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A few thoughts on the Sgt Pepper anniversary

PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:25 pm
by Adam Blake
I posted this on Facebook. I thought some of the denizens here might find it worth a look.

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Sgt Pepper..... I opened my mouth and already I have been thoroughly misunderstood so I will try and put some thoughts down.

It's not the 50th anniversary yet but already the nostalgia industry is in full swing. I haven't had the heart to really investigate it but it seems there is some kind of box being made available. It will contain the stereo and mono mixes, a DVD and Blu-Ray of the "Making Of..." documentary that was made to celebrate the 20th anniversary (i.e. a mere 30 years ago), a 122 page illustrated book and a disc of outtakes and similar cuttings from the studio floor to entice the really hardcore fan to part with what will almost certainly be a large amount of money.

Why does this bother me? Because it does.

Consider: In 1967, 50 years ago would have been 1917. The 1st World War was still decimating Europe like a monstrous plague. The popular music of the day was being made by the likes of Marie Lloyd and Harry Lauder - "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?", "Hold Your Hand Out, You Naughty Boy". Gems to which only people like me and Lawrence Napper ever give a moment's thought. The idea that in 1967, we could have been celebrating such material with lavish re-isssue packages would have been utterly preposterous. Now I know that the comparison is more or less arbitrary, and therefore meaningless. In 1967 the world was still full of warfare and poverty, starvation and cruelty, but there was hope in the Western World. There was a kind of revolution going on involving a relatively small number of people but which, nevertheless, was to have long lasting and far reaching consequences in the affluent society where I live. It's easy and not entirely inaccurate to put it down to the influence of LSD on popular culture. LSD was fashionable for awhile. But the impact of LSD: the inescapable fact that life on this planet is all interconnected and that we are living in an electro-magnetic field and that we would be better off being considerate and nurturing each other than killing and being cruel - THAT was beyond fashion. That was really quite a radical notion. And there, right in the middle of it all, there were The Beatles, singing songs of love and strange alienation. Yes, it was just pop. It was good pop - mostly, some of it was great - but it mattered because The Beatles were so popular. And because pop mattered then. It really mattered. It was the primary mode of communication amongst the young. It was more than just marketing. It was a moment. It was a high-water mark of Western culture. And there at the end of it was "A Day In The Life". A genuinely disturbing and brilliant piece of popular art - perhaps the single most disturbing and brilliant piece of Pop Art in the 20th C. I don't want to argue about it, it's entirely subjective after all. But I was six years old when I first heard it and it knocked me off my feet. I'm nearly 57 now and it still does.

There's no point in talking about the Beatles "Sgt Pepper" album. It's all been said so many times. Pro and Con. For and against. It's not a bad album. It's flawed, yes, but it's... It's "Sgt Pepper"... In the run of Beatle albums in the 60s it probably wasn't as good as "Revolver" etc etc etc but that misses the point. The point was it crystallised a moment when the youth of the affluent West were, to a larger extent than any time before or since, unified in favour of love instead of hate, of peace instead of war, of brotherhood and kindness instead of cruelty. That mattered. And the fact that it seems (was) so long ago, and so completely out of reach now, that makes me sad.

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will make a lot of money from the re-issue. Fine. I have no problem with that. So will Yoko Ono and George Harrison's family. OK. The rich get richer, after all. That's the way of the world. Will the marketing campaign make "A Day In The Life" any more knowable? No. It will remain inscrutable and apart as ever. Thank God for that.
"I read the news today, oh boy".............

Re: A few thoughts on the Sgt Pepper anniversary

PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 5:23 pm
by john poole
Adam, you worry too much about things that don’t matter all that much - I suspect you would be happier if the outtakes were to be released in barely audible quality on a badly pressed crackly bootleg LP. In a way Apple cannot win as they will be criticised whatever they do, either for making yet more money from scraps that were never intended to be released - or for denying fans desperate to hear everything. Many present day Beatlefans do seem to be getting very excited about this box set (and are already speculating about the future likelihood of other albums by the group being given a similar treatment) with some reservations including the apparent non inclusion of the 14 minute ‘Carnival of Light’ and the pricing.

Yes, it certainly is a lot of money, £100 for the “Super Deluxe” Edition here
https://www.thebeatlesonline.co.uk/theb ... IMarketing
which if nothing else is a better deal than the £141 at which I believe it was initially advertised on Am*z*n.uk. Alternatively there will be more modest 2CD and 2LP editions.

At least contrary to a report in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago they will not be shoehorning Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever into the original track listing “as was originally intended” - the story went on to claim that fans in 1967 were “angry” and “furious” to find that these tracks were not included on the LP (“I’ve just bought an LP with 13 new Beatles’ songs and I’m livid - I only wanted eleven plus two that were released on a single three or four months ago”).

I couldn’t imagine a band having been together for twenty years when I bought the LP on the afternoon of Thursday 1st June, 1967 - I hadn’t expected it to be available until the following day, Friday - the normal day for records to be released then or now. My first Beatles album and still my favourite - ‘Revolver’ did have five of John’s strongest songs, but I still prefer SP as a complete album - in fact I’m not sure I wouldn’t rate ‘Rubber Soul’ higher than ‘Revolver’ as well (it’s just let down by What Goes On & Run for your Life). But what I can never understand is when I read that some people prefer the Magical Mystery Tour LP or Abbey Road to SP.

