Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Beatles' ninth official Parlophone LP (including the "Oldies" LP) was entitled "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". This was the most influencial LP released by the Fabs and it remains so. Although a lot of people (myself included) do not consider this the "best" or "favourite" Beatles' LP set, it is a masterpiece that shook the world upon it's original release and it remains one of the best examples of 1960s psychedelic rock bar none. It was the very first rock LP to include the lyric sheet via the back cover. It was a wonderful colourful gatefold cover and it was a shock (at the time) to see how the Beatles' image had changed from the moptop look to the grown up and mature Beatles. All of them by this time had facial hair. Although the music on the LP has slightly dated, the feel, the spirit and the free form music contained within is still as relevent today as it was in 1967. It is an experiment in music composition, music style and the use of the studio as an instrument is still prevelant today. This LP is a true highlight and the apex of the Beatles' career. Never again would this kind of LP happen in the sense that the music was presented as a "whole" and the concept of "album rock" started with this one -or at least this LP provided the catalyst for the concept. I cannot overstate the influence of this LP. A true masterpiece. One of the best. Ever.

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released on June 01 1967 in the UK in mono (Parlophone PMC 7027) and stereo (PCS 7027). The LP was also released for the first time ever in the same configuration in the North American market in mono (Capitol MAS-2653) and stereo (SMAS-2653). The only difference between the UK and North American configurations was the addition of the high-pitched run out groove (heard on the UK configuration only) and the backwards inner groove (heard once again on the UK configuration only). Both were restored on the compact disc version. It may also be noted that the song "With a Little Help From My Friends" was first issued on first Capitol pressings as "A Little Help From My Friends" in North America. Some first issued UK labels omitted the "A Day In The Life" typeset.

The LP came with goodies in the way of a inner sleeve designed by a company known as "The Fool" with red and pink and white flourishes. There was also an inner advert with cut out material as the Sgt. Pepper badge, a portrait of Sgt. Pepper himself and The Beatles dressed in their Pepper gear.

The concept of the LP was basically to show the world that The Beatles were playing as a different band and the concept of trying to be a show band rather than having the regular Beatles LP tracks. Rather than having the Beatles go on tour, the LP would go on tour. This basic concept came from Paul McCartney who had gotten the idea after visiting his then girlfriend Jane Asher in the US and touring around in California. After was "the summer of love".

The front cover shows the Beatles in a park surrounded by some of their heroes and people that they admired at the time. I won't go through everyone, but suffice to say that Bob Dylan, Stu Sutcliffe (the original Beatles bass player), Diana Dors (who looks marvelous), Shirley Temple (who is on the cover more than once), Indian Gurus, actors, actresses, comedians, everyone is welcome. The front cover photo was designed by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth. The photo is by Michael Cooper. This LP also features the first mention of "the Apple". Wax figures of the Beatles can be viewed on the left side of the Pepper Beatles. Quite a difference.

The inside gatefold features the Beatles leaning on a yellow background in their Pepper gear and the back cover has Paul with his back turned ( some people at the time thought that is was Mal Evans but outtakes now show it was Paul all along). The lyrics are printed over the photo.

The original labels for the LP are black/yellow with "sold in the UK...." for Parlophone and the rainbow labels for the Capitol Releases with blueish print on the inside rim of the rainbow.

Starting with this LP, all LPs from now on would be released all over the world in the same configuration with the same cover, same order of songs, etc. (with some exceptions).

A True work of Art.

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