Arguably one of the most iconic and influential albums of the last millennium, The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s was released on this day in 1967.
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the 8th album by the Beatles, and an instant commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the albums chart in the UK, and 15 weeks at number one in the United States.
Time magazine declared it “a historic departure in the progress of music” and the British political and cultural magazine, New Statesman praised its elevation of Pop to the level of fine art. And Rolling Stone Magazine named it #1 in their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and said:
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.
High praise indeed! It also won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour.
In August 1966, the Beatles permanently retired from touring and all members embarked on a 3 month hiatus from any recording. During this time, Paul McCartney came up with the idea for the title track, and when they all eventually returned to the recording studio, and knowing they would not have to perform the tracks live, they adopted an experimental approach to composition, writing songs such as “With a Little Help from My Friends”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life”.
Producer George Martin’s innovative recording of the album included the liberal application of sound shaping signal processing and the use of a 40-piece orchestra performing aleatoric crescendos. Recording was completed on 21 April 1967.
The cover, depicting the band posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by the British pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.
Sgt. Peppers 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.
Sources include: Wikipedia