DUST IT OFF/THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE: The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” 45 years later


How does one begin to talk about one of the most talked about albums in rock’n’roll, and music in general, from one of the biggest and most influential bands ever? Even the first sentence of this article is so grandiose, younger generations might go “right, another celebratory Beatles article. Great.” But there are a few reasons why people continue to celebrate the music of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Other albums released on June 1, 1967:
Elvis Presley‘s Double Trouble
David Bowie‘s debut
Both are not celebrated as other albums in their discography.

1967 was also a year that gave us the debut albums by Pink Floyd, The Doors, Grateful Dead, The Amboy Dukes (featuring guitarist Ted Nugent), Big Brother & The Holding Company (featuring vocalist Janis Joplin) and The Velvet Underground & Nico. What was the saying, that maybe only 5000 copies were sold of the first Velvet Underground, but everyone who did formed their own band? If that’s not influence, I don’t know what is. You also had great albums by Jefferson Airplane, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, The Young Rascals, The Moody Blues, The Rolling Stones and many more. Yet somehow, if one talks about a few of these album, the trail will lead to Sgt. Pepper. Why does it always have to be so absolute?

  • The Beatles were a pop combo, a boy band that were not meant to last, if some critics and parents had their way. When The Beatles came to the United States in 1964, it came with a promotional push from Capitol Records that did not exist a year before. In fact, when Capitol initially rejected the offer to sign them, they had to be persuaded by Parlophone Records in England to do it, that it would be beneficial for everyone involved. When they did arrive with their “long” hair, they were seen not only as a “British invasion”, but some would say an intrusion. In less than a year, there were countless Beatles tribute records (including one by Bonnie Jo Mason, who would later be known as singer/actress Cher) but also their share of anti-Beatles records. With every hate song, there was a group who looked and sounded like them, even having names that might sound like they were “bugs”. Every other label wanted to cash-in, and did so without a problem. Labels who had signed them but had lost the rights to release new music by them kept on reissuing what they had left, before their license to do so expired. By being a pop combo/boy band, they were in countless teen magazines, and were a group who would license their own merchandise, one of the first to do so. That would lead to companies illegally making their own Beatles memorabilia. It was truly Beatlemania and it seemed for a good 30 month period, not only did the United States go nuts, but the world. While countless artists have falsely claimed to have worldwide status, there’s proof that The Beatles were being heard everywhere. Groups in India, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, the Philippines, Japan, and Israel had their own Beatles knock-off bands. There were also countless Beatles fan clubs, and if for some reason being a Beatles fan in your country was considered a disgrace to your culture, you had to do it in secret/hiding.

    Covering a Beatles song was considered good promotion, and artists did not have a problem covering a song or two, releasing it as a non-LP side, or even full albums. Even Capitol Records cashed in by having their house orchestra, The Hollyridge Strings, release many albums filled with nothing but Beatles songs. Having the Union Jack on your cover made you seem hip and cool, and speaking with a fake British accent? Ooh, you were intriguing.

  • When The Beatles performed their last concert on August 29, 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, the group felt it was the right type to do so. They had gained an amount of fame in three years that very few artists up to that point had ever accumulated. Rock’n’roll music wasn’t quite 10 years old when The Beatles broke through, and there wasn’t the term “rock band” just yet, or even “rock’n’roll band”. You were a “pop combo”, and The Beatles were the biggest pop combo in the world. But after playing live shows around the world for years, and not being able to hear themselves play over the screaming of fans (there were no pre-amps during those days, just the amplifiers behind them), they felt it was time to try something new. As the story goes, they decided to concentrate on staying in the recording studio and allowing their music to tour for them. Doing live shows was and still remains the bread and butter for most music artists, so for the biggest band to actually say “we had enough, no more live shows” seemed insane. For some, that meant the end of The Beatles was near, the fad was over, and 1967 would result in new fads and trends. Little did anyone know what would happen what the following year would bring.
  • The story from this point on is familiar to most Beatles and music fans. The group releases “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” as a single. Technically a double A-side, but “Strawberry Fields Forever” was the true A-side.

    The song was loved in England, but U.S. audiences thought it was too weird and freaky. On top of that, the song faded out and came back, which freaked out countless radio disc jockeys who would talk over the record when it faded out, only for the group to quickly return. American DJ’s preferred the pop-friendly (and easier to consume [read “not freaky]) “Penny Lane”, and it would reach #1 on the Billboard singles chart. “Strawberry Fields Forever” made it as high as #8.

