Regarded by many (and rightfully so) as the best album ever made, the Beatles’ phenomenal masterpiece Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released today, on 26th of May 1967.
When their preceding album Revolver (1966) hit the shelves, it indicated an apparent shift in the Beatles’ career, whom by then had already became sensational and world-renowned superstars. It was part of their attempt to become more than just a pop band with an enormous number of fangirls. They were going to be real artists and lead the music industry to a much more innovative path. This was proven by the success of Revolver, and to an ordinary band, this would’ve been the height of their career and a once in a lifetime achievement. However, when that band is the Beatles, this was just the beginning.
Sgt. Pepper’s was the result of approximately 700 studio hours (more than 30 times of Please Please Me) and costed about £460,000 in today’s money to produce. Though the project was mostly McCartney’s idea, the album showed a great deal of contribution from each member (for quality, if not for quantity). By making the band take on this alter ego (the Sgt. Pepper personas), the band was free to step out of their boundaries. There is a great debate on whether the album can be classified as a “concept album”, but there is no denying that it influenced most of those concept albums that came after.
The whole album feels mellow yet bold, nostalgic yet creative. From the Indian influences to the psychedelic sound effects, it constituted the soundscape of rock and pop that we take as granted today. From these 13 songs (and a flamboyant album cover), so many innovations were made to the music industry that this one post wouldn’t be enough to count them all.
Sound engineer Geoff Emerick once said: “We had got used to being asked to do the impossible, and we knew that the word ‘no’ didn’t exist in the Beatles’ vocabulary.”
And in the end, Sgt. Peppers is a combination of what everyone else thought was impossible at the time. The Beatles defined, and then redefined, a whole decade and the profound impact that they had in the world should still be examined today.