It was 50 years ago today, give or take a month or two, “Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play”. To be precise, it was released in the US on June 2nd, 1967, one week after the UK release. It is believed that “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” kicked off the summer of love. Okay.
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is a grossly over-rated album, and ultimately the beginning of the end for The Beatles. It is a mere lateral sidestep in musical growth after the release of “Revolver” from the previous year.
Let’s compare the two albums.
|Revolver||Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band|
|Raga?||“Love You To”||“Within You Without You”|
|Nostalgic Whimsical Schmaltz?||“Here There And Everywhere”||“When I’m 64”|
|Ringo?||“Yellow Submarine””||“With A Little Help From My Friends”|
|Sly Marijuana Reference?||“Got To Get You Into My Life”||“Fixing A Hole”|
|George||3 Songs||1 Song|
|John||5 1/2 Songs||4 Songs|
|Paul||5 1/2 Songs||8 Songs|
Do the math and it’s plain that McCartney takes over while Lennon loses interest. Lennon’s obviously more interested in something Japanese, avant-garde and female. With the exception of “The White Album”, the McCartney dictatorship grew with each following album.
I don’t fully understand the overall concept of Sgt. Pepper’s. Why is it a concept album? It’s obvious in the opening track, which segues into the introduction of Billy Shears and “With A Little Help From My Friends”. Then later in the reprise, which segues into “A Day In The Life”. Is this supposed to be from the point of view of Billy Shears’ pal that sounds like John Lennon singing?
Is the guy who’s “Fixing A Hole” one of the guys in the Lonely Hearts Club Band? If so, this would be a concept album. Don’t tell the naked emperor, but it’s just another Beatles album thinly disguised as a concept album.
Originally, the album was supposed to include “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane”. Maybe with the inclusion of these two songs, “Sgt. Pepper’s” would have enough strings to pull together a singular concept of growing up in a fictional Liverpool, thusly giving “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!” and “Lovely Rita” greater weight.
Don’t get me wrong, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is not a bad album, just overrated. I still enjoy it in context of where it fits in musical history, but beyond that, “Revolver” and “Abbey Road” are much better albums.