They’ve been going in and out of style, but they’re guaranteed to raise a smile…(Beatles 4-ever)

Yesterday, on my weekly Saturday afternoon jaunt to Grimey’s, I was greeted by the familiar sounds from the ALBUM pictured below (you really do need the album on this one because of the a-freaking-mazing cover). Of course, considering it was Grimey’s, they were playing a Japanese import version. but all in all, the effect was terrifically transcendental.

(More below the art…)

sgtpepper.jpg

Ok, I’m going to be boring. I was there. Really. Before the album was officially released, WKDA (rock and roll 1240 on yer AM dial) got a promo version that they played in its entirety at midnight on whatever day they received it. I was 15 years old and owned a cheap tape recorder. I stayed up and taped every song. Soon afterwards, my family went on one of our many trips to the Smokies (we camped in Elkmont every time), and that tape player became an important part of the trip.

My parents quickly tired of Sgt Pepper, while also quickly figuring out that drugs were involved (‘I get high with a little help from my friends’ is not exactly the ‘enigma’ code). I didn’t care if they wanted to toss the tape off the side of Mt. Laconte (where I had a close encounter with a brown bear, but that’s another story..), I literally listened to the tape until it fell apart (not kidding).

If you hear Sgt. Pepper today, you still hear some wonderful tunes, clever songs, and instrumentation that holds up for the most part rather nicely. What you don’t hear is the world changing note by note by note. Nothing the Beatles did beforehand, and nothing in the realm of pop music prepared any of us for Sgt. Pepper. Not just the multi-tracking, the orchestral swells, the animal noises, the not-so-veiled references to LSD, but the whole concept..the package, the derring-do. It was a giant in-your-face to every band in the world who thought they could capture the magic.

Sgt Pepper did beget a lot of flatulence from other so-called art bands following, and the Beatles actually recorded a better album  (Revolver), but if you were alive in 1967 and you heard ‘A Day in the Life’ pastiche for the first time (through the 1,000th time), you knew the tectonic plates had shifted. The limits changed overnight.

Thanks again to John, Paul, George and Ringo. Happy 40th, Sgt. Pepper. You DID teach the band to play…

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5 Comments

Filed under journey, music, pop cults, self-referential nonsense

5 responses to “They’ve been going in and out of style, but they’re guaranteed to raise a smile…(Beatles 4-ever)

  1. What a great post! You just took me back to my childhood a little bit. I had forgotten about how when radio stations got a “sneak peek” copy of a huge album, they would play it at midnight in its entirety. They did that down in Miami, too, at Y-100. I would also get my tape recorder and put it by the speaker & record it. The sound was terrible, but I didn’t care. Good times.

    Also, and this is a very horrifying admission, but I didn’t know much about the Beatles until the Bee Gees did that gawd-awful movie, “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” with Frampton. (I will pause a moment to swallow the vomit that just came up in your mouth). If there was ANY good thing that came from that movie, it was that it probably introduced a lot of pre-pubescent teens to the greatness of the Beatles.

  2. If I’d had a gun and proximity to Frampton after that monstrosity was released, the whole Frampton Comes Alive bit would have been reversed.

  3. Ginger wrote: I will pause a moment to swallow the vomit that just came up in your mouth

    Um, ew.

    Great post, Hutch.

  4. LOL…Kate, I knew that mentioning that movie would guarantee nausea for him.

    Sorry for grossing you out! lol

  5. Pingback: Nashville is Talking » Sgt. Pepper and cheap tape recorders

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