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This review is from: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Audio CD)
One of three LP/CDs by the Beatles among my all-time top ten, along with "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver". Though not my personal favorite, this recording is essential in any collection of pop/rock recordings. It has been, since its release, a standard by which others are measured. It also marks the high-water mark of the Beatles creativity as a band. After "Sgt. Pepper..." came a directionless time during which the "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Yellow Submarine" records were released, followed by the period the band's breakdown, as chronicled in the "White Album", "Let It Be" and "Abbey Road". Though these latter efforts contained plenty of great music, it was clear that the Beatles were increasingly unable to function together as a unit. Individual tracks almost always spotlighted one of the band members while the others worked essentially as a backing group.
During a recent TV special, it wa said that, during the time the Beatles were in the studio making "Sgt. Pepper...", there was a lot of doubt about what they would come out with and many fans were giving up on them. As someone who was around at the time, I certainly don't remember much of that. Of course, the Beatles always had a few doubters and detractors, but most of us were looking forward to their next record. Stories of how much time and effort were going into it only fueled our anticipation. It was like the release of the fourth Harry Potter book when "Sgt. Pepper..." finally came out. Some stores opened early and huge numbers were sold the first day of it's release. I bought a copy that day like many others. Nor was I disappointed. Since then, I have spent many hours listening to "Sgt. Pepper..." and I expect I'll spend many more.
To appreciate the significance of "Sgt. Pepper..." you have to understand the pivotal place of the Beatles in the culture of the time. Quite simply, they changed everything. Before the Beatles, the primary medium of pop/rock music was the 45 rpm single. The Beatles released a flood of good quality songs, many original, so that "albums" became more than just a couple of hit singles packaged with a bunch of throwaway tracks. All of the tracks were good and people began to buy albums because it was the best way to get all the music. "Sgt. Pepper..." took this a step further by making the album a more unified whole. It elevated pop/rock music to the level of art, implying an expressiveness and timelessness beyond anything rock had previously aspired to. But the impact of the Beatles went far beyond music. It entered into fashion, modes of behavior, and popular attitudes in a variety of areas. We were even fed a constant stream of news reports about what the Beatles were doing from day to day or week to week. London became, for a time, THE cultural center of the world.
"Sgt. Pepper..." itself has a timeless quality. Songs such as With A Little Help From My Friends, Getting Better, Within You Without You, When I'm Sixty-four and others have themes that people can relate to just as well today as when they were first released. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and A Day In The Life, while perhaps mored dated lyrically, are among the most interesting pieces in other respects.
For those of us who were around and listening when "Sgt. Pepper..." came out, it is more than just a record or CD. It marks the peak of a time of incredible energy and change. The decline and dissolution of the Beatles is something many of us still feel in a very personal way. Even today, we mourn the end of the Beatles and the death of John Lennon. Those events represent the passing and final end of something we treasured.
"Sgt. Pepper..." is a great record by a great band. Even more, it is a central landmark of its period and of its genre. If you think you like rock music, but you don't have a copy of "Sgt. Pepper...", sorry but you've missed it. Get a copy. You can't really appreciate the Beatles without it. Definitely a favorite of mine, and I expect it will be a favorite of yours, too.
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Showing 1-10 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 11, 2007 1:25:53 PM PDT
I really think this review eloquently and touchingly captures the essence of the profound cultural influence of the Beatles at the moment noted by someone who was clearly there and felt the shared experience.
Posted on Dec 6, 2007 5:37:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 6, 2007 5:37:41 PM PST
Irma Ortiz says:
I agree--this review captures the spirit of Sgt. Pepper's.
Posted on Dec 15, 2007 8:53:47 PM PST
Bret Cain says:
i just want to say i think it is pretty damn cool you heard "pepper's" the day it was released.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 28, 2008 12:10:46 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 28, 2008 12:14:58 PM PST]
Posted on Mar 25, 2008 3:35:32 PM PDT
need coffee now! says:
I really like your review and you made some great points. I would have to disagree wheen you say that Lucy in the Sky... and A Day In the Life have dated lyrically. Lucy is a psychadelic trip and is very evocatiove of a dreamworld, for want of a better word. A Day In The Life will always be timeless, not only because of the great arrangement and merging of two different songs, but I think the very Englishness of the lyrics keep the song fresh. References to The House Of Lords, English Army, Blackburn Lancashire, The Albert Hall and Paul's line:"found my way downstairs and drank a cup" all sound mundane but it works very well as the song is basically Johns musings about newspaper stories. Compared to a lot of Summer Of love songs, these two classics wil never age.
Posted on Sep 8, 2009 10:43:09 PM PDT
I think the Beatles recorded their finest work after Sgt Pepper. I always liked the Beatles music starting with their 1967 music until their demise in 1970. Abbey Road was a much finer produced album and Magical Mystery Tour produced their finest music that "immortalized" them in pop history.
Posted on Sep 12, 2009 8:58:39 AM PDT
Kaiser Tarafdar says:
you said "though not my personal favorite" and then proceeded to praise sergeant pepper and glorify it and said " sorry you've missed it" if one didn't have the record. the message appears somewhat contradictory, though thruthful in the sense that you certainly acknowledge the greatness of it from historical perspective. your self-penned comment "though not my personal favorite" did not receive any further garnishing or elaboration at all in your review, which makes me think that either you deliberately did not want to make any negative comment about the album for fear of criticism, or you just forgot to mention your inner thoughts and went on to talk about the history of it as the world percieves it and not the way you percieve it, which would have been more revealing.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 15, 2009 9:29:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 15, 2009 9:35:17 PM PDT
You're right. In my opinion, Sgt. Pepper stands as a monumental artistic achievement and a cultural icon. It was a turning point for rock music. It was also a terrific album and I have listened to it a lot over the years. But it still isn't my personal favorite Beatles album, nor is it my favorite rock album. There is no requirement that my favorite album should necessarily be the greatest. If you had asked me which Beatles album was my favorite at the time I wrote the review, my answer would probably have been Rubber Soul. Now, I'm not sure what I would say. Further, my personal favorite album is Who's Next. But, again, that doesn't mean that I don't think Sgt. Pepper is one of the greatest albums in rock. It's just not my personal favorite. If you look at my list of my 10 favorites, it's in there along with 9 others that I think are classics, and it's an essential album in any classic rock collection.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 29, 2009 1:58:12 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 29, 2009 2:04:38 PM PDT
Duncan Reid says:
need coffee now!,
I agree with your response to Antioch Andy's assessment of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds;" very well put. While I also agree that "A Day in the Life" is not dated lyrically, I don't think its "Englishness" has anything to do with it. The lyrics are still powerful because anyone in the world can not only relate to the everyday routine of life, no matter what it entails, but also how tragic and absurd events can occur on any given day. These events can amuse us, make us think and shake us to the core. Moreover, the lyrics are hardly mundane. The words are simple and straight forward and contrast the different aspects of life, not to mention a hint at altered consciousness (Paul's line: "...somebody spoke and I went into a dream.") Chills go up and down my spine each time I hear "A Day in the Life."
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 29, 2009 2:15:04 PM PDT
Duncan Reid says:
I do not understand how you can undervalue the Beatles pre-1967 work. However, I will allow that assessing music or any other art form is highly subjective. By the way, Sgt. Pepper was recorded in 1967.
Maybe you should say: "I always liked the Beatles music starting with Magical Mystery Tour until their demise in 1970."