Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Forty years running, the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is arguably the greatest pop album ever made. While it consistently ranks at the top of most popular lists for its originality, artistry and sheer power, what makes Sgt. Pepper most distinguishable is its timing. In the summer of 1967, and at perhaps the height of their popularity and influence, the Beatles took full advantage of any source of inspiration they could tune their minds to. Love was in the air, drugs added a certain flavor to the party and experimentation was encouraged. This was the year that San Francisco was in a psychedelic death grip, when London was strumming its own flowery and fashionable chord — all while the Beatles were cooking up the grandest concoction the music world had ever seen, and probably ever will.
From the grandiose Peter Blake album sleeve that featured the Beatles at the center of some kind of pop/classic iconfest to the concept itself of the Fabs assuming the persona of a medicine show jug band, Sgt. Pepper shows a maturity and growth rarely displayed by artists of such prestige who can easily get caught up in their own hype. What's more, songs like "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," "She's Leaving Home," "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite," When I'm Sixty Four" and "A Day In The Life" exhibit the kind of diversity and attention to detail that simply doesn't exist in today's music. In those days, music like this reveled in its universal appeal. I have to laugh when I hear people call Sgt. Pepper "over-rated." It's so unfortunate they can't grasp the fact that it deserves the praise.
~ Shawn Perry