|This article is the featured article for day 19 of the month cycle.|
|Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band|
|Released||26 May 1967|
|Recorded||November 1966–April 1967|
|Studio||EMI Studios, London|
|Genre||Rock • psychedelic rock • art rock • baroque pop|
|Label||Parlophone • Capitol|
Magical Mystery Tour
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by English rock band The Beatles. It was first released on 26 May 1967 in the United Kingdom by Parlophone and on 2 June 1967 in the United States by Capitol Records. After the Beatles permanently retired from touring in August 1966, band member Paul McCartney suggested an idea for a song involving an Edwardian military band that ultimately formed the impetus of the Sgt. Pepper concept. After recording sessions began in November of that year, he later suggested the band release an entire album representing a performance by the fictional Sgt. Pepper band; this would give the Beatles freedom to experiment musically, and as a result, they furthered the technological progression they had made with their previous album Revolver (1966).
Knowing they would not have to perform new songs live, the Beatles adopted an experimental approach to composition and recording on songs such as "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", and "A Day in the Life". Producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick helped realise the band's ideas by approaching the studio as an instrument, applying orchestral overdubs, sound effects, and other methods of tape manipulation. An important work of British psychedelia, the album incorporates a range of stylistic influences, including vaudeville, circus, music hall, avant-garde, and Western and Indian classical music. Its now-iconic cover photo, depicting the band in their Sgt. Pepper persona posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by British pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.
Upon its initial release, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band topped both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard Top LPs chart. It was lauded by critics for its innovation in production, songwriting, and graphic design, bridging a cultural divide between pop music and high art, and providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture. Sgt. Pepper is often regarded by musicologists as an early concept album that advanced the use of extended form in pop music while continuing the artistic maturation of the Beatles' previous albums; it is also credited with aiding the development of progressive rock, as well as marking the beginning of the album era. As of 2011, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has sold over 32 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time, and has been certified 17x platinum by the British Phonographic Industry and 11x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. In 2003, the Library of Congress selected the album for preservation in the National Recording Registry as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", and Rolling Stone placed it at number one on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time", a position it kept after the list was updated in 2012.
The album project had originally been titled Dr. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but after it was discovered that Dr. Pepper would form a lawsuit, The Beatles changed the title to Sgt. Pepper's. Since the album was recorded after the band stopped touring, its songs were each designed so that they could not be played live. From that point on, the Beatles became an entirely studio-based band. For the first time in their careers, they had more than ample time with which to prepare their next record. As EMI's premier act and Britain's most successful pop group, they had almost unlimited access to the state-of-the-art technology of Abbey Road Studios. All four band members had already developed a preference for long, late-night sessions, although they were still extremely efficient and highly disciplined in their studio habits. All of the Beatles experimented with new sounds while recording the album, so each song is very different. It is rumoured that drugs took a big part while the band was making the album. The song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was said to be about LSD, but John Lennon denied this, claiming it was about a drawing his son Julian Lennon had drawn.
Since the introduction of magnetic recording tape in 1949, multitrack recording had been developed. By 1967, all of the Sgt. Pepper tracks could be recorded at Abbey Road using mono, stereo, and 4-track recorders. Although 8-track tape recorders were already available in the U.S., the first 8-tracks were not operational in commercial studios in London until late 1967, shortly after Sgt. Pepper was released. In retrospect, the limitations of EMI's studio technology most likely pushed the Beatles and their production staff to be more inventive and resourceful than they otherwise would have been. The Beatles also used new modular effects units such as the wah-wah pedal and fuzzbox, which they augmented with their own experimental ideas, such as running voices and instruments through a Leslie speaker. Another important sonic innovation was McCartney's discovery of the direct input (DI) technique, in which he could record his bass by plugging it directly into an amplifying circuit in the recording console. Also important was varispeeding, the technique of recording various tracks on a multi-track tape at slightly different tape speeds. The Beatles use this effect extensively on their vocals in this period. The speeding up of vocals (also known as 'tweaking') also became a widespread technique in pop production. The Beatles also used the effect on portions of their backing tracks (as on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds") to give them a 'thicker' and more diffuse sound.
The album's closing track "A Day in the Life" includes the phrase "I'd love to turn you on". The BBC banned the song from airplay on the basis of this line, claiming it could "encourage a permissive attitude toward drug-taking". Both Lennon and McCartney denied any drug-related interpretation of the song at the time, although McCartney's later comments in The Beatles Anthology video regarding the writing of the lyric make it clear that the drug reference was indeed deliberate.
There had also been cases that at the end of "A Day in the Life", the message "Never could be any other way" along with other studio chatter, could be played backwards, bringing the uncomfortable message "We'll f**k you like we're superman!", along that could be heard as "Will Paul be back as superman?" which is an obvious reference to the Paul is Dead rumours.
