Saturday, June 01, 2013

It was 46 years ago today...

...that the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club album by the Beatles was released. Here's what I said about it in my book (which you could and SHOULD buy here for a ridiculously low price): 

It's June 1, 1967 and I'm a teenager working at Wallichs Music City, a record store in the San Fernando Valley...

In June a ton of boxes from Capital Records arrived. Inside was the new Beatles album – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Hurriedly, we put it on in the store and I was completely knocked out by it. So innovative and original and groundbreaking. It’s hard to believe how much they had grown as musicians. Just three years ago they were singing, “She Loves You/ Yeah Yeah Yeah” and now they’re doing “Day in the Life” complete with its complex arrangement, full orchestra, and audio effects never before heard. Music historians will tell you this was the album that defined psychedelic rock and maybe the decade itself. All I know is this: we played Sgt. Pepper’s continuously that summer. Nothing else. Just Sgt. Pepper’s. I must’ve heard it 500 times that summer, maybe a thousand.

And I never got tired of it.

Still to this day, I could listen to Sgt. Pepper’s on a continuous loop. I can’t say that about any other album I’ve ever heard.

Sgt. Pepper also generated a fair amount of controversy because of its lyrics. There was much speculation that there were drug references hidden in them; “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – LSD being the most obvious. Drug reference lyrics became the rage in this period. The Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” are just two of many examples. Donovan made a career out of stringing non-sequiturs together that people interpreted as deeply meaningful.

Electrical bananas are sure to be the very next phase.

They weren't.  But Sgt. Pepper's is still a best-selling album/CD/download/rip today.   Worth revisiting.   Or discovering for the first time.  Plug in a banana, have a toke, and enjoy.

17 comments:

Cap'n Bob said...

Anyone who loves Sgt. Pepper's that much can't be all bad. But I also loved their early stuff, which was usually straight out rock made special by their top notch talents.

Michael in Vancouver said...

I've often found it a struggle trying to explain to people born after 1980 just why Sgt Pepper (or even Revlover or the White Album) were so innovative.

Part of the reason Pepper sounds so unusual is that they synched together two four-track tape machines to form the world's first eight-track recording (not to be confused with those 8-track cartridges from the 1970s). By having eight tracks to mix down from, they were able to layer a quantity of sounds never heard before.

Not to mention the innovative use of tape loops, orchestras, etc. All of which soon became standard. Someone else would have experimented in those ways if The Beatles hadn't, but it would have been done more gradually here and there, not on one record by one group. Never before (or since) had one group been the first to do so much at one time.

Liggie said...

Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" did have many engineering and musical innovations as well, but there's no denying the Beatles' massive accomplishment on "Sgt. Pepper's".

Gregg said...

Off topic, but I am eagerly awaiting a post about Jean Stapleton. I am a generation too young to have seen "All in the Family" live, but I spent my early teens watching it on Nick at Night and have loved her ever since.

Diogo said...

Jean Stapleton has passed away :(

Diogo said...

I'd also like to see a post about Dan Harmon's announced return to Community. They're saying this is a first, that a showrunner who's been fired by the network has been rehired a year later for the possible final season. (you never know, the show's been on the bubble from day 1)

MikeBo said...

To this day I will argue that Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band was the greatest album ever release. Gads....46 years! Thanks for the reminder, Ken, that I'm now officially - OLD.

Jeffrey Mark said...

I definitely remember when Sgt.Pepper came out. I was finishing up the 5th grade, just turned 11 and my family made a trip to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. Sgt. Pepper was playing from every window all throughout the neighborhood. And back home in San Jose we used to have a local street fair down the block from my house - very hippy-dippy for 1967. You could hear the album coming from every house all day long. It just blew my mind as a Beatlemaniac. Most played album all through the summer of Love. I really came of age with that album.

BigTed said...

The dreadful 1978 'Sgt. Pepper's' movie, starring Peter Frampton and the BeeGees, nearly ruined the album for me. It was like an episode of 'The Monkees,' except less entertaining.

DwWashburn said...

My Dad drove a beer route truck and I helped him in the summer. In 1969, I found an 8 track of Pepper on the cut out table and bought it to play in the truck between stops. Dad would put it in the player every other day. I would enjoy the music but be uncomfortable with the looks he would shoot toward me from time to time on certain tracks. Then we'd put Charlie Pride's 8 track in the player and all would be right with Dad again.

Johnny Walker said...

What synchronicity! I'm going through a big Beatle-loving phase at the moment. If you haven't heard the 2009 Remasters, they are definitely worth checking out. The difference between the original CD releases is ASTOUNDING. I couldn't believe it when I heard them side by side.

Anyhoo, I wish someone would make a decent movie about the Lennon-McCartney partnership. I love their music, but their dynamic is fascinating. How they sparked off each other, and how it all came crashing down, it fascinating to me.

Traci said...

When I broke up with my first boyfriend in 1987, an older friend loaned me a copy of Sgt. Pepper's. I listened to it over and over and it was about the only thing that kept me from being depressed.

gottacook said...

Still to this day, I could listen to Sgt. Pepper’s on a continuous loop.

For years the only version of Sgt. Pepper's in my family was the (continuous loop) 8-track tape, usually heard in the car. We had a '67 Pontiac wagon, the first year GM offered an 8-track player; one speaker was in the center of the dashboard top, the other in the far back.

As usual in those days, record companies would edit an album into four equal lengths to fit the format. Except for one hearing of the LP (on a camp counselor's portable mono record player in July 1967 when I was 10), I was never exposed to the correct track order until I went to college.

At least this particular Capitol 8-track didn't cut any song in two, with fade-out and fade-in (very common), or delete any verses (as happened on several Columbia 8-track Dylan releases), or repeat two whole songs (as on the A&M 8-track of Tea for the Tillerman). But nearly all 8-track factory releases messed around with track order versus the original LP. "A Day in the Life" wasn't at the "end" of the album (the end of program 4), the "Reprise" was - with a partial internal repeat to lengthen the song by perhaps 12 seconds.

Naturally (or perhaps unnaturally) I still have all the 8-tracks I or my family ever owned, also a working Weltron 2001 that was a high school graduation present. Many won't play now because the cement holding the loop of tape together (this is where the bit of metal foil is spliced in, which actuates the playback head shifting mechanism) has turned to powder, and there's not much reason these days to repair them - something I became pretty good at, 25 years ago.

darmund said...

I recall Mama Cass saying that you could walk through London or LA or San Francisco that whole summer and NEVER stop hearing it because EVERYONE had it and was playing it on their turntables and throwing the windows open to share it with the rest of the world.

Then there's Jimi Hendrix who opened his London concert with Sgt. Pepper the DAY after the album was released. He had gotten hold of the album and managed to learn at least the first song in one day, at least well enough to not be afraid to get up on stage and open his concert with the song.

Don K. said...

The best album by the best band ever. Period. Nothing else is close.

Storm said...

@Jeffrey Mark: You've mentioned being on the radio in the Bay Area in the 80's; were you ever on KQAK "The Quake", by any chance? Man, I LOVED that station SO MUCH.

Oh and gottacook? YOU ROCK. That is all.

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

chuckcd said...

Best album of all time.