If you take your minds back some fifty years, you will find that one of the most significantly important albums of all time was released. Yep, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, the eighth by Liverpool four piece, The Beatles was released. On the 1st of June to be precise. It spent no less than 22 consecutive weeks on top of the British album charts and across the ditch in America, it stayed atop the charts for 15 weeks. It finished up as the highest selling album of the 1960’s in the United Kingdom and even upon re-release for the 20th anniversary in 1987, the album once more topped the UK charts.
The album sessions began on November 24th 1966 and as the months rolled on, the idea and concept behind the recording process grew from humble beginnings into the monster that it would later become. Even more astonishing is that the whole thing was recorded onto four track. Could you imagine an artist today being limited to a mere four tracks in the studio? It has often been discussed in the past that Sgt. Peppers was recorded on eight track however, eight track was only a new thing in the United Stated at the time which puts to bed the myth that eight tracks were used for recording the album at Abbey Road number two studio.
Within a few short weeks, the band had “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” issued as a double A side single. This was off the back of EMI and manager Brian Epstein pressuring the band into getting new product out in the market. The single failed to reach the summit of the charts which fueled speculation that The Beatles were a spent force in the recording industry. Laughable right? The band also spent a phenomenal 55 hours working on “Fields” in the studio. Procducer, George Martin later explained of the process and time involved….
“It was going to be a record … [with songs that] couldn’t be performed live: they were designed to be studio productions and that was the difference.”
In total, more than 700 hours of recording time was dedicated to the production of an album that was by and large, Paul’s “baby” from the start when he first suggested the idea of the group taking on an alter ego group. When quizzed on what he took away from the recording sessions, Ringo Starr admitted that he honed his chess playing skills as George Martin and engineer, Ken Townsend toiled away on the finer details. It has also been suggested that John was losing interest fast in the concept as he felt he was producing “product” and no longer writing from the heart.
Recording finished on April 21 1967 and the rest, as they say, is history.
Sgt. Pepper’s is an iconic slice of the 20th Century culture that has failed to fade with time. It’s an album that was way ahead of its competitors upon release and would still put most new releases of today to shame. To be brutally honest, there are only be a handful of iconic albums that could even step onto the coat tails of this magical work of artistry and creativity. There are currently no plans by EMI to issue a 50th anniversary edition of the album with bonus material and unreleased tracks and as yet, no details have been announced to celebrate the album’s birthday during the year or on June 1st. To not be celebrating 50 years of Beatles magic come June 1st would be a great tragedy.