London hospital. Perhaps John had considered naming the album "Life with the Lennon's" before moving through "Life with the Lyons" (an old BBC Television sit-com) and finally coming up with a title that aptly summed up the problematic period during which the album was recorded. Susan Wood took the photograph that would be used for the front cover of the LP at the hospital where Yoko suffered a miscarriage, John originally had a second bed in the private room to be by Yoko‘s side but this was later needed for a patient and he then had to use a sleeping bag instead. The back cover photograph was taken by a Daily Mirror photographer outside the Marylebone Magistrates Court in London on October 19th 1968 as John and Yoko left on bail after their hearing upon charges of possession of marijuana had been adjourned. The previous day they had been suddenly awoken and then arrested in Ringo's Montagu Square flat where police had found “significant” amounts of the drug.
There's more about the stories that inspired Life with the Lions in the Montagu Square Flat section of Lennon's London Homes.
Cambridge 1969 26:31
No Bed For Beatle John 4:40
Baby's Heartbeat 5:10
Two Minutes Silence 2:00
Radio Play 12:39
The second side of the album had been recorded first during John & Yoko's hospital stay from 4th-25th November 1968 on a Portable 1/4" Tape Recorder. No Bed For Beatle John is John and Yoko singing various newspaper reports of John's problems in keeping a bed in the hospital and the Two Virgins cover fiasco. Baby’s Heartbeat is a five minute recording of John & Yoko's unborn child - Yoko miscarried on November 21st (Seven days before the court hearing upon charges of drug possession). Two Minutes Silence speaks for itself whilst Radio Play is John psychotically twisting the tuning dial of a radio in and out of reception with various pieces of telephone conversation in the background.
In January 1969, during the Beatles Twickenham/Apple studio film sessions, John (guitar feedback), Yoko (free-form vocals) and Ringo (drums) enjoyed exploring a new field of artistic expression. Regrettably, with George and Paul uninterested in recording or rehearsing anything other than straight song based material, these playful “freak outs” did not find their way into the final cut of the Let it be documentary movie. Unable to fulfil the Beatles goal of a return to live stage performance, John decided to take the first tentative steps alone with Yoko.....
Cambridge 1969 was recorded on Sunday March 2nd 1969, live at the Lady Mitchell Hall, Cambridge in England in front of an audience of 500. The piece takes up the whole of Side One and features Yoko vocalising in a free form style with John playing guitar feedback. John Tchicai on Saxophone and John Stevens providing percussion emerge towards the end of the piece. John's appearance at this gig constituted the first solo Beatles' performance anywhere.
Yoko recalled "I was invited to Cambridge to do
a number, you know, a sort of avant-garde number, and they didn't realise
that we were together, so to speak. So, I said, 'Well, all right. What
shall I do?' And John was saying, 'Well, it's all right. Why don't
you go?' And they were saying, 'Well, are you going to bring a band,
or what?' So, John said, 'Well, I'm the band, but don't tell them,
you know. I'm the band.' "
John "I just turned my guitar on and blew my mind out. She blew hers out and you either get it or you don't. Just pure feedback and whatever is on that track. The audience was very weird, because they were all these sort of intellectual artsey-fartsies from Cambridge, you know. They were uptight because the rock 'n' roll guy was there, even though I wasn't doing any rhythm. If you hear it, it's just pure sound, because what else can you do when a woman's howling, you know, you just go along with it, right? ......Yoko and I went to Cambridge, did the show and I discovered more about the guitar than I did for all these years. I enjoyed it!"
The Life with the Lions album was self produced, yet the sleeve
included a quote from the Beatles' producer George Martin - "No comment".
The album continues to leave listeners speechless to this day. “It
is saying whatever you want it to say. It is just us expressing ourselves
like a child does, you know, however he feels like then. What we're saying
is make your own music. This is Unfinished Music. We're not giving you
a finished product wrapped up in a bit of paper and saying, 'Here you
are, aren't we clever? Here's a nice finished box of chocolates for you.'
We're giving you a box maybe, with a few chocolates in. You can make your
The album was issued on Zapple, a short-lived experimental off-shoot label. Only one other album appeared on Zapple - George Harrison's Electronic Sound - before it was closed down. As with Two Virgins (coincidentally, or not, released one day after John was simply fined and ordered to pay costs following the drug bust) Life with the Lions only sold about 5,000 copies in the UK. In the USA, where the November "narcotics conviction" would later cause John considerable problems, it sold 60,000.
No Bed For Beatle John and an edited version of Radio Play also turned up on an 8-inch 33&1/3 flexi disc included with issue no.7 (Spring/Summer 1969) of the multi media arts magazine Aspen together with three other pieces recorded during the hospital period, the exclusive recordings were presented as one three-movement suite under the title Song for John - The first section Let's Go On Flying is Yoko singing her own lyrics unaccompanied in conventional style whilst both Snow is Falling and Mum's Only Looking for a Hand in the Snow (the latter with John on acoustic guitar) would later be re-recorded in the studio for Plastic Ono Band 'b' sides and issued under slightly different titles.
A CD of Life With the Lions was eventually
issued by Ryko in mid 1997 with two previously unissued bonus tracks,
an alternate version of
Let's Go On Flying (titled here as Song
for John with John accompanying Yoko on acoustic guitar) and
was from the same tape but a little more free-form.
UK - Apple
November 7th 1969
Did not enter the UK top 20
USA - Apple
October 20th 1969
Highest chart position #178
John and Yoko's third album was, in contrast to its’ predecessor, a much happier affair - a souvenir of their marriage which had taken place on Thursday March 20th 1969 in Gibraltar. Due to the elaborate packaging (comprising a boxed set containing the album, a poster of wedding pictures, a photograph of a piece of wedding cake inside a plastic bag titled "Bagism", a cartoon strip by John depicting the wedding, a booklet of press cuttings, a postcard, a strip of passport pictures and a copy of the marriage certificate) the album was not ready for release until November (Seven months after the wedding had taken place). The whole package was designed by John Kosh with photographs taken by Mlle Daniau, Richard DiLello (the Apple "House Hippie" and author of the book The Longest Cocktail Party), John Kelly, Nico Koster, David Nutter and John and Yoko.
John And Yoko 22:43
The second side, Amsterdam, was recorded first - much of it during John and Yoko's honeymoon Bed-in event which took place in Room 902 on the 9th floor of the Hilton Hotel, 138 Apollolaan, Amsterdam, Holland, between Tuesday March 25th and Monday 31st March 1969. Yoko’s solo rendition of what was loosely an early version of John John Lets Hope For Peace opens this aural collage (taking up the first 5.15 mins), John & Yoko then discuss the thinking behind the peace events in Amsterdam and Vienna (this is the one section of Side 2 that was recorded after the Bed-in event, presumably with an Austrian reporter back home in London). ....... from 12:42 mins things start to become surreal, the sound of seagulls is followed by a burst of what sounds like a vacuum cleaner. John and Yoko are then heard to wake in their Amsterdam hotel room and phone for room service before (at 16:16) meeting a woman who they thought had given them a dog, but then took it away with her..... 17:50 John reads out a 'fan' letter “GO TO A DOCTOR TO BE NORMAL!”...... 18:16 John thanks somebody for the "Beautiful" Marijuana .... 19:00 a Dutch reporter joins the happy couple for more Bed-in talk with the sound of some frantic Sitar playing in the background..... 20:15 they wave to the crowd outside........ 21:46 John strums guitar and sings “Goodbye Amsterdam, goodbye”...... 22:14 Yoko sings “Stay in bed” as John plays guitar and then together on the crescendo “Grow Your Hair!”.... 23:09 John sings a sleepy rendition of his own composition Goodnight (which was of course sung by Ringo on the Beatles' White Album)..... 23:50 a little pillow talk..... and finally at 24:15 mins, a staccato of peace messages which fade away into another freaky vacuum cleaner sound effect.
Side One is a piece succinctly entitled John and Yoko which was
recorded at Abbey Road on Tuesday 22nd April (following John's ceremonial
changing of his middle name to Ono) and Sunday 27th April 1969. The newly
weds call out each other's names throughout the piece with varying degrees
of emotion and feeling - shouting, crying, whispering, pleading, laughing,
singing, demanding etc. “It's in stereo and our heartbeats
are bumping along there, like African drums and we howl over the top. I
sing 'Yoko' and she sings 'John', continuously through one side of it.
It's like an extended, very extreme, John and Marsha that was out
year's ago by Stan Freeburg. It really makes your hair stand on
“It was like us sharing our wedding with whoever wanted to share it with us. We didn't expect a hit record out of it. People make a wedding album, show it to relatives when they come round. Well, our relatives are what you call fans, or people that follow us outside. So, that was our way of letting them join in on the wedding."
