So much is said about The Beatles legendary 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band but I think too much of what is said is about it’s historical significance and the like. Not enough attention is paid to the music itself. And that’s why with this article I’m focusing entirely on the music, one song at a time.
01. “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – The album starts off with this brilliant Paul McCartney rocker (he wrote it, sang lead, and even played the lead guitar part) which really sets the mood (and the “concept”) for the entire album. I love how the song intersperses pretty heavy rock with the somewhat ridiculous horn sections. The imagination displayed in this music is really overwhelming. I can imagine people who have grown up listening to the drab obvious music of “rock bands” like Nickelback being very confused by what’s going on in this music as they’ve never really been introduced to imagination or creativity in music before. But if they can get over that initial confusion, I think they will begin to understand the possibilities of what music can be.
02. “With a Little Help from my Friends” – I much prefer this original Beatles version over the completely over the top Joe Cocker version that is probably more famous at this point (mostly because it was used as the theme song to the very popular Wonder Years TV show.) To me it’s the perfect song for Ringo to sing and of course John & Paul wrote it specifically for Ringo. It fits like a glove. What a brilliant song.
03. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – This psychedelic journey through the mind of John Lennon remains one of the band’s most famous songs. I love how it goes from the visions of the verse to the exciting sing along of the chorus.
04. “Getting Better” – This may just be the song I most commonly think of when I think of the Sgt. Pepper album. I’m not quite sure why that’s the case, but it is! To me this song defines the spirit of the album very well.
05. “Fixing a Hole” – Tracks 4 through 6 are a beautiful slice of McCartney magic and I think this is actually my favorite of that great trio of songs.
06. “She’s Leaving Home” – This song is very interesting to hear in mono because it’s actually sped up (and thus pitched up) in the mono mix. It has a lot more energy that way. Definitely worth a listen!
07. “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” – How brilliant is it that these lyrics were taken entirely from an 1800s circus poster that Lennon came across? I believe a big part of real genius is being able to be inspired by things that most people wouldn’t notice. This is a good example of that.
08. “Within You Without You” – Speaking of “far out” how about we go all the way to India? Some people don’t like this song because it doesn’t fit with their preconceived notions of what music is supposed to sound like. To me this song is brilliant because of that very reason. We shouldn’t limit ourselves.
09. “When I’m 64” – Check out this song sequencing. We went from a 1800s circus to India to do some meditating and now we’re enjoying ourselves this very tongue in cheek music hall number. So many differnet styles of music are explored on this album, and they are all done brilliantly.
10. “Lovely Rita” – I definitely enjoy this song as well but I must say that I do think tracks #10 and #11 are the least interesting tracks on the album.
11. “Good Morning Good Morning” – My least favorite song on the album. Yet I still think it’s pretty great at times and it has some very interesting elements. I think that says a lot about how much I love this album.
12. “Sgt. Pepper’s (Reprise)” – Rocks harder than the first version. I love how it ties the album together and it’s brilliant how this closing version is “looser” just like a band may be looser at the end of a real show. And that’s what the concept of this album was all about after all. The idea was that this album would “go on tour” rather than the band themselves.
13. “A Day in the Life” – In my opinion this is the best song ever written. An absolutely epic way to end the album.
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