It was 50 years ago today …

The BeatlesSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album was released on June 1, 1967 in the UK and on June 2, 1967 in the US. It became the soundtrack for the fabled “Summer of Love” both influencing and reflecting the flower powered youth culture of the time, but its appeal has proven to be timeless.

Beatles - Sgt. Pepper album cover

The Beatles stopped touring in August of 1966, and took some time off. The group reconvened in November of that year and spent over 400 hours in the studio between November 1966 and April 1967 completing the album. (This was a far cry from their first foray into EMI Studios to record their first album in 1963 — that entire album was recorded in less than 24 hours!) This studio time led to all sorts of interesting musical experimentation and since the group had decided they were done with touring, there was no need to worry about whether the songs could be produced live on stage. The album as a whole is a fascinating almalgamation of harmonium, harpsichord, brass band, fairground noises, harp, psychedelia, Leslie speaker tweaking, multi-tracking, tape loops, full orchestra, crashing apocalyptic piano chords, dog whistles and more. The Beatles’ musical ideas required lots of technical innovation from producer George Martin and studio engineers.

Sgt. Pepper gatefold

The eclectic mix of songs was loosely held together by the “concept” of a fictional Edwardian alter-ego Sgt. Pepper Band and the songs are wonderfully joyful. From the psychedelic marching band music that introduces us to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, to the psychedelic imagery of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” ( title inspired by a drawing by John Lennon’s young son, Julian), to the music hall whimsy of McCartney’s “When I’m Sixty-Four”, to the spiritual tone of Harrison’s sitar-laced “Within You Without You”, to the amazing shifting tones, full orchestral crescendo and avant garde surrealism of “A Day In The Life” (one of the greatest ever Lennon/McCartney collaborations in this author’s opinion), there is much to enjoy, right through to the startling tape loop ending inserted into the run-out groove of the original LPs (and included on CD reissues if you wait for it). The Beatles drew inspiration from varied sources like an 1843 circus poster (“Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite”), a TV cornflakes commercial (“Good Morning, Good Morning”), news stories about runaway teens (“She’s Leaving Home”) or car accidents (“A Day in the Life”).

An alternate take from the Sgt. Pepper cover photo session

An alternate take from the Sgt. Pepper cover photo session

There is just as much to enjoy in a perusal of the album art itself. The cover features a pop art inspired collage of various folks (famous and not so famous) that the Beatles chose as inspirational to them, elaborate gatefold sleeve packaging (with bonus cardboard mustaches and pseudo-military insignia in early pressings) and includes the lyrics to all of the songs printed on the back cover, something that had never been done before with a pop album.

Sgt. Pepper back cover with lyrics

Sgt. Pepper signaled that pop & rock music could also be considered high art or even progressive social expression and more than just disposable entertainment. Musicologists cite Sgt. Pepper as continuing the musical maturation of the Beatles as a group that began with Revolver and Rubber Soul. It was also extremely influential on the development of progressive rock with its emphasis on studio experimentation, elaborate instrumentation and insistence on pushing the boundaries beyond conventional subject matter and track lengths. The album has been an influence on countless others since its release in 1967.

Here’s a sampling of a few of (many) parody takeoffs on the iconic cover:

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention – We’re Only In It For The Money

Frank Zappa & The Mother's Of Invention

The SimpsonsThe Yellow Album

Simpsons - "The Yellow Album"

The RutlesSgt. Rutter’s Only Darts Club BandRutles - Sgt. Rutter

Golden Throats – a compilation of critically lambasted cover songs

Golden Throats

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band consistently ranks in critics and fans listings of best albums of all time. Among numerous accolades and awards, it is ranked # 1 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It’s included in the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry and is one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Whether Sgt. Pepper is an old favorite or if it’s brand new to you, this classic album / cultural touchstone is well worth a listen!

Sgt. Pepper cut outs insert

Sgt. Pepper cut outs insert

Arachnophonia: Daft Punk “Discovery”

Editor’s Note: Our music review column “Spider Sounds” has had a name change and will now be known as “Arachnophonia”. The name has changed, but the idea remains the same — members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items from the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia comes courtesy of Music Library student worker Olivia (class of 2019), and features the Discovery, the second studio album by French electronic music duo Daft Punk. Thanks, Olivia!