When preview copies of the album were sent out prior to release, the two recordings were pressed as two single-sided LPs with apparently empty grooves on the two blank sides, but Melody Maker reviewer Richard Williams reported that the album was a double LP with sides two and four consisting "entirely of single tones maintained throughout, presumably produced electronically". He also apparently believed that, if listened to intently, the pitch of the tones altered frequently by a microtone or a semitone, thus producing an uneven "beat". In fact, what Williams "reviewed" was an engineer's test signal, as EMI test pressings, unlike those used by many other labels, were single-sided. A week later he received a telegram from John and Yoko which read: "DEAR RICHARD THANK YOU FOR YOUR FANTASTIC REVIEW ON OUR WEDDING ALBUM INCLUDING C-AND-D SIDE STOP WE ARE CONSIDERING IT FOR OUR NEXT RELEASE STOP MAYBE YOU ARE RIGHT IN SAYING THAT THEY ARE THE BEST SIDES STOP WE BOTH FEEL THAT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME A CRITIC TOPPED THE ARTIST STOP WE ARE NOT JOKING STOP LOVE AND PEACE STOP JOHN AND YOKO LENNON."
Ryko issued the CD version in mid-1997
which added three bonus tracks, though these were somewhat chronologically
Who Has Seen the Wind (the b-side of the 1970 Instant
Listen the Snow is Falling (recorded over two
years later than this album and issued as the b-side to Happy Xmas -
section of the 1968 demo was also added as a preface) and lastly the 1968
demo of what was to become better known as
Don’t Worry Kyoko (previously
released on the Aspen Flexi as Mum's Only Looking For a Hand,
this hailed from the same tape that provided bonus tracks for the
With The Lions CD - onto which this track could have been more suitably
UK - Apple
July 4th 1969
Highest chart position #2
USA - Apple
July 7th 1969
Highest chart position #14
From Monday 26th May to Monday 2nd June 1969, John and Yoko (together
with Yoko’s daughter Kyoko) held their second and final week long Bed-in
John’s drug conviction had given the US authorities the excuse they needed
to prevent the Lennon’s from bringing their peace campaign to a nation
then waging an increasingly unpopular war in Vietnam, so the closest city
to the US border was eventually chosen to stage the event instead - Montreal
in Canada. During their stay in Room 1742 at the Hotel La Reine Elizabeth
(The Queen Elizabeth Hotel), John & Yoko again experienced some difficulty
in getting their basic message through to the reporters, all they were
basically saying was “Give Peace a Chance” again and again, over and over
- the song grew from the mantra of repetitive answers to over-intellectualised
John decided to record the song as a climax to the event and he ordered an eight track recorder to be installed in the bedroom on 1st June. The Andre Perry Studios obliged and John sang lead, US television comedian Tommy Smothers doubled up on guitar and somebody thumped out the beat on a door. Helping out with the infectious chorus were LSD guru Timothy Leary and his wife Rosemary, Derek Taylor, Petula Clark, various DJ’s, members of the hotel staff, reporters, cameramen and the Canadian chapter of the Radha Krishna Temple. The Lennon’s called this hastily assembled group of chanters The Plastic Ono Band.
At the time, contractual obligations did not allow Lennon to compose with another artist, all Lennon compositions (even if he wrote them alone) were credited to both John and his 'publicly acceptable other half', Paul McCartney, so when the record was issued it was duly credited to "Lennon and McCartney". The ‘b’ side, Remember Love, is a charming lullaby which according to the label was also recorded in the hotel room on the same day, the composition was solely credited to Yoko Ono although John, as well as playing guitar, may well have had some input.
The single sold over 250,000 copies in the UK, and over two million world-wide (including 800,000 in the US). A press reception was held for the single at the Chelsea Town Hall on July 3rd, John and Yoko were unable to attend due to their involvement in a car accident in Golspie, Scotland a few days earlier (an accident that also involved John‘s son Julian and Yoko‘s daughter Kyoko). The Plastic Ono Band were represented by an abstract design of pieces of clear plastic and recording equipment whilst Ringo and Maureen Starr deputised for John and Yoko. Give Peace a Chance has subsequently become a frequently used campaign song by those protesting for peace and an end to war. The most well known chorus of this kind was at the Peace March in 1969 at the Washington Monument where 250,000 people joined Pete Seeger in a moving rendition of the song.
Read Derek Taylor's July 1969 thoughts on the concept of the Plastic
Ono Band and the recording of Give Peace a Chance here
The opening count-in (actually an edit piece) was not included on the US single release.
John & Yoko’s complete version of Give Peace a Chance did not appear on an album until 1982 (on the John Lennon Collection), a one minute extract opened the 1975 Lennon “best of” compilation Shaved Fish with another minute's worth of the live 1972 New York City concert recording of the song closing it.
In the US, there was also a 3:30 minute edit of Give Peace a Chance issued as a 33 1/3 rpm 4-inch flexi by Americom (M-435A/B 1809P) as part of their short lived "Pocket Disc" series which were sold via vending machines. Remember Love was on the flip side.
On May 30th 1969, during the Monreal Bed-in, John was interviewed via telephone by Tom Campbell and Bill Holley for San Francisco radio station KYA who issued a limited edition 7-inch blue vinyl disc (KYA Radio 1260) as "The KYA 1969 Peace Talk" later that summer.
UK - Apple
December 12th 1969
Did not enter the UK top 20
USA - Apple
December 12th 1969
Highest chart position #10
With inadequate ticket sales on the verge of causing embarrassment and financial loss, the co-promoter of the Toronto Rock ‘N’ Roll revival concert in Canada, John Bower, made a desperate last minute phone call to John and asked him if he would fly over to compere the event who's line-up included many of Lennon’s most revered teenage idols :- Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent, along with Little Richard, Fats Domino and Bo Diddley plus contemporary acts The Doors and Alice Cooper. Miss-hearing Bower’s request, John went one better and organised a band for a live performance. On September 12th 1969 he and Beatles Roadie Mal Evans rounded up Eric Clapton (guitar), Alan White (drums), Klaus Voorman (bass guitar), Anthony Fawcett (John and Yoko's personal assistant), Terry Doran (George Harrison's assistant) and Jill and Dan Richter (who were filming John and Yoko), and this group of people boarded a Boeing 707 bound for Toronto, Canada. During the flight, the band rehearsed several songs in the rear of the plane, and the following day walked out in front of 25,000 Canadians to perform eight numbers in the Varsity Stadium. John had been physically sick with nerves right up to the moment of walking out on stage, this problem was perhaps exacerbated by his recent sudden withdrawal from Heroin (made in an attempt to conceive a healthy child following Yoko’s previous pregnancy problems).
Blue Suede Shoes 2:11
Dizzy Miss Lizzy 3:02
Yer Blues 3:35
Cold Turkey 3:00
Give Peace A Chance 3:05
Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking For A Hand In The Snow) 4:20
John John (Let's Hope For Peace) 12:00
Kim Fowley introduced the band on to the stage, John then explained
to the audience that the band had never played together before kicking
off the performance with three vintage rock 'n' roll classics, two of which,
(originally recorded by Barret Strong in 1959) and Dizzy Miss Lizzy
(Larry Williams' self penned 1958 number) had been previously recorded
and issued by the Beatles. The opener, Blue Suede Shoes was written
by Carl Perkins who took it to No.4 in the United States in 1956, the song
was also covered with great success by Elvis Presley.
The White Album song Yer Blues was the first Lennon composition of the set, Eric Clapton was already familiar with this tune as he had played it live with John at the Rolling Stones Rock ’N’ Roll Circus. Yoko then introduced Cold Turkey as “the newest song that John wrote“ and it was heard in public for the very first time, John had to sing the song whilst reading the words from a clip-board, the film version preserved his off-mic words of encouragement to the audience "Come on - wake up!" as the pedestrian performance drew to an unsatisfactory fumbled conclusion. (A superior studio version of Cold Turkey would later be recorded and released as a single before the album of this concert hit the shops). An electric Give Peace A Chance put the band back on track and this number closed Side One of the vinyl LP.
