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John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band: Sweet Toronto (1971)

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1988 (USA)  »

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Sweet Toronto  »

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Go Johnny go..
20 August 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I didn't realise for a long time that my "Live Peace In Toronto" Lennon /Plastic Ono Band album had actually been filmed and by esteemed "rockumentary" maker D A Pennebaker at that, so it was a rare treat to pick up this bargain DVD at my local music store.

The story goes that Lennon only agreed to top the bill to help ailing ticket sales for a show containing some of his favourite rock and roll acts from his youth and so put together a pick-up band (admittedly a crack one!) to blast out some down-home rock before he unleashed Yoko to do her extemporising (I'm being kind) thing all over the crowd as he actually puts it himself.

Lennon's set is enjoyable, certainly ragged most of the time, but the band hits its stride on "Yer Blues", while the premiere of his superb drug-song "Cold Turkey" on the other hand fails to really take off and significantly doesn't inspire Lennon into the harrowing screams of pain and release on the recorded version. I'm no fan of Mrs Lennon's supposed music however and wish I could have had at least one more song from each of the great early rockers in her stead. That said, the fact that this represents almost certainly the only time Eric Clapton went avant-garde does give it some curiosity value.

Of the early rockers, Bo Diddley impresses most with his flashing feet and Tina Turner influenced dance routine with a female backing singer, although Chuck, Jerry and Richard all acquit themselves admirably (they could barely have been in their forties any of them and yet they still come across as veterans).

As a viewing experience this is obviously for Lennon die-hards only (that means me!) but I'll take JL's warts and all, no holding back approach to his music as documented here over the mythological pretensions of his rival from Duluth in Pennebaker's earlier ego-stroking "Don't Look Back".


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