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Member Name: GentleGenius
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles
Back in the hazy halcyon days of the summer of 1967, The Beatles treated the world to their best-selling album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which shot straight to no.1 in the UK in June of that year. It stayed at the top for a 23 week run, returning for one more week in November, then for a further two weeks in late December and early January of 1968. In February, it then spent another week at the no.1 spot. For at least a couple of decades, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the best-selling album of all time, when it was taken over by Michael Jackson's Thriller.
The Beatles had already dipped their toes into the pool of experimentation, not just with their music but also with their lifestyles, and their Sgt. Pepper album took their work to a crescendo, after which they returned to their more basic pop/rock roots. Handsomely and very ably assisted by their producer George Martin, this album pushed a few barriers, yet still retainins a very listenable-to mood throughout.
The classic and immediately recognisable sleeve of Sgt. Pepper (designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth) shows all four Beatles dressed in colourful uniforms in front of a drum bearing the album's name, set just above the word 'Beatles' emblazoned in red flowers, with various famous and not so famous people crowded around and behind them. There are also a couple of strange figurines perched on the grass under a cloudless blue sky.
The concept of Sgt. Pepper is supposed to be that of a fictitious band, which apparently suggested by Paul McCartney, was a way of disengaging The Beatles from their previous 'mop top' image. The result was a distinctive, groundbreaking album with a very definite psychedelic flavour which was unique to The Beatles, and quite far away from the mysterious, repetitive pounding guitars of early Pink Floyd or the deep and trippy offerings from the hippie brigade which at the time was the driving force youth movement on the West Coast of the USA.
The album contains quite simple songs, such as With A Little Help From My Friends, the poignant She's Leaving Home, the cheeky Lovely Rita (dedicated to a traffic warden who used to patrol Abbey Road in London where The Beatles' recording studios were) and When I'm Sixty-Four, with more experimental offerings such as George Harrison's Indian-influenced Within You Without You, the groundbreaking A Day In The Life and the weird and wonderful Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. The line "I'd love to turn you on" in the lyrics of A Day In The Life were interpreted by many as being drug-orientated, and for that reason, the song was banned from airplay by the BBC for quite some time. Both Lennon (who wrote the words) and McCartney who largely wrote the tune would sometimes hotly deny any drug references, they claiming it to be about a mixture of Paul McCartney's youth and John Lennon's feelings after having read a newspaper article on somebody being killed in a car crash, but at other times McCartney has admitted to the song being drug-inspired.
Then, there is the now famous issue of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. Many people have always insisted that 'Lucy' is definitely drug-related, picking out the initial letters of some of the words in the title, which spell out LSD. Even right up to his death, John Lennon always firmly asserted that 'Lucy' was about a painting of a woman flying through the sky surrounded by yellow diamond shapes which his then little son Julian had created, and that when John asked him what it was, Julian answered "It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds".
I'm not sure if people who weren't around in the 1960s can pick up on the mood of Sgt. Pepper when listening to the album....I mean the whole atmosphere of what was going on at the time, but for me it overall is an exalting album, laced with a surrealism which positively screams 1967 at anybody who remembers the year and was young (or old!) enough to be influenced by the year as a whole.
Sgt. Pepper for me is an album which, even today, can spark off strange little patterns, cartoons and colours inside of my mind if I listen to it with closed eyes. Although the tracks are very different from one another, they do link beautifully together, having a perfect follow-through. By the time Sgt. Pepper was released, the mums and dads of those who were teenagers at the time, I feel had already decided that The Beatles had lost their minds, and this album simply, for those parents, confirmed their beliefs. The appreciation of the concept behind Sgt. Pepper was so far away from their world, yet it shone a sharp laser beam of light and positivity into the minds of 1960s youth, firing their imaginations and spellbinding them.
As far as my own feelings towards Sgt. Pepper are concerned, although I adore and enshrine it, it isn't actually my favourite Beatles' album (my overall favourite is their last, Abbey Road). For me, Sgt. Pepper is on a par with Revolver, but I can't compare it to any of the band's earlier works, as the band was on a fast track of rapid, mind-blowing change to the point where the music on Sgt. Pepper bears no resemblance to, for instance, that of The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night album.
I love all of the tracks on Sgt. Pepper, my overall favourite probably being Good Morning Good Morning, which is quite a jerky, fast song, written and sung by Lennon who apparently was inspired into writing it after having seen a TV advert for Kellogg's cornflakes. I can't pick a least favourite, as I don't have one, the remainder of the tracks appealing to me equally.
It would be interesting, but quite likely impossible, to hear Sgt. Pepper for the first time, yet through the ears of say somebody who is currently aged in their 20s, as I'd be fascinated to hear what they hear, and experience what vibes they picked up on it and what atmosphere it created for them.
It is my personal view that anybody's music collection is bereft without a copy of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band, even if a CD of the album is merely there for posterity. It would also be interesting to travel 100 years forward in time, to see if it then it would still be regarded as one of the very best albums ever made, or would it by then have been shoved on the back burner or forgotten about altogether? I also wonder what Sgt. Pepper would have sounded like had The Beatles' producer been somebody different to George Martin, as he in my view, most definitely must be regarded as the fifth Beatle.
If you have never heard Sgt. Pepper, I strongly suggest you download a copy of it from a legal .mp3 site, or treat yourself to the CD....it will be well worth it, I promise you.
At the time of writing, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £8.47 to £26.90
Used: from £8.23 to £28.80
Collectible: from £8.76 to £75.00
New: from £14.31 to £34.22 (gosh, I remember when it was 32/6d, which is approx. £1.62 in today's money!)
Used: only one copy currently available @ £15.84
Collectible: only two copies currently available @ £19.99 and £34.99
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
With A Little Help From My Friends
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Fixing A Hole
She's Leaving Home
Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite
Within You Without You
When I'm Sixty-Four
Good Morning Good Morning
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
A Day In The Life
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: No respectable music collection is complete without it