Sgt. Pepper: Celebrating 50 Years-Here it is!
By JK the man
Ahhh, yes. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles is here in all its glory. It's one of the greatest albums of all time. I have a lot to say about it. The first album to have printed song lyrics, it brought the subgenre of psychedelic/acid rock into the mainstream of popular music, as a reaction to what was going on in the world at the time. Like so many other albums of the 1960s, this was a key element of the counterculture and hippie movement in terms of philosophy, language, ideas and beliefs. It was also the first concept album, which is an album where all of its songs are based on a central theme. It influenced other artists to release their own albums of that nature in the coming decades. Sgt. Pepper was ultimately labeled a true work of art after the Fab Four's transformation into a full-time studio band capable of producing anything. Now about the music: The Beatles spent 4 months and 700 minutes recording this album in the studio using whatever influences were available, including the drugs they did during these sessions. The idea was to have the Beatles pretend they were a brass band that had just given a concert in the park. All of the songs on Sgt. Pepper were recorded with electronic systems and technological methods, as well as various forms of instrumentation being utilized from start to finish. It even features sound effects of people and animals with the tapes played in different ways in certain songs. The title track and its reprise clearly state what the album is about with catchy melodies and attention-grabbing beats. "With A Little Help From My Friends" makes you feel good about yourself when your pals are at your side. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" paints a picture with its lyrical imagery and metaphorical composition even if it comes from the acid-tripping John and "Within You Without You" is a musing on Eastern mysticism from George who is accompanied mostly by Indian musicians. "A Day In The Life" is earth-shattering and notable for having two different compositions merge as one since John and Paul worked on it together. It's a very fine song because of the orchestra playing this one note crescendo, making it seem like a time warp all throughout (at least that's what I think of when I hear it). The crashing piano chord at the end of the song is mind-blowing and changes your way of thinking about how the Beatles ever recorded music as a band before or after. Sgt. Pepper is notorious for being a Paul album because Paul came up with the idea for it and wrote most of the songs, although the whole band collaborated on this album in unison. It is understandable why Paul succeeded with this Beatles album and his creativity shows everywhere. He actually played the guitar solos in "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "Good Morning Good Morning." With "She's Leaving Home" and "Getting Better," Paul demonstrates his ability to showcase the happy and sad elements of human nature in storytelling mode. He wrote "When I'm Sixty-Four" as an old jazz tune to honor his father, further promoting his role as the driving force behind the whole project. "Fixing A Hole" and "Lovely Rita" may not be the best songs on Sgt. Pepper, but they do serve their purpose. The album cover is good, too. Designed by Peter Blake, it features cardboard cutouts of famous people surrounding the Beatles themselves dressed as the fictional band on a background which resembles an outdoor setting. One interesting thing about the cover photo is there are wax statues of the Beatles courtesy of Madame Tussauds, giving the listener the impression that they are watching the band as well. What is amazing to anyone who listens to Sgt. Pepper is there are no gaps in the album as the sequence continuously moves from one song to another. This was the first rock album to make the album a measurement of sales as opposed to the single. In short, the Beatles were at work on their most imaginative art form when they decided to make this masterpiece. I see why so many people think Sgt. Pepper is great and I agree that it is a classic now just as when it was first released in 1967. From the first notes to the inner groove at the end, Sgt. Pepper is considered awesome for all the right reasons and now 50 years later, it's still a gem. This is definitely one of my favorite Beatles albums as the music shines with excellence. Buy this album if you haven't already done so. Trust me; you'll like it. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.