Sgt. Peppers, etc.

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Sgt. Peppers, etc.

Postby Russell » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:53 am

I'm starting this thread based on a discussion begun in the "Things I Heart Thread". I think it fits better here. I suppose, based on the way I end my comments it could also go under "Patty Talk", but, whatever.

marybeth wrote:This [Sgt. Pepper's] is a landmark album that changed the whole direction of rock music, encouraging people to experiment in all sorts of new directions.

I couldn't agree with you more MB. In fact, prior to SP, I had nothing to do with most rock music (the folk rock of Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel were notable exceptions) and made it a point to ignore the Beatles with a passion simply because both of my sisters were nutsy about them. As a gag, they got me SP(LHB), which had just been released, as my high school graduation present. To my sisters' chagrin, I went nutsy over it from the git-go. SP also helped me to appreciate the beauty of Revolver and Rubber Soul which I now enjoy more than SP. Actually, I think SP was the eruption that was preceded by the rumblings in rock music that started with Rubber Soul and included the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. I also think it was the willingness of The Beatles to pretty much go off the deep end with SP that allowed the Byrds to join with Gram Parsons in the creation of the seminal album Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

Having lived through and immensely enjoyed the ever-changing variety in popular music during that time is precisely why I was so taken with Children Running Through. It's the sort of thing that simply isn't done much any more (to the extent anyone other than Patty is actually doing it). On my album site, I commented that Silver Bell was Patty's Sgt. Pepper's, and I didn't intend that comment as hyperbole. I also didn't mean by that comment that I consider Silver Bell to be her best album any more than I think that SP is the Beatles is their best (in addition to Revolver and Rubber Soul, I put Abby Road and the White Album above SP). I believe it has been reported that SP was the first album that Patty owned (please correct me if my recollection is wrong), so perhaps that explains her enthusiasm for experimenting with different sounds and even in that special way, SP is a very significant album.
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Postby Hugues » Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:20 pm

What I like about Sgt. Pepper is the trip spirit of the whole thing. The recording is superb. Some critics favour Revolver because it's a better collection of songs (it's close to perfect indeed), but what was new about Sgt. Pepper was the unity of the whole project. So much that The Beatles themselves thought of leaving the "Beatles" name away: it was all about the work, they weren't The Beatles anymore. That's how they kept living as a band a few years again, thanks to Paul McCartney especially.

Sgt. Pepper speaks to our Imagination. It's a surrealistic work. It can't really be compared to the Beatles previous work, nor to the following one. That psychedelic phase remains something unique. And the Fab Four weren't alone on the trip, there was something special in 1967 in the pop music world, and in many parts of the evolving society. Unfortunately the drugs change the dream in nightmare for the most parts, if you think of all the artists who will die in the following years. Brian Epstein not being the last. As Lennon stated in an interview once, when Epstein died, the Beatles kind of died too. As early as the White Album, you can feel something missing in the Beatles identity as a band, it already sounded like the start of their future "solo" careers in some way.
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Postby Russell » Fri Feb 06, 2009 12:29 pm

Hugues wrote:What I like about Sgt. Pepper is the trip spirit of the whole thing. The recording is superb. Some critics favour Revolver because it's a better collection of songs (it's close to perfect indeed), but what was new about Sgt. Pepper was the unity of the whole project. So much that The Beatles themselves thought of leaving the "Beatles" name away: it was all about the work, they weren't The Beatles anymore. That's how they kept living as a band a few years again, thanks to Paul McCartney especially.

Sgt. Pepper speaks to our Imagination. It's a surrealistic work. It can't really be compared to the Beatles previous work, nor to the following one. That psychedelic phase remains something unique. And the Fab Four weren't alone on the trip, there was something special in 1967 in the pop music world, and in many parts of the evolving society. Unfortunately the drugs change the dream in nightmare for the most parts, if you think of all the artists who will die in the following years. Brian Epstein not being the last. As Lennon stated in an interview once, when Epstein died, the Beatles kind of died too. As early as the White Album, you can feel something missing in the Beatles identity as a band, it already sounded like the start of their future "solo" careers in some way.

Hey, Hugues, you make a lot or really good points with some good insight. Thanks!
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Postby Fool On Fire » Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:48 pm

I love that record. Far and away my favorite Beatles LP. Everything flows so beautifully, and it's all so...original. Nothing else, even today, sounds like it.

If there is really any problem with the older Beatles material for me, it's that in the process of finding their sound they were pretty derivative. The earliest Beatles material is nothing more than a British boy band's take on American rock'n'roll. While they were incredibly successful with it, I don't think it's at all original (listen to their terrible covers of "You Really Got a Hold on Me" and "Twist and Shout" for examples). I feel like when they finally found their groove as musicians, they exploded in their creativity, and that culminated in Sgt. Pepper. While I really enjoy Help! and Rubber Soul and Revolver, there's a little too much borrowing from other people on there for me to really think of it as the apex of their creativity and enthusiasm ("Dizzy Miss Lizzie"? Straight out of Chuck Berry. "Think For Yourself" and "What Goes On"? Almost the exact same song.) Revolver is approaching it, but it's not as cohesive or as playful or as whimsical as SPLHCB...it's almost as if they took themselves too seriously for one album, and then went back to their gallivanting roots with a new twist, and came up with SPLHCB.