The second side opened with John warning “And now Yoko’s gonna do her
thing all over you”. A storming performance of Don't Worry Kyoko
(also being performed live for the first time and later re-recorded and
released as the ‘b‘-side to Cold Turkey) was well received with
the film showing John, and Yoko, now understandably looking very pleased
Had they left the stage there and then, they could have expected a wild standing ovation, instead they went on to deliver a stunning and disturbing aural portrait of the pain and fear of war, an assault on the ears that titled itself John John (Lets Hope For Peace). Yoko had lived through the dropping of two Atomic bombs on her country as a 12 year old child and here she was confronting a stadium full of Rock ‘N’ Roll fans with the full horror of it all. She delivered free-form vocals over feedback produced by John, Eric and Klaus with sporadic bursts of percussion from Andy White. Mid-way through the piece John’s nerves got the better of him and in an attempt to placate some of the increasingly irritated members of the audience, he began to act the clown, fortunately this tom-foolery did not come across on the record which retained the intended impact. John regained his composure and appeared to whisper in Yoko’s ear that it was probably time to make their exit. With Guitars now placed against their amplifiers continuing the feedback, the band walked off stage with a half-hearted wave goodbye, at this point the film focuses on a solitary microphone as Mal Evans walks onstage to turn off each amplifier, one by one, to a mixed reception from the perplexed audience. It was a long way on from Ob-la-di Ob-la-da.
Despite the nerves and some of the reaction, John and Yoko had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. During the weekend after the concert, John finally came to the decision that it was high time to finish the Beatles, for he had now clearly outgrown them, he informed Eric Clapton there and then, and later he told his manager Allen Klein. The other three Beatles would remain in the dark until the following Friday.
The album of this Saturday September 13th 1969 concert was produced
by John and Yoko and featured a sleeve design by John Kosh. Original copies
included a 13 month John and Yoko Calendar for 1970 (curiously only featuring
pictures of John and Yoko from their first year together in 1968, no recent
1969 shots), plus various poems and songs they had written during the 1960's,
several of these were taken from John's books In His Own Write,
Spaniard in the Works and Yoko's Grapefruit. Particularly interesting
are the poems by John on the top leaf, which originally appeared in recorded
form on the Beatles 1968 Christmas record, they appeared in print for the
first time here.
An audience recording of the concert found it's way onto a limited bootleg vinyl titled "JL-YO-EC", it was apparently pressed in Detroit a few months ahead of the official version, which would make it the oldest known Beatles related bootleg LP.
John: "We tried to put it out on Capitol, but Capitol didn't want to put it out. They said, 'This is garbage! We're not going to put it out with her screaming on one side and you doing this sort of live stuff.' But, we finally persuaded them that people might buy this. Of course, it went gold the next day. Klein had got a deal on that record that it was a John and Yoko/Plastic Ono Band record and not a Beatles record, so we could get a higher royalty, because The Beatles' royalties were so low. Capitol said, 'Sure you can have it. Nobody's going to buy that crap!' They just threw it away and gave it to us. It came out, it was fairly successful and it went gold."
Read Mal Evan's account of the concert here
A CD of this album was not issued by EMI until
1st May 1995, several years after all of John’s other musical offerings
had been issued on the silver disc. The CD version is a re-mix, most notably
on "Money" (less Yoko backing vocals) and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" (more Yoko
UK - Apple
October 24th 1969
Highest chart position #14
USA - Apple
October 20th 1969
Highest chart position #30
The August 1969 issue of Beatles Monthly reported that the next
Plastic Ono Band record would be "a long and heavy instrumental single"
called "Rock Peace" to be released at the end of August 1969. This
never materialized, instead Cold Turkey / Don’t Worry Kyoko appeared
in October 1969 and, although not instrumentals, they did turn out to have
a heavy sound produced by John's latest incarnation of The Plastic Ono
Band: John on guitar and vocals, Eric Clapton on lead guitar, Klaus Voorman
playing bass, Ringo Starr on drums and Yoko‘s vocals on the flip side.
John collected this band of musicians together to record his experience of Heroin withdrawal after Paul and George had reportedly refused to record the song as The Beatles*, therefore John decided it was time not only to drop the name "Beatles" but also remove "McCartney" from the composing credits, Cold Turkey was solely credited to “John Lennon“. The ‘b’ Side featured the song written by Yoko to her daughter Kyoko (who lived with her former husband) and this was recorded using the same line-up of musicians. Yoko recalled: "I was pretty upset at the time, because it was totally misinterpreted, like saying 'Yoko's screaming'. When you really listen to it, you know that it's very kind of musical - musical is a very strange word - but adding a kind of dimension in music, rather than just some Oriental woman screaming."
*John had recorded a dazzling home demo of Cold Turkey around the time of the Beatles final photo session at Tittenhurst Park
The production of the single began on 25th September at Abbey Road studios
where the band taped 26 takes of “Cold Turkey“. Further work on
"Cold Turkey" was carried out at Trident Studio three days later,
with stereo mixes produced from these tapes the next day at Abbey Road.
Worry Kyoko” was then recorded on Friday 3rd October at Lansdowne Studios
on Lansdowne Road in London. Final overdubbing and mixing took place on
Sunday the 5th at Abbey Road. John and Yoko are credited as Producers.
The record was issued in a picture sleeve which used the X-Rays of John and Yoko’s skulls which had been captured after their car crash in Scotland earlier in the year, the Apple lables included an instruction to "PLAY LOUD" in the centre. During late November, sales of the single had peaked and it began a decent from the charts - On November 25th, John returned his MBE to Buckingham Palace to protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigerian-Biafran War, also against Britain's support of America in Vietnam and because Cold Turkey had slipped down the charts!
The follow up single was originally reported as being, at different times, either “What‘s the New Mary Jane“ coupled with "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" or "Make Love Not War", the latter never appeared (later mutating into “Mind Games“ ) whilst the former pairing ended up being issued as they were originally intended, as Beatle tracks.
The single version of Cold Turkey first
appeared on an album as part of the 1975 compilation Shaved Fish,
yet the hit was iniquitously left off 1982’s John Lennon Collection
until it was added as a bonus track to the CD version issued seven years
The single version of Don’t Worry Kyoko turned up on Yoko’s solo album Fly in 1971.
UK - Apple
February 6th 1970
Highest chart position #5
USA - Apple
February 20th 1970
Highest chart position #3
On Tuesday 27th January 1970, John wrote, recorded and mixed Instant Karma!. Phil Spector produced the recording which featured John on vocals, guitar and electric piano, George Harrison on guitar; Klaus Voorrnan on bass, Alan White on drums, Mal Evans clapping and chimes and, helping with the chorus, Yoko, Allen Klein and a couple of dozen late-night revellers from a London nightclub rounded up at the last minute. Some sources claim Billy Preston also played on the track.
John "I wrote it in the morning on the piano and I went into the office and I sang it many times, and I said 'Hell let's do it', and we booked the studio and Phil (Spector) came in and said 'How do you want it?' And I said '1950s' and he said 'Right' and BOOM!. I did it in about three goes, he played it back and there it was. The only argument was I said a bit more bass, that's all, and off we went. He doesn't fuss about with fucking Stereo or all that bullshit, just 'Does it sound all right?' then, 'let's have it!'. It doesn't matter whether something's prominent or not prominent, if it sound good to you, as a layman, or as a human, take it - just take it, and that suits me fine."
The B-side, Who Has Seen the Wind?, written and sung by Yoko, was produced by John, the recording date is unknown. In the UK the single was credited to "Lennon/Ono with the Plastic Ono Band" and released ten days after Instant Karma! was recorded, making it probably one of the fastest singles ever to be issued after conception. As with the Cold Turkey single, there was an instruction on the A-Side label to "PLAY LOUD", but the B-Side instruction on this occasion was to "PLAY QUIET". The US single version was issued with an alternate picture sleeve featuring a picture of a shorn haired John, the B-Side label instruction for American listeners is to "PLAY SOFT".
Instant Karma! first appeared on an album
Shaved Fish. albeit faded slightly earlier.
Who Has Seen The Wind? eventually found a new home on the Ryko CD re-issue of Wedding Album.
A CD single was released in the USA and Europe in mid-1992 but with John's 1971 album track Oh My Love replacing Yoko's b-side.
UK - Apple
December 11th 1970
Highest chart position #11
USA - Apple
December 11th 1970
Highest chart position #6
John's first album of new songs was the result of several months of
treatment at Arthur Janov's Primal Institute in Los Angeles. After John
and Yoko had read Dr Janov's book, The Primal Scream, Janov gave
them three weeks of intensive private treatment in London during April
1970, followed by four months of treatment, between April and August, in
Los Angeles where John wrote most of the songs for the album. The album
was recorded in September and early October 1970 in England at EMI Studios
in Abbey Road where John, Yoko and Phil Spector produced the sessions.
The Plastic Ono Band for these recordings consisted of John on vocal, guitar and piano; Ringo Starr playing drums and Klaus Voorman on bass. Billy Preston played the piano on God, Phil Spector played piano on Love, Yoko is credited with "wind".