    As the story goes, “Strawberry Fields Forever” was monumental for many in the world of pop music, allegedly becoming the start of Brian Wilson‘s mental decline when he was creating the Smile album for the Beach Boys. Both “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” were originally meant to be part of the band’s forthcoming album, which was to be an album with a running theme about childhood. After the success of the single (the picture sleeve for which showed the group sporting new mustaches, a first for the band), they decided to scrap the two songs from the album and move forward.

  • Well, we all know the impact of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album that has always been analyzed from the moment the first review was printed. It gained a buzz from various musicians/close friends to The Beatles who were able to obtain test pressings/acetates of the album-to-come. The “summer of love” hadn’t quite sparked yet, but the album has now become a staple when it comes to mentioning the summer of 1967, with many wishing the connection would stop. Reason? There have been many who have said that The Beatles were never really a part of those who celebrated/participated in the summer of love, that it was bands like the Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and The Doors whose music was a part of what was in the air, along with the sounds of Pink Floyd and Velvet Underground.

    What Sgt. Pepper also did was somehow change the way pop music was looked at. With a new “wave” in sound came a new look, and with that came a new breed of critics. If pop music was “toss off” music for teens who could buy their 45 rpms and throw it around in their rooms like plates, then what to make of a group who were actually saying “we want you to listen to this album was if it was a concert, as if this was a show being presented to you”? Jazz artists have always recorded albums as if they were bringing you a concert, making sure it started off with something powerful, keeping you interested throughout, and then ending with something that kept you coming back for more. Rock’n’roll artists were slowly changing how albums were programmed and thus heard, but for the most part, a long playing (LP) album was just a coaster with 11 to 14 songs, not really done with much thought other than “we have new music, let’s sell it”. People felt that Sgt. Pepper was an important piece of music, and that it should be treated as “serious art”, and that alone has left many resentful of the album and perhaps The Beatles themselves. Fans loved the rawness of rock’n’roll, the potential of sex, drugs, and dancing the night away. With Sgt. Pepper, things started to get more business-like, a bit more corporate, and that did coincide with record labels also becoming more firm with how they ran their business. In the early 90’s, there was a great garage rock band called The Mummies who would release music on their own label, Pre-B.S.. I had interviewed one of them for a fanzine I did in the 90’s, and I asked about the name of the label. They felt that before the “bullshit” happened in rock’n’roll, the music was a lot better, vibrant, and festive. The Mummies were representatives of the ruthless rock’n’roll, before the bullshit. What did they view as “bullshit”? A certain British group sporting mustaches, which changed the dynamic of what people wanted out of their rock’n’roll. In other words, Sgt. Pepper was an album that sparked the start of bullshit music.

    Can an album that has been celebrated for 45 years be considered “bullshit”? Let’s be realistic: not everything has to be liked. Just because someone is celebrated doesn’t mean everyone has to agree. Again, look at all of the bands that made themselves known for the first time in 1967, all of the great debuts, all of the artists who released new music. 1967 is so much more than Sgt. Pepper and yet it somehow goes back to an album based on a group of musicians that did not exist, but wanted to go on tour in place of the real group that did not. Regardless, the album had done its damage, for better or worse, and the world would never be the same. It would be #1 on the Billboard Album Chart in the U.S. for 15 weeks, and #1 on the UK Album Chart for a massive 27 weeks. Even with no singles released from the album, radio stations would play each song as if it was a single, “forcing” fans to buy the full album. The album was meant to be listened to as a whole in one sitting, like a concert performance, and that would help to change the way music fans listened to their rock’n’roll. For better or worse.