All a long way of saying that...yeah. I love that record. It's the best of the lads.

...and now, I'm entering the witness protection program so Tim and Scott will never find me.

bye bye,
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Postby Hugues » Sat Feb 07, 2009 1:37 am

Among the early Beatles covers, I especially like "Twist & Shout" and "You Really Got a Hold On Me". No kidding. :mrgreen:
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Postby marybeth » Sat Feb 07, 2009 2:11 am

I can't really agree that their earlier stuff is merely "derivative." As long as rock and roll or music has been around, people have been absorbing influences. Rock and Roll was really getting into kind of rut before The Beatles came along and gave it a whole fresh new outlook and feel.
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Postby sandina » Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:07 am

Fool On Fire wrote:"Think For Yourself" and "What Goes On"? Almost the exact same song.)

...and now, I'm entering the witness protection program so Tim and Scott will never find me.

bye bye,
~Elise


LOL! It has been amusing watching Tim react to a Beatles thread!! Lisey, you know you never have to run from Tim! As long as you're willing to hear him out and respect he may have a different opinion than you. That being said...I would love for you to post your reason for feeling that "Think For Yourself" and "What Goes On" are almost the exact same song. This sent Tim into a tailspin so it will be fun to dissect this!!! LOL

(Tim's been too busy to enter this debate himself so I thought I'd help it along!)

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Postby Hugues » Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:49 am

I don't hear what's common between the two songs. "What Goes On" being my least favorite of Rubber Soul. Each time "What Goes On" is mentionned, I think of the Velvet Underground song anyway, which is something else. :wink:
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Postby Fool On Fire » Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:38 pm

Hugues wrote:Among the early Beatles covers, I especially like "Twist & Shout" and "You Really Got a Hold On Me". No kidding. :mrgreen:


Well, I think most covers are pretty bad (which is its own issue), but I think those are more atrocious than most. John Lennon's voice sounds awful on "Twist and Shout," probably because they recorded it at the end of about eighteen hours of studio time. And I would infinitely rather hear Smokey Robinson sing his own songs than Paul McCartney. Personal preference. I think the Motown soul singers do the best job of their own work.

I'm at work right now so I can't go off on a long diatribe. To be continued.

~Elise
I've become the beggar now, and you've become the saint somehow
twist the words and place the blame, and tell me now, aren't we the same?

-- Amy Ray

born under a bad sign, been down since I began to crawl
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-- Albert King

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-- Josh Ritter


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Postby Hugues » Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:47 pm

Fool On Fire wrote:
Hugues wrote:Among the early Beatles covers, I especially like "Twist & Shout" and "You Really Got a Hold On Me". No kidding. :mrgreen:


Well, I think most covers are pretty bad (which is its own issue), but I think those are more atrocious than most. John Lennon's voice sounds awful on "Twist and Shout," probably because they recorded it at the end of about eighteen hours of studio time. And I would infinitely rather hear Smokey Robinson sing his own songs than Paul McCartney. Personal preference. I think the Motown soul singers do the best job of their own work.

I'm at work right now so I can't go off on a long diatribe. To be continued.

~Elise


I then will confess you something: I was around 20 years old when I first heard "Twist and Shout" by the Beatles, and that was the only time in my life I ever thought of fronting a rock band for real.

Something I finally never did, cause I chose to write instead. But if I had got several lives, one of them would have been as a singer, and "Twist & Shout" would have been the song that had started it all for me.

Smokey Robinson is something else, and "You Really Got a Hold On Me" is his masterpiece. The Beatles didn't do better covering it, but it was still one of their best covers. On the other hand, their "Twist & Shout" take is of those that made the legend of rock'n'roll, and the only cover that remains indispensible in the Beatles story. Lennon's vocals are a powerful thrill on that one, I can't say more than that. He would just repeat himself after with "Money", "Rock and Roll Music" or "Dizzy Miss Lizzy". But "Twist & Shout" was ace.
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Postby keith from ny » Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:05 pm

I don't really have time to get drawn into this discussion either, but FTR:

I can't really choose among Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's and the White Album as my favorite pop album ever (personally I think Abbey Road is way overrated). But as Hugues has said, the imagination, sense of continuity, and consistently elaborate production that went into Sgt. Pepper's really was groundbreaking and paved the way for all sorts of later experimentation in pop music.

