This album, probably more so than any other album of its time, was a direct snapshot of the era and simultaneously transcended the era too. It was The Beatles highest selling album and remains popular inside today’s culture well over 50 years from its release. Paving the way for future superstars such as Pink Floyd, it introduced the concept album per se. The concept album is the idea that an ongoing theme exists within an album of sorts. In this case, The Beatles are Sgt. Pepper and play their best set for you, an interesting concept in itself.
It starts off with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, with a nonetheless catchy song with a village town intro. Before long, pounding drums and wailing guitars introduce Sgt. Pepper himself. Paul McCartney’s lead vocal here is wonderful. A crowd clap and cheer as the singing and wonderful instrumentation continues. This is extraordinarily good, and a wonderful piece of music. A lively and wonderful start to this album, the applause leads into the next song.
The Ringo Starr singalong With A Little Help From My Friends follows. With cheese, apparently. Ringo sings fairly well here, although by all accounts, he isn’t the great singer here in The Beatles. The instrumentation here is wonderful and top. The song itself is a direct ode to marijuana use, and sounds really great, regardless if you like that about it or not. Paul’s bass playing here is really excellent. A nice song, and quite singalong, too.
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds follows. It’s one of the most psychedelic songs you will ever hear in your life. The lyrics are obviously drug influenced courtesy of John Lennon, but the song is quality, with a trippy organ riff played throughout. If you enjoy psychedelic imagery and artistry, go here. The girl with the kaleidoscope eyes awaits you. The song itself is a very surreal and awesome piece to hear. The lyrics, singing and instrumentation are really wonderful here. It is best off being heard than to be explained to be experienced. The whole thing is an excellent classic of Psychedelic Pop music. Terrific.
The next song, Getting Better, begins with loud and catchy electric guitars playing, before going into a groovetastic piece that is about fixing issues in one’s life. The instrumentation here sounds heavily treated and once again, very psychedelic. An excellent song to listen to, it has not aged one bit. There are bongos and a sitar sound in the midsection here, along with some classic harmonies by The Beatles. The piano and organ here also contribute nicely to this song. Excellent.
Fixing A Hole is just as good, with some trippy harpsichord playing. This is a song directly referencing LSD use and sounds really interesting. An interesting song with some heavily sound affected guitar, this is really a great listen. The singing here is in classic style for The Beatles. A great and energetic song to listen to. Good tune.
She’s Leaving Home is a sad and tragic tale of how a young girl abruptly leaves home to start a life on her own. It’s a nice and beautiful piece of melancholy. It was the only song not to have Sir George Martin produce it on the album. No guitars or any drums, just a big string section on it. Paul sings (again) about this story of heartbreak and loneliness, and although it isn’t really a traditional song by The Beatles in any way, it is still a great song. Baroque Pop perhaps? You be the judge but this song is really quite good. A fine moment from this album. Sad but not overly so, another great song is here.
The circus-like Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! follows and it sounds like a lot of effort was put into it, more so perhaps than the other songs on the album. John Lennon puts in an amazing song with heavily affected vocals that sound top. This is a wonderful listen, and sounds really amazing. According to legend, the lyrics were lifted directly off a circus poster in London. The midsection with the organ sounds is really amazing. A really excellent piece of work, many hours no doubt were spent working on this piece. The trippy section returns at the end, and sounds really amazing. Great stuff.
Within You Without You is quite dated today. It’s not a bad piece by any measure, but is a bit much for some listeners, no doubt. George Harrison sings this one, and has some deep and meaningful lyrics here. Sadly for him, his contribution to The Beatles is undervalued due to the fact that John and Paul frequently knocked him out of the recording process. Still, a good song about inner space, not outer space. It’s a song with Sitar and Tabla drums, with an extended instrumental solo. Nicely crafted, created and delivered all the same. Lyrically, it is about going for inner peace and enlightenment, rather than material satisfaction. A great statement nonetheless. There is some stoned laughter at the end, goodness knows why that was added to this album, it’s a bit weird.
Paul McCartney asks the quintessential question of what will happen When I’m Sixty-Four. It’s an old-fashioned piece, complete with a clarinet. It was written many years before The Beatles became famous. It’s a lovely ode to getting older and appreciating the things in life. It’s a very much big band sounding piece of old, something that would never be done today by any Pop/Rock musician. A great composition is here, and a wonderful piece indeed.
Lovely Rita will make you chuckle at the story of how Paul McCartney comes across the said lady, who is a meter maid. It begins with acoustic guitar and banjo, before going into a more straightforward song by The Beatles. It’s an interesting story lyrically, supported by impeccable production by George Martin. The piano solo in the middle is quirky. A great and grand listen, it is another great and underrated piece from this album. The outro is pretty sexually explicit, listen and you’ll find out why.
Good Morning Good Morning is a piece which is weak on songwriting, but good to listen to. It has many audio sound samples and effects abundant, and Ringo puts in a pounding beat. The horns throughout are really different sounding to what you’d expect. This piece is really quite good regardless, and sounds gloriously enjoyable and wonderful. A loud and fast electric guitar solo comes through here in the middle. Some more sexually motivated lyrics are here. The ending is bizarre, with some not so much Pet Sounds here, more like a barnyard of them. It segues into the next piece.
Before we conclude the tour, we finish the album with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise), which is short and sweet. The band play the theme song here, and do a great job of saying farewell. Fun and upbeat, this is a great listen, as is the entire album.
Shortly afterward, the encore is A Day In The Life, which is a very interesting piece in itself. Beginning with lone acoustic guitar, John Lennon sings about some newspaper articles that he was reading one morning. A little odd, but musically, this piece is wonderful. The stories here are really interesting. The vocal line about LSD use enters (“I’d love to turn you on”), before a really freaky orchestral section enters. Then, an alarm clock goes off and Paul McCartney sings about his day, and also sings about his own drug use experience as well. John Lennon returns with the last vocal part, before the climax with the orchestra occurs again. Before you know it, a dark chord clangs which is very lengthy and extended. Some 15 000 Hz sound then enters, before the vocal part repeating at the end says, “Never could be any other way,” finishes this off. Brilliant.
The album cover says it all, a beautiful piece by artist Peter Blake which mashes up history and psychedelic beauty with various historical figures on the front of it. For real fans of The Beatles, check out the 50th anniversary remastered re-release with a bunch of extra songs on it. Rock music and artistry began with this album and inspired so many historically great albums to follow. It’s a landmark album for sure and deserves a listen.
Stone cold classic.