Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles

album cover

Lend Me Your Ears. . .

The tracks of magnetic tape the Beatles and producer George Martin loaded up so lavishly at Abbey Road in 1966 and '67 are quite possibly the most scrutinized pop-culture documents in history. Every last speck of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has been transcribed and dissected, chopped into bits and reassembled, fed into computers, and run through Bible Code–style cryptographic software. Academics have spent years poring over "A Day in the Life," drawing parallels to James Joyce, doing psychological workups of the dream-sequence segments. Heck, whole books have been written about the photo montage on the cover.

So everything, even those Ringo lead vocals, has been under the microscope. Now what? What's the end result of all this scholarship? Is our understanding substantially enriched?

Don't let anyone feed you any theories about this music. The ideal way to approach it, of course, would be with totally fresh ears, shed the "All Time Best" estimations and the endless accolades that have attached, like barnacles, to it and encounter it on your own terms. Play it backward if you have to. See if it can lead you into other states of consciousness. Consider whether it's grown lame and corny. Glean what truth, if any, it holds for you. Of course anyone who ever took Art Appreciation knows that's the way to encounter all creative works. But it's especially true with something like Sgt. Pepper, which arrives loaded with "important masterwork" baggage. Get caught up in the endless tireless analysis, and you can miss the very meaning of music, so beautifully expressed by John Lennon in that dreamy voice from across the universe: "I'd love to turn you on . . .."

Genre: Rock
Released: 1967, Capitol
Key Tracks: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "A Day in the Life," "With a Little Help from My Friends"
Catalog Choice: Abbey Road; Let It Be . . . Naked (the 2003 reissue that strips producer Phil Spector's orchestral embellishments, leaving the original Beatles recordings).
Next Stop: There is none.
Book Pages: 60–61

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#1 from Brent Carter, chilltown Va - 12/11/2008 9:47

There isnt much to say about this album that hast already been said. Influential, Classic, and full of drug use. This album well be remembered forever and if you havent heard it…than you are missing out.

#2 from Klaus Olsen, Copenhagen, Denmark - 01/22/2009 5:29

Key track: She’s Leaving Home. Just beautiful!

#3 from Adam Herbst, New Jersey - 01/23/2009 4:03

Beginning of the end, end of the beginning:

The Dictators:
June 1st, 67 something died and went to heaven
I wish Sgt Pepper
never taught the band to play.

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