“June 1st, ’67, something died and went to heaven / I wish Sgt. Pepper NEVER taught the band to play”
- from “Who Will Save Rock & Roll?” / The Dictators / written by Adny Shernoff
Obviously we at Pencilstorm should have run this blog entry on June 1st – the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band release – but we didn’t, so now we’re gonna run it a coupla weeks late. Whattya think this is, Pitchfork?
I was 14 years old on June 1st, 1967, and I think that even as a child I was somehow fleetingly aware that the Sgt Pepper’s record was going to have an adverse effect on my beloved rock & roll. First off, I was a singles boy: I believed in 45 revolutions per minute. I believed then as I believe now that a hit single with a GREAT non-LP b-side was rock & roll’s most perfect form of expression, something that “concept albums” – as Sgt. Pepper’s and its descendants (and I DO mean DE-cendants) came to be known. Put simply: The Rolling Stones single “19th Nervous Breakdown” b/w “Sad Day”; The Who’s “Pictures Of Lily” b/w “Doctor Doctor”; and/or The Doors “Light My Fire” b/w “We Could Be So Good Together” (to choose just three out of possibly FIFTY others if I took the time to go through my 60’s singles collection) were INFINITELY more exciting (and a better value, at 59 cents as opposed to $3.68 albums) than Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Let’s face facts, there are at least three flat-out unlistenable songs on Sgt. Pepper’s (and I would challenge even such an authority on all things Beatles as Joe Peppercorn to refute this): George Harrison’s “Within You Without You,” and Lennon & McCartney’s oh-so-preciously groovy/psychedelic & overblown “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!” “She’s Leaving Home” is McCartney treacle that wouldn’t have even been considered for inclusion on Revolver or Rubber Soul and “When I’m 64” is the kind of English music-hall ephemera that Ray Davies of The Kinks carried off better in his sleep, when he wasn’t half trying. (I believe Colin may be making a point very much like that one in a blog post later in the week.)
So that leaves the Sgt. Pepper’s “theme song” segueing into “With A Little Help From My Friends” (done better by Joe Cocker & the Grease Band, incidentally, for those of you scoring at home), “Getting Better,” “Fixing a Hole,” “Good Morning Good Morning,” and the Sgt Pepper’s reprise as six pretty good pop songs and “Lovely Rita” and “A Day In The Life” as two quintessentially great Beatles songs.
Huh, I guess those last two would’ve made a snappy little 45 rpm single with a non-LP b-side.
I’m bringing this blog entry in under 600 words with the following contention/bellyaching/assertion: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band forever killed off the 45 rpm single that I believe was the lifeblood of rock & roll. I understand that people like Jann Wenner DESPERATELY wanted rock & roll to progress beyond its simple, hummable, humble beginnings: I do NOT understand that they wanted rock & roll to become PONDEROUS, BLOATED, PRETENTIOUS “rock music” in the process.
I do not understand how (or why) FUN became removed from the rock & roll equation.
Thank God that the Rolling Stones woke up from “Their Satanic Majesties Request” and ROARED back with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
Thank God. – Ricki C. / June 13th, 2017