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In defence of Sgt. Pepper's weakest.
16 October 2012
4.25am
Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Paris Olympia
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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
Sitting on a cornflake
as above, in an Italian garden
Ed Sullivan Show
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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
Sitting in an English garden
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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.

''We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.''

19 October 2012
5.34am
unknown
ay, qué pesado
Apple rooftop
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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.

All living things must abide by the laws of the shape they inhabit
19 October 2012
12.52pm
BluemeanAl
North Carolina, USA
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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…

It's gotta be rock and roll music if you wanna dance with me
19 October 2012
4.11pm
Zig
The Toppermost of the Poppermost
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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

To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.

Can buy Joe love! If you're going to buy that song, album, or T-shirt anyway; please consider using these links to support the Beatles Bible: Amazon | iTunes

20 October 2012
3.52am
Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
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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.

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.

"Well, probably we'll sell less records, less people'll go to see the film, we'll write less songs, and we'll all die of failure" (John Lennon 8/64)
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.

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