16. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
This album is frequently debated as being one of (if not the) greatest albums ever made. I don’t argue that for a second. There’s debate also on if it’s the best Beatles album (frequently picking fights with The White Album, Revolver or Rubber Soul). This one is an easy answer for me... yes this is the best beatles album.
I don’t have any issues with the previous or later albums by the Beatles but this is in my mind their undisputed masterpiece. While all their records are classic and are filled with memorable (and culturally significant) songs there’s always a few songs that just don’t work for me. Sgt. Pepper’s is one of those rare Beatles records where every single song works. It was a lightening in a bottle moment where every one of the Fab Four’s ideas worked out.
This is the album that made me appreciate the Beatles. I always liked them and my dad had all their records. I rarely listened to full records though, just individual songs. However a few years ago I decided to purchase all the Beatles albums. The first one I got was Let it Be because Across the Universe is my favorite Beatles song. I had a very mixed reaction to the record as a whole. I can hear their fighting and completely understand why it ended up being their last record.
However when I heard Sgt. Pepper’s I understood why they are the greatest band of all time. That’s not just nostalgia or over-hyping... they genuinely are the greatest band of all time (writer Chuck Klosterman calls them one of the most accurately rated bands in history). Why are they so beloved and incredible? Look no further than Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They cover so many various genres of song in 12 tracks and do each one justice.
Be it the kinda punky/metal sounds of Sgt. Pepper’s, the circusy acid trip sounds of Being for the Benefit of Mister Kite or the Indian sounds of Within You Without You they are successful in every song.
However there are two songs in particular that I adore. One is a cheesy little love song from McCartney called When I’m Sixty-Four. It’s a throwback to dixieland style love songs and while it occasionally gets flake for being lame and hookey, I adore it.
The other song, however, is arguably the greatest song in music history and definitely the best song in the Beatles Catalogue (although across the universe is still my favorite beatles song). That song of course is A Day in the Life.
It’s hardly even a song. It’s an experience. You see two people’s lives through the lyrics, the song changes styles and tempos and builds to a final bang of a E chord on the piano. Quite possibly the most famous final note of any piece of rock music the album comes to a close (if you don’t include the last like 10 seconds for weird trippy noises)