Terms in this set (143)

Chatter at the beginning of the record. First two songs morph into eachother. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," features the fictional or 'costume' band introducing themselves and their featured performer (Billy Shears), who sings the second song. Very high production value, bigger, lusher sound than Revolver. Reverberant sound quality that makes you feel like you're at a concert. Tuning sounds/chatter at the beginning of the album creates a sound world for a record.

Coy, contrived, baroque, overwrought, overdone, overproduced, fantastic idea for an album. Has drawn long-lasting praise, citations of influence, as well as serious criticism. (predecessors: Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, and Frank Zappa's Freak Out). What does it mean to be rebellious? Beatles up to this point have always been class clowns/ cheeky, doing such an eclectic album with lots of orchestral arrangements, experimental songs, ideas drawn from lots of different places as a sort of provocation for a rock n' roll band. (notice that there are no straight forward 'rockers' on this album.

Recorded from Nov 1966 - April 1967, following The Beatles' first period of extended vacation from each other. Each member starts defining themselves as individual artists. Does this signal the beginning of the end? Length of the recording process causes issues, especially for the record companies, who have been expecting a continuation of the back to back releases that the Beatles had been spinning out since '62.

Production cost ~25,000 pounds. (roughly translates $500,000 in 2017 currency)

First Beatles album to feature the same tracklist across the pond.

22 weeks at #1 in the UK, 15 weeks in the USA.

First time a rock album shocks the system in this way of absolute dominance for an extended period of time. Timing couldn't have been more perfect: Pepper served as an unofficial soundtrack of the "Summer of Love"

First time (maybe the last time) that the western world, for a moment, are all listening to one album together. (some radio stations would just play it on repeat all day long)

One of the first "concept" albums, with a loose concept of a fictitious band performing a concert. Very loose concept that goes for the most part after "With a Little Help from My Friends," but reemerges at times. Not exactly cohesive. Really unabashedly explored variety. Only makes stylistic sense by being consistently eclectic. No straight-forward rock n' roll songs. (even the opening tune has a brass band!!).

First record without "banding" (continuously running tracks). No space between tracks meant it was hard to drop the needle to play a specific song. This invited the listener to hear the whole album as one piece of art.

First record liner that was not plain white. (crazy pink graphics). Also came with cardboard cut-out badges, mustache, and bandstand (?!)

Extravagant, costly production. In addition to the extended and costly recording sessions, an unprecedented amount of money spent for the cover art (by Peter Blake, about 3000 pounds vs the usual 50 pounds).

Many people The Beatles admired were featured in the album cover tableau, such as Bob Dylan, Laurel and Hardy, Albert Einstein, Gandi (who was painted over due to political realities of '60s India; record cover couldn't have been printed there), Leo Gorcey (actor, also painted over, because he asked for royalties for the inclusion of his likeness), Edgar Allen Poe, Marilyn Monroe, Karlheinz Stockhausen (German avant grade composer; tape techniques + electronic music, aleatoric/orchestral work may have influenced "Day in the Life" swell?), Oscar Wilde, etc. Many of these icons have since been dropped from the cultural consciousness, but the cover serves as a kind of time capsule. John wanted to include Jesus and Hitler, was clearly overruled.

Paul felt like it would be fun to reimagine themselves as a different band for a while. John lets Paul take the lead, as John was very into LSD in these days, not taking a leadership role at all. George is totally uninterested in being a Beatle at this time, spending time in India, studying Sitar etc. Ringo is along for the ride. He describes that during the Pepper session, he learned Chess as he was waiting around all the time. Paul's leadership role creates problems going forward.

Unusual detail about the album is that it came with full printed lyrics. In the lyric sheet photograph, Paul is facing his back to the camera. Coincidence? Album art for Sgt. Pepper's is not just an accompaniment, but becomes an art object and signifies an art experience, of flipping through the materials/staring at the lyric sheet as the music plays. Invites the listener into a world surrounding the music.
Written by John
John worked on the demo for "Strawberry Fields Forever" while in Spain on the set of Richard Lester's movie How I Won the War.

Listening to the process from demo to studio recording shows the change in concept and style for the song. Earliest version is acoustic guitar-driven, but several lyrical/harmonic elements are already present. Early studio version introduces the Mellotron - a keyboard instrument and primitive sampler: pressing a key results in a bit of tape being played back (here, flute sounds, there clarinet sounds, etc). Electric guitar, slide guitar/ out of tune acoustic guitar are also all featured. Bass parts were overdubbed after first live rhythm takes, a common practice for Paul in these days. Recording the song took over 55 hours of studio time.

Two different takes were spliced together to produce the final version; one with mellotron, electric slide guitar, etc; the other featuring a cello+brass arrangement by George Martin. John wanted to splice them together, but the two takes were recorded several days apart, and were in different keys and tempos (whoops!).

Difference between keys/tempi was such that if you changed the playback speed, the pitches ended up being close enough. Nearly seamless edit at 1 minute mark. Sonic atmosphere changes at that point.

