Released on 1st June, 1967, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the band's eighth album became the soundtrack to the "summer of love" but its appeal is timeless.
Work had begun on the recording in late 1966 and at one stage it was thought that both Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever would also be included but when these were released as a single in February, that idea was abandoned.
Revolver had only just been completed in time prior to the band flying off on yet another tour. Now that touring was behind them more time could be spent writing and recording. Between November 1966 and April, 1967, they spent over 400 hours in the studio - a far cry from the Please Please Me days.
Of course the music was more complex and now that touring was over, there was no need to consider what could be reproduced in front of a live audience.
In the studio The Beatles encouraged George Martin to achieve "the impossible" and in turn, George and the engineers would find innovative ways of realising this despite still using only four-track equipment.
For the fourth time in the UK, no single was lifted from the album and this also held true in the US. The album was also not banded, encouraging the listener to play it all the way through, pausing only to turn the disc over.
Not only was the music different, exciting and colourful so too was the way it was delivered. The glossy double wallet featured the guys in their Pepper uniforms surrounded by images of people they either admired or were interested in whilst on the back of the sleeve there were the lyrics to all the songs. Inside each side of the wallet were other surprises, a card featuring various cut-outs and in the initial pressings at least, the paper inner sleeve bore a psychedelic design.
In the Britain the album hit number #1 and between June, 1967 and February, 1968 spent a total of 27 weeks at the top during an initial chart run of 148 weeks. All of this, in spite of a BBC ban on "A Day In The Life".
In the US, the album was released in exactly same way as in Britain... well almost. The high-pitched tone and the garbled speech embedded in the UK run-out groove did not appear on the American release. The album enjoyed a fifteen week stay at the top of the US Top 200 albums during its initial chart run of 88 weeks.
NME April 1st, 1967
The Beatles' next LP, which has already taken over seven months to record is at last nearing completion. Titled 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' it will be finished during the second week of April. Among tracks now completed are 'A Day In The Life', a John Lennon solo on which he is backed by a 41-piece orchestra. 'When I'm 64' a novelty number in early phonographic style featuring Paul McCartney. 'Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning' a John and Paul duet augmented by Sounds Inc, 'She's Leaving Home' arranged by Mike Leander and employing added strings and 'Sergeant Pepper's Blues'.
NME May 20, 1967
Trust the Beatles to come up with something different! Their latest LP, 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' is a sort of concert. It starts with that number and ends with it, except for a finale piece called 'A Day In The Life'.