Bear in mind: I’m 26, so I wasn’t around for 1967.
That said, I love “classic” rock, especially psychedelic rock. I enjoy The Beatles. The Stones are my favorite band.
However, when I look at the records of 1967 - Surrealistic Pillow, The Doors’ debut, Jimi Hendrix’s debut - Sgt. Pepper’s just doesn’t cut it for me.
I feel that a great majority of the songs aren’t up to the Fab Four’s standard and that it’s a massive step down from Revolver. I much prefer the singles that came out around the same time as the record - Penny Lane and such. There’s only like one or two songs on Pepper that I listen to - and even it’s rare. I listen to Abbey Road a lot more often, and their early material too.
I know in 1967 it probably seemed utterly innovative, but compared to the albums I mentioned, I feel it really hasn’t aged well and sounds very dated, whereas The Doors’ first and Jimi’s first sound much more modern in comparison and Surrealistic Pillow has IMO stronger songs.
I’m wondering, given that we’re getting close to the 50th anniversary, if anyone else agrees with me? And if you could state your age, that’d be cool.
My ranking of Beatles albums is generally the work between 1962 to 1966 is greater than what came 1966, with the exception of Abbey Road which I view as the ultimate Beatles album.
there was a recent thread about the Beach Boys* Pet Sounds* that said basically the same thing, and i think you’ll find a consensus amongst us old fogies (i’m 54, so just barely fogey age!!!) that most of the fuss is because it was brand new! i cant stress enough that there was nothing like these two albums. not only that but they were put out at the height of popularity of the two bands, so that added to its cachet of cool. the songs themselves may not have been each bands best work (though i would argue that point on god only knows and a day in the life) but the feeling we had when we first heard these albums was that the music it was a changin’, and it left an indelible mark on alot of us!
to put it in terms you youngsters can understand it was like the Avatar of the music scene. fifty years from now comparing that movie to what was (and will) to come after it, will seem strange to the 27 yo of the time. but those of us that sat in that dark theater with our 3D glasses on, knew we were seeing the future!
I’m 50, Sgt Peppers and the album cover itself were made of awesome. I still have a full size 4’x6’ up in my basement I bought as a 21 year old. Though I probably like Abbey Road better myself. I don’t think it has to be considered the best album, just a great album.
As a matter of fact, the Beatles themselves tend to think that “Sgt. Pepper’s” is overrated. I recall a mini-series retrospective of the Beatles’ career from the 1990s. All three surviving members of the band at that time were allowed to watch the series ahead of time and give their feedback separately. The producers of the series remarked that in all three interviews, Paul, George, and Ringo all wondered why the series was devoting so much time to “Sgt. Pepper” and they were all surprised to hear that it was considered their landmark, watershed record. They said they just recorded it and moved on, never giving it much thought afterwards.
I like “Sgt. Pepper’s”, but I would say that “Revolver” was the more radical departure and greater artistic statement.
I agree with the statement that this music was brand, spankin’ NEW when it first hit the radio waves and turntables in its time. To understand the context, I think one needs to look at the popular music that came just before the Beatles, Stones, and Beach Boys came along. Songs were usually not written by the performers, but by songwriters who were paid to produce a sound the record companies thought they could sell. Popular musicians were artists only in a very limited sense of the term. They were not distinguished by their creativity.
Sgt. Pepper’s, Pet Sounds, etc. WERE creations of the groups themselves and not the record company execs. In that sense, this music was revolutionary.
I don’t know if I’d call it overrated or not, but it’s not my favorite Beatles album. It’s probably around #4 on my list, with Revolver #1, Abbey Road #2, and probably Rubber Soul #3. It really depends on my mood. There are days A Hard Day’s Night sneaks up there, too. I’m 42, so I discovered them well after the fact.
I think it’s definitely overrated, but at the same time its reputation seems to have fallen over the past 10 years, and Revolver has replaced it as the critical darling. I think Revolver is also overrated, however!
I’m a Beatles fan, but my sweet spot is up to Rubber Soul, plus the White Album, plus a scattered bunch of tunes from the other albums.
The only three songs I feel like listening to on the album are, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (one of the Beatles’ rockingest tunes), “With a Little Help from My Friends” (masterpiece), “Fixing a Hole” (an underrated song on an overrated album). Other songs range from so overplayed that it’s hard to judge at this point (“Lucy”) to catchy but somehow uncompelling (“Rita”) to crap (“Within You Without You”).
On the whole, I feel the tracks are just trying too hard to be meaningful, and 60s production is being pushed to the limit, so the whole thing just feels overdone.
