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Is Sgt Pepper overrated?
3 May 2017
1.22pm
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Pablo Ramon
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It really depends on perspective. As a cultural moment and touchstone, it is massive. It redefined the possibilities of the genre and opened the door to the idea that an album might be a work of art and not just a collection of songs. The cover art is, in a way, hard to appreciate now given all that has come after it, but it was a massive reinvention. The idea that a band might adopt a new persona just for an album was a revelation. The album's production was a huge step forward - a leap from bands playing instruments in the studio to bands using the studio as their instrument. All the more impressive to have been accomplished with nothing more sophisticated than 4 track tape.

The musicianship is exceptional. The arrangements are superb, with the exception of "She's Leaving Home " which would have benefited greatly from a George Martin arrangement. "Within You Without You " is just superbly arranged and orchestrated. "A Day In The Life " is an absolute landmark. 

But if you assess it as a collection of songs, it is a little thin. The "concept" is vague and fizzles out quickly only to reappear at the end to create the illusion of consistency. And some of the songwriting is...not the Beatles at their best. For me, "Lovely Rita ," "Fixing A Hole ," "Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "When I'm 64" are not in the top half of the Beatles' songwriting repertoire. Of course, that's a pretty high bar, and every song on it has something to recommend it.

My emotions on it are mixed...it's not my go to album to listen to, but I admire it as a moment and even a turning point in western culture, despite its many imperfections.

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3 May 2017
2.48pm
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sir walter raleigh
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I agree with your thoughts on She's Leaving Home . I wonder how good that song could have been had GM arranged the orchestral parts. 

"The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles!"

-Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

"We could ride and surf together while our love would grow"

-Brian Wilson, Surfer Girl

3 May 2017
10.56pm
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Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
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Pablo Ramon said
My emotions on it are mixed...it's not my go to album to listen to, but I admire it as a moment and even a turning point in western culture, despite its many imperfections.  

Indeed, but its then-cultural impact is largely lost now on most people under 45. And the most impeccable production values in the world can't mask the core fact that this just wasn't the best batch of songs with which the group came up. I would argue Are You Experienced?, which also came out that summer, holds up better today in terms of both cultural impact AND musical content.

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4 May 2017
2.56am
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sir walter raleigh
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Duke_of_Kirkcaldy said

Indeed, but its then-cultural impact is largely lost now on most people under 45. And the most impeccable production values in the world can't mask the core fact that this just wasn't the best batch of songs with which the group came up. I would argue Are You Experienced?, which also came out that summer, holds up better today in terms of both cultural impact AND musical content.  

In regard to cultural impact Are You Experienced? is not even close today. There is a reason we aren't seeing radio programs, massive reissues, news all over about the 50th anniversary of Are You Experienced? But maybe that is because the news I read is far more Beatles-oriented.

"The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles!"

-Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

"We could ride and surf together while our love would grow"

-Brian Wilson, Surfer Girl

4 May 2017
7.22am
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Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
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Well, to be fair, Hendrix was never as embraced by the mainstream as The Beatles were.

4 May 2017
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Ron Nasty
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Pepper is a moment, a place in time, not their best album, far from their worst, but definitely their most dated - in that it could only come from the Summer of Love. It was, along with All You Need Is Love , the top of the hill. Though much incredible music was still to be made (with the White and AR regularly placing above it in polls), within weeks of the AYNIL broadcast, Brian would be dead, and the slow and painful break-up began.

Its cultural moment is assured, and I think the suggestion that those born in 1972 or after do not get that cultural importance is ridiculous, but it is definitely a flawed album with more than one weak song. But, remarkable as much of it is, it was a cul-de-sac musically, and one they largely abandoned as 1967 moved into 1968.

If I had to name the most influential album musically released that year, it was released on 12 March, and only sold around 30,000 copies at the time: The Velvet Underground and Nico. As Brian Eno would famously comment years later, "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band."