  • The facts on how The Beatles recorded the album with only 4-tracks is a story onto itself. It lead to countless musicians and producers wanting to do the same within the limitations, leading to many innovations in recording studio technology in the next five years. But even if you don’t get technical about the music or the songwriting, why does this album hold up so well? Then again, some will say that out of the more celebrated Beatles albums, this is one that has not aged well. I feel it has aged gracefully and while it can be “of its time”, it too is very timeless. Some of the arrangements are meant to sound like that on purpose, things are deliberate. Sgt. Pepper is meant to represent the youth of The Beatles, and thus the sounds of the 40’s and 50’s were meant to date its sound from day 1. Day 1. The way it was used and mixed, along with sounds of audio tape moving backwards, tablas and sitars, and an orchestra dubbed a few times to create an orgasmic cacophony, was very much due to the expertise of producer Sir George Martin along with Paul McCartney‘s keen ear for arrangements, for as the other Beatles were at home or elsewhere, McCartney was becoming a studio rat wanting to know how the studio worked. Being someone who also loved orchestras, symphonies, and a bit of the experimental and avant-garde, he brought all of these elements into what would become Sgt. Pepper. Some of the things brought in were deliberate, other things were happy accidents, but it ended up creating one of the biggest happy accidents in rock’n’roll.
  • Regardless of what the music is or isn’t, the album continues to be a starting point for fans who want to find out more about its music, influences, and how The Beatles got from “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” to “A Day In The Life”. It also leads them out of The Beatles circle and into every other avenue of music. You don’t even have to be a fan of The Beatles to understand its mystique, you might even hate it, but it has a place in history as the bridge from one level of creativity and awareness to another, something that had not been considered to be something a rock’n’roll artist could or should do. No one cared, rock’n’roll stars were meant to offend and make young girls cry.
  • As for me, perhaps my fascination began with my dad, who was The Beatles fan of my family, but he did not play their records at home. Their music was always on the radio, as if they were new songs, but I grew up in a post-Beatles world. I heard all of the solo material, but as a kid I was also aware that people wanted these four people to reunite and become one. I don’t remember what was the first Beatles song I heard, but one of the first that struck me first and foremost was “Eleanor Rigby”. My dad went to his friend’s apartment for a bit of “smoking” and he had the red 1962-1966 album. I asked if I could borrow it, he wasn’t sure if a 9 year old kid could handle a record, but my dad said “he is okay”. I borrowed it. After a week, I had to return the record but asked if I could borrow it again. He said sure. I still have that album. I’m not sure if it was because I was hearing a rock band doing a song that sounded nothing like rock’n’roll, or if the string played by an eight piece orchestra created something that sparked something in me. I didn’t quite understand who Eleanor Rigby was or her role, or why people were lonely. It wasn’t an emotionally sad song, it just sounded cool, and I think I felt if “Eleanor Rigby” was this cool, what else did these Beatles do.

    They would damage my brain for life. When my mom created my first savings account, I eventually withdrew all of what I had left and bought Beatles 45’s at Music Box Records in downtown Honolulu. It wasn’t just the music that moved me, I wanted to know more and The Beatles became the first group that I became “nerdy” for, wanting to know who did what, how, and why, and every little aspect that I could find at book stores. The reason I became a record collector was the fact that I might be able to find a Beatles 45 with one extra T in their name, and I could sell it for $200 or more. In elementary school, I carried a Beatles discography book (All Together Now) that my friends said looked like I was carrying the bible. I not only wanted to know about the music, but felt I had to know catalog numbers, session people, release dates… if there was a possibility to find something new, something more, I had to know that more. When I found out one of my dad’s best friends had a Ravi Shankar album, I had to borrow that album too. It was the Capitol pressing of Three Ragas, and while I knew that Shankar helped to inspire George Harrison move deeper into Indian music, culture, and spirituality, I started to enjoy Indian classical music on its own merits. Again, one door leads to many doors, and it was never ending.

    Oh, as for my first copy of Sgt. Pepper? My dad gave me money to buy a copy at DJ’s Sound City at Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu, probably for $6.99 or $7.99, late 70’s/early 80’s purple label variation. I was sold. As someone with parents who loved swap meets, I clearly remember going to the Aloha Flea Market and seeing someone with a mono pressing of Sgt. Pepper, which I had known at the age of 11 that it was different from the stereo mix. I asked how much it was, and the guy was selling it for $5. Most swap meet records would go for a dollar or less, but $5? I asked my mom, and she said no. I held the album in my hand, saw that the catalog number was MAS-2653. I knew, from reading my Beatles “bible”, that MAS-2653 was mono, while SMAS-2653 had an S at the beginning to signify Stereo. I wanted it, even though it was just to listen. I couldn’t get it. Years later, I saw another copy of that album at a used record store for $75. I would eventually find a beat up copy of the mono pressing, sans cover, for under a dollar. I’ve heard the mono mixes since then, but still, to be able to just have it, U.S. or UK, doesn’t matter…

  • Looking back, it’s an album that represented a lot in the world of music, and perhaps the world, or at least it became a market in time for what happened back in 1967. I did not exist in 1967, but I know there have been times where I said “if there was a time machine, I’d love to be able to exist in a world right before Sgt. Pepper was released.” As I got older and understood world and cultural politics, I wonder if someone with my racial mixture would be able to explore music in the same way I do in the 21st century. Or would someone like me be considered as exotic as the Nehru jacket or a tabla? All I can do is wonder “what if?”