I think A Hard Day’s Night and Help! capture the Beatle’s energy and style at their peak, while the White Album lets their creativity shine in an unadorned, not overly produced manner.
It was a big and florid statement, the evolutionary T-Rex of their middle Power Pop-to-Psychedelic Jurassic period. It was packaged as a concept album and with the “new name” for the band, hit the media with a splash, after a frustrating period where the Bigger Than Jesus Kerfuffle had overshadowed the brilliance of Revolver on its release. So with all of that, SPLHCB was huge immediately.
Is it overrated? In a historic way, no. It captured the imagination of the day in a way nothing else had, and cast a huge shadow. Is it their best work? I love A Day in the Life and other tracks, but I am a Revolver guy, through and through, and love Help, Rubber Soul and A Hard Day’s Night more.
Imagine having the problem where folks are debating your work and deciding if it’s, like, the bestest most importantest ever ever, or only one of the highest quality but not the best work of the “best band.” Such a problem I wish I had.
There are plenty of people who find Sgt. Pepper’s overrated, even among those who love and appreciate the album. I think a clear minority of fans and critics would list it as either the Beatles’ best album or as their own personal favorite. But it was the biggest deal at the time of its release.
ETA: It also suffers if you’re looking at it at the level of the individual songs, as opposed to a whole.
I think you had to be there, in 1967. I recall the members of some very influential groups reporting that at the time they were stopped in their tracks when they first heard the album being played. (See Roger Waters discusses the Beatles’ impact on Pink Floyd). Others clamored with their recording studios to let them redo songs that were being pressed to disk for release (to no avail).
I was always amazed at how short Jimi Hendrix’s arc was. He released “Are You Experienced” in the UK on May 12, 1967 and died 40 months later on September 18, 1970.
Yet, during the same year, we also had the Moodies’ Days of Future Passed, Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn (recorded in the same recording complex as Sgt. too), and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, plus others (edit, Coke to jaycat).
It was innovative, but not that innovative, even looking at it from a 1967 perspective. [I became musically “aware” in that year too (age 5), clearly recall hearing “Got to Get You into My Life” on the radio]
Sgt Pepper may not be their “best” album (that would be In the Beginning c. 1960), but I think it might have been their most influential. Hell, Jimi Hendrix played a cover version at a show two nights after it came out–that must say something about the effect it had on people.
I’ve seen quite a few interviews where an artist recalls hearing Pepper when it first came out and being blown away. …it made them want to go out and make something like that. It deserves it’s place in history alongside the other groundbreaking albums that cam out at the time. An amazing era, bands were setting the bar a little higher with each release. I feel lucky to have been around when it happened.
It was innovative in a lot of respects, like the way each track segued seamlessly into the next (The first CD version was jarring to listen to because of the dead silence between cuts).
Ultimately, you have to realize that there simply is no snob appeal to being a Beatles fan, and there is no subtextual substance to Sgt Pepper that you get and 100 million other listeners don’t. Released from that burden, it’s a fun listen and it kicked up the game of all subsequent concept albums. You just have to appreciate it for what it is, not what you imagine it should have been.
I was born in '73 myself, so didn’t appreciate the album until the mid to late 80s as the brilliance it was. Now that I’m in my mid 40s, I noticed that my tastes bend toward Abbey Road or Revolver when I’m in a “Beatles mood”.
Still, Sgt. Peppers was my first love for The Beatles. There’s something holistic and enduring about it. It grabs you wholly on its first spin. Perhaps its that immediate satisfaction that feels like it’s not earned as their best effort?
I was born in 1961, so I was too young to listen to or appreciate classic rock while it was being made. I heard and knew SOME Beatles songs as a little kid, of course, but didn’t start listening seriously to the Beatles or any other Sixties band til much later.
Today, I DO love the Beatles, but Sgt. Pepper isn’t one of my favorite Beatle albums. There is SOME brilliant stuff on the album, but there’s more weak material on Sgt. Pepper than on any Beatle album but “Let It Be.” It’s a very good album but not a masterpiece.
But… here’s something that’s always baffled me about Sgt. Pepper: critics LOVED it, and alway put it at the top of their Greatest Albums lists. Why? Because it was so influential and it inspired so many other musicians.
And that’s true. Except… the critics HATED all the acts Sgt. Pepper inspired! Seriously, critics LOATHED prog rock. They regarded Yes and ELP as the worst bands ever. But what inspired the hated prof rock bands if not Sgt. Pepper?