on January 8, 2013
This is the second album that I've purchased from the remastered 180g vinyl LP Beatles' discography, after having been thoroughly satisfied with the Abbey Road album in that series. I was once again bracing for the worst, based on some of the previous reviews of Sergeant Pepper's here.
This vinyl LP will be played back on a Linn Axis Turntable fitted with a Linn Ittok LV-II tone arm, a Shure V15 V-MR cartridge and a JICO Super Analogue Stylus (SAS).
There was no damage to the outer album cover or any bent edges. I carefully inspected the actual LP for any obvious signs of damage such as scuffs, gouges or warps, as well as for the much talked about "non-fill" defect - which can appear as a "string of pearls". I could find no visual evidence of any such damage. There is only a slight unevenness that can be observed when the LP is in rotation on the turntable platter, but it is not warped. The LP is also properly centered, as the tone arm does not sway from side to side during playback. When held up to a light, the LP shines nicely. There was a "shushing" sound on the lead-in track on Side 1 just before the title track, but it only lasted for a little more than a second - then it disappeared completely. There were also various points when a slight crackling could be heard during playback and it was somewhat more noticeable during "When I'm Sixty-four". At no time, however, was any of this annoying or did it detract from the overall sound quality. Despite some of these artifacts, I feel that this is a good pressing. It is not, however, as quiet as the Abbey Road LP I had purchased earlier. I do wish to emphasize, however, that the overall sound quality that I have heard from my copy of Sergeant Pepper's differs significantly from that described by some of the previous reviewers here.
As in my previous review of Abbey Road, I feel that the remastered Sergeant Pepper's LP has a very natural analogue sound despite the fact it was cut from a 24-bit, 44.1 kHz digital master tape. There are some tracks that sound as though they have excessive treble (especially "With A Little Help From My Friends" and "Lucy"), but that was precisely the artistic approach taken and the sound that the Beatles, producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick had intended back in 1967. I feel that the detail, depth, soundstage and placement of vocals and instruments throughout the album is quite impressive. In this regard, the string arrangements on "She's Leaving Home" and the hand percussion on "Within You Without You" were delightful. In fact, the latter track's combination of George Harrison's sitar and other traditional Indian instruments created a profound sense of musical depth. Of course, "A Day In The Life" - my favorite all-time Beatles single - with John Lennon's haunting vocals is sublime.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this LP and can confidently call it a keeper. I do not at all feel that it is a bad pressing, sounds like sand paper, etc. In fact, I am becoming rather puzzled by the many complaints that I keep reading about this Beatles remastered 180g vinyl LP series.
on October 15, 2014
It is wonderful to own these on vinyl again. And in original mono to boot. What a treat. The full-size jacket that records give you is so much more enjoyable that little CD jackets. The sound quality of these records is breathtaking. When I hear the full, rich sound I can't help think of George Harrison who thought stereo was a mistake because it thinned out the sound. Highly, highly recommended. In fact, I don't see how a Beatles fan could pass these up.
on May 4, 2003
An interesting experiement that shows the Beatles at their most non-rockish (I consider them a pop band with a rock sensibility).
However, I don't think they really went as far as they thought they would, as this whole album just sounds... unfinished. I also found my attention wandering during "Within You Without You" and "When I'm 64", which are both a little boring to me.
Ringo sings "With a Little Help" in his best melancholy voice. John can sing like he's sneering at you, George can get preachy, and Paul can sound a little self-important, but Ringo always sings with warmth in his voice. He really shines on this one.
Lennon adds some great lyrical touches to "She's Leaving Home" which shows the parents perspective, and keeps the song from being too melodramatic.
"Lovely Rita Meter Maid" is a great little song, with an excellent intro and inventive melody. The horns make "Good Morning Good Morning" startling, and George adds some life to this album with his searing guitar solo.
"A Day in the Life" is brilliant, and the reason why I'm giving this album four stars instead of three. George sets the mood with a pensive and contemplative guitar intro, and Ringo adds some descriptive drum flourishes. John and Paul play off of each other's strengths to present a song containing two contrasting viewpoints of life: the man who sees something is wrong and wants to "turn you on", and the man who just wants to get to work and get through the day. George Martin underlines all of this with his excellent orchestral score. This song is the ultimate example of all of the Beatles (Beatle #5 included) pooling their strenghts to produce a brilliant piece of work.
