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In defence of Sgt. Pepper's weakest.
12 October 2012
12.09am
mr. Sun king coming together
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We all know Pepper: the beginning of a new era, the critics' love, all that jazz. However, most Beatles fans agree Pepper is not the Beatles best work. Great concept, and a few great songs (A Day In The Life, anyone?), but with weak tracks. What those are change for everyone, but on this forum, everyone has them. MMM doesn't like Pepper/With A Little Help. I can't stand Lovely Rita. We all have them.
However, there is a second side to these "weak" tracks. If fact, it's these "weak tracks" that make Pepper what it is. To prove it, I'll use to of my current favourite non Beatles albums - Mumford and Sons' Sigh No More, and Coldplay's A Rush of Blood To The Head. I might seem distant from Pepper at times, but it'll all make sense when I'm done.
I got Sigh No More last year, early in the year. When I listened to it for the first time with my family, I was awestruck. It was awesome. And, from that day, I mostly played it on my iPod as the full album. One day, I shuffled it, trying something else. I skipped half the songs. Songs like Roll Away Your Stone. Or White Blank Page. Or Awake My Soul. When I listened to the album as a whole next time, those songs were a million times better. I realised this wasn't an album you could listen to out of sync.
And this week, I came to the same revelation with A Rush of Blood. Songs like Green Eyes, Warning Sign, and Amsterdam were constant skips. Until I finally listened to it full, front to back yesterday. These songs were elevated to higher levels, in context.

Now, what does this have to do with Pepper? Everything. Pepper is the same beast. Just because a song doesn't sound good separate doesn't make it a bad song.

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UnidentifiedFiendishThingy
I tried to think of something powerful and moving… and failed.  "You were given a choice between war and dishonor - you chose dishonor, and you shall have war" - Winston Churchill
12 October 2012
12.30am
meanmistermustard
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I would totally agree that the Pepper is amazing when played thru complete, it works wonderfully, and i love how Jonathan Gould describes, in his book 'Can't Buy Me Love', how the album comes together as a true stage show; that only deepened my love for the whole thing.

The same could be said for Abbey Road where some of the medley songs arent that good when taken away from their context (mean mister mustard, Polythene Pam, Carry That Weight). Stick them together and play it thru tho and its sensational. The difference could be that the Abbey Road medley tracks are exactly that so it gets less stick and only raises its appreciation whereas Pepper is seen as the songs being separate entities so open to analysis resulting in criticism or praise depending on the individual.

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UnidentifiedFiendishThingy
He told us not to get overwhelmed by grief and whatever thoughts we have... to keep them happy, because any thoughts we have of him will travel to him wherever he is. (John Lennon - 27/8/67)
12 October 2012
4.43am
linkjws
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mr. Sun king coming together said
We all know Pepper: the beginning of a new era, the critics' love, all that jazz. However, most Beatles fans agree Pepper is not the Beatles best work. Great concept, and a few great songs (A Day In The Life, anyone?), but with weak tracks. What those are change for everyone, but on this forum, everyone has them. MMM doesn't like Pepper/With A Little Help. I can't stand Lovely Rita. We all have them.
However, there is a second side to these "weak" tracks. If fact, it's these "weak tracks" that make Pepper what it is. To prove it, I'll use to of my current favourite non Beatles albums - Mumford and Sons' Sigh No More, and Coldplay's A Rush of Blood To The Head. I might seem distant from Pepper at times, but it'll all make sense when I'm done.
I got Sigh No More last year, early in the year. When I listened to it for the first time with my family, I was awestruck. It was awesome. And, from that day, I mostly played it on my iPod as the full album. One day, I shuffled it, trying something else. I skipped half the songs. Songs like Roll Away Your Stone. Or White Blank Page. Or Awake My Soul. When I listened to the album as a whole next time, those songs were a million times better. I realised this wasn't an album you could listen to out of sync.
And this week, I came to the same revelation with A Rush of Blood. Songs like Green Eyes, Warning Sign, and Amsterdam were constant skips. Until I finally listened to it full, front to back yesterday. These songs were elevated to higher levels, in context.

Now, what does this have to do with Pepper? Everything. Pepper is the same beast. Just because a song doesn't sound good separate doesn't make it a bad song.

The only song I have trouble listening to out of continuous play on Pepper is "She's Leaving Home", but even then I love it.  I made the mistake of giving someone at my job Pepper as their first ever Beatles CD.  They enjoyed the album, but that its hard for them to jump into on shuffle (similar to what you said mr. sunking) and I hope I didn't discourage them from The Beatles in some way.  I don't know what would have been a better first Beatles album choice.  I didn't want to give them Abbey Road because its at the top of the pedestal in my mind.  I always wonder what is the best album to give someone who has never really listened to The Beatles....any opinions?

