Monday, May 6, 2013

The Beatles - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band



This album is largely considered mind blowing and many people will tell you that it "changed everything."  In an interesting contrast, my dad told me that he and his older brother took a trip to the record store.  His brother bought this album, and my dad got one by Herman and the Hermits.  They listened to this album once, then proceeded to listen to the Hermits album over and over again.  While it's certainly fair to mention that my dad was only 8 at the time, it still shows you that not everyone had their minds immediately changed when they heard the album back then.  I do however think it's a strong album, and certainly appeals to me as a clear predecessor to the rock music I grew up with.

  1. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" - A great guitar riff and a good driving drum beat make this song great.  It's near impossible to not also imagine the Beatles in their bright colored suits as you hear it too.  It's such an iconic image at this point, and the song is the proper backdrop for it.
  2. "With a Little Help from My Friends" - I technically first heard this song via the Joe Cocker version that was the theme song to the Wonder Years.  So when I heard this much peppier version for the first time, I was confused.  But overtime I've really grown to enjoy it and I  think it's one of  the most enjoyable Beatles' songs that Ringo sings on.
  3. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" - I spent a lot of time in my youth wondering if John was telling the truth, if this really was just based on a drawing by Julian, or if it was in fact a tribute to LSD.  As I get older I've decided it doesn't truly matter.  The images and wordplay sound to me like a tribute to Lewis Carroll, and the dreamy quality of the organ and the filter on John's vocals just set the mood perfectly.  A really great song.
  4. "Getting Better" - A song that perfectly encapsulates Paul the optimist and John the cynic into one simple line - "It's getting better all the time - It can't get no worse."  It's also just wonderfully upbeat in rhythm and a lot of fun to tap your foot to and sing along with.
  5. "Fixing a Hole" - A slightly more abstract song from Paul that's still about staying positive and not letting the bad stuff get you down.  Musically I don't know how to describe it, but I do like it a lot.
  6. "She's Leaving Home" - Definitely the one slow contribution from John & Paul, it's slow tempo and sad tone mean that it's one I have been known to pass over occasionally.  But I do find it very interesting that the point of view seems to be that it was good for this young girl to run away from home, despite the fact that her parents did not seem to be abusive in any way.  While there's certainly a detriment to spoiling your child, I'm not sure it warrants running away.
  7. "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" - I love the inspiration behind this one, the idea of finding such a great poster and then building a song around it.  The circus sound is just great and I really love the song.
  8. "Within You Without You" - George's song of the album, Indian influenced and just not my thing at all.  This is  the one I definitely skip.
  9. "When I'm Sixty Four" - Whimsical and silly, with a wonderful bouncy quality.  I dare you not to sing along with this one!
  10. "Lovely Rita" - Similar to the one above, it's just silly and infectious and wonderful.
  11. "Good Morning Good Morning" - A bit more dynamic than a lot of  the rest of the album, in a really good way.  I love the sort of monotone vocals John delivers on the verses followed by the shouting nature on the chorus, I can very easily see setting this as a song to wake up to.  Also, I love the parade of animals at the end, supposedly each one being followed by their natural predator.  The chicken being the last sound heard doesn't make any sense in that respect, but the chicken to guitar transition that takes us into the next song makes that worth it.
  12. "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)" - Even more rocking than the original and therefore even more fun.  It leaves you wanting more.
  13. "A Day in the Life" - Such an odd little song that feels like a concept album in and of itself in its own way.  The pieces of the song don't really mesh together all that well but there are enough proper transitions there that I don't mind it.  I also used to love turning the sound up to hear every last bit of that last piano chord ringing out.


2 comments:

  1. +JMJ+

    I know what my reaction to this album would have been! After the rough, occasionally harsh experimentation of Rubber Soul and Revolver, which are among my least favourite Beatles albums ever, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band would have felt like the sun rising again. It's melodic, polished, and sure of itself: a real joy to listen to!

    There's a bit of experimentation here, too, notably the whole conceit of them being a club band. But I like the theatricality of the opening and think it sets the perfect tone for the rest of the album. The songs also come together into one organic whole, a sense I didn't get from the last two albums.

    I read somewhere (Here? I can't recall!) that this album was The Beatles' answer to The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album. I can definitely hear that and wish the two bands had responded to each other some more.

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    Replies
    1. I can't take credit for the Pet Sounds factoid. However the beginning of the next album most definitely continues that idea. :)

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