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Old Mar 03, 2002, 07:46 AM   #1
shyGirl
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Default Beatles\' \'Sgt. Pepper\' isn\'t greatest. Album misses mark.

This article was in my town's Sunday newspaper:

URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...03/PK96042.DTL

When it comes to picking the greatest rock 'n' roll record of all time, there has never been much debate. Not since 1967, anyway, the year "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" took the Beatles' growing psychedelic tendencies to the hilt.

Conventional wisdom has it that the record has always been in a class by itself. That sacred-cow thinking, however, is easily disputed. If you took a poll of die-hard Beatle fanatics, the line here says you'd find a healthy majority picking a different Fab Four album as their favorite -- "Revolver," in many cases, or maybe "Abbey Road" or "Rubber Soul." You could even make a case for the unruly "White Album," the record on which the group's sonic psychedelia grew from penny-arcade reveries to an earthier, truer-to-life kind of flashback.

Undeniably, the creative use of the recording studio was forever acknowledged as a new dimension in rock music upon the release of "Sgt. Pepper" (though Brian Wilson's Beach Boys opus "Pet Sounds," the album that inspired the Beatles' own experimentation, came out a full year earlier). "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "A Day in the Life" are two of the Beatles' most lasting songs. And it's a classic album cover.

But there are just a few too many clunkers and middling successes on the album for it to be heralded as a perfect record. Mostly they're a product of Paul McCartney's affinity for the old-fashioned music-hall material of his parents' generation. The "Sgt. Pepper" title track and its reprise are exciting showmanship, but "Lovely Rita" and "When I'm Sixty-Four" are cloying ditties, little more.

It's not all McCartney's fault. John Lennon's "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" is hardly top-drawer stuff. George Harrison's "Within You Without You" is one of his least memorable contributions to the group, and Ringo's "A Little Help From My Friends" is typically cutesy-pie.

If there were some way to calibrate perfection in an album-length recording,

you might find that Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" would far outclass "Sgt. Pepper." Likewise, say, the Sex Pistols' "Never Mind the Bollocks."

But that's just itching for a fight. It's impossible to deny the Beatles their hard-won perch high above every other pop group to follow, nor would we care to try. Their talent was mind-blowing. It's just that so much of "Sgt. Pepper" isn't.

E-mail James Sullivan at jamessullivan@sfchronicle.com.



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Old Mar 03, 2002, 08:32 AM   #2
Amalthea
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Default Re: Beatles\' \'Sgt. Pepper\' isn\'t greatest. Album misses mark.

The e-mail at the end of the article wasn't a smart thing to put

Thanks for the article, shyGirl, those are all interesting to read, even if not...*cough*... agreeable.

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Old Mar 03, 2002, 10:11 AM   #3
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Default Re: Beatles\' \'Sgt. Pepper\' isn\'t greatest. Album misses mark.

Thanks for posting the article, shyGirl! I'd have to admit that I prefer Abbey Road and Revolver over Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but I don't think that takes away from the impact Sgt. Pepper had. It was one of the first Beatles albums I owned (the other was a greatest hits collection). Maybe not all the tracks would be #1 singles, but IMO, the whole of the album is greater than the sum of the parts. And if this columnist thinks the definition of a great album is an album made up of nothing but smash singles, why not cite the Beatles' 1 over The Dark Side of the Moon? (I do think that's also a great album, BTW.) I wonder what inspired him to write this article....

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Old Mar 03, 2002, 01:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: Beatles\' \'Sgt. Pepper\' isn\'t greatest. Album misses mark.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Tahoma, Arial, Sans-Serif">Quote:</font><HR>Originally Posted By SF4-EVER:
I wonder what inspired him to write this article....

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Honestly I don't know but it was part of a bigger article in our newspaper about things that were overrated.



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Old Mar 03, 2002, 11:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: Beatles\' \'Sgt. Pepper\' isn\'t greatest. Album misses mark.

Thanks for the article, shyGirl. Sgt. Pepper is in a class by itself. Almost everything that came out after it has inspired other artists. Personally, Abbey Road is my favorite, but if it hadn't been for Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road might not have been made.

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Old Mar 24, 2002, 09:13 AM   #7
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Default Re: Beatles\' \'Sgt. Pepper\' isn\'t greatest. Album misses mark.

To tell you the truth, I never really cared all that much for Sgt. Pepper. I mean, it's a fantastic album, obviously, but not my favorite.



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Old Mar 24, 2002, 10:16 AM   #8
LennonReincarnate
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Default Re: Beatles\' \'Sgt. Pepper\' isn\'t greatest. Album misses mark.

I said it once, and I'll say it again, Abbey Road was my first Beatles album, yet, the next I got was Sgt. Peppers. I went out and bought the CD immediately after I got the vinyl because I loved it sooo much! People who insist on degrading this album have wayyyy too much time on their hands. Because, we all know it's great.

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Old Mar 24, 2002, 11:01 PM   #9
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Default Re: Beatles\' \'Sgt. Pepper\' isn\'t greatest. Album misses mark.

Sgt. Pepper has certainly set new standards and expanded musical boundaries. I think everybody here already knows and would say the same thing I am saying -- SGT. PEPPER IS AN EXCELLENT COLLECTION!

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