This is another one of those perfect albums that I couldn’t find a flaw with even if I tried. To state the obvious, this is the most famous rock album of all time. And along with that fame, there has been a serious backlash. I’ve read the reviews from these critics, but most of them sound like they’re trying to gain admittance into some sort of underground society of sneering hipsters. Either that, or they have mistakenly picked up a copy of the 1978 Bee Gees soundtrack album. … Don’t believe anything these critics write, for they know not what they type! Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is a complete triumph. It was the biggest thing to hit the music scene back in 1967, and it’s still going strong all these years later. It might not be the greatest album ever made (though it’s certainly close no matter how you measure it), but this is going to be remembered forever.
The two ‘Sgt Pepper’ songs that ‘bookend’ this record are actually two of the least interesting things here. Almost a Cavern style throwback as if to remind you who exactly you are listening to. As if you even needed reminding. ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ is both a damn fine song and possibly Ringo’s finest ever Beatles vocal. ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ is mischievous but does contain a couple of good musical moments along the way. It’s by no means my favorite Beatles song, it seems a little repetitive to me, but so it goes. The guitar riff that opens ‘Getting Better’ sets the tone for a straightforward pop/rock song, McCartney most noticeable with the extremely melodic bass line that pushes the song forwards and the hand claps are mere attention to detail. Nothing is missed out then for what is essentially just a simple song. ‘Fixing A Hole’ benefits again from McCartney’s melodic bass, and the harmonies? These harmonies! Perfectly and subtly placed harmonies but always in exactly the right places. ‘She’s Leaving Home’ is beautiful, ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite’ has a great Lennon vocal and ‘A Day In The Life’ among many other things boasts a great Lennon vocal. Yeah, it sounds like the end of the world with the noise and the strings and everything else. The kitchen sink, the leak in the pipe that leads under the floorboards and the old woman who lives in the flat below that has 43 cats…. Good stuff though and a more than impressive production. ‘Lovely Rita’ I’ve saved til last of course because for some reason its my most wanted of the whole bunch. McCartney’s vocal apes Lennon, the bass rises and falls, the lyrics are a storytelling humorous delight and then these wonderful harmonies come in.
The album’s final song is “A Day in the Life.” , my second favorite Beatles’ song ever. That’s a particularly amazing composition just in the way it’s structured. Really, that’s two songs in one… John has the main bit, and Paul comes in the middle with a new melody of his own. Of course, those weird orchestral crescendos come up to separate these sections! It’s probably the first time many people heard something like that before, and it’s not too much of a stretch to guess that it provided inspiration to plenty of the progressive rock bands who were just starting out!
It makes me grin excitedly and so does ‘Sgt Peppers’ as a whole.