Revolutions: The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
REVOLUTIONS EXPLORES SOME OF THE RECORDS THAT HAVE ALTERED AND INFLUENCED THE MUSIC WORLD.
The Rock Hall and Klipsch Audio take fans deep inside these albums to showcase their significance and impact. In this episode, we look at one of the most influential concept albums ever recorded, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
In some circles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is considered one of the most influential concept albums of all time.
John Lennon himself disagreed with that assessment, saying the record's experimental concepts work only "'cause we said it worked."
The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s colorful, psychedelic approach stemmed from the Fab Four’s eagerness to shed their boy-band reputation.
Paul McCartney had fallen under the spell of the Beach Boys' then-new LP, Pet Sounds, and wanted Sgt. Pepper's to be even more imaginative and futuristic.
And the band found willing collaborators in producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick, both of whom embraced innovative recording techniques in Abbey Road Studios.
To create the loopy circus music at the end of the kaleidoscopic, "Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!," Martin took tape recordings of calliope songs and sliced them up.
Emerick then tossed these snippets in the air, and then they were randomly re-sequenced and recorded after they’d fallen.
The fanciful "Lovely Rita" features a saloon-like piano bridge crafted by tape machine manipulation.
Playful background buzzing noises were created by the band members humming on combs covered with toilet paper.
The Beatles also drew from the studio’s vast sound effects archive, pairing raucous farm animal and wildlife noises throughout "Good Morning Good Morning."
McCartney and Lennon pushed each other to new creative heights on "A Day in the Life"—a majestic epic boasting a 40-person orchestra.
McCartney's melodic basslines, multi-part harmonies and grand musical gestures evoke Pet Sounds and Frank Zappa’s Freak Out! Double LP.
The Broadway-esque "When I'm Sixty-Four" features a playful clarinet trio and Ringo Starr playing tubular bells.
George Harrison's interest in Eastern philosophy and music manifested in the droning, Indian-influenced "Within You Without You," which added instruments such as the tabla and a sitar-like dilruba into the mix.
All told, the Beatles logged a staggering 700-plus hours at Abbey Road Studios in late 1966 and early 1967—largely at night and mostly in Studio Two, a large room with acoustics conducive to rock 'n' roll experiments.
The Beatles' hard work paid off handsomely: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band spent months at No. 1 in both the U.S. and U.K.
The record also won four Grammys and became the first rock 'n' roll LP to win Album of the Year.
Acts such as The Kinks, The Who, XTC and the Flaming Lips have followed Sgt. Pepper’s whimsical blueprint while creating their own lush, meticulously crafted studio albums.
Even 50 years after its release, the album continues to hold onto its revolutionary reputation.