Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles (1967)

Album no. 78/1001

It’s a BUMPER BLOG POST TODAY! We’re celebrating a musical masterpiece – and there’s a reason this album has consistently topped Best Album of All Time lists.


Since we both are very big fans of this album, we’ve decided to do an EXTENDED POST, providing our thoughts on each of the 13 tracks from this album.

Have you listened to this album before?

CL: YES. LOTS OF TIMES. IT IS GREAT. IT IS MY FAVOURITE BEATLES ALBUM. But I think it’s important to point out that I really only came to this album last year. I’d literally never heard it before that. (I know – unbelievable)

NK: How did that happen? Why did you suddenly listen to it last year? I’ve heard this one quite a bit. My parents have it on vinyl and I can remember sitting in front of the stereo trying to start side two so I missed all the sitar nonsense.

CL: My parent’s didn’t own it. It was only last year that I inherited a bunch of records and this was one of them. So you know, I figured I’d give it a go. See what the fuss is all about.

Standout track

Since we both are very big fans of this album, we’ve decided to do an EXTENDED POST, providing our thoughts on each of the 13 tracks from this album.

1. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

CL: What an excellent opening to an album. IS IT LIVE? WHAT’S GOING ON? WHO’S BILLY SHEARS?

NK: Can I mention at this point how big a fan I am of the ‘live but secretly not live’ track or album. Love it. Guided by Voices did it as well as anybody, even inventing a chant, but guess what, The Beatles did it first and they did it as well as anybody. In your face Robert Pollard. Billy Shears could be the name of the man who even now is pretending to be Paul McCartney, but is probably just something they made up…  

2. With A Little Help From My Friends

CL: I LOVE THIS. I ALSO LOVE LOUIS THEROUX’S VERSION.

NK: I love it as well. Not to sell Louis short, but Joe Cocker’s version is pretty goddamn good as well. I really like the echo on the vocals so far, really fun.

3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

CL: Hmmm. I really liked this when I first listened to the record a few times, but now it’s a little bit saccharine sweet for me. STILL GOOD THOUGH – just not my favourite.

NK: I quite like the slow-motion to normal speed vibe they do here. The drums before they kick into the chorus are pretty good. The verses sound a little bit cliche psychedelic druggie stuff now, but I can imagine them being pretty wild in 1966.

4. Getting Better

CL: This was the song that used to be on Better Homes and Gardens a hundred years ago and I was blown away when I heard the proper version.

NK: Ha, was it really? I never watched that. This song loses points for me because Paul tells us:

“I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that I loved”

I can’t get behind that.

5. Fixing A Hole

CL: This is my favourite song from this album. I love it. WHEN THAT GUITAR COMES IN. It’s so sassy!

NK: Controversial pick for your favourite, but it’s a good song. The guitar is probably the best bit. Get around George.

6. She’s Leaving Home

CL: Admittedly, this is probably a bit of a low point. I don’t really like the harp. STILL GOOD THOUGH.

NK: I don’t hate this song. Billy Bragg covers it, believe it or not. I think this version is better. I like McCartney on the verses and Lennon getting the bridge bits.

7. Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite!

CL: MMM. Not my favourite. It reminds me a lot of a circus. Also, don’t listen to it with just one earphone. You won’t hear any singing, and then it’s REALLY like a circus.

NK: The old stereo mixes are really weird! Sometimes you’ll have the drums entirely on one side and vocals entirely on the other, which is really disorientating when you’re used to modern production. This is a weird song. They swap time signatures at one point, which I don’t remember the Beatles doing before.

8. Within You Without You

CL: I sometimes skip this track for a treat.

NK: George is my favourite Beatle, so it upsets me that this is the only song on the album he wrote. But I agree, pretty comfortably the wooden spooner.

9. When I’m Sixty Four

CL: I quite like this one. It’s a quirky little romantic ditty, isn’t it? “We shall scrimp and save” is my favourite line.  

NK: Not one of my favourites. It’s interesting though, all the clarinets and barely any guitar. Must have been boring for John and George. I like when he sings “grandchildren on YRRRRR knee” as though he’s Scottish, that’s pretty weird.

10. Lovely Rita

CL: In my humble opinion, this is easily the best production on the album. I’d go so far as to say that the chorus was probably an early influence on the shoegaze genre. LOVELY.

NK: All the drums in the left channel, get around it! I’m not quite on the same page with the shoegaze. There’s less going on in this song than many of the others. The last few bars of this are super strange, Paul making noises like he’s having a breakdown. I quite like that bit.

11. Good Morning

CL: I’d quite like to have this as my alarm in the morning. It’s so jaunty. It might actually wake me up (unlikely).

NK: More weirdo time signatures. I gave up trying to figure out what they were doing here. I quite like this song, but getting the changes right would be a nightmare. I can see why they only wanted to be a studio band. The animal noises at the end are pretty good.

12. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)

CL: I love how ‘Good Morning’ turns into this song. And this is so funky.

NK: I have always had a weird soft spot for the reprise of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s lonely hearts club band’, the bit where the extra line of vocals goes:

“Sgt. Pepper’s-one-and-only-lonely-hearts club band.”

I don’t know why this has stayed with me for so long, but it absolutely has. For me it’s hard to separate it from ‘A Day In The Life’ because of the way they run together.

13. A Day In The Life

CL: I don’t really understand why this song is the last song. It’s like, the whole album we’re at this weird BILLY SHEARS concert, then it finishes, then here’s this extra thing. I mean it’s STILL GOOD THOUGH. I like the bit in the middle when he talks about “having a cup”.

NK: The change is so good, from the desolate first half car crash to the driving “woke up, got out of bed”. The vocals here are really close, no echo or effects, then as soon as he “went into a dream” it pans out, the echoing vocal and everything goes into psychedelic mode, and then bang, we’re back in minimal mode. Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert hall. And finally, the big buildup to the car crash he was singing about at the start. What a finale.

CL: I’m pretty sure I said one sentence was the limit per song, mate.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

CL: I don’t think there’s a bad time to listen to this album. But really, you must listen to it in full. It’s just not the same out of sequence. (Admittedly, the sitar is probably the low point. Just go get a cup of tea during that part.)

NK: I remember listening to this in summer when I was a kid, probably over the christmas holidays. It was probably 40 degrees outside so all the blinds were down and it was really cool inside. Do that it’s great.

Why has this album been included on the list?

CL: It’s an incredible album, simple as that. What is going on? EVERYTHING. Orchestras! Sitars! Classic Beatles tunes!    

NK: Don’t forget it was arguably the first concept album, it was the first Beatles album since they gave up touring, and it sat at the top of the charts for 22 weeks in the UK. I can see why it would make this list.

Will you be listening again?  

CL: Of course I will. It’s like visiting an old friend! I think the reason I love it so much is because there are so many different things happening at once. I’m also a sucker for albums that come fully formed – the songs just bleed into each other. Surely that’s the true mark of a solid album. One complete package.

NK: Yeah.

Rating

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

NK:This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.I really wanted to not give this full marks, just to be a contrarian, but it’s pretty good.

Listen to Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

One thought on “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles (1967)

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