The sleeve was designed by John and Yoko featuring a front cover photograph
by Dan Richter and a back cover photo of John at the age of about 6. The
front cover photograph is almost identical to Yoko's solo album released
at the same time, except that John and Yoko reverse places. One reviewer
also suggested that the pictures appear to have been tinted - One pink
and one blue.
The inner bag contained the song lyrics, but one word in I Found Out and two words in Working Class Hero were replaced with asterisks as EMI had refused to handle the album if lyrical profanities were to appear in print. EMI won their battle but Apple added the legend "omitted at the insistence of EMI". There is also a dedication from John "For Yoko with love from John 9/10/70". This record and it's sister album (Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band) featured special labels - In the UK white silouhettes of the full and sliced Apples replaced the regular design, whilst in the USA a pair of new white painted Apple images appeared (This was the same design onto which John and Yoko's faces would later be superimposed for the Imagine and Fly labels).
Hold On 1:53
I Found Out 3:37*
Working Class Hero 3:50
Well Well Well 5:59
Look at Me 2:54
My Mummy's Dead 0:49
*Austrailian vinyl pressings of this album include a slightly longer mix of I Found Out.
Most of the tracks were written during the long stay in L.A - Mother and Isolation were written in England, whilst Look at Me was left over from the White Album period. Remember was edited down from an extended jam session in the studio whilst My Mummy's Dead and one "forgotten" verse of Working Class Hero was recorded alone on a tape cassette recorder (Many of John's 1970 home demo's rival these studio versions for intensity and emotion, yet some are still to be officially released).
John: "It was like a mirror, I was given a mirror and I had to look into my own soul and I wasn’t looking in it from a sort of mystical perspective which tended to colour things, or a psychedelic perspective, or being the famous Beatle perspective, or making a Beatle record perspective. All those things gave a colour to what I did, this time it was just me in a mirror and so it came out like that."
Read Arthur Janov's recollections of John's Primal Therapy treatment here
A Parlophone(UK) / Capitol(USA) CD of the album was issued on 5th April 1988, it had been delayed by almost a year due to problems with the sound quality on the original master tape. A re-mixed version then followed on 9th October 2000 which came with two unrelated bonus tracks from 1971:- Power To The People (already available on three CD compilations) and Do The Oz (previously issued on Anthology), these additions did nothing but lessen the impact of the albums’ closing track My Mummy’s Dead. The original mix and line-up was re-mastered for inclusion in the Signature Box and available separately from from 4th October 2010.
Original 1971 UK cassette edition - inlay / inlay reverse / tape
UK - Apple
December 11th 1970
Did not chart
USA - Apple
December 11th 1970
Highest chart position #182
Yoko's 1970 album was a sister collection to John Lennon/Plastic
Ono Band and is equally remarkable in its' own way, the companion LP
was recorded at the same time with the same musicians (except for one track
- AOS), Yoko on vocals, John playing guitar, Ringo Starr on drums
and Klaus Voorman on bass.
AOS was recorded at the rehearsals for
a concert Yoko gave at the Royal Albert Hall on February 29th 1968 with
Ornette Coleman on trumpet, Edward Blackwell on drums and David Izenzon
and Charles Haden on bass.
In keeping with the primal theme of John’s album, the back cover featured a shot of Yoko as a child. As with John’s album, a printed inner white bag included a dedication from Yoko, this time "For John with love from Yoko 9/10/70". The record itself featured the plain white Apple logo’s on both sides plus an instruction to the record buyer to "Play in the dark" which some presumed to be the title of the album.
Why Not 9:55
Greenfield Morning I Pushed An Empty Baby Carriage All Over The City 5:39
Touch Me 4:41
Paper Shoes 7:30
John: "I call mine
like a literate version of what we went through in the last year or so,
and Yoko’s is a sort of a sound picture rather than a word picture."
Yoko "I think we're saying a lot of things in our minds that's too heavy to come out as clean sentences. I always feel like I'm stuttering my mind, before I say something. But because of our sort of cultured and refined background, we do manage to say something in very smooth sentences, like How are you?..... But maybe in my mind I'm saying How-how-how-how-a-a-a-re-you?"
John "She just takes a word or an expression or an idea and works around it. It's like a sax playing it. It's like an instrumental... Yoko's doing with her voice what instrumentalists have done over the past 50 years with their instruments, but she's doing it with her voice."
The long overdue CD release came courtesy of Ryko in mid-1997 which added a spellbinding early version of Open Your Box plus some studio chat and The South Wind which is a lengthy home recording taped in New York City a year or so later.
Some Japanese editions of both John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band included a postcard which could be returned for a limited edition (1000) 33rpm 7" vinyl copy of an interview John and Yoko gave during their visit to Japan in January 1971. The sleeve included colour front and back cover photographs taken during the visit plus 5 black & white pics on the gatefold. The labels were the standard Apple/Sliced Apple designs.
USA - Apple
December 28th 1970
Highest chart position #43
A Rolling Stone interview conducted on 8th December 1970 revealed that John was still undecided as to whether he would release Mother or Love as the single, the interviewer was adamant that John should plump for Mother but hindsight proved him wrong as Mother stalled at number 43 on the US chart, Love would surely have climbed much higher. The picture sleeve in the USA featured the same pair of images that were used for John & Yoko's 1970 albums, alternate sleeve designs appeared in some European countries but the single was not issued in the UK.
John: "It's really
about most people's mothers.... you don't need to take it literally....
My mother left me, or my mother died. The fact that lots of people, say
Yoko for instance, had their mother all their life and had them with them,
but they didn't have literally enough love from them. Well, lots of us
suffer that because parents have got their own hang-ups."
Yoko: "Why was like a dialogue between John’s guitar and my voice, I do a certain thing and then he comes on and then I get very inspired by that and you know, it’s like that."
John: "I was dancing around with the guitar in front of her, sort of catching her eye and she was screaming back at me. It was a fantastic scene."
This edited version of Mother (missing
the opening bell chimes and fading early) was re-created for the Lennon
Legend compilation issued by Palophone/Capitol on 27th October 1997.
was eventually issued as a 7-inch single in order to promote the posthumous
John Lennon Collection 12 years later, the quiet piano passages were
boosted in volume on the single to make it more radio friendly.
UK - Apple
March 12th 1971
Highest chart position #7
USA - Apple
March 22nd 1971
Highest chart position #11
Power to the People was produced by Phil spector with John and Yoko and featured John on guitar, piano & vocals, Bobby Keys on sax, Billy Preston playing keybords, Alan White (or Jim Gordon or Jim Keltner!) on drums and Klaus Voorman on bass, plus Rosetta Hightower and "44" others helping with backing vocals. The song was written immediately after the Lennon's had given an interview to Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn for the underground magazine Red Mole on January 21st 1971 - Read the interview here. Recording of the song began the next day.
John "They knock me for saying Power to the
People and say that no one section should have the power. Rubbish.
The people aren't a section. The people means everyone. I think that everyone
should own everything equally and that people should own part of the factories
and they should have some say in who is the boss and who does what. Students
should be able to select teachers.
It may be like communism but I don't really know what real communism is. There is no real communism state in the world, you must realize that Russia isn't - it's a fascist state. The socialism I talk about is 'British socialism', not where some daft Russian might do it or the Chinese might do it - That might suit them. Us - we'd rather have a nice socialism here, a British socialism."
The 'b' side, Open Your Box, was produced by John and Yoko and
had been recorded around the same time as Power to the People with
a Plastic Ono Band line-up of Yoko - vocals, John on guitar, Klaus Voorman
on bass and Jim Gordon on drums. The single should have been released on
March 6th 1971 but EMI insisted that the lyrics be "cleaned- up" as Mr
Philip Brodie, then Managing Director of EMI Records, considered them "distasteful".
Yoko was reported to have re-recorded parts of the vocal on March 4th 1971
by changing the original lyrics "Open your trousers/skirt/legs/thighs"
to "Open your houses/church/lakes/eyes", though in reality sound effects
were applied to muffle the offending words. Capitol records in America
also took exception to the lyrics of Open Your Box but they went
even further, taking the decision to replace the 'b' side altogether with
a track from Yoko‘s 1970 album, which ironically, in its' own way, was
far more sexually suggestive than Open Your Box.
The full green Apple label appeared on both sides of the UK single, presumably to give the impression that Yoko's side was equally worthwhile, which it certainly was. Some UK pressings actually had the A-side depicting the sliced apple.
Power to the People made it's album debut
on 1975's Shaved Fish compilation and has naturally found a place
on all 'best of' compilations since, though it was faded several seconds
early on Shaved Fish.
Open Your Box was issued in its' original form (without the sound effects applied) under a new title “Hirake” on Yoko’s Fly album.
