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

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: 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