The rest of the album, though, doesn't quite live up to that level.
on September 1, 2002
...but I may not succeed!
I'll start by trying to give my own personal experience about how the LP affected me when it came out that summer of '67 - - the much ballyhooed "Summer of Love"...
My family had just moved from Guadalajara to LA that spring, and I, who already spoke fluent English and was a big fan of US and UK pop music of the time (as would any 14-year-old girl), was trying fervently to find my bearings in my new surroundings. It certainly helped that my new classmates and I shared an affinity and love for the Beatles. We could even discourse how their music was really starting to "matter", what with the progression of sounds they had recently offered up: the much-overlooked "Help!", and of course the highly regarded "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" albums that had already come.
But nothing could have prepared us for what was in store that summer, not even the single release that spring of "Strawberry Fields Forever" (though, in retrospect, that surely was a hint). Sergeant Pepper certainly taught the band to play, all right, and 35 years later, he still holds sway. Rock Music was never the same after this watershed event, but not just rock. I dare say that "Soul" (as it was called at the time), "Adult" (or Easy Listening), and even "Country" were profoundly influenced by the ideas offered up here.
Let's take the fact that, at the time, no single was released from this album, yet it was number one all over the world for months -- a fact that belied the marketing mentality of the time, that "kids" wouldn't buy an album unless it contained several "hits." But even more, the boundaries crossed here - lyrically, musically - made it possible for so many others to do similar things. There are overt appeals to consciousness-raising: George's "Within you, without you" (still in many ways the finest song he ever wrote, with haunting lyrics and instrumentation), John's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" (such an obvious pro-drug message which fit so well with the times - and why shouldn't adults be free to experiment?), and of course, the tour-de-force "Day in the Life" (with its endless piano chord at the end, seemingly ascending straight to heaven), but these never seem preachy or dated.
Paul McCartney's exquisite lyrical gifts, which could often turn maudlin (as "She's Leaving Home" almost does - but the song is saved by the context it is placed in), are in rare form on gems such as "Getting Better" and "Fixing a Hole", while "Lovely Rita" is a lyric few others could even hope to carry off without sounding silly. My focus on the lyrics also does not take away from the fact that all three of these songs are beautifully arranged, and remain bona-fide rock classics. Even Ringo shines on "With a Little Help from My Friends" -- such a wonderful song melodically, harmonically, and lyrically: "What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you, but I know it's mine..."
The fact that I've not seen fit to mention the other tracks, "Mr Kite", "Good Morning", "When I'm 64", or the title track(s), does not mean I think they are lesser by any means. Rhythmically, they all shine as well, especially Lennon's "Good Morning."
I seriously doubt this album could be improved upon, at least not content-wise. The sound may not be along the lines of what we've come to expect in 2002, but keep in mind it was all done on a "primitive" 8-track machine. The artistry is hardly dimmed by these limitations, much as the same can be said for, say, Louis Armstrong's recordings of the 1920's and 30's.
Yet I can relate, in a way, to the inability of younger people to see this milestone of popular music in its proper context. How can something from way back in 1967 have any relevance to today (yet it is hard to imagine acts such as N-Sync or Back Street Boys existing in their current form had the Beatles never blazed the paths they did), any more than Beethoven, Mozart, or even Duke Ellington would? It takes the rare young person who is willing to listen with an open mind, and also be willing to understand the historical context within which Sergeant Pepper must be placed. If it is your son or daughter whom you want to introduce to your love of the Beatles, try this: get a hold of some other big hits from the period (Lou Christie's "Lightning Strikes", The Buckinghams' "Kind of a Drag", Tommy James' "Hanky Panky", or even the biggest hit of the era, The Monkees' "I'm a Believer") and play them for your offspring. Then contrast those with this album. I think the message will come across loud and clear...
on August 25, 2002
I first listened to Sgt Pepper when I was about 4 or 5. I had no idea what it was, but the gatefold cover was very fascinating to me. It was rare to see lyrics on a the back sleeve (this was in the mid 70's - so other groups had done similar things with printing lyrics), and I found myself reading along. From that day I was a Beatles fan for life. The songs are a psychedelic headphone paradise! Many songs are played on the radio, so you probably will know most of it. It should be listened to all the way through to get a little "ride."