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The Beatles Bible 2020 non-Canon Poll Part One: 1958-1963 and Part Two: 1964-August 1966

4 May 2017
10.05am
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Jolly Jimmy
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Ron hits the nail on the head regarding the Sgt. Pepper LP.

One good measuring stick is to ask a teenager or college age student today what their favorite Beatle song is.  Odds are it will be something post-Pepper.   Their later output is more in sync with the rock and pop music of today.

Pepper would still be liked.  But it is something more likely to discussed in a Music Appreciation class and/or analyzed in reference to 1967 culture.

Ron, I see you have a new picture.  For a second there, I thought that was Moe Howard.

You are all my friends.

4 May 2017
10.40am
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sir walter raleigh
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At the same time, if you ask a college student today about Gone With The Wind, they may not have even seen it. However, that does not make it any less of a groundbreaking smash hit. While I agree that Sgt. Pepper has not aged nearly as well as Abbey Road (which still blows peoples minds upon first listen), it is a historical landmark even though our ears now convince us otherwise. The reason Abbey Road still holds up is because of its musical complexity, which is superior to that of Sgt. Pepper .

Either way, I agree with Ron that The Velvet Underground & Nico is arguably more influential than both. It proved that good quality music doesn't have to be paid for. In a way, it is the exact opposite of the expensive, revolutionary Sgt. Pepper album, yet both were completely stunning in their time. 

If I had to identify the most influential release of 1967 it would be The Beach Boy's single Good Vibrations: Brian Wilson's pocket symphony to God . Also the best release of the year IMO. 

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"The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles!"

-Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

"We could ride and surf together while our love would grow"

-Brian Wilson, Surfer Girl

4 May 2017
11.35am
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Ron Nasty
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Good Vibrations wasn't released in 1967, @sir walter raleigh. It was released on 10 October 1966.

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The Beatles Bible 2020 non-Canon Poll Part One: 1958-1963 and Part Two: 1964-August 1966

4 May 2017
11.54am
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sir walter raleigh
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Good catch! I was trying to recall when the 50th anniversary was and I could have sworn it was in February. I was mistaken. Disregard that last thought. 

"The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles!"

-Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

"We could ride and surf together while our love would grow"

-Brian Wilson, Surfer Girl

4 May 2017
6.30pm
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Duke_of_Kirkcaldy
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Speaking of The Beach Boys , I'm still disappointed we didn't also get the release of Smile that summer. If only Brian Wilson had had more moral support from others during the project (I'm looking at you, Mike Love  ahdn_paul_01) it might have been seen to its full fruition. Then again, perhaps it was always destined to sink under the weight of its own ambition. It's another album I feel would've definitely aged better than Sgt. Pepper , though one that I feel many people wouldn't have known what to make of at the time. At least he finally got around to finishing it 37 years later -- and, unlike many long-anticipated works, it did NOT disappoint. Better late than never. And we can also imagine what might have been with the Smile Sessions box set release 6 years ago.

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4 May 2017
7.18pm
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sir walter raleigh
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Looking at you Murray Wilson!

"The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles!"

-Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

"We could ride and surf together while our love would grow"

-Brian Wilson, Surfer Girl

11 May 2017
9.14pm
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IAmTheLongbus
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QuarryMan said
My view is that Sgt Pepper is the best album ever recorded.

In my view, the album on your avatar is better than Sgt. Pepper 😉

But it's definitely not a bad album per se.

4 January 2018
2.57pm
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Father McKenzie
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I don't think it's over rated at all. The hype is fully justified. Yeah,there are probably songs on there that aren't everybody's cup of tea,but even so,you can still appreciate the time and effort it took to create and put together. The bright colours,the costumes,the cut out and keep stuff inside,the lyrics included as well for the first time on an album sleeve..... For me, Pepper isn't just an album, it's a piece of art, and everyone involved with it's creation should be immensely proud of it. And to think, Epstein wanted it packaged in plain brown paper. Less said about that,the better......