 

Also man, I must be weird.  I am right there with you, "A Rush Of Blood To The Head" is one of my favorite non-Beatles albums as well, but  Green Eyes, Warning Sign, and Amsterdam make "A Rush Of Blood.." for me.  I can hear them whenever.  In fact when Coldplay played Warning Sign in Miami I almost flipped chairs over from excitement haha.

12 October 2012
8.21pm
Into the Sky with Diamonds
New York
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linkjws said, " I always wonder what is the best album to give someone who has never really listened to The Beatles…."

Past Masters 1 and 2 (or "1").
Clearly these aren't albums, but for someone who's never heard the Beatles you'd want to expose them to the widest range of styles.
The studio albums are but a snapshot in time.

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12 October 2012
8.52pm
Zig
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Nice analogies, Sun King. I like each individual song...but I absolutely love them when I listen to the whole album from start to finish.

As for which album to give someone who has never really listened to The Beatles, I agree with ITSWD that a compilation is the best way to go. If I had to choose one studio album, I would go with Rubber Soul, only because there are some timeless songs and none that would scare anybody off.

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12 October 2012
10.07pm
Long John Silver
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mr. Sun king coming together said
We all know Pepper: the beginning of a new era, the critics' love, all that jazz. However, most Beatles fans agree Pepper is not the Beatles best work. Great concept, and a few great songs (A Day In The Life, anyone?), but with weak tracks. What those are change for everyone, but on this forum, everyone has them. MMM doesn't like Pepper/With A Little Help. I can't stand Lovely Rita. We all have them.
However, there is a second side to these "weak" tracks. If fact, it's these "weak tracks" that make Pepper what it is. To prove it, I'll use to of my current favourite non Beatles albums - Mumford and Sons' Sigh No More, and Coldplay's A Rush of Blood To The Head. I might seem distant from Pepper at times, but it'll all make sense when I'm done.
I got Sigh No More last year, early in the year. When I listened to it for the first time with my family, I was awestruck. It was awesome. And, from that day, I mostly played it on my iPod as the full album. One day, I shuffled it, trying something else. I skipped half the songs. Songs like Roll Away Your Stone. Or White Blank Page. Or Awake My Soul. When I listened to the album as a whole next time, those songs were a million times better. I realised this wasn't an album you could listen to out of sync.
And this week, I came to the same revelation with A Rush of Blood. Songs like Green Eyes, Warning Sign, and Amsterdam were constant skips. Until I finally listened to it full, front to back yesterday. These songs were elevated to higher levels, in context.

Now, what does this have to do with Pepper? Everything. Pepper is the same beast. Just because a song doesn't sound good separate doesn't make it a bad song.

You skip Amsterdam? It's totally underrated song.

Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
12 October 2012
10.16pm
minime
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I kind of like Amsterdam as well.

Anyone, that's besides the point. I do not think Sgt.Pepper's works better as an album than it doesn as an entity. I remember listening to it for the forst time, and it was such a disappointment, all that praise I had heard about it such. I even went as far as announcing it's the least  favorite Beatles album of mine, although I have taken that back later on. I really wish the concept of the album were more consistent; as it is, it's really just a bunch of songs put together, at least after WaLHfMF.

I do agree with you, though, that it definitely has its highlight, A Day In The Life, obviously, and She's Leaving Home

(And the Fact that Stuart is portrayed in the cover stuart-sutcliffe)

12 October 2012
10.44pm
Von Bontee
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Ok LOL...I scanned LJS's "You skip Amsterdam? It's a totally underrated song" remark on the main forum page, and wondered "WTF, why are they talking about John & Yoko's "Wedding Album" on a Sgt. Pepper thread? And it's not really a 'song'..." :D

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
12 October 2012
11.05pm
Holsety
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It's all up to opinion, really. Personally, Lovely Rita is one of my favorites on the album. I'm probably least fond of Lucy In The Sky or Reprise because I've never made an effort to hear it apart from the album, but that's not saying much. That would be what I skipped if I didn't listen to their albums in order the way I do without skipping. It definitely does not soak in the first time you hear it; it took me quite a few listens to appreciate it. The bass lines which plus the screeching electric guitar, along with a mic close to the drums so you can hear them. I' make for great instrumentals by themselves. I'll sometimes go listen to isolated bass parts, WALHFMF especially.. I've had a phase with almost every song on it (especially Fixing A Hole, Rita, Good Morning Good Morning). I think Revolver is better, but it's still a great album.

