Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club is the most important album the Beatles ever recorded. The satin uniforms, the backward music, that whole Paul is Dead thing. And it was in eye popping color. Their first smash album in the U.S. was Meet The Beatles, followed by their appearance on Ed Sullivan-both in black and white. The split lighting on the cover of Meet the Beatles has been paraded almost as much as the mob scene on the cover of Sgt Pepper.
I discovered the Beatles when I was in High School in the late 1970s. Disco and New Wave ruled the airwaves, so it was kind of natural to find something else to listen to. I listened to Meet the Beatles, but then jumped right into Sgt Pepper, and soon after The White Album. I read books and listened to radio shows, and I was hooked.
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band was amazing. From the images on the fold-out album cover to the little insert with a cutout mustache, Sgt Pepper was great before you even played it. The Beatles music always sealed the deal though. It’s hard for the iPod generation to understand what real stereo is supposed to sound like. There were two channels of sound, and different stuff came out of each speaker. The modern blending methods have abandoned all the fun of stereo.
Like the Ramons, The Beatles didn’t really believe that making a song longer made it better, though two of the song on Sgt Pepper do top five minutes. A pretty long time for a song in 1967. This is not a long album, but it is still an amazing one.
Sgt Pepper on Google News gets over two hundred results, from the death of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to Sgt Pepper cover artist Sir Peter Blake designing a label for a beer bottle. But then, the Beatles are always in the News about some silly thing or another.
The songs on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band have always had a bitter sweet quality to them. From the sad and mellow Ringo Starr on With a Little Help from my Friends to John Lennon’s meditations on the pointlessness of it all in A Day in the Life. Lovely Rita is the only upbeat song. Which may be why angst filled teens the world over have always loved this album. Hey, if the Beatles can be bummed out, what chance do I have?
The Beatles were as rich as kings and could do anything they wanted, like having an orchestra play the backup music on their albums. Sgt Pepper has a very different sound from earlier Beatles albums, and from Pop/Rock albums in general. There were no singles from Sgt Pepper, just as there had been no singles released with Rubber Soul. Both albums are best when taken as a whole. Album Rock would be a big trend in the 1970s with groups like Pink Floyd seldom releasing singles.
One of my favorite track on Sgt Pepper is George Harrison’s Within You and Without You, the perfect blend of Zen and Sitar. Great Stuff, really great stuff. The beats are so damned good in Lovely Rita. I have been listening to the Beatles Sgt Pepper for close to thirty years myself, and I haven’t tired of it yet.