The ’59 2018 #054: 180223
The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s lonely hearts club band (1967)
This year, Jem of Jemtunes, born in 1959, turns 59. So ‘The ’59’ celebrates 59 years of cracking tunes with a few albums from each year – 1959 through 2018. We’re currently at year 9 – 1967.
Released on 26 May 1967 in the UK and 2 June 1967 in the United States, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was an immediate commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the UK albums chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US. On release, the album was lauded by the vast majority of critics for its innovations in music production, songwriting and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and high art, and for providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour.
In February 1967, after recording the title track “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, McCartney suggested that the Beatles should release an entire album that would represent a performance by the fictional Sgt. Pepper band. This alter ego group would give them the freedom to experiment musically. During the recording sessions, the band furthered the technological progression they had made with their 1966 album Revolver. Knowing they would not have to perform the tracks live, they 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’s innovative recording of the album included the liberal application of sound shaping signal processing and the use of a 40-piece orchestra performing aleatoric crescendos. Recording was completed on 21 April 1967.
The cover, depicting the Beatles posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by the British pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth. (And yes, I can tell you who each of them is from the numbered outline above, if you care to ask).