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In defence of Sgt. Pepper's weakest.
16 October 2012
4.25am
Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
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Zig said
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.

 

Ah, Zig, you flatter me.  a-hard-days-night-ringo-6  Nice to know I actually managed to have some impact on someone else's life.  I like your concept album -- has a kind of S.F. Sorrow feel to it.  BTW, if you're interested, I posted the blueprints for my preferred version of Let It Be on this page (my first post on that page)... which one can't really put together without doing some actual editing.

16 October 2012
4.08pm
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I'm sort of glad to hear that many have 'issues' with SP as I really do struggle with it sometimes, and can't quite understand what all the fuss is about! MAybe at the time is was agreat breakthrough, major turn around for the band and all that but .. are the songs really that good?

The only masterpiece as fas as I'm concerned is A Day In The Life, plus Lucy in the Sky .. but With A Little Help From My Friends??? Please!

Someone mentioned that PM's contributiosn are a little weak and I think there's something in that.

 

PS I bought the album today for the first time! a-hard-days-night-john-2

16 October 2012
4.21pm
fabfouremily
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I think that Sgt Pepper is an amazing album. But not because of the songs on it - as some of them are weak to say the least - but because of the significance it had at the time. It's hard for people like me (young) to try and comprehend exactly how important it was, but I know that it was. Very.

Going back to the songs being weak, I've never felt anything much towards With A Little Help, I find it repetitive and for once, I don't think Ringo's voice suits the song, I find it boring. Though I do have to appreciate that he worked hard to get that final high-pitched 'friends' out. Good on you, Ringo!

Oh and the mad animal sounds at the end of Good Morning Good Morning, can't stand them. Puts me right off. Shame because I like the lyrics and the rest of the song a lot.

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19 October 2012
5.34am
unknown
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I used to have doubts about the quality of the individual songs on the album. Then I listened to the album and changed my mind.

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19 October 2012
12.52pm
BluemeanAl
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Pepper was the first album that I ever obsessed over:  I'd play the album through, then drop the needle back to the beginning of ADITL, play it two or three times in a row, then repeat the process over and over again.  This one is truly a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.  Aside from "A Day In The Life," I can't imagine ever hearing any of its songs in some random setting and thinking, "Wow! Listen!  They're playing (fill in the blank_______!!!)"  the way that I would with dozens of other Beatles songs.  They just don't lend themselves very well to that song-only isolated listen, IMHO.  You have to listen to the album as a piece rather than as a collection of songs.

That said, "She's Leaving Home" is, in many ways, my least favorite Pepper track (and one of my least favorite Beatles songs overall).  Primarily because it sounds so sappy/syrupy.  But the melody ain't bad at all, and aside from a few cringeworthy lines (the "She is having fun" verse and countermelody, especially), lyrically it ain't that bad.  I've always been charmed by the "meeting a man from the motor trade" line, probably because I'm an American and, mundane as it may really be, the line sounds exotic to my ears.

The impact on the times, as has been mentioned many times  before, can't be overstated.  It really was that important, which is why it continually tops out those "best of" lists.  Even if it isn't close to being my favorite Beatles album, for that reason alone I don't argue that point very much at all...

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19 October 2012
4.11pm
Zig
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BluemeanAl and others including me bring up good points about "the whole being greater than the sum of its parts". Whenever I rank this album (I've ranked it as low as sixth somewhere in these pages), I do so based on the songs contained in the album.

Then I listen to it the whole album again and think, "I'm an idiot." a-hard-days-night-ringo-14

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20 October 2012
3.52am
Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
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Sorry, but, tried as I have, no matter how many times I've listened to Sgt. Pepper (and not my preferred alternate version) - mono or stereo - it remains a second-tier Beatles album in my mind; it just cannot touch Rubber Soul, Revolver, the White Album, or Abbey Road (or Magical Mystery Tour, if counted as a full album) in terms of overall greatness.  "She's Leaving Home" still sounds like Paul trying to recapture "Eleanor Rigby" - albeit in a more maudlin manner - and failing.  "Getting Better," "Fixing A Hole" and "Lovely Rita" still mostly sound like dressed-up Revolver rejects.  "When I'm Sixty-Four" is one of Paul's better Music Hall throwbacks (alongside "Honey Pie"), but "With a Little Help from My Friends" is not, IMO (I'm not even that big a fan of Joe Cocker's bloated version, either).  That's not to say these aren't good songs; they are -- they're just not 'great' ones to my ears.  Yes, the album has a great flow to it, but so does anything you listen to in a more passive manner.  a-hard-days-night-paul-3

20 October 2012
5.46am
Wildcat
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I regret that I have to agree with Duke's overall assessment. Growing up in the Beatle years, though discovering their LPs out of sequence and virtually always 2 or 3 years after their initial release, it strikes me that I vividly remember my very first listening experiences with Rubber Soul, Revolver, Abbey Road Magical Mystery Tour; but to this day I cannot recall the same with Sgt Pepper, The White Album or Let It BeWhatever that says about my regard towards their albums, it's unique unto myself only, so not worthy of delving deeper here.

