For a moment let’s forget the cover, let’s forget the whole “concept album” thing, and let’s forget all of the history associated with this album. Instead let us listen to the music of Sgt. Pepper with open ears. This is a song by song look at the thirteen songs contained in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
#1 “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is the album’s opener and arguably the heaviest song the band had done to that point (they would surely surpass it with any songs on The White Album though, in particular “Helter Skelter.”) But as usual with The Beatles, there is a lot more to the song than just that. Sure there are the heavy rhythm guitars and the Jimi Hendrix inspired guitar solos but there’s also the horns and of course the crowd chatter and orchestral “tuning up” which really sets the mood for the song and the entire album.
#2 “With A Little Help From My Friends” may be one of the few Beatles songs where a cover version is more well known than their original. Joe Cocker’s cover version was really seared into the public consciousness as it was used in the opening credits of The Wonder Years. While Cocker’s version is cool (and totally different than The Beatles) I still greatly prefer this one.
#3 “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” was one of the most overtly “psychedelic” songs The Beatles recorded. Everything about the song from it’s imaginative lyrics to it’s phased out sound is tripped out to the extreme.
#4 “Getting Better” is where I really start enjoying the album as an album. I must admit that the first 3 songs on this album have been played so many times and become so well known (by me and by most people I think) that I cannot appreciate them the same way I do the rest of the album.
#5 “Fixing A Hole” proves that Paul McCartney could write great lyrics. This is one of the coolest Beatles songs that is not so well known (as much as any Beatles song is “not so well known” that is.)
#6 “She’s Leaving Home” is a song the people tend to either hate or love. Except for me. I guess for me it’s somewhere in between those extremes. I do enjoy it but I can see why people would find it a bit distasteful too. The song was actually not arranged by George Martin because he was not available so McCartney had Mike Leander help him instead. Another bit of trivia: The harp was played by a woman named Sheila Bromberg. She was the first female to appear on any Beatles recording.
#7 “Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!” is one of The Beatles most bizarre and surreal songs and for that I love it.
#8 “In You Without You” is a song that has caused a fair share of arguments among Beatles fans over the years. Many think it doesn’t fit with the other songs but I disagree. To me it’s meditative center of the album. It’s perfectly placed right in the middle.
#9 “When I’m 64” is another tune that people seem to often fight about. Again, I love it. I get it. I know what McCartney was going for with songs like this (see “Honey Pie” and “Your Mother Should Know”) and I totally dig it. It’s important to realize how firmly his tongue is in his cheek with these tunes. That is surely not to say they are “joke” songs. No. And Ween is not a “joke” band either. That’s not it at all. I guess it’s one of those things you either get or you don’t get. But if you are a fan of Ween then I surely recommend taking a second listen to McCartney’s Beatles stuff. I see it as the seed for Ween’s approach.
#10 “Lovely Rita” is one of the songs I tend to always really enjoy when I listen to this album, I think that’s partly because it’s a song that’s not included on any other Beatles release.
#11 “Good Morning Good Morning” is probably the song I had the hardest time getting into and if I had to choose my least favorite, it’s probably this one. But that being said, I still like the song and enjoy listening to it which says a lot about how great I think this album is, doesn’t it? Also the rooster sound morphing into the guitar sound at the end of the song is awesome.
#12 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” actually rocks harder than the opening track. It’s like a looser funkier version and I always love hearing it. It’s because it rocks and also because of the amazing song that I know is coming next.
#13 “A Day In The Life” is the greatest song ever. Pretty sweet way to end the album, eh?