Review of The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Sonic Collective - Seargent Pepper

Please read our selection article of The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band before reading our reviews below.
Summary: 
This summary does not reflect Greg’s comments as his review is pending. His review will be added upon receiving it.
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the most revered albums of all time no matter what any of us say in these reviews. More so than any review to date I would encourage the reader to give this album a listen.
I don’t want to spoil our reviews and information too much so just go read what we had to say. We wee a little torn again though Scott Coates and I (Darren) seem to be staying on par as we both disliked last month’s review but both loved this. Scott Gregory and Alain had mixed emotions.
It’s important to say though that we all really liked this album and loved the hits that came from it like A Little Help From My Friends and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. This was a defining moment in the Beatles career. Find out why
What was cool about this album:

  • It was really the first concept album(Paul’s idea) and started progressive rock.
  • It pushed boundaries and introduced new instruments and sounds to the fans.
  • Well produced.
  • The story behind it all.
  • It was the first rock album to ever win a Grammy for album of the year.
  • And on… and on… and on… just read below.

What we didn’t find so cool :

  • Alain and Scott weren’t fans of some songs and Within You Without You seemed to be the one most disliked. Maybe they should listen when they are high? Lol.
  • Scott Gregory thinks that the movie soundtrack performed by other artists is actually better.
  • There were some feelings that the changes in style were too drastic throughout the album.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 4.5
Influenced our tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review – This was Darren’s Pick
Ummm… wow, just wow. I really enjoyed what I picked this month. I guess I knew I would enjoy it at some level but I have to admit this pick actually surprised me.
I’m a big music fan. The problem with being a big music fan is that I always feel a weird psychological pressure that I should have listened to every great album ever or I will be struck down by the Gods. Especially when I talk to other music fans I feel I should have heard anything they have and be able to relate. I don’t think I’m pretentious about music in any way but many people I meet sure are. Right after I picked this album a few people mildly mocked that I was picking something that obviously everyone had heard before and that everyone loved. I instantly felt the pressure to agree as a music fan I would have had to heard, experienced and loved that Beatles album right?
Stop the insanity!!! I’m officially done feeling that pressure anymore because this album showed me exactly why this group was formed. We get to rediscover and experience albums like they were meant to be, with the exception of listening to them in this modern era.
I hope you other music fans can relate to how I am feeling. Here are a few points to remember as you travel on your musical musical journey as a music fan:

  • It’s all about the story. For me anyway, I am finding more and more that music can mostly be about the story of how it came into being. That creates an emotional affinity and attachment to an artist, album or song. Dave Grohl’s recent Sonic Highways documentary proves this point. It was 8 stories about the 8 songs on the latest Foo Fighters album. To be honest, I just think most of the songs fall into the “ok” or “good” category but the documentary series sucked me in to the story so I now have a higher emotional attachment to the songs and album over just hearing the songs on the radio. The same goes for this SPLHCB album. I really liked the album, but when I dug into the documentary and read numerous articles I fell in love with it. Discover the story behind your music heroes and songs!
  • It’s impossible to hear it all! Even if all you did for 16 hours a day was listen to music you would still not be able to hear all the great albums in all the genres so it’s fine to say you haven’t heard an album. It just can’t be done. I fully admit I had never listen to a full Beatles album until I recently bought Revolver on vinyl. I had just heard random songs but not in any context of album nor did I know the story behind any of them. It’s ok, I’ve listened now.
  • You like what you like. Nobody can tell you what to like musically, you will like music for your own reasons at the time. There will always be artists, albums or songs you don’t like. Accept that and don’t feel bad. It doesn’t necessarily mean you hate the artist or song or don’t think they are talented musicians. It just means that you don’t prefer to listen to them. Who cares? I still don’t like most songs by R.E.M., Radiohead and The Dave Matthews Band. I just don’t, and that’s ok.
  • Your tastes can and will change over time. Just to throw a wrench in the last point, I do want to encourage you to occasionally go back and listen to an artist or song that you may not have liked or understood years ago. As you explore music you start to get a better appreciation for music and you understand the story better. I will admit that personally I used to not really get Led Zepplin, The Cure to name a couple as well as pretty much all country music and jazz music. I now love both those bands, love jazz and there is some country music that I really like(though I am still working on this). Go back and listen to some of the classic bands you didn’t like long ago. You may be surprised.
  • Explore! I strongly encourage you to keep exploring music to find great new music to listen to and experience. I often just start reading about a band or artist I love and find out who influenced them. I then go listen to that artist and see what I think. It’s a great way to learn about who you love and find great new stuff. I also follow a few music industry professionals like Alan Cross and Eric Alper(Both Canadian by the way!) and they often recommend fantastic music. Another fun way is randomly listening to an album. With services like Rdio and Apple music, etc. it’s really easy and you never know what you will find. Happy hunting.
  • Don’t be an ass. Have fun. If you are a big music fan, have fun with it and don’t judge others. Who cares what others like or don’t like, this is your musical journey so enjoy it. If others ask you recommendations then be nice about it and try to give them advice on music that would be close to their style. Have a blast and crank it loud.