Please don't wake me, no don't shake me, leave me where I am, I'm only sleeping~.
13 October 2012
12.02am
meanmistermustard
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Cant stand Coldplay. Have heard some of their stuff and been bored senseless every single time.

He told us not to get overwhelmed by grief and whatever thoughts we have... to keep them happy, because any thoughts we have of him will travel to him wherever he is. (John Lennon - 27/8/67)
13 October 2012
5.16am
Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
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Rubber Soul, Revolver, the White Album, and Abbey Road (and Magical Mystery Tour, if you count it as a full album) are all superior overall to Sgt. Pepper, IMO.  Its main problem is Paul.  Most of the songs he wrote during these months were rather slight.  I feel it's the only Beatles album (Yellow Submarine notwithstanding) to which he did not contribute one of his all-time greatest compositions.  Too bad John and George couldn't have come up with more tunes from which to choose.  Granted, John's muse during this period also seemed to be kind of low, considering his final contributions to the album ended up being inspired by some pretty mundane items, such as a newspaper article ("A Day In The Life"), a breakfast cereal commercial ("Good Morning Good Morning"), a Victorian era circus poster ("Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"), and a drawing by his son ("Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds").  But his songs were still more substantial than Paul's.  Where the album's greatness really took a hit, though, was having arguably the best songs that John and Paul both wrote for it ("Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane," respectively) dropped for the sake of putting them out as a stopgap single.  a-hard-days-night-paul-3As I've posted before, this would've been my preferred version of Sgt. Pepper:

SIDE ONE:
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

"With a Little Help from My Friends"

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"

"Fixing A Hole"

"Only A Northern Song"

"Penny Lane"

"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"

 

SIDE TWO:
"Within You, Without You"

"Strawberry Fields Forever"

"When I'm Sixty-Four"

"Good Morning, Good Morning"

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)"

"A Day In The Life"

 

I'd have used "Getting Better" (which I would've put on the album in place of "Fixing A Hole" had its four-to-the-bar rhythm not sounded so similar to that of "Penny Lane") as the B-side of "Strawberry Fields Forever" (released a month later than originally intended); "Lovely Rita" as the eventual B-side of "All You Need Is Love" (thus keeping "Baby, You're a Rich Man" as the fourth exclusive song forYellow Submarine -- effectively replacing "Only A Northern Song" in that regard); and "She's Leaving Home" as the eventual B-side of "Hello, Goodbye," thus keeping all of the tracks on the Magical Mystery Tour double-EP (i.e. the entire first side of the LP) exclusive.

13 October 2012
6.24am
Wildcat
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The fact that no singles were released from Sgt Pepper speaks volumes for the conceit behind it's production - the group had achieved a level of universal popularity unprecedented in the history of the long-playing album.

Was it more 'presumed' - or expected - that this LP would, or was supposed to, be listened to as one continuous piece, in its exact running order, every time it was put on the turntable? Certainly, no one would have blindly expected Beatles For Sale or Rubber Soul , etc., to be played in sequence, from beginning to end - not even the most dedicated fans have the discipline, or inclination, to listen to their favorite artists' albums in that way, and would have been much less likely to in the 60's, when it was no secret that any given -album usually consisted of 3 or 4 outstanding tracks carefully placed in between all the 'filler', or non-essential, remainder of the disc.

On the one hand, it wasn't entirely unreasonable for The Beatles to create an album intended solely for the entire listening experience, "conceptual" only in the way that the whole of that musical experience contains a beginning, a middle, and an ending that, much as a movie or play, does not allow for changes or variations of that structure. But any other artist, in any other popular art form, would have been taking a much bigger risk in a similar attempt with their respective audiences in 1967.

It's also noteworthy to remember Sgt Pepper's original song order was markedly different than the released version.

13 October 2012
3.09pm
Zig
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Duke_of_Kirkaldy said
As I've posted before, this would've been my preferred version of Sgt. Pepper:

SIDE ONE:
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

"With a Little Help from My Friends"

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"

"Fixing A Hole"

"Only A Northern Song"

"Penny Lane"

"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"

SIDE TWO:
"Within You, Without You"

"Strawberry Fields Forever"

"When I'm Sixty-Four"

"Good Morning, Good Morning"

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)"

"A Day In The Life"

I find your fantasy Pepper album intruiging. I will put that playlist together and listen to it tonight.

