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Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Beatles - "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band"

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Vinyl album, Mono, 1967
Capital Records

Around the summer of 1967, a cultural bomb went off that was called Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Was it the greatest album ever made, no I don't think so. But it was the album of that year just by its presence. Either the stars were alined perfectly or there was a cultural shift happening, this became the soundtrack of that moment and place.

I knew of the album maybe a few months before it was released, because my dad Wallace Berman is one of the faces on the cover. I was home alone and in the mailbox was a giant envelope from London England. I opened it and out came this black n' white photograph of the album cover. At first I couldn't make out what this was a photograph of. With the image was a letter from Brian Epstein asking for my father to sign a document, within the envelop, and to send it back as soon as possible. I called my Dad who was at a friend's house, and told him about the package. While I was talking to him that I realized that it came from The Beatles, and they were asking his permission to use his image for the cover. It took me awhile to find the image of Wallace, because the letter to my father wasn't really that specific. Also keep in mind that The Beatles were rarely or never publically photographed with beards or mustaches on their faces. So that too took me awhile to figure out the four figures out front were The Beatles themselves.

It was one of the first albums I heard where it seemed that the songs were not separated from the rest of the package. In one sense it was a musical or even a narrative of sorts, so it had a beginning and an ending. At least that is how I read the album when it first came out.

The dream quality of the music and the so-many cultural references on the album cover made people's head swim in those days. 45 years later it is still an iconic piece of work that is still debated whatever it is a masterpiece or not. For me personally it is not my favorite album by them, but at the same time it is foolish not to accept it as a major 20th century iconic piece of art.

Without a doubt there's beautiful music here, that reinforce The Beatles as major players in the pop music format. In a sense they built a wall with this album, and ever since then people have been trying to either tear it down or climb over it.