The Beatles released their eighth studio album in the Summer of 1967. It marked the longest period so far between album releases. Almost a full year after Revolver Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band also contained longer songs than the fab four had previously penned. Also the album broke the seven songs a side formula of all the previous albums. Albeit, just.
This will get peoples goat, but I have never liked the album. The cover, which is clearly a work of art in its own right used to scare me as a small child. More importantly, I cannot look at or listen to the album post 1987 and not consider Frank Zappa making albums of this ilk – but more genuinely so.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has songs of craft but also misses the mark for me. Here goes:
Sgt. Pepper’s Club Band (Lennon / McCartney) intro the album. It is a sing-a-long and sees the band go for a more “out-there” sound. It’s not bad but it also is not great.
With A Little Help From My Friends (Lennon / McCartney) sung by Ringo Starr rises from the first song with no break at all. A very famous song that is endearing in its delivery and style.
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Lennon / McCartney) is a Beatles classic. There is nothing to fault. Listening to it now, I’m enjoying in immensely. It’s dream like qualities work.
Getting Better (Lennon / McCartney) is upbeat. Initially sparse a crawling Eastern vibe widens the sound towards the end.
Fixing A Hole (Lennon / McCartney) sees The Beatles deliver another sparse sounding song. It really does little for me.
She’s Leaving Home (Lennon / McCartney) is a beautiful sounding song. Almost classical in its structure and delivery it is an evocative song.
For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite (Lennon / McCartney) sounds like a circus jam pulled through watered down psychedelia. It works, but Zappa did this better. Disagree? Listen to “Only In It For The Money”.
Within You Without You (Harrison) and George Harrison takes Sgt. Pepper to the place it was probably searching for. Deep and undeniably fantastic. A truly adventurous sound.
When I’m Sixty Four (Lennon / McCartney) and the plodding oomph is really what only marks this song apart from their early material. It is a timeless song that will stand the test of centuries. I’m aware I’m contradicting myself, but this album splits me like no other.
Lovely Rita (Lennon / McCartney) is a song that is unfamilar to me. The post chorus repetition is the best part of the track (to me). Enjoyable if not essential.
Good Morning Good Morning (Lennon / McCartney) should be appluaded for its experimentation but again, Zappa did this better.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (Lennon / McCartney) offers a faster take of the title / intro song. If anything, it is better for being more urgent. The more charged instruments (particularly the guitar) add pace and frenzy.
A Day In The Life (Lennon / McCartney) is the final song on the album. It is one of the best songs the band would ever release. It is steeped in deep songwriting brilliance. The changes in pace and removal almost soundtrack an out of body experience. It goes way beyond standard pop material – because that is exactly what it is. It is the sound of The Beatles, again, pushing things forward. It is simply magnificent.
I have found this write-up hard work. For no real logical reason I am not a huge fan of this album. Frank Zappa and my childhood fear of the album sleeve will always see me treat it with a bit of illogical trepidation…