This album has become like a “museum piece” because of the way people talk about it with such reverence. Unfortunately this means that not enough people are focusing on what makes the album special in the first place: the music. This article is an attempt to take this album out of the museum and into the ears by focusing on it’s music instead of it’s “historical significance.”
01. “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – The album starts off with this brilliant Paul McCartney rocker (he wrote it, sang lead, and even played the lead guitar part) which really sets the mood (and the “concept”) for the entire album. I love how the song intersperses pretty heavy rock with the somewhat ridiculous horn sections. The imagination displayed in this music is really overwhelming. I can imagine people who have grown up listening to the drab obvious music of “rock bands” like Nickelback being very confused by what’s going on in this music as they’ve never really been introduced to imagination or creativity in music before. But if they can get over that initial confusion, I think they will begin to understand the possibilities of what music can be.
02. “With a Little Help from my Friends” – I much prefer this original Beatles version over the completely over the top Joe Cocker version that is probably more famous at this point (mostly because it was used as the theme song to the very popular Wonder Years TV show.) To me it’s the perfect song for Ringo to sing and of course John & Paul wrote it specifically for Ringo. It fits like a glove. What a brilliant song.
03. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – This psychedelic journey through the mind of John Lennon remains one of the band’s most famous songs. I love how it goes from the visions of the verse to the exciting sing along of the chorus.
04. “Getting Better” – The “it couldn’t get much worse” lyric that Lennon added to this McCartney song is such a great example of the way that Lennon and McCartney made each others songs better even when they weren’t righting them “eyeball to eyeball” like in the early days.
05. “Fixing a Hole” – Possibly the best lyrics Paul McCartney ever wrote. Another one of my favorites on an album filled with favorites.
06. “She’s Leaving Home” – More great lyrics from Paul McCartney. What a gorgeous song too. Paul was definitely at the top of his game in 1967.
07. “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” – I think my favorite part of this song is the cut up tape section where it sounds like sort of insane random carnival music.
08. “Within You Without You” – This is a song that gets a lot of hate by a lot of people and that makes me sad. It makes me feel like they don’t really “get it.” This song is an essential part of what makes this album so brilliant.
09. “When I’m 64” – Check out this song sequencing. We went from a 1800s circus to India to do some meditating and now we’re enjoying ourselves this very tongue in cheek music hall number. So many differnet styles of music are explored on this album, and they are all done brilliantly.
10. “Lovely Rita” – In an album filled with stand-out tracks, this one is probably somewhat forgettable in comparison. Of course it’s still a great song.
11. “Good Morning Good Morning” – There’s some interesting time changes in this one. I also love the Jimi Hendrix style guitar leads by Paul McCartney.
12. “Sgt. Pepper’s (Reprise)” – Rocks harder than the first version. I love how it ties the album together and it’s brilliant how this closing version is “looser” just like a band may be looser at the end of a real show. And that’s what the concept of this album was all about after all. The idea was that this album would “go on tour” rather than the band themselves.
13. “A Day in the Life” – This is the best example of John & Paul combining their ideas to be something greater than they were on their own. This is also the best song ever recorded by anyone. It’s just pure brilliance.
Both of the Beatles Remastered CD Box Sets are recommended so that both the mono and stereo mixes of Sgt. Pepper can be heard. The The Beatles Mono Box Set is quite a revelation.