**Quick, Robin...bring up iTunes on the Bat Computer!**

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13 October 2012
9.02pm
Long John Silver
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Von Bontee said
Ok LOL...I scanned LJS's "You skip Amsterdam? It's a totally underrated song" remark on the main forum page, and wondered "WTF, why are they talking about John & Yoko's "Wedding Album" on a Sgt. Pepper thread? And it's not really a 'song'..." :D

 

Haha,a better question, why are they talking about Coldplay album on Sgt Pepper topic xD.

Holsety said
It's all up to opinion, really. Personally, Lovely Rita is one of my favorites on the album. I'm probably least fond of Lucy In The Sky or Reprise because I've never made an effort to hear it apart from the album, but that's not saying much. That would be what I skipped if I didn't listen to their albums in order the way I do without skipping. It definitely does not soak in the first time you hear it; it took me quite a few listens to appreciate it. The bass lines which plus the screeching electric guitar, along with a mic close to the drums so you can hear them. I' make for great instrumentals by themselves. I'll sometimes go listen to isolated bass parts, WALHFMF especially.. I've had a phase with almost every song on it (especially Fixing A Hole, Rita, Good Morning Good Morning). I think Revolver is better, but it's still a great album.

Lucy in the Sky was actually the highlight, along with A Day In The Life,  of the album. It has it's place in popular culture as other name for LSD drug, and even the the most famous fossil, the partial skeleton is named Lucy after the song.

Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
13 October 2012
10.25pm
beatlepedia
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Photo shoot for the album cover "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

 

http://www.facebook.com/photo......38;theater

14 October 2012
1.33am
Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
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Zig said

I find your fantasy Pepper album intruiging. I will put that playlist together and listen to it tonight.

**Quick, Robin...bring up iTunes on the Bat Computer!**

I already burned this track listing to a blank CD (with no pauses between tracks) and have listened to it a couple times and I quite like the flow of it.  Finally, Sgt. Pepper nearly stands with the rest of their greats.  a-hard-days-night-john-1  If you have the mono versions of the songs, use them instead (with the exception of "Good Morning, Good Morning" -- the only track that sounds better in stereo, IMO) for a more definitive listening experience.  a-hard-days-night-george-10

15 October 2012
6.51pm
Zig
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a-hard-days-night-ringo-8I listened to it over the weekend and enjoyed it. I now have a playlist in my iPod named "Duke's Pepper".

This is a "concept album" I comprised a while back, along with a story...it is about halfway down the page I just linked you to. The songs actually flow together well.

My playlist has been dubbed, Sgt. Ziggers, Homely Art Thou Band.

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15 October 2012
10.39pm
Holsety
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I noticed on that thread most of the lists had no George song on the lists.. I found that a bit odd, so I thought I may add that they did record It's All Too Much in 1967; had they been recording it earlier than May and June they could have fit that on one of the '67 albums.

Please don't wake me, no don't shake me, leave me where I am, I'm only sleeping~.
16 October 2012
1.33am
meanmistermustard
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I listened to the complete mono album* on my ipod last night whilst enjoying the cool october night time and fricking hell its good. Left behind all my preconceptions, thoughts and feelings and just sunk into the show. Talk about being taken all over the place and enjoying every single second.

Its a strange thought just how people would have reacted to this album with the built in audiences, indian musicians dueling with the familiar westeners, fairground rides, images never dreamed off before, animals clucking, barking and roaring, and orchestras going somewhere but who knows where.

Now everyones read about it before they're first hearing, every song been analysed to the extreme, torn to pieces and glued back together in some shape that resembles its original state, and everyone has an opinion. Including me before i even press play.

 

I now stand back and say "what a fucking amazing album" (and the swear word is neccessary for emphasis).

 

* Not deliberate just the mix that i had on the ipod, i fluctutate between mono and stereo for all the albums.

He told us not to get overwhelmed by grief and whatever thoughts we have... to keep them happy, because any thoughts we have of him will travel to him wherever he is. (John Lennon - 27/8/67)
16 October 2012
3.19am
linkjws
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It's very hard for me to realize what was going on during the 60's.  I know there are tons of sources out there detailing endlessly the culture of the "Summer of Love" and so on.  But, to be there and hear this work when it came out is probably indescribable.  Even the weakest tracks on Pepper are leaps and bounds beyond anything people had heard before.  I actually am trying to write an essay for my english class about the significance of The Beatles post Pepper and it's next to impossible due to how long the essay becomes.

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