The album cover for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the most famous of all time. It was designed by Peter Blake and photographed by Michael Cooper. The Beatles each chose ten people they would like to perform in front of, and those chosen are displayed on the album cover. Two of John Lennon's picks, Adolf Hitler and Jesus Christ, were rejected (this was only a few months after Lennon's Jesus statement) by EMI. Leo Gorcey was modelled and originally included to the left of Huntz Hall, but was subsequently removed when a fee of $400 was requested for the use of the actor's likeness. Mohandas Gandhi was modelled and originally included to the right of Lewis Carroll, but was subsequently removed. According to McCartney, "Gandhi also had to go because the head of EMI, Sir Joe Lockwood, said that in India they wouldn't allow the record to be printed".
All songs written by Lennon/McCartney, except where noted otherwise.
- "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" – 2:04
- "With a Little Help from My Friends" – 2:46
- "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" – 3:30
- "Getting Better" – 2:49
- "Fixing a Hole" – 2:38
- "She's Leaving Home" – 3:37
- "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" – 2:37
- "Within You Without You" (George Harrison) – 5:07
- "When I'm Sixty-Four" – 2:37
- "Lovely Rita" – 2:44
- "Good Morning Good Morning" – 2:43
- "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" – 1:20
- "A Day in the Life" – 5:33
Note: There were also four songs recorded during the making of this album: Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane (both released on a single), Only a Northern Song (re-recorded one and a half years later on Yellow Submarine) and the as-yet unreleased Carnival of Light.
- Won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical, Contemporary Album and Best Album Cover.
- Nominated for Best Group Vocal Performance, Best Contemporary Vocal Group and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for "A Day in the Life."
- John Lennon — Lead, Harmony, and Backing Vocals, Rhythm Guitar (1965 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino, 1961 Fender Stratocaster), Acoustic Guitar (1964 Gibson J-160E), Piano, Hammond Organ, Cowbell, Harmonica, Comb and Tissue Paper Kazoo, Tape Loops and Handclaps
- Paul McCartney — Lead, Harmony, and Backing Vocals, Bass Guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), Lead Guitar (1962 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino, 1964 Fender Esquire), Piano (electric and acoustic), Hammond and Lowrey Organ, Clavichord, Comb and Tissue Paper Kazoo and Handclaps
- George Harrison — Lead and Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar (1961 Fender Stratocaster, 1965 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino), Rhythm Guitar (1965 Epiphone ES-230TD Casino), Acoustic Guitar (1962 Gibson J-160E), Sitar, Tambura, Hammond Organ, Harmonica, Comb and Tissue Paper Kazoo and Handclaps
- Ringo Starr — Lead Vocals, Drums, Tambourine, Maracas, Congas, Chimes, Piano and Handclaps
- George Martin — producer and mixer, harpsichord, Hammond and Lowrey organ, harmonium, piano (electric and acoustic) and glockenspiel
- Geoff Emerick — recording engineer
- Mal Evans — bass harmonica and piano
- Neil Aspinall — tambura and harmonica
- James Buck — horn on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
- Neil Sanders — horn on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
- Tony Randall — horn on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
- John Burden — horn on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
- Erich Gruenberg — violin on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
- Derek Jacobs — violin on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
- Trevor Williams — violin on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
- Jose Luis García — violin on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
- John Underwood — viola on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
- Stephen Shingles — viola on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
- Dennis Vigay — cello on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
- Alan Dalziel — cello on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
- Gordon Pearce — double bass on "She's Leaving Home" and "A Day in the Life"
- Sheila Bromberg — harp on "She's Leaving Home"
- V. Lankshwarna — swarmandal on "Within You Without You"
- Shambu-Das — dilruba on "Within You Without You"
- Ravi Shankar — dilruba and sitar on "Within You Without You"
- Erich Gruenberg — violin on "Within You Without You"
- Alan Loveday — violin on "Within You Without You"
- Julien Gaillard — violin on "Within You Without You"
- Paul Scherman — violin on "Within You Without You"
- Ralph Elman — violin on "Within You Without You"
- David Wolfsthal — violin on "Within You Without You"
- Jack Rothstein — violin on "Within You Without You"
- Jack Greene — violin on "Within You Without You"
- Reginald Kilbey — cello on "Within You Without You"
- Allen Ford — cello on "Within You Without You"
- Peter Beavan — cello on "Within You Without You"
- Robert Burns — clarinet on "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "A Day in the Life"
- Henry Mackenzie — clarinet on "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "A Day in the Life"
- Frank Reidy — bass clarinet on "When I'm Sixty-Four"
- Barrie Cameron — saxophone on "Good Morning Good Morning"
- David Glyde — saxophone on "Good Morning Good Morning"
- lan Holmes — saxophone on "Good Morning Good Morning"
- John Lee — horn on "Good Morning Good Morning"