The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

sgtpepperslonelyheartsclubband Not even going to try to review this other than to say that for a very long time this was my only album by The Beatles. Purchased in high school because duh, this is the one album I listened to through those ears, and a big difference of how I listened to things then was that I trusted myself less and trusted bands more. Good artists were universally good and if there was a song that wasn’t clicking with me, it was my fault. That’s had varying effects on how I perceive some of these songs, especially in the rough patch in the middle of the album. “She’s Leaving Home” and “Within You Without You” got way too much credit from me, whereas “Fixing A Hole” and “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!” are both very good, but also fall into the same category of songs I had to work at and so carry some undeserved taint with them.

This is the start of the band doing albums that were collections of songs that were clashing parts of the band members’ personalities instead of cohesive. Gets four clowns due to the strength of its good songs, not due to its consistency. And since I know all its best songs so well, I’ll just never reach for this, unless it’s to hear the something like the first track followed by the last four, which is like the perfect mix of awesomeness and not-overplayedness.

Well, look at that, maybe I did review this after all. Still, I’ll pull the song notes up above the jump.

  1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Great.
  2. With A Little Help From My Friends – I always thought Joe Cocker’s version was better, but didn’t even think of the possibility consciously until a baseball blogger stated it unequivocally. Plus the lyrics bug me. Why does “gonna try” come after “get by” and “get high”? It seems like a real lyrical let down right when something profound should be sung. Though, as a parent in the 2010’s I now know that encouraging effort and trying is the best thing you can do to avoid the fixed-ability mindset, so maybe the band was just 45 years ahead of their time.
  3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – Okay, but probably one of the band’s most overrated songs. John’s whine drives me nuts, as does Ringo’s thud leading into the chorus, which itself is a whole new level of repetitive annoyance for the group that they’d revisit on “Yellow Submarine.”
  4. Getting Better – Great song. Would have been a full heart except that line about beating his woman literally makes my stomach turn. I don’t think the character’s change for the better is redemptive enough.
  5. Fixing A Hole – Rough four song stretch starts here, but this is pretty good. Okay, fine, maybe John’s the best Beatle, or at least the best songwriter.
  6. She’s Leaving Home – Chorus drives me nuts, lyrics clunk, but the verses are nice.
  7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! – I always conflate this with “Fixing A Hole.” Sometimes this drives me nuts, it’s like being in Syd Barrett’s brain, and I feel must have been influenced by him, but it’s very well crafted.
  8. Within You Without You – Has its moments, but this is such an egregious, arbitrary use of sitar. It’s like George just had to squeeze in a very Indian-influenced song no matter how well it fit with the rest of the album.
  9. When I’m Sixty-Four – fine.
  10. Lovely Rita – good.
  11. Good Morning Good Morning – great.
  12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) – more of an electric guitar grit than the horns of the original, I think I prefer this version, but they’re both working from awesome source material.
  13. A Day In The Life – Unfortunately it’s just that last post-silence bit that keeps this from being a full heart. Along with “Helter Skelter” and “Twist And Shout,” one of my all time favorite Beatles songs.

Rating:
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– “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Good Morning Good Morning,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”
– “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “Getting Better,” “Fixing A Hole,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Lovely Rita,” “A Day In The Life”
– “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” “Within You Without You”
Filed Between: Revolver and The Beatles

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