Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday music mix: It was 40 years ago today (or sometime this month)

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of two Beatles albums I own (the other is Abbey Road). The goal was to explore the limits of what was then possible in a new phenomenon, the concept album. It is widely, and reasonably, considered one of the greatest albums ever recorded. My thoughts (and ratings) about the songs on this album:

  1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (4*): The album starts with a rousing tune introducing the fictional band portrayed in the album. The song establishes the mood of the album, then segues into...

  2. With A Little Help From My Friends (4*): Ringo (as "Billy Shears") takes the lead, with the rest of the band backing him up, as befits the title. A fitting song about friendship.

  3. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (5*): Despite the psychedelic nature of the song and the initials LSD, John Lennon always insisted that his son came up with the title. The song is about alternate realities--highly relevant in the time of G. W. Bush.

  4. Getting Better (3*): Paul sings about self-improvement ("Man I was mean/But I'm changing my scene").

  5. Fixing A Hole (3*): This song doesn't quite work for me.

  6. She's Leaving Home (5*): One of the highlights of the album, a song about escaping the confines of one's parents, who are in denial about the situation. The string arrangement is just right for the song.

  7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite (4*): Apparently taken from a circus poster, and with an arrangement to match. Listen for the tape effects near the end.

  8. Within You Without You (4*): George Harrison's attempt at writing Indian classical music. A reminder that we are all interconnected parts of the world, as much as some would like to forget the fact.

  9. When I'm Sixty-Four (4*): Paul sings about getting old. The 1920's-style jazz arrangement is the perfect match.

  10. Lovely Rita (3*): Love can come in the unlikeliest places--like the meter maid.

  11. Good Morning, Good Morning (3*): I'm not really sure what this song is supposed to be about. At the end fox hunt sound effects lead into...

  12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (3*): The second time is just not as good as the opening number. The Beatles were right not to end with this one.

  13. A Day In The Life (5*): A musing on some of the little oddities of life ("Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire"). Life goes on, somehow.

The CD reproduces the repeating phrase that was on the run-out groove at the end of Side 2 of the record. The tape snippets make for an interesting effect.

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