All right, I’ll get off my soap box now. Back to The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
For me, this made our Sonic Collective music group worth it. Would I have ever gone back and listened to and studied this album otherwise? Maybe, but I doubt it. That’s why this group is great. You spend 1 month experiencing albums like this. Awesome. Hey, we don’t always hit home runs as The Beta Band still burns me. But we do get to explore music and offer our thoughts.
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was a defining album in so many ways. It was the comeback that the Beatles needed, it set the stage for the progressive rock genre and it set the stage for concept album. Think back to the 70s now and realize how many bands tried those concepts. There is also so much to the story of this album that it was so satisfying. If you haven’t watched the documentary posted in our pick blog then go do it now here. Find out why dogs hate this record. Find out what Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is really about. Find out why Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane were omitted from the album but were supposed to be on it. Find out how the Beatles almost split up before this album.
Even if you don’t love this album I know you will respect what the Beatles were trying to do here. It’s a fun journey to go on as you listen and learn. Many criticize this as a drug-fueled psychedelic album but I think you will find that by today’s standards it’s not too out there at all. I would also argue that you could release this album today and it would chart immediately. The sound production was ahead of it’s time and stands up today. Just awesome, so awesome for me.
I could go on, but I won’t. Stop reading and start exploring this album for yourself.
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 5
Worth the hype? 5
 
alain-dupuisAlain DuPuis’s Review 

I’ve been a Beatles fan for a long time. Whenever asked that old question “Beatles or the Rolling Stones”, my response is always “The Beatles, AFTER they discovered drugs”. In my opinion, The Beatles are never better than a few years into their musical careers when they get really into psychedelics and spirituality. Their music develops this intriguing complexity, occasionally featuring unorthodox instruments, unusual time signatures, and really really weird lyrical content. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band definitely fits into this category.
I liked:
The title track, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is awesome. Catchy, fun to sing along to, and the drums and guitars are awesome. It’s one of the strongest tracks on the album from a compositional standpoint, and certainly the most rock n’ roll.
Within You Without You is sonically complex, sprinkled with various Eastern percussion and string instruments. It’s slowly paced, and I’m sure others have criticized it for droning on, but I liked it.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is a classic Beatles track, and it’s tough for me to review it objectively because I grew up with it. Hard to argue that it’s a catchy, if nonsensical number. It’s worthwhile to note that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is absolutely NOT about LSD, despite what you may have heard.
A Day in the Life is just lovely. The song takes you on a bit of a ride and it progresses through different moods. I found it being a somewhat cathartic experience, which caught me quite unexpectedly.  Good job, Beatles!
 
