Saturday, February 14, 2009

Beatles Songs: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

There are naturally many facts surrounding what many regard as the most famous Beatles album of all. The song, originally recorded on February 1, 1967 was reprised near the end of the album at the suggestion of Neil Aspinall. This was done on April 1, 1967. After the initial takes of this track were made, Paul said he envisioned that the album could be written around the concept of the Pepper Band really existing. Actually, other tracks, such as "When I'm Sixty-four" were already recorded, and McCartney is on record as saying that he had envisioned the album from the outset as the work of one of the many "medicine show bands" of the time. Indeed, he said he got the "concept idea" flying back to Great Britain after hearing the Beach Boys Pet Sounds, so there is disagreement as to when the "concept" idea was injected into the recording sessions. Sources differ widely.

Geoff Emerick told an interviewer that Ringo's snares really thundered and that the bass cover was taken off and that the bass itself was filled with padding, a common practice today. (Other critics have also noted how much the drums stand out.) The audience noises were dubbed in by George Martin (he had taped a concert he'd attended) to make it seem as if the album were being performed live. Harrison, McCartney, and Starr performed the song for the wedding of Patti Boyd Harrison and Eric Clapton in 1979. The name Billy Shears at the song's end was used for its poetic sound, providing a lead-in to the next track, sung by Ringo.

McCartney sings lead, and Harrison and Lennon lend strong voices to the backing vocals on the chorus. Lennon played lead guitar, although other sources say Harrison or McCartney played the lead. McCartney played bass, and Starr drums. The same is said of the reprise. The Epiphone Casinos purchased by Lennon and Harrison during Rubber Soul continued to be used on Sgt. Pepper. (McCartney had one as well).

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