This album has so much hype around it, and how it is the album to end all albums. I believed it for years until I got older and expanded my own collection. I also read a lot about musical history. First off, it is not the first concept album. There were country artists doing concept albums before this. Example: Marty Robbins - Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs from 1959 (even had a sequel!). It DOES count. ALL the songs on his album are tied in. Same with, Ray Price - Nightlife. Another country classic from 1963. All the songs deal with people in the Nightlife. What is the theme of Sgt. Pepper? What does Mr. Kite have to do with Help from Friends? Within You and Without You has a connection to Fixing A Hole? No, it does not. Truth is, The Beatles never had a concept album, and I don't count the fact that there is a reprise of the title song. That DOESN'T make it a concept album!!! Besides, this album was done to try and compete with the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album from 1966. That was all Lennon and McCartney were listening to in 1966. Read their quotes about it. They were going crazy for it! The Beatles did not invent psychedlic music. Groups like Love, Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd (who recorded their debut album in the same studio as The Beatles), Frank Zappa and the Mothers, The Doors and many more were already there. Even the Byrds song Eight Miles High was written and initially recorded in late 1965. Anyway, the legend of Pepper will endure and probably will become the accepted "truth" of what it has become. I guess it is a worthy "myth" to have.
on July 22, 2002
I decided to take a break from Elton John for awhile and listen to another band. My dad kept bragging about how wonderful and oringinal they were. Taking his word I radomly bought Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Here is my review.
1.The "title song" was great and rocky opener. Yay!
2."With a little help from my friends" was a nice friendly layed back too with fun lyrics. Yay!
3.Lucy in the sky with diamonds" it had unusual lyrics but it was catchy with pure imagination. Yay!
4."Getting better" A pleasant song that made me feel happy about my self. Yay!
5."Fixing a hole." Not a bad an unusual subject with nice sixties feel. Yay!
6."She leaving home" Ugh! Too lengthy and depressing. Boo!
7."Being the benefit of Mr. Kite." Great Hipie song. Yay!
8."Within you without you." Same as track six. Boo!
9."When I'm sixty-four" A fun song about old folks. Yay!
10."Lovely Rita" A danceble ballad. Yay!
11."Good morning Good morning" A hilarous song with animal sound effects.
12.The "title song reprise." Same as track one. Yay!
13."A day in the life." A unique way to end the album. Yay!
So if you're a new Beatles fan then get this for starters.
on July 19, 2002
That's right, I said overrated. Don't worry, I've got no axe to grind, I just hate seeing any album called "The Best Ever". Because, really, music is such a subjective topic that calling anything the best is a mistake.
This was the album that changed the Beatles sound forever, and took many people along with it. The impact of the album in 1967 was profound, although in retrospect it is almost inevitable that an album of this caliber would be released.
13 songs, one of which is a reprise. 13 songs that don't seem like they all go together, but they somehow work very well. People often believe this to be a "concept" album (whatever that means) because the introduction and the finale point to it being a show of some type. While this is true of those tracks, most of the rest of the album is a collection of songs, not related to the rest of the tracks.
The music has tones and textures that simply cannot be replicated. The Beatles would play the same tune on several different instruments and combine the sounds to make new sopunds that cannot be replicated. They used studio wizardry in a variety of ways to create an ambience that can best be described as enchanting.
This cd release is pretty satisfying, but there are some problems, none of which particularly detract from the music.
- The album was mastered to cd in 1987. CD technology was five years old then. The format and analog/digital conversion have come a long way since then, and the album could be substantially improved sound-quality-wise with a new remastering effort.
- The album was originally mixed for mono and stereo. This cd represents the stereo version which, while good, is not necessarily the best. The mono version has sounds and mixzes that differ strikingly from the stereo version, and is perhaps a more accurate reflection of the Beatles vision. However, most people in the U.S. probably bought the stereo version, and hearing the mono version could be a jarring experience. It could also be a novel experience, as music that you have know for up to thirty-five years is suddenly different, and new! I would like for EMI/Apple to release both versions some day in the future.