I didn’t like:
For all its strengths, Sgt. Pepper’s is certainly not my favourite Beatles album. It seemed to me that a lot of the songs on the album were lame filler tracks, or just a bit too weird for me. I absolutely didn’t dig Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite. Every time I listened to it, I found myself thinking “this is junk, and I really want to skip it”.
I wasn’t a fan of When I’m Sixty-Four, either.  It’s extremely difficult for me to take the song seriously with that goddamn carnival music playing behind some otherwise quaintly clever lyrics.
Several other tracks were so boring and unforgettable to me that I didn’t even commit to remembering what they were called.
 
Final thoughts
I’ve never bothered to read any reviews or commentary on the album, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this may be a polarizing album. Beatles fans who grew up thinking The Beatles were a clean-cut proto-pop boy band singing cute little radio-friendly love songs probably won’t appreciate this album as much as someone who enjoys a little psychedelia in their music. There’s certainly some weird shit sprinkled throughout this album, but that’s why the good Lord gave us a “skip” button, right?
Still totally worth a listen, if only to say you have.
Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 3.5
Worth the hype? 4.5
 
smcoates-About-Picture-200x300
Scott Coates’s Review
What a challenge – reviewing a Beatles album. Maintaining perspective while evaluating one of the world’s most accomplished, revered, and well known bands is daunting, but also came as a pleasant surprise. Yes, I know The Beatles’ hits, have listened to some of their albums, but must admit I’d never consumed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (SPLHCB) in full, prior to it being picked for The Sonic Collective.
Headphones strapped on, I pressed play and was transported on a wonderful musical voyage. From first to final track the album’s songs are each unique, exceptionally rich, somehow blend together well despite being so different from one another, and left me a bit bedazzled each and every listen. The singles we all know well are there, but woven in between are others that bring it all together in an amazing package.
Enjoying SPLHCB with quality headphones made a huge difference, bringing so many subtle sounds, strings, and strokes to the forefront that were absent via my stereo. Subsequent listens were all on headphones, enabling me to immerse myself in to the world that is Sgt. Pepper. This being The Beatles eighth studio album, it came as no surprise when I later read this was one of the first concept albums, and it was never intended to be performed live, included an orchestra, and freed The Beatles of typical writing constraints.
Paul McCartney’s vocals on opening track SPLHCB blew me away, being as raw n’ rock as anything I’ve ever heard. The foursome’s ability to deliver a stunning array of sounds and styles is something few others have ever managed to pull off with such flair and success. It also didn’t come as a surprise to read that SPLHCB was the first rock album to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, changing the face of what was acceptable music for the masses.
After many passes through SPLHCB I get excited when track #12, SPLHCB (Reprise)’s opening drum riff comes in, creating a full-circle experience of sorts. And then there’s one track left, A Day in the Life, and its chilling final piano chord that serves as a grand finale of the musical experience and journey. I’m a bigger fan now then ever of The Beatles, will explore all their albums in full, and can see why Rolling Stone ranked SPLHCB #1 on their ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’ – deservedly so.
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 5
Worth the hype?: 5
 
 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review

Ok. This is a tough one. I love some songs from the Beatles, but on the whole I can’t get into their catalogue. I feel the same way about this album. Why this bothers me is a mystery, since that’s how I feel about most bands. But I mean, come on, it’s the Beatles right? I’m supposed to love them unconditionally and worship their genius, right?

I just can’t understand how one of my favourite songs of all time, A Little Help From My Friends, can coexist on an album with a song like Within You Without You, which has a suckitude factor off the charts. Maybe I’ve just never developed the appropriate appreciation for the inclusion of the sitar in rock music. I think Our Lady Peace snuck some in on a couple of their tracks and it didn’t bother me. Must be the moustaches I can hear these Liverpool boys wearing coming through the mics.

If I was to recommend a couple tracks as must-listen, you’d have to include the big players:

A Little Help From My Friends

What would you if I reviewed this tune, would you stand up and walk out on me? Yes, it’s the obvious choice on the album, but it’s one of the few that actually songs like “the Beatles” as far as I’m concerned. I could just wrap up in this song like a warm blanket and pretend the rest of the album didn’t exist. The Harmonies are crisp, it has a nice rolling baseline, and it’s just a nice message. “But Scott,” you say “I need at least a couple more musical train wrecks in my life!”  Well then, let’s listen to another song…

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Don’t do drugs kids. If you ever needed a reason to kick the habit, listen to Hey Jude then this song. I guess while getting high might make average bands more creative, it takes a great band makes them… this. Still, it’s one of the quintessential Beatles songs, and if anyone ever asked if you’d heard it or not, you better be able to say yes.

