Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles – 1967
First listen?: No
I have used the phrase ‘So and so ‘invented’ the genre’ when describing many albums on this list, but there’s one album that you can thank for there being a list in the first place. The Beatles commanded music in the years prior, but when they released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band they pretty much ‘invented’ the album. Back in 67 singles were all that anyone cared about; the full record was just a delivery service for your recent set of hits. Songs were a singular experience and how people consumed their music was down to which singles were released and when. Sgt. Pepper’s changed everything and began the ‘album era’ of music, which coincidentally seemed to have ended a few years ago. The idea that you could listen from track 1 right through to the second side of the vinyl and have an experience must have been such a shock to the system for the listening public, it’s easy to take for granted as someone who was born in the 90s. The group didn’t even release any singles from this album, that’s how confident they were in the overall experience. Of course I’m not the best Beatles historian going, so I’ll leave the context there and start to talk about an album that nearly 50(!) years on, is still brilliant. There’s so much to love here, it’s a joyous listen. Billed as a performance from the titular band, this is a concept album in the sense that it’s ‘not’ a Beatles record, allowing the group to experiment with their sound. This ranges from the trippy 60s of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, to the singalong rump a pump of When I’m Sixty-Four. The sound is so dense throughout, layered harmonies across eastern sounds on the lengthy Within You Without You, while closing track A Day In The Life develops into an orchestral trip across the many sounds of the group. To be fair, I don’t really have much else to add. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is so iconic, so memorable, so influential to modern music that anything I say about it, good or bad is pointless. Its place on this list is impressive given it is by far the oldest album on the list, but few could deny it’s probably the most important.
Will I listen again?: I come from Merseyside, I’m pretty sure I’ll end up listening to Sgt. Pepper’s again at some point.
Best Track: A Day In The Life is probably the best track on here.