Friday, 1 June 2007

It was 40 years ago today .....

  • It is 40 years since the release of the iconic Beatles album Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Widely regarded as one of - if not the - greatest music albums of modern times, here are some of the stories behind the Fab Four's music.

    It was the band's eighth album.

    The album was recorded at the famous Abbey Road studios over a 129-day period, at a cost of £25,000.

    Pink Floyd were working on Piper at the Gates of Dawn in the next studio at the same time.

    The idea of making the whole album as if Sgt Pepper was a real band was believed to be Paul McCartney's.

    It was a completely self-contained album which was meant to be played from start to finish.

    One critic described the album as "a decisive moment in the history of Western civilisation".

    Within weeks of the album's release, Jimi Hendrix started performing the title track in concert.

    It was the first rock album to win Grammy Awards for album of the year and best contemporary album.

    Rolling Stone magazine rated it number one in the list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

    Sir Peter Blake designed the front cover. It featured a colourful collage of life-sized cardboard models of famous people, including Marlon Brando and Karl Marx.

    Mae West originally refused to appear on the front cover, but changed her mind after the band wrote to her.

    The initial design was altered, deleting Hitler and Jesus from the image, before the album was released.

    It was rumoured that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was about the drug LSD. Lennon always denied this, insisting it was inspired by a drawing done by his young son, Julian.

    The song was still banned by the BBC.

    The lyrics to John Lennon's Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite were adapted almost word for word from an old circus poster which he bought at an antique shop in Kent.

    McCartney's vocals were sped up for the song When I'm 64 to give it a more unique sound.

  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time. From the title song's regal blasts of brass and fuzz guitar to the orchestral seizure and long, dying piano chord at the end of "A Day in the Life," the thirteen tracks on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band are the pinnacle of the Beatles' eight years as recording artists. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were never more fearless and unified in their pursuit of magic and transcendence.

    Issued in Britain on June 1st, 1967, and a day later in America,Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is also rock's ultimate declaration of change. For the Beatles, it was a decisive goodbye to matching suits, world tours and assembly-line record-making. "We were fed up with being Beatles," McCartney said decades later, in Many Years From Now, Barry Miles' McCartney biography. "We were not boys, we were men . . . artists rather than performers."

    At the same time, Sgt. Pepper formally ushered in an unforgettable season of hope, upheaval and achievement: the late 1960s and, in particular, 1967's Summer of Love. In its iridescent instrumentation, lyric fantasias and eye-popping packaging, Sgt. Pepper defined the opulent revolutionary optimism of psychedelia and instantly spread the gospel of love, acid, Eastern spirituality and electric guitars around the globe. No other pop record of that era, or since, has had such an immediate, titanic impact. This music documents the world's biggest rock band at the very height of its influence and ambition. "It was a peak," Lennon confirmed in his 1970 Rolling Stone interview, describing both the album and his collaborative relationship with McCartney. "Paul and I definitely were working together," Lennon said, and Sgt. Pepper is rich with proof: McCartney's burst of hot piano and school-days memoir ("Woke up, fell out of bed . . . ") in Lennon's "A Day in the Life," a reverie on mortality and infinity; Lennon's impish rejoinder to McCartney's chorus in "Getting Better" ("It can't get no worse").
    Rolling Stone:

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Part 1: Saturday 2 June
2000- 2100

Part 2: Saturday 16 June

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' legendary album `Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’, multi award winning engineer Geoff Emerick heads back in to the studio to demonstrate the innovative techniques employed for the recording at Abbey Road studios back in 1967.

Some of today’s most popular acts, including the Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight, The Fray and Travis, join Geoff to witness and discuss how he first recorded the album tracks and record their own interpretation of one of the famous tracks, using the original analogue 4-track equipment.

We hear from the artists about the importance of ‘Sgt Pepper’ and listen in on the recording in action to see just how different the experience is for them.

You'll be able to watch performances from this unique event online and by pressing red from any BBC TV channel from 2100 on Saturday 2 June until Saturday 9 June.

You'll be able to see performances by Bryan Adams, Razorlight, Kaiser Chiefs, The Fray, The Magic Numbers, Stereophonics.

Covers of the Sgt. Pepper songs here....

A parody of 'A day in the life' here ...