While the Beatles were originally a cover band for American R&B artists, I don't agree that's all their early music represented. By their second album they were writing very distinctive pop songs that didn't sound much like anyone else's (I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Please Please Me, Love Me Do, All My Loving etc.) and their songwriting became more impressive with each new album -- look at the modulations within I'll Be Back on Hard Day's Night as one early example (which comes to mind since I'm now listening to 3G&B's exquisite cover). By the Help album their songwriting had become quite sophisticated musically (think of everything that happens in just the first 4 bars of the title song!), and by Rubber Soul their lyrics were beginning to show the same level of maturity. I think Eleanor Rigby on Revolver is probably a better song than anything on Sgt. Pepper's, but again it was the consistently imaginative and elaborate (occasionally a little too elaborate IMO) production throughout SPLHCB that really made it so special.

I agree Lennon's ragged performance on Twist & Shout is one of the best rock vocal performances ever captured. The Isley Brothers' original is sedate by comparison.

And I'm with Tim -- What Goes On = Think For Yourself, wtf??
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Postby Rob » Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:19 pm

Fool On Fire wrote:Well, I think most covers are pretty bad (which is its own issue)...

And I would infinitely rather hear Smokey Robinson sing his own songs than Paul McCartney. Personal preference. I think the Motown soul singers do the best job of their own work.
~Elise

You and I have had the debate over "covers," for years, stretching back to the days at PigNuts, but this is just silly.:smile:

Folks like Brian Holland, Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, Sylvia Moy, Hank Cosby, Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield (and on and on) were not known for performing, "their own work." But their combined catalog reads like an encyclopedia of Motown's biggest hits.

Not to mention Ashford and Simpson, who, while having hits of their own, wrote and produced some of Motown's most memorable songs before becoming well-known performers in their own right. Even Smokey Robinson wrote for other artists. And one of Smokey's greatest hits, "Tears of a Clown," was written with Stevie Wonder and Hank Cosby.

Motown, above all else, was a collaborative effort, marrying songwriters, producers, arrangers, musicians and singers to create some of the best music we've ever heard.

Many peerless songwriters, Motown or otherwise, never made it as recording artists. Yet think how barren the world of music would be without great artists 'covering' their work.

And since John, Paul, George and Ringo were influenced to become musicians and songwriters by guys like Smokey, it's a good thing they had great material to cover while starting out.

Please, Elise, reform your thinking on this issue. :lol:
Last edited by Rob on Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby sandina » Sun Feb 08, 2009 7:03 pm

I'd just like to add that I am really enjoying reading everyone's post in this thread. You'd think since I live with this big Beatle's fanatic, that I'd know so much more about the Beatles! I've learned a lot in your posts and it's very interesting. I guess I never knew they were primarily a covers band in the earliest days.

Hugues - out of curiousity, what do you write? I'm embarrassed that after so many years of reading your thoughtful posts, I didn't realize you wrote professionally. :?

Carry on!!
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Postby Hugues » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:22 am

I didn't write a lot professionally, except for a while in the music circle for some French mags, as a reviewer most of the time, and it's not well paid, to say the least. But when I was 20 years I chose to spend my time writing, cause I always loved that since I was a child. It wasn't about music then, it was more personal. I didn't publish a lot, just a few stuff for regional magazines of poetry. What I do as a job currently, is night watchman for a hotel. That means I work at night and sleep the day. I have my afternoons for writing and listening to music. Of course I write in French and my English is far from being perfect. What "Twist & Shout" does to me, I could express it better in French, with a lot of words I unfortunately miss in English. :wink:

Professionally or not, I always write. Writing is like a second breath for me. Words are another music to me. Each time I feel inspired to express things from the soul and the heart, I let them flow. From 20 to 30 years old, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. It was like making love to Life each day...

Okay, back to the topic: I'm always obsessed with the Beatles music. There is hardly a day when I don't have one of their tunes in mind...
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Postby Hugues » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:47 am

About The Beatles as a covers band: they weren't as much a covers band as were the Rolling Stones in the early days, for instance. Lennon & McCartney were celebrated for their own songwriting as early as their first singles, Love Me Do, Please Please Me, From Me to You, She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand, etc... They recorded covers in their first two albums and the fourth, but it wasn't more than a half of each album. In their career between 1962 and 1970, they released 25 covers, out of 215 songs. All of the others were written and composed by them.

I'm personally fond of the early Beatles songs. I'll never forget what the red album (a compilation of their early years) meant to me. I was late in discovering their music (in the 90's), probably because I'm French and grew up with French chansons (nursed by Brel, Brassens, Ferré...). French songs are a melancolic world mostly. The Beatles were expressing a new kind of Joy to me. You don't have French Beatles, and hardly French rock'n'roll, or tuneful French pop either. Though I re-discovered some French 60's stuff I like a lot, in the latest years (Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan, France Gall...). I guess that sounded too light for me before. Now that lightness sounds priceless to me. Innocence is priceless. Joy is great.
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