UK - Apple
July 16th 1971
Did not enter the UK top 50
USA - Apple
July 7th 1971
Did not chart
The "A" side is credited to "Bill Elliot and The Elastic Oz Band, the
"B" side to "The Elastic Oz Band".
During 1971 Jim Anderson, Felix Dennis and Richard Neville - the three main figures behind the publication of Oz (an “Underground” magazine of the late 1960's & early '70's) were prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, the offending publication being issue No.28 known as 'The School Kids Issue". To help pay their court costs, John and Yoko wrote the two songs on this single and donated their royalties to help the defence fund.
The vocalist on God Save Us is Bill Elliot who later teamed up with Bob Purvis to form Splinter (who recorded for George Harrison's Dark Horse Records). The song was produced by John, Yoko, Mal Evans and Phil Spector, whilst Do the Oz features lead vocals by John with Yoko providing her trademark free form backing, it was produced by John and Yoko and Phil Spector. The passing of time and failing memories have made it difficult to discover with any accuracy precisely who played on these tracks, but it has been suggested that among those who participated on the recording were: Lennon and Charles Shaar Murray (acoustic guitars), Ringo (drums), Klaus Voorman (bass); Bobby Keyes (saxophone), a black girl known as Michelle (acoustic guitar) and an unnamed white girl (keyboards).
The single was recorded at John's studio in Ascot in May 1971. Lyrics
were written by Yoko and the tracks were recorded in a "semi-live" manner
to resemble the successful Give Peace a Chance. Charles Shaar Murray
was an actual contributor to "The School Kids" issue of Oz, he subsequently
went on to become a well-known rock writer, particularly for the New
Anderson, Dennis and Neville were ultimately found guilty on several counts and sentenced to prison terms of between nine and fifteen months on August 4th 1971. The magazine continued publication until the winter of 1973 with No.48 being the final edition.
Charles Shaar Murray claimed that the lead vocal on God Save Us was originally sung by one "Michael"* and that Bill Elliot's voice was only added at a later date. For certain John recorded his vocal onto the track at some point and this version was eventually issued 27 years later as God Save 'Oz' alongside Do the Oz on the John Lennon Anthology box set of out-takes, demo's and rarities issued by Capitol on 2nd November 1998.
*The 'Michael' in question is assumed to be 'Magic Michael' (Michael Cousins) who performed naked on stage in the film of the 1971 Glastonbury festival and briefly fronted the German group Can during a tour in 1976.
During the summer of 1971 John & Yoko held a press conference in support of "Oz" in which John sang part of the old Harry Lauder song Keep Right on to the End of the Road, this was later included on a flexi-disc given away free with the magazine.
UK - Apple
October 8th 1971
Highest chart position #1
USA - Apple
September 9th 1971
Highest chart position #1
Credited to "John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band, with The Flux Fiddlers"
and recorded May-July 1971 in the eight-track recording studio built in
John and Yoko’s home at Tittenhurst Park which they called Ascot Sound
Studios. The album was produced by John and Yoko and Phil Spector and
the strings (The Flux Fiddlers) were overdubbed at the Record Plant, New
York. The cover was designed by Yoko who also took the photograph of John.
Original copies of the album included an inner sleeve with lyrics, credits
and photos (printed in a circular fashion), a large poster of John at his
white grand piano and a small postcard-sized picture of John holding a
pig by the ears in a parody of Paul McCartney's latest album cover.
Crippled Inside 3:51
Jealous Guy 4:14
It's So Hard 2:28
I Don't Want to Be a Soldier Mama, I Don't Want to Die 6:08
Give Me Some Truth 3:16
Oh My Love 2:46
How Do You Sleep? 5:35
Oh Yoko 4:17
The title track was inspired by poems in Yoko's book Grapefruit,
poems in the book start with an instruction to "Imagine...." and although
John did not give Yoko any composing credit at the time, he did express
his regret at not doing so later on. The track features John playing piano,
Klaus Voorman on bass and Alan White on drums.
Crippled Inside features John on guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano, Klaus Voorman on bass, Steve Brendell on upright piano, George Harrison on dobro and a trio of acoustic guitars played by Ted Turner, Rod Linton and John Tout. Jealous Guy was originally titled Child of Nature with completely different lyrics written in India in 1968, it had been rehearsed by the Beatles in this form but never properly recorded, the new version features John on guitar, Klaus on bass, Jim Gordon on drums, John Barham on harmonium and Alan White playing vibes. It’s So Hard features a simple line-up of John on guitar, Klaus on bass, Jim Gordon on drums and King Curtis later overdubbing on saxophone. I Don't Want to Be a Soldier features the largest Plastic Ono Band aggregation on the album with John on guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano, Klaus on bass, Jim Gordon on drums, George Harrison on slide guitar, King Curtis on saxophone, Badfinger members Joey Molland and Tom Evans on acoustic guitars, Steve Brendell on maracas and Moody Blue’s Mike Finder on tambourine.
Give Me Some Truth was another song that had been on the back burner for some time, The Beatles had played a light run through of it during the "Get Back" sessions. Here, John plays guitar with George Harrisonon lead guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano, Klaus on bass, Alan White on drums and Rod Linton and Andy Cresswell-Davis (who is credited as simply "Andy" on the sleeve) on acoustic guitars. Andy Cresswell-Davis was a founder member of the West Country band Stackridge and later co-leader of The Korgis. Oh My Love, co-written by John and Yoko (who on this occasion is credited on the sleeve) features George Harrison on guitar, John on piano, Klaus on bass, Alan White on drums/Tibetan cymbals and Nicky Hopkins on electric piano, this was another 'oldie' that was originally a painful lament to the baby John and Yoko had lost in 1968. How Do You Sleep?, John's no-holds-barred reply to Paul McCartney's cryptic jibes on Ram, features John on guitar, Nicky on piano, Klaus on bass, Alan White on drums and George Harrison on slide guitar. How? features both John and Nicky playing piano with Klaus on bass, Alan on drums and John Barham playing vibes. Oh Yoko written in 1969 by John and Yoko, features John on guitar and mouth organ with Nicky on piano, Klaus on bass, Alan on drums and acoustic guitars by Rod Linton and Andy Davis.
The record had newly designed whitened Apple labels (first seen in the USA) but with John’s face now superimposed onto the A-side.
An EMI CD of the album, manufactured in Japan, was released in the UK on May 26th 1987, the official US CD release did not occur until 17th March 1988. A re-mixed CD version was released on 14th February 2000 before the original mix was re-mastered for inclusion in the Signature Box and available separately from 4th October 2010. None of the three CD issues of Imagine included any bonus tracks.
1972 UK cassette edition - inlay / tape
*Note that original Imagine cassettes (late 1971) were packaged in the short-lived EMI cassette cartons stuck to large display cards.
As with John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, some Japanese pressings of Imagine included a postcard which could be returned for a limited edition (1000) 33rpm 7" vinyl disc, this being of the latest interview for Japanese listeners (with Yoko translating) in which John talks about the new album. The sleeve depicted a recent colour photograph of John and Yoko cut into the shape of an Apple, there was another colour snap on the back and a black & white gatefold spread of further exclusive photographs. The labels were the standard Apple/Sliced Apple designs.
USA - Apple
October 11th 1971
Highest chart position #3
John had this to say about Imagine soon after it had been a hit:-
the song itself and the album are the same thing as Working Class Hero
and Mother and God. But the first record [John Lennon/Plastic
Ono Band] was too real for people, so nobody bought it. But the song Imagine,
which says ‘Imagine that there was no religion, no more country, no more
politics’, is virtually the communist manifesto......Now Imagine
is a big hit almost everywhere - an anti-religious, anti-conventional,
anti-capitalist song - but because it's sugar-coated it's accepted. Now
I understand what you have to do - Put your message across with a little
The US version was issued in a plain bag with the white painted full Apple label on both sides.
Imagine was not released as a single in
the UK until October 24th 1975 when it was issued to help promote the Shaved
Fish compilation released on the very same day, the UK single was backed
Working Class Hero and was housed in a new picture sleeve featuring
a then recent shot of John, it peaked at #6 in the charts before making
a re-entry in December 1980 when it made #1.
There have been two separate CD singles issued in the UK, the first to promote the 1988 "Imagine - John Lennon" rockumentary film with Jealous Guy on the 'b' side and the Shaved Fish medley of Happy Xmas/Give Peace A Chance(live 1972) added to the CD single, this was released on November 28th 1988. A 2nd CD single was issued in the UK on 13th December 1999 where the song had been voted "Song of the Millennium" and it duly made it's 3rd appearance in the Top 10, this CD added full separate versions of Happy Xmas and Give Peace A Chance.