Yes, I do want to hear whichever outtakes have not already been heard on the Anthology series or elsewhere, but I’m not sure yet whether I will in fact buy the box or decide that the 2CD will suffice. The new stereo will feature a new remix, but I suspect I will always prefer the mono, so perhaps I’ll just listen to my original LP - maybe I could just buy a replacement sheet with the cut-outs as mine is no longer present, plus a new red & white inner sleeve. I was looking today in a shop at the new Pink Floyd packages as previously included in their mega-expensive box from last year and decided that I didn’t actually think they were worth £35 - £40 each.

However, I do own a box with 36 live CDs from 1966, mostly with the same 15 songs ...

Re: A few thoughts on the Sgt Pepper anniversary

PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:25 pm
by Adam Blake
john poole wrote:Adam, you worry too much about things that don’t matter all that much - I suspect you would be happier if the outtakes were to be released in barely audible quality on a badly pressed crackly bootleg LP.


For someone I've never met, you know me very well!

But I do think it's worth mentioning that Pepper was more than just another Beatles album. It was a cultural event of some significance - as I have tried to at least approach in what I wrote.

Re: A few thoughts on the Sgt Pepper anniversary

PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:47 pm
by alister prince
Well,Adam, we have met a time, or several and you do love a vinyl bootleg! On SP - I was never a huge Beetles fan, generally only liking some tracks on their mid period LPs and I didn't own a Beetles record. Then along came SP. As you said, it was an event; it was so different from other stuff; it's cover actually got people talking. What was important was while it is flawed, it hooked into the zeitgeist. Unlike many other acclaimed cultural events, it doesn't seem to have dated. A positive thing. As well as it's artistic merits, because it was the Beetles, it had an immediate huge audience and super wide radio play. All of these factors enhanced it's importance. As for the £100++ super delux remastered etc etc box set I can see why it's got to you, but I just think if they want to spend all that cash let them. It doesn't change the era, it doesn't change the 67 album. it reflects now, when everything is a money making opportunity, including nostalgia. Then and now are different times. What is on sale now is a 2017 artefact, what was released then was,in it's way, a work of art.
Aly

Re: A few thoughts on the Sgt Pepper anniversary

PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:55 pm
by NormanD
I wonder if the enhanced CD will include the run-out track that appeared at the end of side 2, the one that we sat and listened to over and over and over, listening for some meaning, the aural equivalent of gazing at a candle flame and spooking ourselves out over the shapes we claimed to see. Whoever thought of that shtick to end the record deserved some reward, at the very least for knowing that quite a few listeners would be too stoned to get up and unstick the needle from the perpetual groove.

And - as I also commented on your post on fbook earlier today - a new cardboard cut-out moustache will still not get you stoned if you lick it. It didn't then, and it won't now.

Re: A few thoughts on the Sgt Pepper anniversary

PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:33 am
by Adam Blake
alister prince wrote:It doesn't change the era, it doesn't change the 67 album. it reflects now, when everything is a money making opportunity, including nostalgia. Then and now are different times. What is on sale now is a 2017 artefact, what was released then was,in it's way, a work of art.
Aly



Thanks, Aly. That's very true and well worth me remembering.

Re: A few thoughts on the Sgt Pepper anniversary

PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:35 am
by Adam Blake
NormanD wrote:I wonder if the enhanced CD will include the run-out track that appeared at the end of side 2, the one that we sat and listened to over and over and over, listening for some meaning, the aural equivalent of gazing at a candle flame and spooking ourselves out over the shapes we claimed to see. Whoever thought of that shtick to end the record deserved some reward, at the very least for knowing that quite a few listeners would be too stoned to get up and unstick the needle from the perpetual groove.

And - as I also commented on your post on fbook earlier today - a new cardboard cut-out moustache will still not get you stoned if you lick it. It didn't then, and it won't now.



I think it's Lennon saying "I never could see any other way to...." (over a general hubbub).
As for getting stoned - I never really listened to "Pepper" stoned. I listened to it a lot when I was very young, though. Maybe most when I was about 10 or 11. When I was a bit older I tried smoking banana peel - but it just gave me a headache.

Re: A few thoughts on the Sgt Pepper anniversary

PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:52 am
by willvine
There is the much more ghastly prospect of the reinterpretation album by various artists which I believe is underway. It was a moment in time, a wonderful one.......Let It Be.

Re: A few thoughts on the Sgt Pepper anniversary

PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:02 am
by willvine
And another thing.........marketing people, I'm sure, know what they're doing and I guess they reckon this package will sell in a profitable quantity, but who's going to buy this stuff? People now in their late sixties and seventies?

I keep getting told that young people want to buy stuff they can hold (vinyl) and are encouraged to believe that if they hang on to it it'll increase in value, yet all I see is people no longer wanting to own music but pay lifetime rent to an app. platform to access an inexhaustible music cloud.