Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

John Lennon: Plastic Ono Band [Apple, 1970]
Of course the lyrics are often crude psychotherapeutic cliches. That's just the point, because they're also true, and John wants to make clear that right now truth is far more important than subtlety, taste, art, or anything else. At first the music sounds crude, too, stark and even perfunctory after the Beatles' free harmonies and double guitars. But the real music of the album inheres in the way John's greatest vocal performance, a complete tour of rock timbre from scream to whine, is modulated electronically--echoed, filtered, double-tracked, with two vocals sometimes emanating in a synthesis from between the speakers and sometimes dialectically separated. Which means that John is such a media artist that even when he's fervently shedding personas and eschewing metaphor he knows, perhaps instinctively, that he communicates most effectively through technological masks and prisms. A