Thursday, 14 May 2009

Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Fan Club

It struck me last week that, as a guy who supposedly loves music, the fact that I didn't own a single Beatles album was nothing short of absurd.

So I toddled off to my local CD shop and bought "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" simply because I love Fionn Regans cover of "Getting Better." (And because of the Eastenders musical thing on Children In Need.)

Today the record seems a little dated. Many of the people I have spoke to find it a little sickly and the analogue recording a little amateur sounding. Aside from that being bollocks, the truth is that this is a record that changed the world. For a start, what sickly pop songs today are about LSD or have a sitar/bongo solo preceding a song like "When I'm Sixty Four?"

Some of the recording techniques were way ahead of their time - it was so rare for a band of that era to take such care and thought over the recording of an album, even to the point that it doesnt really make sense. The last sonds on the album are the conversations of the beatles in the studio on tape, cut up and stuck back in a random order. A process that is used, to much better effect, all over the album. They used all the benfits of live and analogue instruments to their highest potential, putting vocals through hammond organs and using headphones as microphones (not sure how that works...)

But aisde from this the songs and their arrangements are just stunning. "With A Little Help From My Friends" is a delight, "Getting Better" much better than Fionn's excellent cover, "A Day In The Life" simply epic. The title track sounds like James Brown with the Birmingham Brass Band behind him. Actually it doesn't really, but I cant quite describe it.

The album is a triumph in innovation with mass appeal but also, hardest of all, a master class in longevity.

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