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: 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”

New CDs added in November/December!

New CDs for November & December 2016

Avant Garde Music

Rhys Chatham – Pythagorean Dream for Guitar, Flutes & Trumpet

Rhys Chatham - Pythagorean Dream

Blues

Pinetop Perkins – After Hours
Pinetop Perkins – Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie
Pinetop Perkins – Portrait of a Delta Bluesman

Pinetop Perkins - Portrait of a Delta Bluesman

Choral Music

Tonu Korvits – Mirror

Tonu Korvits - Mirror

Classical

Michael Daugherty – Tales of Hemingway
Henri Dutilleux – The Centenary Edition
Eighth Blackbird – Hand Eye

Eighth Blackbird - Hand Eye

Ieuan Jones – Schubert by Ieuan Jones, Harp
Hugo Kauder – Rediscovering Hugo Cauder
Steve Reich – Double Sextet / Radio Rewrite
The Russian Guitar Quartet = A Tribute to the Mighty Handful

Russian Guitar Quartet - A Tribute to the Mighty Handful

Jazz

Melissa Aldana – Back Home
Ron Carter Quartet & Vitoria Maldonado – Brasil L.I.K.E.
Snarky Puppy – Culcha Vulcha

Melissa Aldana - Back Home

Pop/Rock/R&B

Rhys Chatham – Harmonie du soir
The Julie Ruin – Hit Reset

The Julie Ruin - Hit Reset

Madness – Madness 7
Madness – One Step Beyond …

Madness 7

Vocal Music

Lawrence Brownlee – Allgro io son: Bel Canto Arias
Dialogos / Kantaduri – Dalmatica: Chants of the Adriatic

Allegro io son

World Music

Ralph Samuelson – The Universal Flute

Ralph Samuelson - The Universal Flute

Spider Sounds: Bon Iver

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, Liza (class of 2017) and features indie folk band Bon Iver’s second album, “Bon Iver, Bon Iver”. Thanks for contributing to Spider Sounds, Liza!

Bon Iver

Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Bon Iver, Bon Iver

If you haven’t heard of Bon Iver before, you can already get a feeling of their music with a glimpse at this album’s cover artwork.
Bon Iver is an American indie folk band founded by the singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, who won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best New Artist and Best New Alternative Music Album for Bon Iver, Bon Iver.

A promotional photo of Bon Iver frontman Justin Veron taken around the time the album was released.

A promotional photo of Bon Iver frontman Justin Veron taken around the time the album was released.

Differentiating himself from the typical sounds of “folk,” Vernon combined chamber pop with an edge to create his own sounds from scratch. His soulful voice remains a unique characteristic that no other singer sounds like; he evokes an earthy virtuosic voice that you can easily get lost in when listening to his lyrics.

The album is composed of 10 songs, each representing a place. In particular, “Holocene,” is one of my favorite songs on the album because of its ability to trigger dozens of emotions within seconds. I would recommend listening to Bon Iver when you’re in a “chill” and relaxed mood or even when you’re studying, so come by the Parsons Music Library to check it out!

Spider Sounds

New CDs added in April!

New CDs for April 2016

Classical

Johannes Brahms – Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano
Karen Gottlieb – Music For Harp
Mitchell Lurie – Mitchell Lurie, Clarinet

Mitchell Lurie, Clarinet

Mozart/Beethoven – Quintets for Piano & Winds
Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach – Genius – Music of Johann Sebastian Bach & Antonio Vivaldi

Quintets for Piano & Winds

Pop/Rock/R&B

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn – Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise
Tamar Braxton – Calling All Lovers

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn

Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi
Aretha Franklin – Aretha Sings The Blues
Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free

Aretha Sings The Blues

Jazz

Karrin Allyson – Many A New Day
Louis Armstrong – Blow Satchmo Blow
The Bad Plus – The Bad Plus Joshua Redman
The Bad Plus – The Rite Of Spring

The Bad Plus - The Rite of Spring

Terence Blanchard – Breathless
Michael Dease – Decisions
Chris Dingman – The Subliminal and the Sublime
Gil Evans Project – Lines Of Color

Michael Dease - Decisions

John Fedchock – Like It Is
Marshall Gilkes – Ko¨ln
Scott Hamilton & Jeff Hamilton Trio – Live In Bern
Lionel Hampton – 50th Anniversary Concert – Live at Carnegie Hall

Lionel Hampton - Live at Carnegie Hall

Tommy Igoe and the Birdland Big Band – Eleven
Joe Magnarelli – Three On Two
Matt Ulery’s Loom – Music Box Ballerina
Matt Ulery’s Loom – Wake An Echo

