Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Highly Appreciated

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band  is the eighth studio album by the British rock band the Beatles.  Released on 1 June 1967, it was an immediate commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the albums chart in the United Kingdom and 15 weeks at number one in the United States.  It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honor.  Knowing they would not have to perform the tracks live, the band adopted an experimental approach to composition.  In 2003 the Library of Congress placed Sgt. Pepper in the National Recording Registry, honouring the work as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.  That same year Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number one in its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.  As of 2014, it has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums in history.  (More from Wikipedia)
If the dates on Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 strike you odd – thinking, wait a minute,  the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band didn’t come out until the summer of 1967 – well, that is true; but psychedelia had been around a long time before that mainstream hit.
(January 2011)
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Many other artists in the 1960s also took a whack at psychedelia.  Kenny Rogers’ first band the First Edition had an early hit song with “Just Dropped in (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)”; though the lyrics kind of miss the boat, they are still charmingly corny.  “Hurdy Gurdy Man” is one of many great psychedelic songs Donovan came up with.  The Beatles had Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the Rolling Stones had Their Satanic Majesties’ Request.  Even Motown got into the act:  The Supremes hit with “Reflections”, while the Temptations had several psychedelic songs – “Psychedelic Shack”, “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today)”, “Runaway Child, Runnin’ Wild”, and others.  Many were on their 1970 album Psychedelic Shack; one of the biggest hits by the B-52’sLove Shack” was in part an homage to this record. 
(March 2011)
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I have a confession to make though.  When I first heard the Stars on 45 Medley” (Beatles medley), there were several songs that I was actually not familiar with.  I don’t think that I have ever told anyone this before now; I wonder how many other Beatles fans were similarly chagrined.  My own experience with the band is being caught up in the excitement in late 1963 and early 1964, but I quit buying Beatles albums sometime in 1965, though I still bought a lot of their 45’s.  Naturally, I bought Sgt. Pepper right away, and it wasn’t long before I figured out how good the preceding album Revolver was.  However, I didn’t buy Rubber Soul until I got the box set, The Beatles / The Collection.  Basically, between Yesterday and Sgt. Pepper, if it wasn’t on the radio, I hadn’t heard it.  Thus, for this music fan at least, Stars on 45 reawakened my interest in the Beatles, and I definitely took to heart their exhortation:  “Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t forget!” 
(September 2012)
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Progressive rock evolved from the wild experimentation that took place in the wake of the explosive release of the Beatles’ landmark album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, when it seemed that anything was possible in popular music.  The whole idea of a “concept album” took hold about then – though several other albums were arguably concept albums before Sgt. Pepper came along – and the Sgt. Pepper album was excellent throughout, with no obvious “singles”, which led to the idea of “album-oriented rock” (AOR).  (Like “punk rock” and “new wave”, the term “AOR” eventually was applied to so many different kinds of music that it began to lose its meaning).  An article in the college newspaper that I remember from my freshman year named many of the incredible bands that were current then, and then stated that it was hard to believe that Sgt. Pepper had come out just two years before that. 
Printing out the lyrics in an album was comparatively rare until Sgt. Pepper came along
 (October 2012)
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A couple of months ago, the Jensen turntable that I was bragging on a couple of posts back started running just a tiny bit slow.  I had an inkling that this had been going on for a while, but it was pretty subtle.  Well, one day, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band rose to the top of the rescued LP stack; and when I started playing it, there was no question at all that it didn’t sound right.  I took it to our local TV/audio repair store (Pass Road Tee Vee Service in Biloxi, for you locals – highly recommended; they really know their stuff, and their prices are very reasonable), and it seemed like they fixed it right up for me – Sgt. Pepper played just fine, and I went through several more LP’s. 
Well, several weeks later, I put on a Bob Dylan album – yes, I had a bunch of Beatles albums and Dylan albums come up for cleaning at about the same time, and that was pretty cool – and again, I had an inkling that it was running a tiny bit slow.  But it was an intermittent problem, and I just played another record instead that sounded okay; eventually I put the Dylan album back on, and it sounded fine that second time.  Finally, I put on the first Violent Femmes album – that was a record that I literally bought right off the turntable when it was playing at the time that I was shopping in a record store years ago – and it didn’t play right two times in a row, so I was resigned to having to get it fixed again.  I called the repairman up, and he said that the type of variable-speed motor that they use in turntables can sometimes need adjusting.  He told me just to bring it in anytime, and they would fix it up for me at no charge.  I hate having to do things twice, and I have been so busy at work as well, so I have been putting off taking it back to the shop. 
 (December 2012)
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The next album by Les Sinners (though with the name shortened to just Sinners) for JupiterVox Populi (Latin for “Voice of the People”) came out in 1968 and is among the crush of “concept albums” that followed in the wake of the Beatles1967 masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  The album has acquired legendary status among fans of Quebec’s musical scene.  The album is entirely in French and is probably the first and certainly one of the best French Canadian concept albums ever released.  A whole barrel of musical influences are present:  the Beatlesthe Monkeesthe Byrds, the WhoIndian music, etc.  The cover appears to show Jesus speaking in a snowy cemetery. 