UK - Apple APPLE 38
October 29th 1971
Did not enter the UK top 50
USA - Apple 1839
September 29th 1971
Did not chart
Yoko's first ‘A’ side of a single coupled two numbers from her new double
album Fly. The haunting Mrs. Lennon has John on piano and
organ, plus Klaus Voorman on bass and bells. Midsummer New York,
features Yoko backed by John on guitar and piano,
Klaus Voorman on bass, Chris Osborne on dobro and Jim Keltner on drums
In Britain the record was released in a plain Apple sleeve (black with green lettering) but with another new label variation - For the A-side Yoko's face was superimposed onto the white painted apple that had previously been seen on the USA versions of John & Yoko's 1970 albums, whilst the B-Side had the USA style alternate sliced apple. The USA version of this single did not have Yoko's face superimposed onto the label but instead had the full whitened apple on both sides, again there was no picture sleeve although some European territories did issue the single in a pic-sleeve.
UK - Apple
December 3rd 1971
Did not enter the UK top 50
USA - Apple
September 20th 1971
Highest chart position #199
Credited to "Yoko Ono and The Plastic Ono Band with Joe Jones Tone Deaf
Yoko's second album was a double LP mostly recorded at Ascot Sound Studios and at the Record Plant New York during August 1971. It was produced by Yoko and John. Yoko was backed by The Plastic Ono Band consisting of John, Klaus Voorman (bass), Chris Osborne (dobro), Jim Keltner (drums), Jim Gordon (drums) and Bobby Keyes (saxophone). Also used on some tracks was the Joe Jones Tone Deaf Music Co. which consisted of eight instruments that played themselves with the minimum of human assistance. The instruments were built especially for Yoko by Joe Jones who had been experimenting with and developing such devices since the early 1960's.
The front and back cover photographs were taken by John, who is also
credited with design of the outer cover. The inner spread shows a collage
of seventeen different photographs depicting the musicians' faces superimposed
onto a band of gypsies. The majority of the photographs were taken by lain
MacMillan with some by May Pang, and the gypsies by Kyoko. The two inner
sleeves show drawings by Yoko along with song lyrics and credits. The album
also included a poster and a postcard/order form for Yoko's book Grapefruit.
The postcard has a small round hole cut out of it with the caption "A Hole
To See The Sky Through, Yoko Ono '71". The back cover of the album includes
a quote from John: "Love is having to say you're sorry every five minutes,
The records featured the superimposed Yoko/Apple labels on sides 1 and 3 with the new sliced whitened versions on 2 and 4.
Midsummer New York 3:51
Mind Train 16:52
Mind Holes 2:47
Don't Worry Kyoko 4:55
Mrs. Lennon 4:11
Toilet Piece/Unknown 0:30
O' Wind (Body is the Scar of Your Mind) 5:22
Don't Count the Waves 5:24
Telephone Piece 0:37
All of the tracks on the album were composed by Yoko. Midsummer New York and Mrs. Lennon had recently been issued as a single. Don't Worry Kyoko originally appeared as the ’b’ side of Cold Turkey back in 1969 and Hirake is an alternate title for Open Your Box which had been the UK flip-side of the Power To The People single earlier in the year. Mind Train features John on guitar, Klaus Voorman on bass, Chris Osborne on dobro and Jim Keltner on drums. Mind Holes features Yoko singing with John's echo laden acoustic guitar. Toilet Piece/Unknown is the sound of a toilet flushing, whilst O 'Wind features John on guitar, Jim Keltner on drums and tabla, Jim Gordon also on tabla, Klaus Voorman on cymbal and Bobby Keyes playing claves. Airmale is the first track featuring Joe Jones Tone Deaf Music Co. with the assistance of John. On Don't Count The Waves Yoko plays claves, whilst John again assists the Joe Jones Tone Deaf Music Co, along with Klaus supplying percussion and Jim Keltner tuned drum. You features Yoko singing solo with the Joe Jones Tone Deaf Music Co., Fly is the soundtrack to Yoko's film of the same name which has Yoko performing a lengthy free form vocal solo until half-way through when John joins in on backwards guitar. Telephone Piece is Yoko answering the phone “Hello, this is Yoko“.
Ryko issued a double CD of the album on
22nd July 1997 with two bonus tracks:- 'Between The Takes', which
was a brief snippet of studio activity from the Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band
sessions of September/October 1970 and Will You Touch Me, a home
cassette demo taped at the Lennon's Bank Street apartment in New York,
late 1971 or 1972.
UK - Apple
November 24th 1972
Highest chart position #4
USA - Apple
December 1st 1971
Failed to make the Billboard Hot Hundred
Due to publishing difficulties over Yoko's composing credits, this single
was not originally issued in Britain, the same problem would also hold
up the UK release of the Some Time in New York City album. John's
manager Allen Klein explained "John and Yoko were quite prepared to allow
their Christmas single to be issued in Britain, and for the royalties to
go into court, leaving the eventual distribution to the judge. But this
compromise was not acceptable." It was eventually released in Britain a
year later where the appetite for Christmas themed pop songs was considerably
greater than the US where it even failed to crack into the Hot 100.
The basic tracks for the single were recorded on October 28th & 29th 1971 in New York's Record Plant East and produced by John and Yoko and Phil Spector. Happy Xmas was co-written by John and Yoko and features a dozen guitars played by John and Hugh McCracken, Nicky Hopkins playing chimes, piano and glockenspiel, whilst Jim Keltner performed on sleigh bells and drums. John sings the verses solo. On October 31st 1971, thirty youngsters aged between 4 and 12 from the Harlem Community Choir were brought into the studio to overdub their contribution, which included the refrain "War is over - If you want it" borrowed from the Lennon's own Christmas campaign for peace two years earlier when huge posters proclaiming the same slogan appeared on billboards in twelve major city centres around the world.
Listen The Snow is Falling was a beautiful song written solely by Yoko who sings solo vocal supported instrumentally by John, Klaus Voorman and Hugh McCracken on guitars and Nicky Hopkins on piano and chimes. Two sound effect tapes from the Record Plant tape library were also employed, "Feet in the snow" and "Strong wind".
This was the first Lennon/Ono release to feature the merging heads label which shows five pictures of John and Yoko, with John predominantly on the left morphing into Yoko from the right. The record was also issued in green vinyl. The photograph on the sleeve of the single features John and Yoko surrounded by the children from the Harlem Community Choir along with Phil and Ronnie Spector, Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner and Hugh McCracken.
As with many of Lennon's early singles, Happy
Xmas made it's album debut on 1975's Shaved Fish compilation,
although the fade was cut short and segued into a live 1972 snippet of
Peace a Chance from the evening One to One concert. A full length
clean-ending Happy Xmas was included on both The John Lennon
Collection and Lennon Legend compilation albums.
Listen the Snow is Falling never appeared on a vinyl album but was included on the CD issue of Wedding Album with a small section of a similarly themed 1968 demo recording tagged on at the beginning. It then appeared again on the 2005 re-mixed/re-sequenced CD version of Some Time in New York City.
UK - Apple
January 21st 1972
Did not enter the UK top 50
Yoko's second solo single in the UK combined an edited version of the
groovy Mind Train from her Fly album with another solo composition,
The Snow is Falling, which had already appeared in America as the coupling
for Happy Xmas (War is Over) in December 1971, but at the time this
had yet to be released in the UK. The album version of Mind Train was
almost 17 minutes in length, several edits were made for the single to
create what might be described as a highlights version, rather than just
fade the track early. The new edit was not released in the US. The single
was released in a picture sleeve and features the special Yoko/Apple label
on the A-Side and the alternate sliced apple on the flip side.
USA - Apple
April 24th 1972
Highest chart position #57
Woman is The Nigger Of The World was originally a statement that Yoko had made during interviews John and Yoko had given to Irma Kurtz for an article published in Nova magazine in January 1969, it was written as a song by John soon afterwards but not recorded until three years later. It was also scheduled to be released as a single in Britain (cat number R5953) on 26th May 1972 but withdrawn, although promotional copies were distributed to radio stations. Sisters O Sisters, written by Yoko, features her multi-tracked vocals on top of an attempt by New York musicians at a ska beat backing (they had no idea of what reggae was). For details of the musicians see the Some Time in New York City album entry below. Both this single and the following album were issued with the morphing heads label first seen on the "Happy Xmas" single.