When I’m Sixty-Four

This song has a throw-back feel even for the Beatles. I could see people dancing to this in the 30s, having a great time forgetting about the Great Depression, which I’m sure was only marginally easier to live through than this album. If you like a whimsical, flighty song that can sneak into your playlist and put a smile on your face, this is the one.

I think my biggest problem with this album is that someone did it better later on, and that’s never supposed to happen.

You know when a lot of artists get together to do a tribute album? Let’s take Instant Karma to keep it in the Beatles family. Sure, Green Day does an amazing job on Working Class Hero, but the rest of the covers are just average. Sorry Fergie.

I know at least Darren doesn’t agree, but Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees just destroy the Beatles on their own songs. There, I said it. The Gibb brothers are kings of harmony, and a young Peter Frampton sings the hell out of everything. Getting Better is getting better because these guys are singing it instead. And while I know it wasn’t actually included on the original album, I have to include Sandy Farina’s cover of Strawberry Fields Forever on the movie’s soundtrack as one of the transformative songs of my youth that still holds me spellbound to this day.

So honestly, if you had to pick between the original album and the movie soundtrack, I’d go with the soundtrack. You’ll not only get better versions of the original songs, but there are plenty of covers of other Beatles songs by artists such as Aerosmith, Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin), Earth Wind and Fire, and even some Alice Cooper. It’s a great double album you can tell your kids about. Seriously, they’ll never find it otherwise. Tell your kids.

On to the numbers!

Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend: 3
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 1

(Add two points to each of those scores and you have my ratings for the movie soundtrack.)

Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review

When I was a punk-ass kid, it was ‘cool’ to criticize old people and the things they like. After all, I was part of the new generation. The world would be moulded in our image! This, of course, carried over to music, and I was fond of making fun of The Beatles, which my mom loved. She used to tell me, “You wouldn’t have Bon Jovi without The Beatles!” This was true of course, but it still didn’t make me appreciate them enough to be any more than a casual fan as I grew up.

However, when I turned on SPLHCB – an album I can’t remember ever consciously hearing – I knew almost all of the songs by heart. That is, the ones that weren’t bat-shit crazy recollections of drug fuelled nightmares. Like most Beatles albums, SPLHCB is a hit-and-miss affair for me, but the hits are GIANT MOTHERFUCKING HITS.

The songs that I did like are part of the fabric of musical history, songs that didn’t just help define a band, but an entire generation, and indeed, a whole genre of music. Creative composition, melodic arrangements, and imaginative lyrics all resonated powerfully with me – both when I was a punk-ass kid subconsciously taking it in, or as an adult listening with fresh ears. 

Getting Better is a sweet little song that always gives my brain a reason to grin a bit. Whenever I hear When I’m Sixty Four I can’t help but imagine it as the opening theme of a 1950’s era black-and-white sitcom, and it’s got such a pleasingly goofy, hummable chorus that it’s impossible to not like. With a Little Help From my Friends is gorgeous, and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds is an unforgettable song, despite the lyrics that only make sense if you’re HAF. A Day in the Life is a curious song – while listening I’m alternately loving it, hating it, and smiling at it, but that final piano note – fantastic.

Those songs aside, the others are just a jumbled mess for me, with the band clearly taking their desire for experimentation a bit too far. Songs like Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! and Within You Without You are just exercises in WTF all around, while others like Lovely Rita are nice, but too lightweight to matter much.

But overall the album is a great listening experience, the product of a band whose collected genius by this point was undeniable and inescapable.

Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 5
Influenced our tastes: 3
Worth the hype? 5

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