Saturday, October 30, 2010
A Record a Week: The Beatles - Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
SGT. PEPPERS 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. PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND (REPRISE)
A DAY IN THE LIFE
Well, what more can be said about this album. Seen by many as the pinnacle of their career, this album has been dissected more times than a high school science class pig.
This album is surely one of my favourite Beatles albums and probably top 10 in overall albums as well. It has a terrific flow and good mix of styles and instrumentation, which is harder to do than one might think. Take Revolver for instance; it had experimental songs and happy-go-lucky songs up back-to-back in high contrast. Not that I have any problem with that, but it certainly doesn't have the same continuity. Blending many different musical styles was not nearly as popular then as it is now, making an album like this very progressive for its time. On this album they have orchestral backgrounds, rock, jazz, pop and Indian music. Whether it's the harp-ridden 'She's Leaving Home', or the bouncy 'When I'm Sixty-Four', or the carnival-like 'Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!', the sounds are never quite the same. At the same time, using similar background sounds or effects allowed them to tie one song to the next, despite the differences.
The two sides of the Beatles fence come in to full play here. Those who enjoy their earlier music get a taste of hearing it infused with different styles and effects. Those who enjoy their more experimental music must admit that the groundwork for those songs was laid out by the fame gained by their earlier work. Experimental music was not by any means the norm at the time and the reception to an album like this would probably not have been what it turned out to be. Some reviews did find the album to be sub-par and that the efforts to branch out were forced or phony. I don't see it that way myself. Regardless of whether you like it or not, there is no denying the influence it had on music in the years following.
This album is also viewed as one of the earliest concept albums, in that its original intention was to portray a fictitious band (Sgt. Peppers) performing an album as written by them, not the Beatles. This idea only really held true for a few of the songs, but the natural flow that the song order took created the framework for concept albums. On the flip side, it is sort of an anti-concept album, as its broad covering of styles and themes do not fit the traditional sense of a concept album, which can usually be listened to almost as one whole song, as well as the individual songs that make up the whole album.
The songs are engraved from a childhood full of listening to this album, but 'A Day in the Life' stands out as one of my all-time favourite songs.