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As was mentioned on the actual day briefly, June 1st 2007 was the 40th anniversary of the Beatles legendary Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band being released. Yes, it was June 1st 1967 when this album first came out to forever change the face of rock and roll and what an album could be, and in general blow the minds of everyone who listened to it.
I grew up listening to this album and so it's hard for me to imagine a time when it was truly cutting edge. Instead, for me it was always a great album, but part of what albums were allowed to be; conceptual, artistic, quasi-knitted together... etc. I don't really see it as a pure conceptual album as there are definitely unique feels and styles from song to song, but for some reason it works so well, bookended by the psychedelic concert-equse feel of "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" the song and it's reprise. This gives the album the feel of a complete idea and concept without actually having it weave through each track.
Although some may argue this isn't the best Beatles album or the most innovative, and others may argue that it is another drug induced ramble of the psychedelic era, I don't think anyone can really argue it has been one of the most, if not the most influential album of all time. From the hard edged opening riff to the subtlety of "A Day in the Life" it's an album that has influenced thousands if not millions of bands to do more than just cut tracks and create art with their albums. In fact, one could easily argue that all conceptual albums that followed from Aqualung to Ziggy Stardust owe at least a little something to Sgt. Pepper, maybe not in the sense that this was a true first in terms of it's idea, but more so in it's incredible popularity. In the 60s when the Beatles did anything, a good part of the world took notice and so the fact that they would undertake such a project, sort of greased the wheels slightly for some of the projects from other artists to come. Along with the influence on musicians, there are the thousands if not millions of people across the globe who have found a little happiness in its sonic textures, a little philosophy in it's cryptic psychedelic lyrics and maybe have opened up their minds to a wider scope of what rock and roll can be through this album.
As I said, I grew up with it and so cannot really remember my first experience of listening to it in it's entirety. Instead, as with most of the Beatles work for me, I just kind of new these songs immediately when I came back to them years later with a budding interest in just about everything classic rock. This familiarity meant that I was never really blown away by the complete album. Instead, I felt it was amazing, but definitely also expected because these types of conceptual works were part of what rock and roll was about. Still, as my interest in music grew, I immediate felt that this was one of those must have albums; a requirement for anyone who truly wanted to claim they were a rock and roll fan, and it remains one of my favorite albums to this day.
As I listen to Sgt. Pepper in its entirety now while writing this little tribute, I'm filled with those same feelings that this just had to be part of my collection, part of rock and roll and part of culture as a whole.
I can honestly say that I cannot imagine a world where Sgt. Pepper did not exist, nor would I want to because it has had such an impact on me personally. Listening to this album nearly from birth I think I've been endowed with an automatic sense that rock and roll is more than just songs, but art. Whether that was something akin to what the original intent was is debatable and irrelevant, because it is only what I take from it that matters to me.
Sometime during this month of June 2007, if you haven't already, take another listen to Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in it's entirety and see what memories it recalls and what influence it has had on you since it's first release some 40 years ago.
Whether you were witness to it all 40 years ago, or just started listening to it just the other day, I think we can all find something that we can take from the infamous Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.