Friday, June 1, 2012

sgt. pepper's lonely hearts club band

The Beatles' full flower of studio innovation created the sweet perfume of this legendary psychedelic landmark that became the soundtrack to the summer of love and their most enduring success. With its avante-garde mix of rock, vaudeville, pop, Indian music, and sound effects; its mindblowing orchestrated climax; and its iconic album cover; 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' marked a major turning point in what popular music could accomplish as a serious artistic statement. The album was cut using only a four-track recorder over one hundred and twenty nine days at Abbey Road Studios, where they had full access, typically going in late at night and staying until morning. The band had taken two months off after the release of their landmark album 'Revolver', during which time they each went their separate ways: John Lennon acted in the film 'How I Won the War' and met Yoko Ono at an art gallary, Paul McCartney wrote music for a movie called 'The Family Way', George Harrison went to India and studied sitar with Ravi Shankar, and Ringo Starr spent time with his family.

Lennon said: ’Sgt. Pepper’ is Paul, after a trip to America. The whole West Coast long-named group thing was coming in, when people were no longer ‘The Beatles’ or ‘The Crickets’ – they were suddenly ‘Fred And His Incredible Shrinking Grateful Airplanes.’ I think he got influenced by that. He was trying to put some distance between The Beatles and the public – and so there was this identity of 'Sgt. Pepper'. Intellectually, that’s the same thing he did by writing ‘She Loves You’ instead of ‘I love you.’”

Paul recounts in the liner notes to the reissue of the album:

"The first thing I remember was flying back from America with our road manager Mal Evans. Over our meal we were talking about salt and pepperwhich was misheard as Sgt. Pepper. I then had the idea for the song "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and thought it would be interesting for us to pretend, during the making of the album, that we were members of his band rather than The Beatles, in order to give us a fresh slant. With this in mind, I suggested to the guys that we each create an alter ego for ourselves and have uniforms made by a costumier. To help this process, we would all make a list of the people that our newly created characters might have admired. Everyone seemed to like the idea and with this in mind, we made the album. Our attitude now was that of a completely different set of individuals and not the attitude that we would normally have had as The Beatles. The making of the record became a wild, colourful fairground ride where all things were possible. I remember clearly a music critic surmising that because no one had heard from us for a while, The Beatles had dried up! We worked on happily in the knowledge that this one gentleman was about to be proved well and truly wrong! I could go on and on about that period and the fun we had but I think it's better for now to say no more and simply let the album speak for itself."

George said at the time: "Now that we only play in the studios, and not anywhere else, we have less of a clue what we're going to do. Now when we go into the studio we have to start from scratch, just thrashing it out and doing it the hard way. If Paul has written a song, he comes into the studio with it in his head. It's very hard for him to give it to us, and for us to get it. When we suggest something, it might not be what he wants because he hasn't got it in his head like that. So it takes a long time. Nobody knows what the tunes sound like until we've recorded them and listen to them afterwards.”

Ringo reminisces, “’Sgt. Pepper’ was our grandest endeavor. It gave everybody – including me – a lot of leeway to come up with ideas and to try different material…The great thing about the band was that whoever had the best idea (it didn’t matter who), that would be the one we’d use. No one was standing on their ego, saying, ‘Well, it’s mine,’ and getting possessive. Always the best was used…Anything could happen, and that was an exciting process. I got to hang out and listen to it unfolding.”

George admitted: “I felt we were just in the studio to make the next record, and Paul was going on about this idea of some fictitious band. That side of it didn’t really interest me…It was becoming difficult for me, because I wasn’t really that into it. Up to that time, we had recorded more like a band; we would learn the songs and then play them…’Sgt. Pepper’ was the one album where things were done slightly different. A lot of the time it ended up with just Paul playing the piano and Ringo keeping the tempo, and we weren’t allowed to play as a band so much. It became an assembly process – just little parts and then overdubbing – and so for me it became a bit tiring and a bit boring…I’d just got back from India, and my heart was still out there…The trips to India had really opened me up…I’d been let out of the confines of the group, and it was difficult for me to come back into the sessions…It was a job, like doing something I didn’t really want to do, and I was losing interest in being ‘fab’ at that point.”

Paul would later confess: “The big influence was ‘Pet Sounds’ by The Beach Boys. That was the album that flipped me. The music invention on that album was, like, ‘Wow!’ That was the big thing for me. I just thought, ‘Oh dear me. This is the album of all time. What the hell are we going to do?’ So, ‘Sgt. Pepper’ eventually came out, basically, from the idea that I had about this band. It was going to be an album of another band that wasn’t us. We were going to call ourselves something else, and just imagine all the time that it wasn’t us playing this album.”

John thought: “’Sgt Pepper' is called the first concept album, but it doesn’t go anywhere. All my contributions to the album have absolutely nothing to do with this idea of Sgt. Pepper and his band, but it works, because we said it worked, and that’s how the album appeared. But it was not put together as it sounds, except for Sgt. Pepper introducing Billy Shears, and the so-called reprise. Every other song could have been on any other album.”

Producer George Martin reflects: “When I first started in the music business, the ultimate aim for everybody was to try and recreate, on record, a live performance as accurately as possible. But then, we realized that we could do something other than that…So, without being too pompous, we decided to go into another kind of art form, where we are devising something that couldn’t be done any other way. We were putting something down on tape that could only be done on tape.”

'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'
is the fourteenth best selling album of all time with over thirty two million copies sold worldwide. It spent twenty-seven consecutive weeks at the top of the UK album chart and fifteen weeks on top of the US album chart, and went to number one in Australia and Norway; all without any singles. It was nominated for seven Grammy awards, winning Best Album Cover, Best Non-Classical Engineered Recording, Contemporary Album, and Album of the Year.

"A Day in the Life"  

"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" 

Lucy in the sky with diamonds from heliovillela on Vimeo.

'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'

full album:

All songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney except "Within You Without You", by George Harrison.   Lead vocals listed.

Side one
1. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"   McCartney 2:02
2. "With a Little Help from My Friends"   Starr 2:44
3. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"   Lennon 3:28
4. "Getting Better"   McCartney 2:48
5. "Fixing a Hole"   McCartney 2:36
6. "She's Leaving Home"   McCartney with Lennon 3:35
7. "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"   Lennon 2:37
Side two
1. "Within You Without You"   Harrison 5:04
2. "When I'm Sixty-Four"   McCartney 2:37
3. "Lovely Rita"   McCartney 2:42
4. "Good Morning Good Morning"   Lennon 2:41
5. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)"   Lennon, McCartney and Harrison 1:19
6. "A Day in the Life"   Lennon and McCartney 5:39

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