Daft Punk

Discovery

Daft Punk - Discovery album art

Daft Punk have established themselves as legends in the realm of dance music since their 1996 debut album, Homework. They gained popularity quickly with their funky mix of French house music and mixing punk, funk, disco and rock elements.

In 2001, they released their album Discovery, in my opinion the best of their work. The songs “One More Time” and “Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger” have remained hits since their release, with music fans everywhere able to sing and dance along.

Single for "Harder Better Faster Stronger"

Kanye West’s use of “Harder, Faster, Better, Stronger” in his song “Stronger” only increased the duo’s popularity and widespread listening population.

Promotional material for "Discovery" (2001)

What is so great about Daft Punk is their ability to appeal to almost every type of music listener, spanning the separation of many different genres. Also intriguing and interesting is their rare appearance in interviews, television and photos with their robot helmets off, inspiring a sense of mystery and awe in these house music legends.

Arachnophonia: The Color Purple

Editor’s Note: Our music review column “Spider Sounds” has had a name change and will now be known as “Arachnophonia”. The name has changed, but the idea remains the same — members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items from the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia comes courtesy of Music Library student worker Susie (class of 2019), and features the 2005 cast recording for the Tony award winning Broadway adaptation of The Color Purple. Thanks, Susie!

The Color Purple

The Color Purple

This is one of the best cast recordings for a Broadway musical I have ever listened to. Often it can be difficult to understand the musical and truly appreciate it when you only listen to the soundtrack without ever seeing the show. The Color Purple is different, the plot, heartbreaks, triumphs, and best moments are all captured within the cast recording.

While listening to the “Opening/Mysterious Ways”, the listener can imagine being in this small town filled with gossip and hardships.
In the series of songs “Big Dog”, “Lily of the Field”, and “Dear God” the listener is experiencing horrific events with Celie and mourning with her. Even a person who does not have strong faith can feel the glory of God in the musical’s title song “The Color Purple”. And the strength Celie shows in her songs “Miss Celie’s Pants” and “I’m Here” can give any listener the strength to get through the toughest of times. This soundtrack gives listeners the incredible experience of listening to an amazing musical, but it also takes listeners on Celie’s journey to hell and back and her strength and wisdom can lift up anyone.

I recommend laying back, closing your eyes, and letting this cast recording take you on a journey that will surprise and uplift you.

Playbill - The Color Purple

Cover of the Playbill for the 2016 revival of the show — which won the Tony award for Best Revival of a Musical in 2017.

Arachnophonia: Bon Iver

Editor’s Note: Our music review column “Spider Sounds” has had a name change and will now be known as “Arachnophonia”. The name has changed, but the idea remains the same — members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items from the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia comes courtesy of Music Library Student worker Colette (class of 2017), and features indie folk band Bon Iver’s second album. Thanks, Colette!

Bon Iver

Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Bon Iver, Bon Iver

This album has been one of my favorites since high school. Two years after “For Emma, Forever Ago” was released in 2008, Bon Iver’s sophomore release was this self-titled album.

“Holocene” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. The intro features intricately woven electric/acoustic guitars and vibes. While the beginning of the song is gentle and almost mesmerizing, by the time the chorus rolls around, the song picks up. The chorus lyrics are not your typical “pop” chorus:

And at once I knew I was not magnificent
Huddled far from the highway aisle
Jagged vacance, thick with ice
And I could see for miles, miles, miles

Justin Vernon

A wintry shot of Bon Iver’s frontman, Justin Vernon

“Towers” is also a favorite. This tune demonstrates the poetic nature of the group’s lyrics. The lyrics are a rhyming poem, which detail the process of falling in, then out of love. Some of my favorites include:

From the faun forever gone
in the towers of your honeycomb
I’d a tore your hair out just to climb back darling
when you’re filling out your only form
can you tell that itʼs just ceremon’
now you’ve added up to what you’re from

If you’re looking for a folk/indie album that’s not like the rest, check out Bon Iver’s “Bon Iver”.

