My friend Joshua sent me this link.
To be honest, Sgt. Pepper has never been a favorite of mine. When it comes to the Beatles, I like their early stuff, I like Revolver a whole lot, some of their latter-day tracks like “Revolution” and “Helter Skelter” are balls-out amazing, and Magical Mystery Tour is wonderfully psychedelic. Sgt. Pepper (especially the title track) has never been a fave of mine because it seems to try too hard (and, uh, “Sgt. Pepper?” What the hell kind of concept album is that?).
But listening to the title track with separation and punch-ins is really doing it for me this morning. Bereft of its words, and exposed in parts, this tune is amazing!
I dunno. I still have a hard time understanding what about this song was so earth-shattering at the time it came out. I get why Elvis’s Sun Records stuff was so groundbreaking and helped cause a teenybopper rock explosion. I get why the Ramones’ sound was so different that it helped foment an explosion of punk bands. I even get why “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and all that Ed Sullivan stuff made the Beatles explode on the U.S. scene.
But the way people talk about Sgt. Pepper–I mean, I remember one of the Monty Python boys saying that before Sgt. Pepper, the world was in black in white, and after it, we lived in color. I’ve read that one of the reasons why Hendrix got so big in England was that he was the first performer, the week Sgt. Pepper came out, to play live the title track. I’m not sure why this track or even the album in its entirety was considered such a launch above the already breathtaking Revolver, but maybe these deconstructed tracks go some way towards establishing what other people hear/heard in this tune that I missed.
3 thoughts on “Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper”
Agree Hands down that ‘REVOLVER’ is their best full record. Though the version of ‘TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS’ on Anthology 2 is the sh1t. Highly recommend it. This is a great post Orange HAir BOY!
I love that version of Tomorrow Never Knows on the Anthology 2 collection, too! Totally killer. But yeah, even when I was in the middle of my obsessive Beatles discovery circa 5th grade, Sgt. Pepper never really wowed me that much (other than the fun cutouts that came with the album as inserts). Perhaps it’s a strictly British or ’60s thang? I dunno. Rubber Soul prolly beats out even Revolver for my fave early Beatles LP. The White Album and Abbey Road are my fave later LP’s. Those two albums rang true in terms of psychedelia, weirdness and high concept more than Sgt. Peppers, even to my 5th grade brain when I first laid ears on ’em.