It's stood the test of time, and will probably go on influencing musicians for years to come. It's regularly voted 'Greatest Album of All Time' for a reason. My only regret is that I wasn't around in 1967, because then I'd have had the benefit of experiencing it's true effect on the moment in time,the hippie generation etc. To have been around at that time, and be old enough to have understood the enormity of it's effect on people and the time, that must have been incredible. Hearing that for the first time,it must have blown people's minds.

Like I said, it's more than just an album, it's a masterpiece. It's Sgt Pepper . Nothing else needs to be said

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5 January 2018
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Into the Sky with Diamonds
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@Father McKenzie  Right! In the language of the day, it was a happening.

There were long lines at the record stores, and  for the first time ever, the (at the time) staid TIME magazine put the Beatles on their cover.

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5 January 2018
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Father McKenzie
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Into the Sky with Diamonds said
@Father McKenzie  Right! In the language of the day, it was a happening.

There were long lines at the record stores, and  for the first time ever, the (at the time) staid TIME magazine put the Beatles on their cover.  

Aw,it must have felt so good to live through that time! I was watching a YouTube video the other day. It was talking about the album cover, and about how EMI were unsure about it, and sent the band an 'alternative' cover instead,which consisted of the Beatles stood in the same place,but with all their 'heroes' taken out,with just a blue background behind them,basically they totally missed the point of the cover.

Sir Joseph Lockwood was persuaded by McCartney that the original cover was fine to release,with the exceptions of Gorcey,Hitler, and Gandhi,who were all removed.

Interestingly,it also said that the Beatles only selected 30% of the people included on the cover. The rest were apparently selected by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth. Not sure how true that is,but hey.paul-mccartney-thumb_gif

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5 January 2018
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Into the Sky with Diamonds
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Ron Nasty will tell us!

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6 January 2018
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QuarryMan
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Duke_of_Kirkcaldy said

QuarryMan said
The reason it matters is because it's a concept album (I don't give a damn what you think Paul McCartney , it is definitely a concept album).

If the question was whether to include two good songs from that era on any other release I would be all for it but the whole point of the album is that it's a performance by Sgt Pepper 's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

See, it's really not. I'm with John when he said outside of the first 2 tracks and the reprise, there's really no concept of which to speak; it's just a random collection of songs like all their other albums. That may have started out as the idea, but it didn't end up that way. The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed, now THERE'S a concept album where said concept is sustained though the entire album.

I suppose it comes down to subjectivity when it comes to the quality of the songs. None of Paul's tunes for this album have ever done a whole lot for me (I'm not even that fond of Joe Cocker's more famous version of "With A Little Help From My Friends "). I seldom find myself singing any of them of my own accord; the title track and its reprise are a little above the others, but their arrangements just give me a 'trying too hard' vibe -- particularly with "She's Leaving Home ," which clearly seems to be trying to be another "Eleanor Rigby ," but its maudlin tone automatically handicaps it. And "Lovely Rita " and "Getting Better " sound like extra-dressed-up Revolver rejects to my ears.  

People usually use this argument, but it's flawed. What you're not doing is considering the nature of the concept which in this case, is that the album basically acts as a recording of a performance by a fictional band. If you bear that in mind, as long as all the songs could realistically have been performed by the band in question, then all of the songs fit the concept. This is where SFF and PL don't fit - they exist in real life, and are rooted in the reality of John and Paul's childhood. If they were rooted in the childhood of Mr Kite and Billy Shears then sure, but they're not.

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Into the Sky with Diamonds

¡No pasarán!

 

6 January 2018
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Necko
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^^^ I don't consider it a concept album, but...

Don't we have a devoted, more relevant thread for posts like this? 

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7 January 2018
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QuarryMan
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Necko said

^^^ I don't consider it a concept album, but...

Don't we have a devoted, more relevant thread for posts like this?   

Not exactly more relevant. I consider the issue of whether it's a concept album central to the issue of whether it's overrated since so much of its praise (or over praise) comes from that idea. 

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¡No pasarán!

 

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