John Lennon released four solo albums before the Beatles officially broke up, but three of these were experimental recordings made with Yoko Ono and the fourth was a live album recorded in Toronto with an under-rehearsed band featuring Eric Clapton. These four albums are generally dismissed as non-canonical, and they were not included in Spotify’s recent addition.
His first “proper” solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, came out in December 1970 and remains the best album released by any former Beatle. It’s raw, honest, and brutal. 1971’s Imagine is very good as well, but unfortunately for John it was all downhill from there. Most of his recorded output between 1972 and 1975 is…spotty, to put it gently. Lennon was uncomfortable with the natural sound of his own voice and buried it in echo and reverb and schlocky production. He took a break from the music business until 1980 when he was inspired to go back in the studio to record Double Fantasy and enough outtakes for the posthumously released Milk and Honey.
Here are the 17 best songs from what’s available now on Spotify.
1. Cold Turkey (single, 1969)
2. Instant Karma (single, 1970)
3. I Found Out (Plastic Ono band, 1970)
4. Hold On (Plastic Ono band, 1970)
5. Well Well Well (Plastic Ono band, 1970)
6. Working Class Hero (Plastic Ono band, 1970)
7. Oh My Love (Imagine, 1971)
8. How Do You Sleep? (Imagine, 1971)
9. Oh Yoko! (Imagine, 1971)
10. New York City (Some Time in New York City, 1972)
11. Tight A$ (Mind Games, 1973)
12. Steel and Glass (Walls and Bridges, 1974)
13. You Can’t Catch Me (Rock ‘n’ Roll, 1975)
14. (Just Like) Starting Over (Double Fantasy, 1980)
15. Nobody Told Me (Milk and Honey, 1984; recorded in 1980)
16. India India (Signature Box, 2010; recorded in 1980)
17. Watching the Wheels (acoustic demo, Funny People soundtrack, 2009, recorded in 1980)
Apple Music: Best of Solo John