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The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band CD (album) cover

SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

4.32 | 730 ratings

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thehallway
Prog Reviewer
5 stars What was I thinking? Anything less than 5 stars for this musical achievement is only possible if you hate The Beatles unconditionally. Many amazing songs, including the band's best, right at the end. Technologically, musically, timbrely (?), conceptually, and with a light-hearted approach, the masterpiece of the sixties. There it is.

ACTUAL REVIEW: Dated but influential. In 1967 this was obviously an incredible album, full of new and exciting structures and tones, by a band who were already on top of the world. 43 years later, it's effect is somewhat diminished, but it's still easy to see what's so great about 'Sgt Pepper'.

The songs are mostly short and sweet, with simple themes on the surface but a lot of off- course overdubbing and strange instrumentation. It's the timbre and sound of this album that makes it so colourful and psychedelic (not to mention the drugs (and the very bright cover)). I find Lennon's songwriting to be the more "progressive" out of the group, utitlising less common chords and phrasing, and generally offbeat subject matter. '...Mr Kite' is very thematic and circus-sounding, with a really avant-garde bridge section that screams prog. McCartney's efforts are stronger in terms of melody, but he doesn't seem to strech out as much as his partner, playing it safe with catchy tunes such as 'Getting Better' and 'Fixing a Hole'. However the orchestration of 'She's Leaving Home' is rather nice, in a less conventional way.

Harrison's sole contribution (he had more but wasn't given the opportunity for more than one, proved by his first album which was a triple-LP of the songs that had built up during the Lennon/McCartney reign) is the Indian sitar excercise 'Within You Without You', very generic for the style but I guess a lot more interesting to Western audiences. And Ringo successfully ruins a song by attempting to sing on it ("What would you think if I sang out of tune?"... well, I'm thinking of putting tape over your mouth right now Starr!). The most progressive song on the album, 'A Day In The Life' is what really influenced the prog bands to exist. It remains a mere 5 minutes yet conveys everything which at the time would be considered progressive, if not simply weird. The famous ending (three grand pianos playing the same major chord) is about as experimental as it gets. This is followed a short segment of extremely high-pitched sound- wave, and then some chopped up Beatle chatter. What a finale!

This album is so uniquely wonderful, easy to access, and yet suitably developed to qualify as proto-prog. This was the Beatles at a compositional peak. It's not to most prog-head's tastes nowadays, but in '67 there was little else! All I can say is that George should have had more say, and Ringo should have had less.

thehallway | 5/5 |

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