Classic Recordings: The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Parlophone (Vinyl)

By Paul Rigby

So much has been written about the band and about this album that anything written here threatens to fall into cliché. Yes, it is one of the most important albums ever recorded (it broke all the rules and, from that moment onwards, informed the entire music industry that making music had no rules) and yes, artistically, it is the pinnacle of The Beatles’ career, coming after the breakthrough, stylish and sophisticated, ‘Revolver’ album. ‘Pepper’ took that design and honed and tweaked it while blending a conglomerate of musical styles, seamlessly, into one work of art. Speaking to the NME, at the time of the album’s release, John Lennon regarded the album as one of the most important steps in the group’s career, “It had to be just right. We tried and I think succeeded in achieving what we set out to do. If we hadn’t then it wouldn’t be out now.” While George Harrison fended off concerns that it would run too fast for the fans, that the public would fail to ‘get it’, “People are very, very aware of what’s going on around them nowadays. They think for themselves and I don’t think we can ever be accused of under-estimating the intelligence of our fans.” Lennon agreed, “The people who have bought our records in the past must realize that we couldn’t go on making the same type forever. We must change and I believe those people know this.”

Geoff Emerick, engineer on the album, knew it was something special when the LP was being created, “The Beatles would ask other artists who were recording in the EMI studio complex, to come in and listen to some tracks that we’d finished. We’d all watch for the facial expressions and they were all amazed about what they were hearing. No-one had ever heard anything like it before.”

‘Pepper’ looked at music with the broadest of brushstrokes, examining and pitching rock with music hall, rock’n’roll with psychedelia and classical with art rock. No other album has so effortlessly and impeccably taken ‘music’ and drawn upon its sub-genres. It was the Great British Novel…in a groove.

Stand-out track: Within You Without You

This Harrison track is almost a hi-fi test record, such are the well produced, diverse and dynamic sounds encountered within. The Asian-influenced instrumentation challenges your hi-fi on every level while the bass-lead percussion and the orchestral, plucked strings provide a broad investigation.

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – A Recorded History

1967 LP Parlophone PCS 7027
1967 LP (mono) Parlophone PMS 7027
1978 LP Parlophone PHO 7027
1983 LP Parlophone PCS 7027
1987 CD Parlophone CDP 7 46442 2
1987 Cassette Parlophone TC-PCS 7027
1987 LP Parlophone PCS 7027
1992 CD Parlophone CDP 7 46442 2
2009 CD Parlophone 0946 3 82419 2 8
2010 LP Parlophone SCP 7207 PIC

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