But it's no secret that Ringo was bored out of his mind during those endless days of studio brain-storming between Lennon, McCartney and George Martin (Harrison's single contribution, not involving any of the others, should speak for itself).

Consider that Pepper, compared with Revolver before, and The White Album after, and every other Beatles album in their career, has the least presence of actual drums or solid rhythmic beats of any of their releases- Ringo gets to rock a bit on the opening and reprise of the title track, and gives a vital percussive tension to A Day In The Life - but beyond that? Some bongo/conga on Getting Better, frantic drumming throughout Good Morning Good Morning... and cymbals - lots and lots of cymbals, because John and Paul weren't into creating beats for their songs as much as flowing currents and mind-expanding wordplay during this time.

Sgt Pepper was a necessary indulgence for John and Paul to get all of these substance-induced revelations out of their minds and on to a recorded document. In every decade since its release, the books, and anniversary documentaries, and the so-called 'serious'music critic's talking-head deconstructions of the album always focus more on the timing of its release, the quintessential soundtrack for the Summer of Love, and how it was perfectly in synch with the sensibilities and expanding aesthetics of the youth culture that embraced it in that brief, yet memorable, time.

But Pepper was still an indulgence, nonetheless, which makes it sound more dated than any of their other releases.

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20 October 2012
9.09pm
meanmistermustard
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Re Ringos drumming; listen to the isolated drum tracks of all the songs and you'll be blown away. They might not be down right ear catching immediecy but its an incredible experience. Truth be told i grew a better understanding of the whole album by listening to the multitracks and the songs dismantled and reconstructed.

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21 October 2012
7.03am
Wildcat
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I don't deny the impeccable styles of Ringo's percussion throughout Pepper; my favorite tracks, like Lovely Rita, Fixing A Hole and Getting Better, are all enhanced from it- but it's undeniably the least 'rocking' album out of a collection of music that's just the opposite.

I have no trouble understanding the whole album. What I understand is that every sound on every single one of Pepper's multitracks is pre-planned and precise, excluding the slightest hint of improvisation or 'accidental' occurences like John playing a tape of Rain backwards or Paul discovering a 'seagull'- like sound in one of his tapes used in Tomorrow Never Knows. It's that complete lack of spontaneity or experimentation from numerous rehearsals that distinguishes Pepper from all the albums before it. It's not a bad thing, just a different listening experience.

Ringo is an absolute model of self-restraint, always reliable in accompanying tunes like When I'm Sixty-Four or Fixing A Hole, playing exactly what he's expected to play; George is so tragically underused that it pisses me off to this day- to me, Within You, Without You and his soaring break on Fixing A Hole are defining moments for the album as much as A Day In The Life or Lucy In the Sky.. yet, he's barely there otherwise.

I get more of a sense of 'isolation', both from the group and towards the listener, on Sgt Pepper than I would have noticed on The White Album without knowing the history behind it. The euphoria of being confident enough to discard Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane for inclusion, at such an early stage, seems in retrospect to have removed any soul  that might have given Sgt Pepper more emotional resonance within the confines that John and Paul seemed to exert for the concept of the end result.

As I said, Sgt Pepper was a necessary indulgence for a combined creative force to separate their own mind-expanding adventures using the most persuasive language available to express them, which John and Paul, along with George Martin, successfully accomplished with Sgt Pepper.

But it's the only Beatles album that seems more exclusionary, and less of a 'group' effort, than any other. I can't fault anyone for loving it - I just tend to be more reserved about anyone claiming it as their favorite Beatles album.

4 August 2014
10.41am
MapRef41N93W
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Side B is unbelievably terrible. If A Day In The Life was not on it, I would call it the worst album side of any historically important album by any band... ever. A Day In The Life is so good though, that it definitely saves the side. 

The majority of the worst Beatles songs are on it:

Within You,Without You , When I'm Sixty Four, Lovely Rita, Reprise, and of course the worst Beatles song of all-time Good Morning Good Morning. All of those songs would be among my 10 least favorite Beatles songs. 

Side A thankfully is very good with Getting Better, A Little Help From My Friends, and She's Leaving Home which are all very nice tracks. 

In retrospect, Sgt. Peppers was just an album ahead of it's time, but without great overall tracks top to bottom like Abbey Road and Revolver. It's a middle of the road Beatles album for me. 

4 August 2014
12.00pm
Bulldog
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Welcome @MapRef41N93W! Here is a place you can introduce yourself. 

