A flood of news stories arrived over the weekend to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the June 1, 1967 release of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
I’ve seen plenty of superlatives used to describe the album, which some reviewers have hailed as the best rock and roll album ever. One went as far as labeling Sgt. Pepper “a decisive moment in the history of Western civilisation”.
I agree with Ringo Starr, who believes The White Album and Revolver are better than Sgt. Pepper.
Overall, Sgt. Pepper is not an album that’s enjoyable to listen to from beginning to end. It doesn’t get much play time on my stereo. That’s in sharp contrast to Pink Floyd’s masterpiece Piper at the Gates of Dawn, which was recorded at the very same time in the studio next to the one occupied by the Beatles at Abbey Road. The Beatles were fully aware of what the Floyd were recording next door and the influence Syd Barrett’s work on Piper had on McCartney and Lennon seems pretty obvious. Piper At The Gates of Dawn was released in August 1967 and did extremely well in its own right. But songs like Interstellar Overdrive and Astronomy Domine weren’t particularly radio friendly.
In my book, Piper is far more memorable and significant an album that Sgt. Pepper. I hope there’s some recognition of that when the album hits 40 in August!
Meanwhile, the Floyd fan website, Brain-damage.co.uk, has some great photos from the Syd Barrett tribute concert held last month in London and featuring Roger Waters (and the rest of the band performing separately to him).