Personal song about being in his own world. Lyrics feel like having a conversation with yourself. 'no one I think is in my tree/ I mean it must be high or low/ that is you can't, you know, tune in but it's all right / that is I think it's not too bad.' Transformed into sonic dream.

Indian Zither was featured in the intro to later verses, and in the double-outro. Indian instruments find their way into many of the songs on this album. (tamboura drone in "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," and others).

Cymbal hits (hi-hats) played backward on the tape. Low-tuned, free-flowing drum parts were overdubbed, in this case, with excessive yet musically compelling fills.
Ringo's drumming is highly creative.
The anti- Pepper cover. Original edition had "The Beatles" embossed, with a different serial number on each edition, like a series of art prints.

Has been described as three solo projects and a song by Ringo, or as the sound of a band breaking up. This album had the most of songs recorded by a solo Beatle. (Paul is the prime offender).

The Beatles was a double album, twice the length of a normal LP, and much more expensive to make. George Martin felt that the material was not all great, and should've been squeezed into one single uniformly excellent album. They vetoed George Martin, in part because their song-writing agreement with EMI required them to finish out publishing a ton of songs, so they could finish their contractual obligation, to make a better deal. (They got a better deal the next year through the help of their new manager Allen Klein)

The album is extremely varied in terms of song genres, style, and quality.

Songwriting became much more individual; several tracks were recorded solo. At this point, there is a schism between John and Paul, partly due to Yoko's constant presence at the sessions. The other Beatles felt that it was great that John found this new love/relationship, but they resented her presence in the studio. They greet Ono with despicable racism/sexism. People would ignore Yoko, while interacting with John. John said this stress lead them into heroin use.

Tension and strife in the studio (beginning of the end...); George Martin goes on hiatus, Geoff Emerick leaves altogether. During the session period, Ringo and George just go on holiday. Ringo actually quits the band at some point, and has to be invited back. Once he returns, things are somewhat more cordial through finishing the album.

First album release on Apple Records, 22 November 1968 (first single was "Hey Jude"/"Revolution"). Distributed by EMI.
Paul's idea to keep the band going was to create the Magical Mystery Tour film / double EP.

"Written" and produced by the Beatles themselves. Scripting involved drawing destinations on a map, touring around, filming things sort of impromptu at each locale.

They had been getting into transcendental meditation, were planning to go on an extended trip to India. Paul worried if they went to India, they band would just break up, each would go their own way. Making the film was an activity to keep the band going after Epstein's death.

Released by Apple Movies (more later), the first outing of the new Apple Corps business they had set up.

Largely unscripted, seat-of-the-pants approach.

Magical Mystery Tour was Shown on British TV on Boxing Day, a huge shopping holiday, in black and white. This presentation of the film probably didn't help it, as the colors account for much of the visual interest. Christmas holidays 1967

It was savaged by critics upon its televised showing, and loathed by fans. As a cheeky move, pull quotes from terrible reviews were used for advertising the theatrical release.

ALBUM: Side One (soundtrack). Side Two (Singles).
The soundtrack has a complicated release history:

British version is a double EP (2 * 7'', 45 RPM) containing just the movie soundtrack; includes a fancy 28 page color booklet. Dec 1967

US version: a full LP including the remaining 1967 singles, ["Hello, Goodbye," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Penny Lane," "Baby, You're a Rich Man," "All You Need is Love." (all with "fake stereo" mixes). Nov 1967

CD version (1987) based on the US version, fixed stereo mixes—now considered part of the core catalogue.
Concept: "Get Back" to the old days/style. After the 'White Album' unpleasantness, the Beatles think that the recording/ production process/ studio tricks were too complex. They thought they could just get back to the four of them playing rock songs together, live, in a room. They wanted to record an album without any overdubs.

Glen Johns was brought in as an engineer/producer. The role of George Martin was unspecified, though he is credited as a producer. Martin took a bit of a side step on this album, with less direct involvement. A lack of focus/confusion on this project is due to Martin's not really being there, exaggerated by the fact that Glyn Johns has no report with the Beatles.

At this time, Lennon is really not interested in working as a Beatle, dealing with trying to kick Heroin, interested in Yoko and his own solo music.

Paul is the overachiever in the group, takes the lead to fill the gap left by John, which turns the others (especially George) off.

George is fed up with playing 3rd fiddle with the Beatles, resented how Paul instructed him to do things, and that John didn't care anymore.

Meanwhile, proto-reality show film/documentary was made of the recording sessions. (United Artists was not impressed with their Yellow Submarine cameo, demanded that the Beatles appear in another film to fulfill their contract). Their idea is to turn the rehearsal / recording process into a film. They were already having issues interpersonally, now they are under a microscope, being filmed the whole time.

quip: they were supposed to make a film about how to make an album, ended up making a film about how to make a band breakup.

Original album cover picture is taken from same location as the cover of Please Please Me.
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