Category Archives: Beatles

Happy 50th Anniversary Sgt. Pepper

It was 50 years ago today
Sgt. Pepper hit the USA
Though it’s been around for quite a while
Every listen brings another smile
Today I bring it back to you
The album that you’ve loved for years
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

I was only nine years old when Sgt. Pepper was released. It would be a few more years before I would start listening to the music and exploring the album cover. Certainly I was much too young to understand this landmark album’s historical significance.

The Beatles are undoubtedly my favorite band and Sgt. Pepper is my favorite Beatles album. Because there was not one song on this album released as a single it was best consumed in it’s entirety. This became a way of listening to music that I still prefer to this day.

Listening to Sgt. Pepper this week was a bittersweet experience. On one hand I remembered all the reasons Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number one in its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time“. Professor Kevin J. Dettmar, writing in the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature, described it as “the most important and influential rock and roll album ever recorded”.

On the other hand, Sgt. Pepper set the bar so high that no one, not even the Beatles themselves would ever achieve such great heights. Their next experiment, Magical Mystery Tour tried to expand on the concept album idea but despite four number one singles and associated movie it never quite lived up to the expectation established by Sgt. Pepper. The White Album and Abbey Road contain some brilliant individual tracks but neither had the same impact as Sgt. Pepper.

It has been described as one of the first art rock LPs, aiding the development of progressive rock, and credited with marking the beginning of the Album Era. The Beatles made extensive use of alternate forms of instrumentation. Whether it be the clarinet on When I’m Sixty–Four, the sitar on Within You, Without You or strings on She’s Leaving Home.

Enjoy this instrumental version of She’s Leaving Home while you click on the links below to learn more.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by English rock band the Beatles. Released on 1 June 1967, it was an immediate commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the albums chart in the United Kingdom and 15 weeks at number one in the United States. The album was recognized for its innovations in music production, songwriting and graphic design, bridging a cultural divide between popular music and legitimate art, and symbolizing the 1960s counterculture. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour.

Sgt. Pepper is regarded by musicologists as an early concept album that advanced the use of extended form in popular music while continuing the artistic maturation seen on the Beatles’ preceding releases. It has been described as one of the first art rock LPs, aiding the development of progressive rock, and credited with marking the beginning of the Album Era. 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. In 2003, the Library of Congress placed Sgt. Pepper in the National Recording Registry, honouring the work as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. That same year, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number one in its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time“. As of 2011, it has sold more than 32 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums in history. Professor Kevin J. Dettmar, writing in the Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature, described it as “the most important and influential rock and roll album ever recorded”. It is the best selling album worldwide of the 1960s.

 

Happy Birthday, Mandy

 

Amanda and dadShe woke me at 2 AM. “We need to go now. I’ve been having contractions for a couple of hours. Dr. Perez is going to meet us at the hospital.”

Linda woke three year old Lauren and got her ready to go. I loaded the bags into the van and put our old dog Ginger in the garage. The plan was to drop Lauren off at our friend’s house on the way to the hospital.

Just as we got in the van, Linda’s water broke so we altered our plan and headed straight for the hospital.  I left Linda to navigate early labor at the hospital on her own and drove Lauren to our friends’ place.  Then it was back to the hospital only to discover that our baby daughter had already arrived.

I spent some time getting acquainted with the newest member of our family.  We had yet to choose a name but Alison (Linda’s choice) and Amanda (my choice) were top contenders. I headed home to take a shower and change clothes while Linda and the baby rested.

Turning into the driveway, I pushed the button on the garage door opener.  Before I could pull the van inside, Ginger darted out of the garage and made a beeline for the neighbor who was standing in her yard.  I watched in horror as the dog, who had recently taken to biting me without provocation, began attacking her.

With the car still in drive, I jumped out of the van to rescue my neighbor. I chased that cantankerous old dog until she slammed into a mailbox post and stunned herself.  Once I retrieved her, I returned to check on my neighbor and apologize.  While all of this took place, the van, still in drive, went tooling toward the garage, smashing into the opening, which ended up being a good thing.  If it had made it into the garage it would have plowed through the wall straight into the kitchen.

I took my shower and headed back to the hospital, in my van that now sported a major dent in the hood, but not before dropping the dog off at the vet’s office one last time.  You know that saying about when one life ends another begins…

It took some time before I arrived back at the hospital and shared the entire story with Linda.  That’s when I found out that while I had been gone, Linda had been pressed by the hospital staff to name our daughter. She had chosen the name Amanda.

It may have started out with some high drama but the day Mandy was born will always be one of the best three days of my life. And in keeping with a long standing tradition, here is the song I always crank up on her special day.

Happy birthday, Mandy!

Birthday by the Beatles

Happy 50th Anniversary Revolver

RevolverOn August 8, 1966 the Beatles released Revolver in the United States. It had been released in the United Kingdom three days earlier. The record spent 34 weeks on the UK Albums Chart, for seven of which it held the number one spot. In America, the album topped the Billboard Top LPs listings for six weeks. Revolver marked a progression from the group’s 1965 release Rubber Soul in terms of style and experimentation, and heralded the band’s arrival as studio innovators.

Revolver’s cover artwork, designed by Klaus Voormann, earned the Beatles the 1966 Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts. The album was ranked first in Colin Larkin’s book All-Time Top 1000 Albums and third in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album has been certified 5x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Eleanor Rigby” was written by Paul McCartney, and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song continued the transformation of the Beatles from a mainly rock and roll / pop-oriented act to a more experimental, studio-based band. With a double string quartet arrangement by George Martin and striking lyrics about loneliness, “Eleanor Rigby” broke sharply with popular music conventions, both musically and lyrically.[3]Richie Unterberger of Allmusic cites the band’s “singing about the neglected concerns and fates of the elderly” on the song as “just one example of why the Beatles’ appeal reached so far beyond the traditional rock audience”. 

“Eleanor Rigby” does not have a standard pop backing. None of the Beatles played instruments on it, though John Lennon and George Harrison did contribute harmony vocals. “Eleanor Rigby” employs a classical string ensemble—in this case an octet of studio musicians, comprising four violins, two violas, and two cellos, all performing a score composed by producer George Martin.  For the most part, the instruments “double up”—that is, they serve as a single string quartet but with two instruments playing each of the four parts. McCartney’s choice of a string backing may have been influenced by his interest in the composer Antonio Vivaldi, who wrote extensively for string instruments (notably “the Four Seasons“).

I encourage you to click on a hyperlink above to read the full story about both the Revolver album (including John Lennon’s “Bigger than Jesus” controversy) and song Eleanor Rigby.