The Beatles - Sgt Peppers

The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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Sgt Pepper’s was, along with a handful of others, an album that changed the course of popular music forever, but was it The Beatles best?

Written by: Explorer

ARTIST: The Beatles
ALBUM: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
LABEL: Parlophone
SERIAL: PMC 7027
YEAR: 1967
CD REISSUE: Reissue List

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Flag England
LINEUP: John Lennon – vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards * Paul McCartney – vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards, percussion * George Harrison – guitar, vocals, sitar * Ringo Starr – drums, vocals, percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band * 02 With A Little Help From My Friends * 03 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds * 04 Getting Better * 05 Fixing A Hole * 06 She’s Leaving Home * 07 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! * 08 Within You Without You * 09 When I’m Sixty Four * 10 Lovely Rita * 11 Good Morning Good Morning * 12 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) * 13 A Day In The Life

WEBLINK: Site Link | FB Page | Sgt Peppers Link

Background

Probably the most written about album in the history of Rock music.. period. ‘Sgt Peppers..’ is an album that effectively, along with The Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ changed the course of popular music forever.

That’s not to say it’s the greatest album in rock history – of course it isn’t, and for that matter it’s not even the best Beatles album (that honour is a tossup between ‘Revolver’ and ‘Abbey Road’), but with its (for the time) outrageous production and arrangement values, iconic sleeve design and clever concept. This was released at a time of cultural awakening (that’s the taking of certain substances to me and you!!), things wouldn’t quite be the same ever again.

This album more than any other was played to death in my house in the 60’s courtesy of an older brother who was 17 back in 1967 and although not fully appreciating all its nuances then, I was enthralled by it too. This coming June 2017 ‘Sgt Pepper..’ will celebrate its 50th Birthday so what better time to review this classic.

The Songs

Ridding themselves of the burden of touring, The Beatles put all their considerable talents and efforts into the studio and pushing forth barriers like never before. This resulting album was a bewildering mix of psychedelia, whimsical music hall, Indian musings and an early sighting of progressive rock. And also not without The Beatles uncanny knack of writing enduring pop songs too.

Never before had the world’s record-buying public been subjected to an all-out assault on their already somewhat shredded senses. ‘Sgt Pepper..’ is generally seen as a concept album, but not so for me. It’s rather a collection of songs cleverly woven together to make one continuous piece of music. It’s a testament to not just the Beatles but also the genius of producer George Martin who along with the band took what technology they had at their disposal to its very limits.

Songs such as ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ and ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite’ positively glow, and the epic ‘A Day In The Life’ is a cleverly spliced together piece and is the Beatles at their most inventive. Lesser known tracks such as ‘Fixing A Hole’ and ‘Getting Better’ are in some ways a hark back to the earlier, simpler Beatles music but are full of those typically infectious Beatles hooks.

There are along the way a couple of duffers too, George Harrison’s Indian influenced jaunt ‘Within You, Without You’ is a track that truthfully outstays its welcome and ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’ smacks of filler, but everywhere else there are classics a plenty. From the vibrant title track and the (now) standard ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, and even with Ringo’s nasally vocals it’s still a charmer, and as well as the comfy as an old pair of slippers. ‘When I’m Sixty Four’, ‘Sgt Pepper..’ is still for me a piece of art that delivers on multiple levels.

In Summary

50 years old and now showing definite signs of aging, but without a shadow of a doubt one of the most important albums ever released. A standard had been well and truly set, and with this album, The Beatles left most of their contemporaries floundering in their (considerable) wake.

Best heard in its original mono (although I will be getting the 50th-anniversary edition which has been given the usual 5.1 once over by George Martin’s son Giles), this version is how the band made it, and for me the best way to hear it too. ‘Sgt Pepper..’ is an album that was not only musically significant but also culturally too. Epoch-making.


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