"It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play,
They've been going in and out of style, but they're guaranteed to raise a smile,
So may I introduce to you, the act you've known for all these years,
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
"It’s crazy to think that 50 years later we are looking back on this project with such fondness and a little bit of amazement at how four guys, a great producer and his engineers could make such a lasting piece of art”
"Sgt. Pepper’ seemed to capture the mood of that year, and it also allowed a lot of other people to kick off from there and to really go for it"
‘Sgt Peppers’ was one of the most culturally influential albums ever made. It has continually topped lists titled ‘Best Albums Ever’ over the last 50 years and will no doubt continue to do so for years to come.
It shifted the musical landscape and raised the bar on what an album should be - a landmark record that helped usher in what was dubbed the ‘album era’ where singles no longer ruled the music business.
With the 1966 albums ’Revolver’, ‘Pet Sounds’, ‘Blonde On Blonde’ and ‘Freak Out!’ you can see music beginning to shift that way but none quite marked the turning point or had such an immediate and enduring effect on pop music as ‘Sgt Peppers’ did.
The vast arrangements, new techniques and technologies they used had only pure creativity at its core. Taking advantage of the current climate for psychedelia and experimentation, The Beatles used the fictional characters/alter ego's depicted as the Lonely Hearts Club Band as an excuse to be totally adventurous musically.
John Lennon was once quoted as saying that ‘Sgt Peppers’ turned the Beatles from performers into artists. Producer George Martin also quite fittingly once said, "we were into another kind of art form..." as himself and The Beatles clocked up over 400 hours in the Abbey Road's studio when recording the album.
What was recorded onto tape was not always possible or necessary to recreate live. Which is arguably why ‘Sgt Peppers’ is considered one of the earliest concept albums and a progenitor to art rock, prog rock and rock operas which would become popular in the late ‘60s and ‘70s.
The album cover is one of the most iconic and recognisable of all time too, transcending its musical confines to become an important piece of 20th-century art. Designed by pop artists Sir Peter Blake and Jann Haworth it featured 9 waxworks and 52 photographs. The cover reads as a ‘who's who’ in popular culture at the time, as well as poets, philosophers, Hindu guru's, explorers and more. In essence, it physically displayed the wide gamut of influences The Beatles used at their disposal when making the album.
Various lavishly presented anniversary editions of 'Sgt. Pepper's' were released in various formats on 26th May 2017. They include a new stereo mix of the album, produced by Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell. Sourced directly from the original four-track session tapes and guided by the original, Beatles-preferred mono mix which was produced by Giles' father, George Martin.
For more information visit sgtpepper.thebeatles.com or watch the trailer above.
The Deluxe CD, Deluxe Vinyl and Super Deluxe box set versions also feature a fascinating array of additional material, including over 30 additional tracks and takes from the recording sessions that place you in the studio as the group develop the songs. This extensive collection gives an unprecedented insight into how The Beatles made their ground-breaking album, with over 100 minutes of audio illustrating how the album was created.
The Super Deluxe set also includes the previously Unreleased 1992 Documentary Film, ‘The Making of Sgt. Pepper,’ fully restored, which features interviews with Paul, George and Ringo and in-the-studio footage introduced by George Martin.
It also contains the original 1967 mono mix of the album and restored versions of the promotional films for ‘A Day In The Life’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’.
As well as a 144-page hardback book with an introduction by Sir Paul McCartney, comprehensive song-by-song details and recording information, in-depth essays about the design of the cover, the album’s musical innovations and its historical context… and much more. Illustrations include photographs from the recording sessions, handwritten lyrics and Abbey Road documentation.
Plus a replica of the original card insert and two bonus posters.