Holocene cover

Cover for the 12″ single release of “Holocene”

Arachnophonia: Carlo Gesualdo “Complete Sacred Music For Five Voices”

Editor’s Note: Our music review column “Spider Sounds” has had a name change and will now be known as “Arachnophonia”. The name has changed, but the idea remains the same — members of the UR community can share their thoughts about items from the Parsons Music Library‘s collection. All links included in these posts will take you to either the library catalog record for the item in question or to additional relevant information from around the web.

Today’s installment of Arachnophonia comes courtesy of Music Library Student worker Erin (class of 2017), and features some sacred choral music by Italian Renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo. Thanks, Erin!

Gesualdo

Complete Sacred Music for Five Voices

Gesualdo - Complete Sacred Music for Five Voices

If you’re looking for some relaxing study music, you should definitely check out Gesualdo’s CD of Complete Sacred Music for Five Voices!
This collection of choral pieces was written by Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa around the year 1600, and is entirely a capella. This specific recording from 1993 is by the Oxford Camerata, a group created for the specific purpose of making music from the medieval and renaissance periods more accessible. This music was written before more recent Western ideas of musical keys and common practice period chordal structure came about, so the way Gesualdo weaves chords and cadences together is very unusual and beautiful to my ears.

Gesualdo - Tenebrae

If you enjoyed this CD, I’d also recommend another CD of Gesualdo’s music that the music library carries — the Hilliard Ensemble’s 1991 recording of Tenebrae. The polyphonic style (or multiple voices singing different lines at once) of this piece is more on the darker/serious side because of the topic material (the Passion of Christ). The Latin text is translated in the CD’s notes in English, so you can follow along with it as well if you’re wondering what they’re actually saying!
It’s a really long and really gorgeous piece that always helps me find a sense of peace and relaxation amongst the craziness of college life.

Enjoy!

Carlo Gesualdo

Portrait of Carlo Gesualdo, principe de Venosa (ca. 1560-1613) by an anonymous artist

Spider Sounds: Holiday Music Special Edition – Part 2

Editor’s Note: Our Spider Sounds holiday music extravaganza continues today (you can check out part 1 here). We asked folks who work in the Parsons Music Library, Boatwright Memorial Library, and the Music Department to share some of their favorite music to listen to during the holiday season. Any holiday and all genres of music were fair game and we got quite a fun selection — so much so that we split everyone’s picks across two posts! Links will take you to either the library catalog or to other relevant information. Do you see any of your favorites on this list? If there are favorites or overlooked classics you’d like to add, please share them in the comments to this post! We at the Parsons Music Library wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable Winter Break.

reindeer

A list of holiday favorites (familiar and otherwise) — part the second:

Cate Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2019

The Waitresses“Christmas Wrapping”

The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping (1982 single cover)

Barenaked LadiesBarenaked For the Holidays

Barenaked Ladies - Barenaked for the Holidays

Malorie Olivier Administrative Coordinator, Boatwright Memorial Library

Eartha Kitt“Santa Baby”

Eartha Kitt - "Santa Baby"

Kasey Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2017

Paul McCartney“Wonderful Christmastime”

Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmastime

Elvis Presley“Blue Christmas”

Elvis Presley - Blue Christmas

James Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2017

“Pie Jesu” from Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Requiem

Joanna Love Adjunct Professor of Music

Mariah Carey“All I Want For Christmas Is You”

mariah_carey-574

Gayla Peevey“I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”

Gayla Peevey - I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas

Susie Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2019
Bernice Johnson Reagon“Seven Principles”

Sweet Honey In the Rock

Wesley Whatley – “Habari Gani (What’s The News?)”

cover-large_file

Sally Albrecht – “Light the Kinara for Kwanzaa”

Kinara

Iria Jones Operations Manager, Boatwright Memorial Library

“Carol of the Bells”

Holiday Bells

Samantha Guss Social Sciences Librarian, Boatwright Memorial Library

Evie“Come On Ring Those Bells”

Evie - Come On Ring Those Bells

Ray Charles“That Spirit of Christmas”

Ray Charles - That Spirit of Christmas

Alexandra Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2017

Band Aid“Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

Band Aid -  Do They Know It's Christmas?

