Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)


1.Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2.With A Little Help From My Friends
3.Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4.Getting Better
5.Fixing A Hole
6.She's Leaving Home
7.Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
8.Within You, Without You
9.When I'm Sixty-Four
10.Lovely Rita
11.Good Morning, Good Morning
12.Sergeant Pepper Reprise
13.A Day In The Life

 

So just how do you top what most critics consider the best rock and roll album of all time? Probably not even thinking about it, the band set out to do its most ambitious project ever by spending over six months and over 700 hours in the recording studio in 1967 for the successor to Revolver (pretty daunting when you remember that their first album was completely recorded in one day). What the band was doing that was different was sort of a loose concept album about a psychodelic "band" that were in vogue at the time. They sort of became "caricatures" if you will, and incorporated recording techniques that were years ahead of their time.

Horn sections, harps, mellotrons, string sections, indian music and barnyard animals (just to name a few) are abound and handled delicately and masterfully to enhance the pieces. It's a little hard to listen to the album and not think of the album cover that the band chose. In full colorful marching band get-up, the boys are surrounded by cardboard cutouts of pop culutre icons - past and present as to simulate the "band" behind Sergeant Pepper. The grandoise of the front cover is always in one's mind when listening to this piece of work, and although individual pieces stand out, the album is best when listened to as a whole.

As the title track opens the album, we can hear musicians tuning their instruments over an anxious audience awaiting a show (all make believe, you see) and they thunder into one of their best rockers complete with laughter from the audience at the right time (it's a "show", remember) and they finish the 2 minute opener with McCartney musically introducing "the one and only Billy Shears" that will sing the next song. Billy Shears, is apparantly Ringo who does one the best Beatle songs ever With a Little Help From My Friends that always sounds better with the title song as its intro. What follows is a barage of showy, hippy and somewhat mystical pieces that never fail to bore. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds is Lennon at his psychodelic best, even though the song is not about LSD (or so he claims). McCartney, as usual, is a little bit more mainstream with his contributions of the quirky Getting Better and Fixing A Hole, and he puts on his best vaudville hat for When I'm Sixty-Four. George Harrison's Indian piece Within You, Without You sounds and awful lot like Love You To from Revolver, but it does tend to blend with the overall feel of the album.

Lennon and McCartney pair together for two of the album's best pieces. The first offering is the sadly overlooked She's Leaving Home - a very touching piece that brings tears to the eye. Their second team effort is the album's "encore" A Day In The Life. Rumor has it that the song was combined from two different songs - Lennon needed a middle portion, and McCartney needed a beginning and an end. So the two combine two completely different songs and made a very interesting tune about a drug trip.

Revolver may have been the band's best album, but this release was undoubtably the most influential.

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