Most radio stations refused to play the record. John told Dick Gregory;
"I expected it to go out and either people like it
or not, I didn't expect a real controversy, I expected people to be either
for women or against women, I didn't think the word 'niggger' was going
to cause the problem... And two days after it came out I started hearing,
'Nobody's playing it on the East coast.' - New York, which is supposed
to be the swingingest town on Earth, nobody's playing it. So I think, 'What's
going on?' I start getting worried. "A white man can't say that
word.", that's what the white's were saying. White male DJ's were telling
through their radio stations that I can't say that word. They're probably
the one's saying it back home and meaning it, they're using it the other
UK - Apple
September 15th 1972 - Highest chart position #11
USA - Apple
June 12th 1972 - Highest chart position #48
This double album was released in America three months before its British
appearance, the delay being caused by problems concerning Yoko's co-composing
credits with John. As a result, by the time the album was released in Britain,
many copies had been imported from America. The British release, although
with the same Michael Gross cover design as the American version, did not
include the insertion of a postcard of the Statue of Liberty nor a petition
against attempts by the American governement to expel John from the U.S.
The album was supposedly to be sold as a single LP with a free bonus album of the "Live Jam" set, but in both Britain and America it had a slightly higher retail price than a normal album.
Sides 1 & 2 of the album were recorded between March 1st and 20th 1972 in New York, with John and Yoko and Phil Spector producing. John, Yoko and Jim Keltner (drums and percussion) were augmented by Elephant's Memory, a New York rock band who contributed to the soundtrack of the film Midnight Cowboy. The line-up of the band was Stan Bronstein (saxophone and flute), Richard Frank Jnr (drums and percussion), Gary Van Scyoc (bass), Adam Ippolito (piano and organ) and Wayne 'Tex' Gabriel (guitar).
Woman is The Nigger Of The World 5:17
Sisters, O Sisters 3:48
Attica State 2:57
Born in a Prison 4:05
New York City 4:32
Sunday Bloody Sunday 5:03
The Luck of the Irish 2:59
John Sinclair 3:30
We're All Water 7:13
The opening tracks Woman is The Nigger Of The World and Sisters O Sisters had already been issued as a single in the US, Attica State was written by John and Yoko and together they sang about the killing of 38 prisoners and guards at the Attica State Prison in New York during the "Attica uprising" where troops were sent in by Governor Nelson Rockerfeller, who had refused to negotiate. The second Yoko song, Born in a Prison, on which she again takes solo vocal, features John La Bosca on piano. John's New York City features Lennon singing solo, describing his experiences of the city over the winter of 1971/72 in a similar fashion to The Ballad of John and Yoko single. Sunday Bloody Sunday was another joint effort, this time to protest about the "Bloody Sunday" massacre in Ireland on January 30th 1972 (thirteen unarmed Catholic men shot dead by British Soldiers in Derry during a demonstration against internment), the song features John singing lead with Yoko assisting with the chorus. The Luck of the Irish, also a Lennon/Ono composition, also complained of British interference in Northern Ireland, John sings the first, second and fourth verses, Yoko the third and fifth and both sing the last. John Sinclair features John on slide guitar and singing solo and was written as a protest against Sinclair's imprisonment for ten years for the possession of a very small amount of marijuana. Angela was written and jointly sung by John and Yoko in support of Angela Davis who was on trial for conspiring in the escape of Black Panther George Jackson, she spent 16 months in prison before being acquitted of all charges. The final track of the studio album is We're All Water, Yoko singing her own composition.
"We're like newspaper men, only we sing about
what's going on instead of writing about it..... We are society, we're
all responsible for each other."
"If I sing about people's problems in Ireland, I just can't take the money from it. So if I sing about Ireland, I'm gonna give them the money, the money from that song will go to them... If I sing about a prison problem, I'd like to give the money to a prison. I don't want to be singing about somebody else's problem and taking the cash for it."
"I don't know how I feel about the IRA [Irish Republican Army] because I understand why they're doing it and if it's a choice between the IRA and the British army, I'm with the IRA. But if it's a choice between violence and non-violence, I'm with non-violence. So it's a very delicate line."
"Free bonus album" that came with 'Some Time in New York City'
John originally conceived of Live Jam as a standalone release
and had hoped to see it issued in January 1972, he was also considering
including part of the John Sinclair benefit concert recorded on 10th December
1971, but as revealed in a letter to the N.M.E at the time, he was having
problems with his record company: "E.M.I./Capitol
are trying to prevent anything recorded by John and Yoko coming out unless
we admit it's a Beatle record - ie. low royalty. (They only decided
after "Imagine." !!".
There was also an EP planned which would have featured four numbers recorded live in Ann Arbor a week after the Sinclair gig (Attica State, The Luck of the Irish, Sisters, O Sisters and John Sinclair). The EP was said to have been withdrawn due to the reception Paul McCartney's Give Ireland Back to the Irish received. In the end, none of the live December '71 recordings were issued and John instead recorded new studio versions for Some Time in New York City.
Side One -
Recorded on 15th December 1969 at the Lyceum Ballroom in London
Cold Turkey 8:35
Don't Worry Kyoko 16:00
Side Two -
Recorded on 6th June 1971 with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention
at the Fillmore East auditorium in New York.
Well (Baby Please Don't Go) / Jamrag / Scumbag / Au 22:49
Side One of "Live Jam" was an 18 month old recording of the "Peace for
Christmas" concert in aid of UNICEF.
John said of this show "I thought it was fantastic, I was really into it. We were doing the show and George [Harrison] and Delaney and Bonnie, Billy Preston and all that crowd turned up. They'd just come back from Sweden and George had been playing invisible man in Delaney and Bonnie's band, which Eric Clapton had been doing, to get the pressure off being famous Eric and the famous George. They became the guitarists in this and they all turned up and it was again like the concert in Toronto. I said "Will you come on?" and they said "Well, what are you going to play?" I said "Listen, we're going to probably do a blues...or "Cold Turkey", which is three chords", and Eric knew that. And "Don't Worry Kyoko" which was Yoko's, which has three chords and a riff. I said "Once we get on Yoko's riff, just keep hitting it"
It was a fantastic show, it was fantastic....very heavy! A lot of the audience walked out, but the ones that stayed, they were in a trance. They just all came to the front because it was of the first real heavy rock shows...it's only to be expected that some people were disappointed in that we only did two long numbers, but we play 1984 music! I don't know what they want. I'm trying to get it across that the Plastic Ono Band plays the unexpected."
The full line-up for the Plastic Ono Supergroup was: John (vocals and guitar), George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Delaney Bramlett (guitars), Klaus Voorman (bass), Jim Gordon, Keith Moon and Alan White (drums), Billy Preston (organ - sadly this was buried in the original recording and Nicky Hopkins' overdubbed an electric piano in 1971 in New York which was mixed rather too prominently), Bonnie Bramlett and "Friends" (percussion and brass - "Friends" included Bobby Keyes on saxophone, Jim Price on trumpet with Bobby Whitlock and Carl Radle), also assisting was "Legs" Larry Smith (from the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) and Dino Danelli (the drummer from The Young Rascals).
Side Two of "Live Jam" was a record of the Lennon's 1971 guest appearance at the Mothers of Invention gig at the Fillmore East. Howard Smith, a New York Disc Jockey, had turned up at Frank Zappa's hotel room door one afternoon with John and Yoko to do an interview, after the interview was over Zappa invited John & Yoko to jam along with his band towards the end of the concert that they would be performing that evening. Although John was initially reluctant, Yoko was very enthusiastic and they both turned up and watched the show from the sound-booth. They were suitably enthused enough to rush to the stage as the Mothers finished their main set.
The full line up for the Zappa gig was John (vocals and guitar) & Yoko (vocals) plus Frank Zappa (vocals and guitar), Ian Underwood (woodwinds, piano and vocals), Don Preston (mini moog), Bob Harris (vocals and piano), Aynsley Dunbar (drums), Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (vocals). Although not present at the concert, Klaus Voorman later overdubbed bass onto Well (Baby Please Don't Go) in the studio, this song was written by Walter Ward and was originally recorded by The Olympics as the coupling to their 1958 hit Western Movies which reached No. 8 in the USA and No. 12 in the UK, John had also recorded it during the Imagine album sessions (That version remained unreleased until it appeared on the John Lennon Anthology Box set in 1998). Jamrag begins with a series of conducted bursts of freaking out with the audience joining in, the band then kick into an instrumental piece King Kong, which the Mothers had performed live on British Television back in 1968, Yoko vocalizes on this version. Scumbag is a fast paced boogie over which John shouts "Scumbag" over and over with Yoko again doing her thing and later interjecting with "Scumbag baby!" (Originally the Mothers lead vocalists had answered John's 'Scumbags' with frenetic improvised lyrics, but these were mixed out), there's also a break in the number to allow Zappa to encourage the audience to sing along and it ends by gradually slowing down to a halt with mock battery-drained vocals. Zappa then bids farewell with a robotic "Good night boys and girls" before Yoko and John find their way into AU, which is vaguely similar to John John Let's Hope for Peace but this time without any lyrics and less forceful vocal acrobatics.