    Realistically, the album just shows what happens with passion, drive, and creativity can be used for something that was not meant to be celebrated as it is today, 45 years later, but merely as what was to be next for those four kids from Liverpool. Let’s hope it continues to excite and delight people in 2067. For a younger generation who wonder why albums that are 45 years old, by a group who haven’t been together in 42 years, continues to be praised as if it was something sacred: simply open your mind and listen. Forget the hype, forget the myths, and just listen. This was a collection of 13 songs that drove people to delight, because this was a boy band who decided to show that had been grown-up for a long time. Now it was time for everyone else to realize that too. It was by a group who felt they had the world, but wanted to see what happens if they pushed everyone’s limits and expectations, including themselves. That’s the beauty of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. For better or worse, it exists. Listen or not.




  • SOME STUFFS: Emmanuelle De Héricourt ready to be EDH for you

    Yaviz (Lentonia) is a new album by Emmanuelle De Héricourt, who you may enjoy under the name EDH. June 12th is when the album will be released, but you are able to hear her brand of electronic pop by hearing the song “Ice”, which you can also download for free by clicking the Soundcloud player below. Héricourt has been releasing music for nine years and this is merely part of the path she has created for herself, and it seems to be a good path too.

    The vinyl pressing of the album will come with a CD featuring remixes by Hype, Stereovoid, Elmapi, Subtitle, Unison, Nicolas Jorio, Ricky Hollywood, and others.


    VIDEO: Meyhem Lauren featuring Heems & Action Bronson’s “Special Effects”

    The video is short, but it’s a banger. Meyhem Lauren brought in Heems and Action Bronson for the extra cool “Special Effects”, and as for the video, Meyhem didn’t have to look too far for Heems put everything together to make things look as cool as the music itself.

    The song is from Meyhem’s forthcoming album Respect The Fly Shit, due out later this summer.

    FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD: Dent May’s “Home Groan”

    If “Home Groan” is another indication of what his new album is about, Dent May may be going to a few new places, and it’s not L.A. or NYC (listen to the song to understand).

    The album is called Do Things (Paw Tracks), ready for a June 12th assigned release, and as far as the title, there’s a good reason why he called it this. For one, Dent May did indeed do things on the album, as he played everything heard. He’ll bring this album in a live setting with help from his friends when he goes on tour mid-June.

    June 15… Dallas, TX – The Bryan Street Tavern
    June 16… Austin, TX – Scottish Rite Theater $$
    June 17… San Antonio, TX – Korova $$
    June 18… Lubbock, TX – Pray For Rain $$
    June 20… Tucson, AZ – Solar Culture $$
    June 21… Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom $$
    June 22… San Diego, CA – Casbah $$
    June 23… Los Angeles, CA – The Smell $$
    June 24… Long Beach, CA – Alex’s Bar $$
    June 26… Isla Vista, CA – Biko Garage $$
    June 27… San Jose, CA – Blank Club $$
    June 28… Santa Cruz, CA – The Crepe Place $$
    June 29… Oakland, CA – New Parish Music Hall $$
    June 30… San Francisco, CA – Elbo Room $$!
    July 2… Arcata, CA – The Jambalaya $$
    July 3… Olympia, WA – The Northern $$
    July 5… Vancouver, BC – Waldorf Hotel $$
    July 6… Seattle, WA – Chop Suey $$
    July 7… Portland, OR – East End Block Party $$
    July 8… Missoula, MT – VFW Hall
    July 10… Fargo, ND – Aquarium
    July 12… Madison, WI – University of Wisconsin *
    July 14… Cleveland, OH – Beachland Tavern
    July 15… Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme
    July 16… Toronto – Shop Under Parts and Labour
    July 17… Montreal, QC – Casa Del Popolo
    July 20… New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
    July 21… Brooklyn, NY – Glasslands
    July 22… Washington DC – DC9
    July 23… Greensboro, NC – Blind Tiger
    July 24… Atlanta, GA – The Earl
    July 25… Hunstville, AL – Vertical House

    + w/ Family Portrait, The Babies, William Tyler, DJ Ducktails
    $$ w/ Quintron and Miss Pussycat
    $$! w/ Quintron and Miss Pussycat, Shannon and the Clams
    * w/ Liturgy and Lotus Plaza


    SOME STUFFS: Metal martians Valient Thorr are back on Earth to assassinate ears and minds on new North American tour

    Valient Thorr are ready to rock your world, balls, and breasts with a brand new tour which starts today in Little Rock, Arkansas. They will be heading towards this year’s Bonnaroo, and they are ready to eat your abdomens. Well not really, but if you can get them a home cooked meal and some fresh fruit, they’d probably appreciate that too.