If you enjoy music, and pop, and rock, then buy this album and enjoy!
on January 28, 2002
Hi. Earlier I wrote a review that I didn't think was offensive or anything. And for whatever reason Amalgamated decided not to publish it. I guess it wasn't good for album sales. Any-hoo. Let's disect Amalgamated's accepted review of this album:
Before Sgt. Pepper, no one seriously thought of rock music as actual art. (really? I do believe the top "rock" song-writers of the time (including Misters Lennon and McCartney considered their own idols (Berry, Holly, etc.) artists and considered the music they played art.)
That all changed in 1967, though, when John, Paul, George and Ringo (with "A Little Help" from their friend, producer George Martin) created an undeniable work of art which remains, after 30-plus years, one of the most influential albums of all time.
(who exactly has it influenced directly? XTC? Who else? Hmmmm.)
From Lennon's evocative word/sound pictures (the trippy "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," the carnival-like "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite") and McCartney's music hall-styled "When I'm 64," to Harrison's Eastern-leaning "Within You Without You," and the avant-garde mini-suite, "A Day in the Life," Sgt. Pepper was a milestone for both '60s music and popular culture. (well, ain't that a gas!)
Here's the truth of the matter. 1967 was the year of corporate rock psychedlia. But you know what 1967 was just one year, and everything that came out in 1968 sure didn't sound like 1967. The truth of the matter boys and girls is this: Pound for pound this album doesn't add up to a classic album and song for song doesn't match up to the Beatles' best LP's. The first four songs, and four of the last five songs are classic pop/rock songs. The middle tracks are weak and/or dated material. If they had stuck strawberry fields and penny lane in the middle in place of fixing a hole and benefit of mr. kite, THEN it would be one of the greatst LP's ever.
on December 9, 2001
Sgt. Peppers is a good album to to call it one of the best ever and Beatles best ever is pathetic! Like one other reviewer said, Magicla Mystery Tour is so much better than this album but in my opinion is still sadly overlooked because of the film that came along with it and usually people are so turned away fro that they don't give the album the respect that it's due. Sure Pepper's has some great songs on it (A Day In The Life is quite possibly one of their best and one of the best songs ever by anyone)and other songs like Lovely Rita, Getting Better, With A Little Help, and Lucy are good but the rest is filler and throw aways. So what if Lennon took the entire song for Mr. Kite off a Circus poster...the song isn't that great. Fixing A Hole is a very weak tune as is the title track which really isn't much (neither is the reprise except for it's used mainly as a intro to A Day In The Life). To me when I sit there and listen to an album like this and Pet Sounds they don't sound like anything special (Pet Sounds has a few good songs)but of course back in the day they were revolutionary and things nobody has heard before but as the years went on they lost their power and aren't as influental to generations that were not old enough to buy those albums. Many will disagree with me but I feel nothing can compare to The White Album...by far the Beatles best because it's all four of them getting chances to contribute unlike the previous albums where Ringo and George (r.i.p.) were given one of two songs and most of the time they didn't pull them off very well. While many complain that album is way too long in my opinion it's not at all. That album was such a revolution and such a different album for those times and was a bigger influence on many bands to come than Sgt. Pepper's ever would be. I'm not saying don't get Sgt. Peppers because it's worth a listen and while these are personal opinions only you may or may not disagree with me but I still feel this album (and even Abbey Road)are the bands most overrated albums to date while Thw White Album, Magical Mystery Tour and even Let It Be are sadly overlooked albums for various reasons which don't seem good!
on October 31, 2001
After "Revolver," the Beatles retired from public performance and penned two songs: 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and 'Penny Lane.' While neither song made it onto what was to become "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band," they manifested the new direction the band would take.
The amount of time, money, and production that went into the making of this album was completely unprecedented. It has been called the first concept album, but as the Beatles' themeslves admitted, it failed as such.
However, the Beatles did manage to up the ante again here. The songwriting was still magical. 'A Day in the Life' was the high point of it all, absolutely one of the greatest songs the band ever recored. Inasmuch as this album is one of the most famous in history and a great achivement in its' own right, it is my opinion that the Beatles had begun to drift away from what made "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver" so perfected by simply trying a bit too hard.
The Beatles shot for the moon on this one, and they came very close.