The inner sleeve for the Live Jam album was a replica of The
Mothers of Invention's 1971 live album Fillmore East June 1971 'appropriately'
altered by Al Steckler and John and Yoko. Frank Zappa later recalled "We
played for about 40 minutes I guess and it just so happened that we had
made arrangements to record that night......John and I had an agreement
that we were going to jointly mix the tape and decide how we were going
to put it out, because there were big contractual difficulties in getting
the thing out. So it sat around for a while, I guess about a year and there
was nothing done about releasing it.
Finally I got word that John was going to release it and that some negotiation was going to be worked out, but that negotiation never occurred. As a matter of fact I'd sent him a safety copy of the 16 track masters and I guess he went in with Phil Spector and mixed the thing with this ridiculous tape delay echo on it, he turned off Mark and Howard's voices on the section called "Scumbag" and they were the only ones really singing on it and you can't even hear them on their version of the thing. I have a mix of the thing too, you wouldn't even recognize the two events.
They did weird things like put in certain applause where it didn't really occur, they changed the thing around and the ultimate insult was to take the tune "King Kong" which was obviously an ensemble performance where everybody in the Mothers knew what they were playing, they were playing the melody, it was obviously a song - If it had been a situation where I was mixing the thing then I would say Well that is obviously a song, what is the name of that song and who has the writing and publishing on that? Well it didn't occur in their case, they re-titled King Kong "Jamrag", took the publishing and writing credit and put that on the album that way, and so consequently there was a number of very irate phone calls between our office and Allen Klein and you know, bunch of, er, show business crap. And that's the story of the Fillmore Album."
A double CD of Some Time in New York City
(with Live Jam being Disc Two) was issued in the UK on 10th August
1987 and then deleted on 31st July 1989, a new improved sound quality version
was released in the USA on April 1st 1990.
A re-mixed and frankly butchered single disc version was issued world-wide in November 2005, We're All Water and Don't Worry Kyoko were both shortened whilst Jamrag, Scumbag and Au were contentiously removed altogether and replaced with two bonus tracks (both already available on CD), Happy Xmas (War is Over) plus Listen the Snow is Falling. Happily a re-mastered and complete original mix of the album was included in the Signature Box set and available separately from 4th October 2010.
The Zappa mixes of the Fillmore gig can be found on Zappa's own compilation album Playground Psychotics released late 1992.
Original UK cassette edition - inlay / tape - Live Jam - inlay / tape
USA - Apple 1853
November 13th 1972
Did not chart
In October 1972 John and Yoko once again entered the Record Plant recording
studio with Elephant's Memory, but on this occasion it was not with the
intention of producing a John and Yoko product or even a pair of separate
John and Yoko albums, Yoko Ono alone was now the focus of attention with
John merely co-producing and assuming the pseudonym Joel Nohnn (an anagram
of 'John Lennon' minus one 'n') as a guitarist on just two tracks recorded
for what was to become a double album. One of the two tracks featuring
John on guitar - the proto-punk
Move On Fast - initially appeared
as the B-side to this American single, Yoko had performed the song at the
Madison Square Garden concerts earlier in the year (August 30th). A live
version of the A-side had been debuted on TV back on September 4th on 'The
Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon', a somewhat premature outing in terms of
encouraging hit potential, although the lyrical content - a plea
to America to end its' war - and the harrowing picture sleeve wouldn't
have helped either. The labels saw the morphing heads design dropped in
favour of a return to the white painted apple.
UK - Apple
February 16th 1973 - Did not chart
USA - Apple
January 8th 1973 - Highest chart position #193
Credited to 'Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band with Elephant's Memory, Endless Strings and Choir Boys', this album saw Yoko move into commercial FM radio friendly territory and it received generally favourable reviews, but the higher-priced double album format probably put off many potential listeners and it failed to sell in the sufficient quantities required to make any real impression on the charts, although it did hover around the lower reaches of Billboard for a couple more weeks than her previous efforts and the album gained a cult following among some feminists. The album was recorded in October and November 1972 at the Record Plant in New York, except for the basic tracks of Catman and Winter Song which were recorded at Butterfly Studio's. Yoko and John produced with Elephant's Memory as the backing band - Stan Bronstein on saxophone, flute and clarinet, Richard Frank Jnr on drums and percussion, Gary Van Scyoc on bass and trumpet, Adam Ippolito on piano, organ, harmonium and trumpet and Wayne Gabriel on guitar. Daria Price played castanets, Ron Frangipane was responsible for the string orchestration and Jack Douglas was chief engineer. The sleeve was designed by Bettina Rossner using a front cover photograph taken by Bob Gruen. The gatefold included an essay on feminism written by Yoko, the lyrics were printed on the inner sleeves whilst the labels featured the custom Apple logo's with Yoko's face superimposed onto Sides 1 & 3 and the alternate sliced white painted apple on sides 2 & 4. The album was dedicated to John "my best friend of the second sex."
Yang Yang 3:50
Death of Samantha 6:22
I Want My Love to Rest Tonight 5:11
What Did I Do! 4:12
Have You Seen A Horizon Lately 1:57
Approximately Infinite Universe 3:21
Peter the Dealer 4:46
Song For John 2:06
Catman (The Rosies Are Coming) 5:34
What a Bastard the World Is 4:35
Waiting For the Sunrise 2:33
I Felt Like Smashing My Face in a Clear Glass Window 4:09
Winter Song 3:39
What a Mess 2:41
Shirankatta (I Didn't Know) 3:11
Air Talk 3:22
I Have a Woman Inside My Soul 5:33
Move On Fast 3:43
Now Or Never 4:59
Is Winter Here to Stay? 4:22
Looking Over From My Hotel Window 3:36
All twenty-two songs were composed and sung by Yoko, John played guitar on Move on Fast and Is Winter Here to Stay? and also provided backing vocals on some other tracks, most notably towards the end of I Want My Love to Rest Tonight and the middle section and fade on What a Mess. Yoko played piano on Looking Over From My Hotel Window. Song For John had been written in 1968, an earlier recording of which was released on the Aspen magazine flexi-disc the following year. Some listeners assumed What a Bastard the World is to be about John, but it was in fact about problems experienced in a previous relationship, Yoko was inspired to write the song by a girlfriend of one of the musicians on the album who was in the studio in tears one night. Mick Jagger also dropped into the studio during the album sessions and the resulting jam, with Jagger playing a guitar, produced Is Winter Here to Stay?.
"I think that if I didn't put out Approximately Infinite Universe, John would have had a very difficult person to deal with because I would have been very irritable or something like that. And I think instead of resolving my emotions by going to a shrink or by taking out with my partner or something like that, by making them into songs, made it easier for me. I mean my life is easier."
Ryko issued a double CD of the album on
22nd July 1997 with two bonus tracks:- A home demo of 'Dogtown'
with John on guitar recorded during the Bank Street period 1971/72, and
another demo 'She Gets Down on Her Knees' with Yoko accompanying
herself on piano recorded 1974.
UK - Apple
May 4th 1973
Did not chart
USA - Apple
February 26th 1973
Did not chart
This was the 2nd single to be lifted from Approximately Infinite
Universe in the USA, but the only '45' issued to promote the album
in the UK. The A-side was an edited mix of Death of Samantha, which
had clocked in at 6:22 on the LP but was shortened to 3:46 for the single.
Yoko has since claimed that she wrote the song the morning after the infamous
party at Jerry Rubin's apartment on the night President Nixon was re-elected,
when John - thoroughly distraught and drunk at the result - went off with
another woman. "I wrote it down quickly, told the
musicians what key, and started to sing it. John came back in from the
back room, and said I don't want to hear this. It's too painful.
So we stopped. But the song went on the album. He didn't want to mess with
it. After he passed away, many fans wrote to me saying "Yoko, read this,
you were writing about the vigil!" It was eerie. I was writing the
song in 1972 about a vigil that actually happened in 1980!"
On the flip side, Yang Yang, Yoko used a chord progression which had been prohibited by the Church in the Middle Ages because they were said to be the Devil’s chords. No picture sleeve was produced for the single which was stamped with standard Apple labels on both sides of the Atlantic.
Original 1980's British CD scans
*These CD's have the original mixes and the same tracklistings as the vinyl versions issued 1968-1972.
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1988) - front
Imagine (1987) - front / back / disc
Some Time in New York City (1987) - front / back / disc 1 / disc 2
Shaved Fish (1987) - front / back
American import CD
Two Virgins (1991) - front / back / disc
Page last updated June 2013