    May 31… Little Rock, AR – Revolution Music Room #
    June 1… Dallas, TX – The Double Wide #
    June 2… Houston , TX – FREE PRESS SUMMER FEST
    June 3… San Antonio, TX – The Korova #
    June 5… Tulsa , OK – Downtown Lounge #
    June 6… Kansas City, MO – Riot Room #
    June 7… St. Louis, MO – Fubar #
    June 8… Manchester, TN – BONNAROO
    June 10… Richmond, VA – Strange Matter %
    June 12… Huntington, WV – V Club %
    June 13… Pittsburgh, PA – Smiling Moose %
    June 14… Lancaster, PA – Chameleon Club %
    June 16… Allston, MA – Great Scott %
    June 17… New York, NY – Mercury Lounge %
    June 19… Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop %
    June 20… Chicago, IL – The Double Door %
    June 21… Hamtramck, MI – Smalls %
    June 22… Grand Rapids, MI – Pyramid Scheme %
    June 23… Madison, WI – FREQUENCY %
    June 24… Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock Social Club %
    June 26… Lincoln, NE – Rye Room (Bourbon Theatre) %
    June 27… Denver, CO – Marquis Theater %
    June 28… Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue %
    June 29… Boise, ID – Neurolux %
    June 30… Seattle, WA – El Corazon %
    July 1… Portland, OR – The Star Theatre %
    July 2… Sparks, NV – The Alley %
    July 3… San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill %
    July 5… Los Angeles, CA – The Down & Out %
    July 6… San Diego, CA – Casbah %
    July 7… Santa Ana, CA – The Constellation Room @ The Observatory %
    July 8… San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew %
    July 10… Phoenix, AZ – Rhythm Room %
    July 12… Colorado Springs, CO – Black Sheep %
    July 13… Omaha, NE – Sokol Auditorium %
    July 14… Columbia, MO – Mojo’s %
    July 15… Indianapolis, IN – Birdy’s %
    July 18… Chattanooga, TN – JJ’s Bohemia %
    July 19… Charlotte, NC – Chop Shop %
    July 20… Carrboro, NC – Cats Cradle %

    # w/ Holy Grail, The Kickass
    % w/ Holy Grail, Royal Thunder, The Kickass


    SOME STUFFS: A B & The Sea ready to go on their “Constant Vacation”

    A B & The Sea will be releasing their debut album next week Tuesday called Constant Vacation, but you can listen to it in full by playing the Bandcamp player below. They just made a video for the song “California Feeling”, which was a live spur-of-the-moment thing so the recording heard in the video is exclusive. Like what you hear? You’ll be able to see the this weekend in Mountain View, California and then a few weeks later in L.A.

    June 2… Mountain View, CA (Shoreline Amphitheatre)
    June 18… Los Angeles, CA (The Satellite)

    Until then, listen to their album.



    VIDEO: Sixo featuring Poindexter & Heir Max’s “God Cops”

    Someone had said “oh shit, Brent Popolizio has white sideburns and he’s rapping?” but no, that’s Poindexter, who was brought in by Sixo, and along with Heir Max, they created the superhot “God Cops”, where they speak about police officers who may act holier than thou, and what happens when things get out of hand.

    The song is from Sixo’s Tracking Perception EP, which you can check out below via Bandcamp.


    VIDEO: Gang Colours’ “To Repel Ghosts”

    Last week, I showed you Gang Colours performing “To Repel Ghosts” in a live setting. Now you’re able to see the full-on promotional film clip for it. The song is from their album The Keychain Collection, which you can order below via Amazon.


    VIDEO: Dana Buoy’s “Call To Be”

    There was a recent post here about Dana Buoy, but maybe three of you said “I want to see this man’s face. You are able to with this video for “Call To Be”.

    The face is that of Dana Buou, known as Dana Janssen by friends and family, and the person who made it possible to see his face is director Sam Molleur, so go ahead: put on your running clothes and shoes, and press play.


    RECORD CRACK: Taiga Records ready to release Jon Mueller & James Plotkin “Terminal Velocity”

    The 20th release from Taiga Records is a collabration between Jon Mueller & James Plotkin in the form of a 2-record set called Terminal Velocity. The music is a continuation of their love of guitars, drums, and percussion, sounding like entering a world that is completely unfamiliar yet somehow you stay because the experience will be a rewarding one. The entire project came about when both collaborated for a music festival, which lead to sketches for an eventual studio project together. Mueller brought Plotkin over to his Wisconsin home studio, and when the project was over, Plotkin mastered the entire album from start to finish.

    There will only be 500 copies made of this, all of it on 200g vinyl, with 200 regular black, 200 orange, and 100 copies that are a blue/gray splatter, all housed in a heavy Stoughton tip-on gatefold, visually wrapped in artwork from Karlynn Holland. Pre-orders are being taken right now over at the TaigaRecords.com online shop, with orders being shipped on or around June 25th. An audio excerpt from Terminal Velocity can be heard by clicking here.