Colette Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2017

Vince GuaraldiA Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Jennifer Cable Professor of Music & Coordinator of Voice Studies, Music Department

Leroy Anderson“Sleigh Ride”

Currier & Ives - Sleigh Ride

We’ve shared lots of holiday music in the past couple of posts. What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments on this post (or the first post in the series). Some of the selections shared stream on UR’s audio subscription services and some are available as CDs. Stop by the Parsons Music Library to pick up some holiday tunes for listening — or even some scores and do some music making of your own this season!

Spider Sounds

Spider Sounds: Holiday Music Special Edition — Part 1

Editor’s Note: Spider Sounds presents a special holiday edition today (it’s so special we’ve broken it into two parts!). We asked various folks who work in the Parsons Music Library, Boatwright Library and the Music Department to share some of their favorite music to listen to during the holiday season. Any holiday and all genres of music were fair game and we got quite a fun selection. Links will take you to either the library catalog or to other relevant information. Do you see any of your favorites on this list? If there are favorites or overlooked classics you’d like to add, please share them in the comments to this post! Tune in this Friday for part 2 of our Holiday Music Special!

Lights and piano

A list holiday favorites (familiar and otherwise):

Emily Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2017:

James Taylor at Christmas

James Taylor at Christmas

Handel’s Messiah

Handel's Messiah

Claire Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2020

“Silent Night”

Silent Night Chapel

Mary Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2018

Stevie Wonder “I Just Called To Say I Love You”

Stevie Wonder single

Linda Fairtile Head, Parsons Music Library

John Rutter“What Sweeter Music”

John Rutter Christmas Album

Any arrangement of “In The Bleak Midwinter”
“The Little Drummer Boy”
“O Holy Night”

Little Drummer Boy

Gabriela Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2020

Julian Casablancas“I Wish It Was Christmas Today”

Julian Casablancas - I Wish It Was Christmas Today

Liza Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2017

The soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Kim Wolfe Resource Sharing Specialist, Boatwright Memorial Library

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings“Big Bulbs” from their It’s A Holiday Soul Party album.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Also “8 Days (Of Hanukah)” from the same album!

Menorah

Zach Music Library Student Worker, Class of 2017

Samuel BarberAgnus Dei (Adagio for Strings) (the choral version)

Barber - Agnus Dei

Melanie Armstrong Music Library Associate (and blog editor!)

Duke Ellington‘s version of The Nutcracker Suite

Duke Ellington - The Nutcracker Suite

Benjamin Britten‘s A Ceremony of Carols

Britten's "A Ceremony of Carols"

Darlene Love“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”

For the 17th year on the broadcast, singer Darlene Love, who was recently chosen for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's class of 2011, perform her classic, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," on the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN, Thursday, Dec. 23 on the CBS Television Network.  Photo: John Paul Filo/CBS ©2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved

Singer Darlene Love performs her classic, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” on the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN, Thursday, Dec. 23 2010 on the CBS Television Network.
Photo: John Paul Filo/CBS
©2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved

All of the music (written by Paul Williams) from the Muppets special Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

Don’t forget the second part of this holiday music extravaganza will be out on Friday and feel free to share your own holiday favorites in the comments!

Spider Sounds

Spider Sounds: The Beatles “Abbey Road”

Editor’s Note: Spider Sounds invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library’s collection. The links included will take you to the library catalog record for the item in question, or to additional relevant information.
Today’s installment of Spider Sounds comes courtesy of Music Library Student worker Gabriela (class of 2020) and features Abbey Road, the last studio album by the Beatles. Thanks, Gabi!

The Beatles

Abbey Road

The Beatles - Abbey Road (1969)

Abbey Road may have one of the most recognizable album covers in all of rock music.
It is known for depicting the Fab Four walking across the famous London street near the studio where the Beatles did most of their recording. Apart from the iconic artwork, however, Abbey Road’s production quality and track list are undeniably stellar.