About what you said... I respectfully disagree. Especially about Lovely Rita, I love that song. I can see people calling Within You Without You weak, but I really enjoy all the songs on the album, even Good Morning x2. It may have pretty weak lyrics, but it's catchy enough and has some nice guitar and horns. When I'm Sixty Four is nothing mind-blowing and again has mediocre Beatles lyrics, but I like it. I like Paul's little old-fashioned (if you want to call it that) type tunes like Honey Pie. The Reprise.... is again quite catchy, the drumbeat at the beginning is pretty awesome, I think, if not super original. (Or maybe it was at the time.) It's just a good rockin' track. I will agree that Revolver and AR are great, but I'll stop now for fear of a derail.

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4 August 2014
1.36pm
meanmistermustard
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Couldn't disagree more @MapRef41N93W. Between the two sides, for me, side two beats side one into submission and leaves it crying in the corner. Within You, Without You is one of my favourite Beatles tracks with fantastic lyrics and the amazing east v west instrumentation (especially the solo section) and i adore the scorching brass, Ringo cracking and crashing drums, John's wonderful vocal and the sudden change into German at the end (thanks to @fabfouremily for the heads-up on that) - oh and the animal cacophony (may not be the right word but hey-ho). The Pepper reprise far surpasses its cousin on side one and Lovely Rita is so much fun (especially the madness at the end). 

I listened from Mr Kite thru to the Inner Groove last week and came to the opinion that i could happily take Lucy and Getting Better from side 1, ditch When I'm 64 (sorry but its too twee) and have a side of untold brilliance and 6 tracks i can give or take. I'm not a fan on Paul's other offerings and With A Little Help From My Friends is mundane (tho the multi's (Rock Band and not-Rock Band) are incredible for all of the songs).

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4 August 2014
2.49pm
Zig
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a-hard-days-night-ringo-8Always interesting to see how tastes vary from fan to fan. One fan's trash is another fan's treasure.

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4 August 2014
4.12pm
Linde
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It has already been said various times now, but this is really an album that works as a whole. The tracks I find myself listening to the least are definitely Fixing A Hole and When I'm Sixty-Four. I like all of the other tracks, yes, even With a little help. I do cheat a bit though, because often when I listen to it I also listen to Sgt Pepper before it.

I don't get why people consider Within You Without You to be a weak song. I mean, you can dislike it, but saying it's weak? It had great lyrics, the arrangement is amazing..what's weak about it? Listening to it as we speak and I still think it's amazing. I used to hate it, but it has grown on me and I think it's great now.

4 August 2014
5.37pm
Funny Paper
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It would have been nice if the other Beatles had contributed to the recording of Within You Without You.  Couldn't George have at least invited the other three to sit in the back with tablas...?

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4 August 2014
5.44pm
Inner Light
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Zig said
a-hard-days-night-ringo-8Always interesting to see how tastes vary from fan to fan. One fan's trash is another fan's treasure.

That's the beauty of what makes us who we are. We all have are favorites and the ones we dislike. What is important, is not to put down someone do their input and likes and dislikes. We all have something to share and that's why I like this site. We can freely express our feelings and connect with those fans that share our beliefs and opinions and respect those who do not.

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4 August 2014
10.52pm
Billy Rhythm
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I think that it says a lot about the high quality of the songs/musicianship on this album if 'Fixing A Hole' & 'When I'm Sixty-Four' are to be the "weakest" of the bunch, for these two songs would be the highlights/hit singles for just about ANY album released by ANYONE during the past 2 decades.  I always thought 'Fixing A Hole' to be a departure song for Paul, probably largely due to his recent acquaintance with LSD, while on songs like 'Eleanor Rigby' or 'Paperback Writer' he was tooling with his familiar formula of using fictional characters and such, here he goes a little deeper into the realm of an introspective journey which I found refreshing.  If you can get past the "Granny Shit Music" presentation of 'When I'm Sixty-Four', it's about as tuneful as Paul McCartney gets and most remarkable that he'd first coined it as a teenager which again effectively demonstrates his rare gift for undeniable melody.  Anyone who doubts its inclusion on such a psychedelic Beatles' collection needs to watch the 'Yellow Submarine' film where this song during the 'Sea of Time' sequence is a highlight and most fitting amongst the acid laced experience.  Just about ANYONE who's ever dropped contemplates TIME & Space almost immediately upon tripping the live fantastic, and 'When I'm Sixty-Four' is most fitting while placed after the majestic 'Within You, Without You', Paul starts the most welcome "coming back home" stretch from the outer limits that John & George navigated us through on the previous two tracks....:-)   

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4 August 2014
10.56pm
Annadog40
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I think that Good Morning Good Morning is the weakest song on the album. What do people who like this song see in it?

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5 August 2014
1.13am
Zig
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I love the lyrics - very fun to sing. It's almost like a rap - which for me is odd to say as I find most rap songs that I've heard pointless and annoying.

The sudden chord structure/tempo changes are exciting.

I get lost in the song and feel myself walking the streets with the protagonist.

As soon as it comes on, I get even more excited about what's coming up. a-hard-days-night-john-3

It's funny really. Like many others, I find the whole album stronger than the individual songs, but can quickly defend each individual song just as many of you have above.

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