Friday, 1 June 2007

A happy fortieth to the Sgt, and his musical men...

Still regarded by almost everyone remotely sensible as the most influential band ever to exist, The Beatles, in their remaining form at least, will be celebrating a special anniversary today. Well, actually, it's far more likely that Paul and Ringo have let the landmark completely escape them, and are instead just lazing about in their respective gardens on what has turned out to be a rather lovely sunny day.

Whilst they let their minds wander to reconstructive nose surgery and Starbucks, though, the rest of the world remembers forty years ago today - or, at least in the case of younger folk such as I, recognizes the historic release of that day. It was indeed the first day of June in the summer of '67 that The Beatles, then still the fuel behind an ever-growing British music scene, released their Sgt Pepper LP, widely recognised as one of, if not their best albums. Why though? Well, simple enough really. Maybe I'll break it down for you...

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Right, so yeah. It's really only an introduction that allows the rest of the album to claim its status as a concept album. It's so not, but who cares, right? So many questions, so little time - Who is Sgt. Pepper? What are the crowd laughing at? Does it really matter? No. No it does not.

A Little Help From My Friends - And then straight into this sweet little ditty, complete with call-and-response, a catchy chorus and bridge, and an earnest yearning for love! My goodness, it doesn't get much better than this.

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - Of course, I've been wrong before. How a sweet song like A Little Help... can so perfectly fit with the eclectic stumble of Lucy I will never understand. It isn't until you look at the tracklisting of Sgt Pepper that you realise just how many covers it has spawned. The last track - Wet Wet Wet, this has had the honour of Elton John's cover, and the complete must-watch-can't-not-watch cover of William Shatner. It is, needless to say really, why these covers are so numerous. Lucy is strange, but sweet, like the dream you always wanted.

Getting Better - My favourite chorus of the album, Getting Better is again upbeat, but throbs with synths, handclaps and McCartney. My goodness, if you can't find a hint of every indie band, every singer-songwriter, and dammit if I say so, but even McFly in this song. Scratch away the gleaming surface and darker lyrics (at least for The Beatles) arise - used to beat my wife? Oh dear me.

Fixing A Hole - A slow starter, perhaps, but such a classic Beatles track - a chorus where the rhythm never goes quite where is the norm, so much so that eventually its style becomes a norm itself. It really doesn't matter if he's wrong or right.

She's Leaving Home - Right. I was fortunate enough to see Paul McCartney live in London a few years ago. We were miles away - seriously, I had to travel away from London from my home to get to our seats. I think we were in France by the time we sat down. Still, when Paul sang this, barebones and heart-rendering, it stuck with me. It could be seen as a cheap trick to stir emotions by choosing every parent's worst nightmare, but oh no. It's sensitive without being overly-sentimental, and that is the magic of it.

For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite - It is so easy to argue this track is thrown in purely to entertain the idea of the 'concept', but the quiet march and circus spectacular of the music just throws a fantastic sense of oddity into an already eccentric album.

Within You Without You - If Bono ever says that this was not the inspiration for the title of With Or Without You he's a lying bastard and I'll track him down and get him. That said, the sound couldn't be any different from U2's uber-ballad. Actually, if I'm honest, this song bores the crap out of me. The rest of the album is good though.

When I'm Sixty-Four - Like this, par example. What's lovely about this is that not only is it a ridiculous little love song, it's the sort of music a sixty-four year old would rather like. Says the nineteen year old. But you know what I mean - there's nothing overly demanding here, just simple music (is that an oboe or clarinet? I was always rubbish like that), with innocent lyrics. Aw.

Lovely Rita - I like the little cry from Paul at the beginning of this track. I don't know why, maybe because it seems like so much of the wails in all that music they release today. Only, you know, good.

Good Morning Good Morning - And, quite simply, it is. Well, not now. It's night now.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) - See track one.

A Day In The Life - Right. Finally. Utimately, this track is fantastic and generally the one picked out as favourite by any given Sgt Pepper fan. Why? It's sprawling, dark, and so, so exciting to listen to. I want to post this whilst Greenwich Meridian Time still says it's June 1st, so I'll end here and let you judge(ish) this song via a great cover by aband I happen to be seeing live tomorrow, Captain.

mp3: 'A Day In The Life' - Captain