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Looking Back, What Are We To Make of Sgt. Pepper’s?

Many in younger generations don't understand why this Beatles classic was and is a monumental album.

by
Don Sucher

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June 17, 2014 - 1:00 pm
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Few record albums have quite the same grasp on the soul of an aging “Baby Boomer” as does the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Ask “where were you when you first heard the album?” and their answer will be as detailed as would be the answer of a WW II veteran when asked where and how he first learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor, or a younger person, “where were you when you first heard about the Twin Trade Towers?”

It thus comes as some shock to most “boomers” when they learn that among younger generations Sgt. Pepper’s is not held in universally high esteem.

This aging rocker recently confronted that fact on a forum popular with guitarists of all ages. The negative comments about the album certainly called for a response. But what response? Can an older person who came of age during the sixties make one that is fair and unbiased? I had to try. But first I had to think.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was, and is, to my generation, more than a record album or (later) CD. It was, and is, for many, the punctuation point that marked a major change in our society: the period at the end of the sentence that was the fifties.

To a younger audience this would have to be explained.

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Top Rated Comments   
Coming on the heels of Pet Sounds and Are You Experienced that year, in retrospect, not so great. Revolver was better.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (15)
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Sgt. Peppers contains some great music, but I'd not qualify it as life altering. Maybe because I heard Hendrix's take on it, thus making it his own, before it became set in my head as iconic. Or, since I grew up in that era, maybe there was so much going on musically that a pop band, even an extremely popular one, experimenting with LSD while pretending to be relevant wasn't as exciting as they thought it was.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
It was the highest point ever reached in the history of electric guitar music.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Huh? Check the music released that year. Groups like The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Ten Years After to name just a few. This beatles cult is really ridiculous. My goodness. Cream released Disraeli Gears that same year.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
That made me snort over living through it and, while appreciative of those who came after's take on it', finding their memory of MY memories slightly amusing. Miss Hendrix and Floyd. Love that you knew to put Cream out there as a comparison. The band name means people just don't 'get' them unless they lived through it.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the Docu 'Meet The Beatles' there is a comment from an eminent(?) Musicologist that went roughly:
Sgt. Pepper is where Rock and Roll moved from Adolescent Ritual Mating Dance Music to Art.
I still think that pretty well covers it.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was there and yes at the time it was a great album and yes the music should still hold up but my problem is with my generation's legacy from that era. I see little golden about it and a lot of today's problems are caused by my peers getting elected or into power. Paul McCartney upon Obama's election said "Great now there is a President who knows what a library is." Now the 60's gave us some good music and some good movies but I'd really rather get my money back on the most of it.
They can not even admit they were wrong.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
This constant deification of the beatles has to stop. They weren't that good. There were so many other musicians that have overshadowed them but for the hysteria of the masses. Get a grip and move on.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's a fact of life than whenever something is important to someone (in this case, important to a lot of people), others feel a compulsive desire to piss all over it.

Whatever.

I hadn't been born when Sgt Pepper was released, but I love music history, and I was always interested in finding the "roots" of whatever I liked that was current...and this album was the antecedent for a lot of pop and rock music that came later, just as much so as Elvis and the country/blues that came before him.

And, yeah...it's a collection of great songs - some better than others, but most being definitely better than other contemporary rock at the time. I don't have an emotional connection to it like Don Sucher or others who came of age as it was released, but it's still a must-own for any rock music collection.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
A compulsive desire? I think not. If this is still so important to someone so many years later, then I see more than a little problem here.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Don, thanks for voicing what's been in my head for decades!!
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think I'm probably a bit behind you age-wise, Don. My fond memories of Sgt. Pepper revolve around the 1978 movie version starring Peter Frampton as Billy Shears and featuring the Bee Gees. The meaning of the album was lost on us as we swooned over the star-studded cast and Frampton in those white overalls, all of whom I'm sure terribly bastardized the album. :)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcTshqA9l-4
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Coming on the heels of Pet Sounds and Are You Experienced that year, in retrospect, not so great. Revolver was better.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly. “Revolver” was brilliant, and in my opinion the best pop rock album of all time. Every single track on it was amazing (yes, even "Yellow Submarine"), and all have aged incredibly well.

“Sgt. Pepper?” Not so much. At most there are 7 decent songs on the album, which by themselves wouldn’t have made for a bad album, except that ALL the rest of the tracks are truly garbage. You think I EVER want to hear “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”, “She’s Leaving Home”, “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, “Within You and Without You”, or “When I’m 64” ever again? Uh, no. Because they’re crap.

And with respect to the album’s most touted track – “A Day In the Life” – that WOULD have made TWO great songs if only Lennon and McCartney hadn’t been too lazy and/or screwed up to finish the partial songs that each one of them had written – i.e., Lennon, the “I read the news today, oh boy” part; and McCartney, the “Woke up, fell out of bed” part. Instead, because they didn't finish their homework, poor George Martin had to cobble together 2 separate good songs into one muddled, schizophrenic mess that everyone’s supposed to think is a “masterpiece”. But it’s not. It’s just creative use of decent but unfinished musical scraps by a talented producer.

Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but “Sgt. Pepper” doesn’t deserve its vaunted reputation; ESPECIALLY when it's compared to the truly great work that the Beatles did record both before and after it.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm sick of the Beatles. They caught lightning in a jar briefly and never recaptured it because they weren't that good.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
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