(April 2013)


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The Beatles performed a sort of mini-Wall of Sound at the close of their masterful Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, not long after Phil Spector came along.  Following the second symphonic build-up within “A Day in the Life”, the orchestra swelled into a crescendo, and then there was a thunderous piano chord (an E-major chord to be exact).  Many people who have been around a piano marvel at how long the instrument can hold a note; and here, the Beatles were dealing that expectation up in spades with a long, slow fade for nearly one full minute before the sound faded into background hiss. 


Actually though, it wasn’t just one piano:  John LennonPaul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and one of the Beatles’ roadies, Mal Evans were manning different pianos; while George Martin was playing the same chord on a harmonium.  What’s more, the gain was gradually turned up as the chord faded in order to prolong the effect – at the end (they tell me), it is possible to hear background sounds in the recording studio:  rustling papers, a squeaking chair, and the air conditioners. 


(October 2013)


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To some extent, the psychedelic movement in rock was winding down when Cheap Thrills came out in August 1968, or at least it was old news:  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had come out the year before, the Summer of Love in San Francisco was also in 1967, and Hair opened on Broadway in late 1967.  There was even a mock funeral for “The Death of the Hippie” in San Francisco in October 1967


(February 2014)


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Allmusic states the musical and historical importance of Ptooff! well in their entry by Dave Thompson:  “Talk today about Britain’s psychedelic psyxties, and it’s the light whimsy of Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd, the gentle introspection of the Village Green Kinks, Sgt. Pepperand ‘My White Bicycle [by Tomorrow] which hog the headlines.  People have forgotten there was an underbelly as well, a seething mass of discontent and rancor which would eventually produce the likes of Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies, and the Edgar Broughton Band. . . . 


“But the deranged psilocybic rewrite of ‘Gloria’ which opens the album, ‘I’m Coming Home’, still sets a frightening scene, a world in which Top 40 pop itself is horribly skewed, and the sound of the Deviants grinding out their misshapen R&B classics is the last sound you will hear.  Move on to ‘Garbage’, and though the Deviants’ debt to both period [Frank] Zappa and [the] Fugs is unmistakable, still there’s a purity to the paranoia. 


Ptooff! was conceived at a time when there genuinely was a generation gap, and hippies were a legitimate target for any right-wing bully boy with a policeman’s hat and a truncheon.  IT and Oz, the two underground magazines which did most to support the Deviants ([Mick] Farren wrote for both), were both publicly busted during the band’s lifespan, and that fear permeates this disc; fear, and vicious defiance.” 


(March 2014/1)


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Small Faces’ response to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album was a remarkable psychedelic achievement called Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flakethe album was originally released in a round cover and had the appearance of a vintage tobacco tin.  And I sure wish it would show up from the LP’s in the Katrina mud that I still haven’t cleaned up, because I miss it! 


(April 2014)
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While the quotation about “more popular than Jesus” itself faded quickly – particularly after the band released their monumental Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album the following year – its effects never really went away.  Here is the chorus in the Beatles final #1 single, “The Ballad of John & Yoko” (and clearly John Lennon is addressing Jesus, not voicing an oath):  “Christ, you know it ain’t easy / You know how hard it can be / The way things are going / They’re gonna crucify me.” 


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Following the Beatles’ last tour, and before recording on Sgt. Pepper began in 1967George Harrison and his wife Pattie Boyd made a pilgrimage to Bombay, where he studied the sitar, met several gurus, and visited many holy places.


Also from Wikipedia:  “[George] Harrison became a vegetarian in the late 1960s, and a devotee of the Indian mystic Paramahansa Yogananda, a guru who proselytised Kriya yoga, after he was given Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi by Ravi Shankar.  (Yogananda and three other major figures from Kriya yogaSri Mahavatar BabajiSri Yukteswar Giri, and Sri Lahiri Mahasaya appear on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.)” 


Following the Beatles’ lead, many rock musicians began incorporating sitar into their recordings, including the Byrds and Stone Poneys; the Beatles song “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, included on their 1965 album Rubber Soul, was the first rock song to include sitar music, which was played by George Harrison on the song.  One of my favorite songs on the Sgt. Pepper album, “Within You, Without You”, was composed by George Harrison, who plays sitar and another Indian instrument, the tambura; several Indian musicians were also on hand.  

(September 2014)


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To some extent, Pet Sounds was Brian Wilson’s answer to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album; and in turn, the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album is in response to Pet Sounds Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds were voted #1 and #2, respectively, on the Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time


(October 2014)


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Terence Trent d’Arby, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent d’Arby – I remember there being a huge amount of hype associated with this album; the title alone promises more than almost anyone would be able to deliver.  There was a lot of that going around in the 1980’s, and VH1 mocked the era’s self-importance by naming one of their oldies shows The Big 80’s.  Allmusic reminded me of a quote from d’Arby himself that his was the most important album since Sgt. Pepper.  There were two hit singles from the album in the US called “Wishing Well” and “Sign Your Name”, both excellent (so were the music videos for these songs); and US album sales hit two million.   Another song from the album, “If You Let Me Stay” was a major Top 10 hit in the UK that stayed in the top half of the charts for over a year.
(December 2015)
Last edited: April 7, 2021