It’s not just Yoko Ono’s albums that are unfairly hated on; it’s the woman herself. For over four decades, Ono has been more or less blamed for the breakup of the Beatles (blame that can be much more squarely placed on Allen Klein). For many, this has translated to an all-consuming hatred of Ono and dismissal of, or refusal to even listen to, her music.
It is, admittedly, a hard sell; a Japanese performance artist either shrieks over loose rock jams or shakily sings slight pop songs. But to lovers of experimental music, her early albums are brilliant, even pioneering; recalling the more exploratory work of the German band Can. Even better, Ono’s ‘70s albums routinely featured contributions by her husband John Lennon, who found in her music the latitude to be much freer than he ever did on his generally dull work as a solo artist.
A prime example of all this is Ono’s first album, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, released simultaneously with a similarly packaged album by Lennon. Backed by Ringo Starr, the Beatles’ old pal Klaus Voormann and Ornette Coleman on one track, Ono’s debut is a spooky masterpiece.
Sure it never would have been released if she hadn’t married a Beatle, but you have to respect her resourcefulness and daring for using the opportunity to foist such an aural nightmare on an unsuspecting public.