The Beatles photographed in 1969

There are several stand out songs, like “Come Together,” “Something,” and “Here Comes the Sun,” which are individually famous and could be enjoyed on their own.
However, if you listen to Abbey Road from start to finish, it is almost as if the entirety of the album is one song. The transitions from track to track are so perfect, that the flow of listening is almost medley-like.

The Beatles - Abbey Road

An out-take from the August 8, 1969 photo session for the album cover.

The album also highlights the talents of all band members, with some of George Harrison’s most beautiful songs (“Something” and “Here Comes the Sun”), Ringo’s quirkiness in “Octopus’s Garden”, and of course, the amazing harmonies between Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison in “Because” — a song that barely needs instruments.

The Beatles - Abbey Road

Another out take from the album cover photo shoot

Abbey Road is my favorite Beatles record because it represents everything I think a record should. Abbey Road was the last album to be recorded by the Beatles, and throughout the last four tracks (especially in “The End Continue reading

Spider Sounds: Billy Joel

Editor’s Note: Spider Sounds invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library’s collection. The links included will take you to the library catalog record for the item in question, or to additional relevant information.
Today’s installment of “Spider Sounds” comes courtesy of Music Library Student worker James (class of 2017) and features a greatest hits compilation from American singer-songwriter & pianist Billy Joel. Thanks, James!

Billy Joel

Greatest Hits Volume 1 and 2

Billy Joel - Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2

If your only experiences with Billy Joel are “Piano Man,” “Uptown Girl,”or maybe “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” — boy, are you missing out. We forgive you, but do yourself a favor and stop by the Parsons Music Library to check out Mr. Joel’s 1985 album, Greatest Hits – Volume I & Volume II.

Billy Joel performs his first show of his Madison Square Garden residency, on Monday, January 27, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

Billy Joel performs his first show of his Madison Square Garden residency, on Monday, January 27, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

We’re confident you will hear something incredibly thoughtful and provocative in nearly every track, whether it be in the melodies, timelessness, or even social commentary found in the lyrics. The worst thing that could happen would be gaining exposure to one of the most celebrated musicians of our time.

Spider Sounds

Spider Sounds: Moses Hogan

Editor’s Note: Spider Sounds invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about items in the Parsons Music Library’s collection. The links included will take you to the library catalog record for the item (or items) in question, or to additional relevant information.
Today’s installment of “Spider Sounds” comes courtesy of Music Library Student worker Zach (class of 2017) and features African American pianist, conductor, and arranger of international renown, Moses Hogan. Thanks for contributing to Spider Sounds, Zach!

Moses Hogan

Choral and Vocal Arrangements of Moses Hogan: Volume One

and

Negro Spirituals

Moses Hogan - Choral and Vocal Arrangements Vol. 1

Moses Hogan is renowned for his captivating arrangements of spirituals and hymns. Capturing the essence of African American spirit that has endured adversity throughout United States history, Hogan appeals to the Christian tales that are so ingrained within Black American culture. Parsons Music Library has two albums featuring Hogan’s work: Choral and Vocal Arrangements of Moses Hogan: Volume One (CD) and Negro Spirituals (online resource).

Moses Hogan - Negro Spirituals

While the style of spirituals are fairly monorhythmic and repetitive, the harmonic layering and upbeat nature within each piece is unique and vibrant. Spirituals also have a tendency to use similar tunes throughout their history while allowing a personal spin on how they should be sung.

Walk Together, Children”, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, and “Wade in the Water” are all fairly well-known spirituals that Hogan uses to put his own musical interpretation as to how to capture the sentiment and history behind it. Many well known scriptures are also revisited through these two albums that help to encapsulate the ethereal nature behind spirituals.

Moses Hogan

Moses George Hogan, born in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 13, 1957, was a pianist, conductor and arranger of international renown.

Even if a person does not have involvement within the Christian community, the artistic merit and joyful feeling behind these works is infectious and notable. Music is a universal language understood by all, regardless of background, interest, or creed. Moses Hogan’s work is simply another voice in the infinite meanings behind the untranslatable essence of music.

Spider Sounds

Editor’s note: you can also find performances of Hogan’s works as performed by various UR Music ensembles like Schola Cantorum and the Women’s Chorale in the Music Library’s collection — just ask at our front desk!