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Reaves column: Taking a shot at a classic LP: 'Sgt. Pepper's'

This note may offend or even shock.
I am going to say something that needs to be said, so brace yourself: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles is way, and I mean WAY overrated. In my opinion it’s not even the Beatles’ best album (that being either Revolver or Abbey Road for me).
I do respect that Sgt. Pepper’s made rock a viable and respected form of music, but I just don’t think it has stood the test of time against other great albums that most critics don’t have the guts to say are better. (The same goes with Hendrix being considered the greatest guitarist ever, which I will tackle later).
Anyway, here’s my reasoning:
Concept album or not?Sgt. Pepper’s is billed as being the first concept album ever, but I don’t really agree. The first two songs and the reprise of the first are the only three songs that make any mention of any sort of a plot dealing with The Beatles being a fake band.
Song qualityCan any Beatles fan say “Within You Without You” is his or her favorite Beatles song? I’m pretty sure it’s generally seen as one of their weakest numbers. Also, I really do not like “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” To me it’s just really cheesy and dumb.
The Beatles themselves made better albums. As I mentioned earlier, I like “Revolver” and “Abbey Road” waaaaay more than Sgt. Pepper’s. Those two albums have better song quality and less filler. The second half of “Abbey Road” is probably the best second half of any album ever.
“Revolver” is the Beatles doing things that had never been done before in rock. Take a listen to “Tomorrow Never Knows” and it still sounds 10 years ahead of its time. Sgt. Pepper’s, for me, just sounds really dated. Psychedelia did not age very well.
They should have included…
Back in the ’60s, the Beatles had a rule that if they released a song as a single, they would not put it on an album, because it would be charging the customer twice for the same song. This is true of the British albums-many of their American albums were compilations of singles.
The Beatles put out two of their best songs, “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane,” on a double A-side single before Sgt. Pepper’s was released. If those two songs had replaced some of the weaker material on Sgt. Pepper’s, then maybe that album would be worthy of the greatest-ever status it currently has.
All this being said, I do not think Sgt. Pepper’s is a bad album. There is some very awesome stuff on there and everyone should listen to it once to experience it. “A Day In the Life” is a journey in itself and “Lucy in the Sky” and “She’s Leaving Home” are also classics.
I just think maybe it’s time another album be named the best ever because 40 years of music has happened since then.
– – –
Musician Jesse Reaves lives in Salisbury. Contact him at ringostrat1@yahoo.com.

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