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


The Beatles



4.33 | 986 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Before I begin, I would like to point out that for the longest time, I had assumed the songs ''All You Need Is Love'' and ''Strawberry Fields Forever'' were part of this album. They are not; they are on the MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR.

SGT. PEPPER seems to have its own mythos surrounding it, almost as big as the band itself. It's one of the easiest picks music experts hoist as the ''greatest album of all time'', but more than that, there's the notion that this album alone opened the doorway for artists to exploit entire albums more than hit singles which, by extension, created part of progressive rock. Neither statement I can fully come to terms with. For 1967, it had to be groundbreaking, but that was a year that the world heard DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED, ABSOLUTELY FREE, SAFE AS MILK, SURREALISTIC PILLOW, STRANGE DAYS, the debut of the Velvet Underground, et cetera. SGT. PEPPER wasn't the only album stretching rock music's limitations, but it's the most recognized probably because of the brand name of the Beatles.

With that bit of crabbing out of the way, is SGT. PEPPER a good album? Yes it is. Is it a good progressive rock album? That's debatable, but it has to be the Beatles album most closely associated with the genre. Does it still have flaws? Yes.

If there's one thing I have yet to give the Beatles credit for, it's their strong sense of composing melodies. In a sense, the melody of the song is the bread and butter of the Beatles' work. On SGT. PEPPER, we get every level of tolerability in terms of the melody. ''She's Leaving Home'' (believe it or not) is actually quite strong and tearjerking, ''Fixing a Hole'' isn't bad, but completely unmemorable, and all apologies, but ''Mr. Kite'' is sheer annoyance. The bells and whistles added to give a circus atmosphere is nothing more than a goofy novelty.

That's my big problem with SGT. PEPPER; it has the potential to be great, but the material is inconsistent. One of the more popular tracks in ''Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'' has major transition issues from the verses to the chorus, meaning that there's no warning between the two, and what results is what I like to call ''music whiplash''. There are songs such as ''Getting Better'' and ''Fixing a Hole'' that are voids in that I have terrible difficulty in remembering what they sound like. And maybe it's the vinyl I have, but several Beatles albums I have heard via vinyl are unnecessarily loud to the point where I can't wear my headphones without turning the volume down.

All of that said, and yet I still feel this is a good album. Strangely enough, two of the cuter pop songs in ''When I'm Sixty-Four'' and ''With a Little Help From My Friends'' are strong enough in the melody department to the point where the songs are carried because of them. Somehow, I get the feeling that Ringo isn't as bad a vocalist as he is perceived to be (from ''Friends'') to the point where I wish he had more lead singing opportunities. While it's not up to usual George Harrison writing standards for the group, ''Within You Without You'' does work in the ethereal raga atmosphere.

A special aside does need to go to the last track ''A Day in the Life'', where every potential and rumour around this album is justified, even if for only 5 and a half minutes. There are two distinct sections, one with Lennon rehashing news events (thankfully, the political nature is kept to observational) while McCartney assumes control of the second act with a whimsical yet relatable tune about preparing for work. Unlike on LSD, the transition between the two sections is flawless despite mood differences. Best of all, the melody is spot on, particularly in Lennon's section. It's instantly memorable and makes me wish the rest of the album was up to this type of quality.

SGT. PEPPER is quite a good album, especially if you're looking for fancy production, emphasis on melody, and something that's meant to be taken as art. There's a lot of good within this album, but it has a lot to answer for being constantly tagged as the greatest album of all time.

Sinusoid | 3/5 |


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