Matt Ulery's Loom - Music Box Ballerina

Marcus Miller – Afrodeezia
Sun Ra and his Arkestra – In The Orbit Of Ra
Matt Ulery – By A Little Light
Matt Ulery – In The Ivory
Matt Ulery – Themes And Scenes

Sun Ra - In the Orbit of Ra

World Music

Andy Lau – Love: Special Edition
Amira Medunjanin – Silk & Stone

Amira Medunjanin - Silk & Stone

Electronic Music

Qluster – Tasten
Jane Rigler – Rarefactions: Compositions via Improvisations
Madeleine Shapiro – Sounds Nature: Works for Cello and Electronics

Jane Rigler - Rarefactions

Spider Sounds: U2 “The Joshua Tree”

Editor’s Note: “Spider Sounds” invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about CDs (or other 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” is by Alexandra, one of our student workers, and features the critically acclaimed album The Joshua Tree by U2. This was U2‘s fifth studio album. It was released in the spring of 1987. Thanks, Alexandra!

U2

The Joshua TreeU2 - The Joshua Tree

U2 is the purest example of clean, meaningful, and everlasting music. It is almost impossible to choose one soundtrack to shine amongst the rest but if you only have time to listen to one album, then The Joshua Tree is the one to pick. Lyrics from “Bullet the Blue Sky,” “Mothers of the Disappeared,” and “With Or Without You” represent the political and social turmoil occurring during the time of production and the sense of hope lost during these troubling times. Just as the biblical overtones of The Joshua Tree signify a guide to lead disciples to the Promised Land, the album reminds us of the healing power of music.

Spider Sounds: John Mayer “Continuum”

Editor’s Note:“Spider Sounds” invites members of the University of Richmond community to share their thoughts about CDs (or other 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 post is a bit unusual — two different student workers actually have chosen to write about the same 2006 album by John Mayer. So we are presenting both Aly and Mary’s individual takes on this album in the same post. Thanks to student workers Aly and Mary for contributing to “Spider Sounds”!

John Mayer

Continuum

John Mayer - Continuum

Aly’s thoughts on “Continuum”:

ContinuumJohn Mayer (2006)

Continuum, John Mayer’s third studio album, is a fresh take on guitar-driven pop music. Chances are, you’ve probably heard a few songs from this album before, such as “Gravity,” “Dreaming With a Broken Heart,” or the uplifting “Say (What You Need to Say).” These songs all come together on an outstanding album, which dominated the 49th Grammy Awards – there, Mayer performed “Gravity” live, then went on to sweep the titles for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for the recognizable “Waiting on the World to Change.”

As with all of Mayer’s albums, Continuum features tracks with incredibly vivid lyrics that stand far above many other pop songs that tend to feature an overused dialogue. Mayer’s messages are artful, inspirational, intelligent – they’re quick and concise, and stick with you. In
Continuum, many songs have positive, feel-good themes that any listener would love.

To add to the rich lyricism in Continuum, many tracks have rich guitar rhythms throughout, both acoustic and electric – and Mayer himself does most of it. His technique is undeniably masterful, and should not go unnoticed.

My personal favorite track on the album is “The Heart of Life” (the song’s refrain was actually my senior quote in my high school yearbook!). A sunny, poetic dialogue, effortless vocals, and a fresh guitar foundation – the track embodies everything that makes John Mayer a standout pop singer-songwriter.

John Mayer performs "Gravity"

John Mayer perfoming “Gravity” at the 49th Grammy Awards show. 11 February 2007

********************************************************************

Mary’s thoughts on “Continuum”:

If you’re looking for songs that are deep and meaningful, John Mayer’s third album called Continuum is the way to go. His songs in this album invite you to look at the world, your relationships, and your own life and ponder upon them. After listening to his songs, you would feel as if any brokenness or uncertainty are relieved temporarily. His calm voice placidly talks to you as if you’re sitting with your close friend at a café on a fair day, just talking about how life is going.

If you feel like you have a lot of burden in your life, come check out Continuum at the Parsons Music Library and let music share your burden for a bit.

John Mayer - Continuum

New CDs added in February!

New CDs for February 2016

Classical

Alexsandr Scriabin – Complete Preludes
Jean Sibelius – Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6
Jean Sibelius – Symphonies Nos. 6 and 7: “The Tempest” Suite No. 2

Sibelius -  Symphonies 6 & 7

Jazz

Joey Alexander – My Favorite Things

Joey Alexander - My Favorite Things

Pop/Rock/R&B

Florence + the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Florence + the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

New CDs added this month!

For August and September 2015

Classical

International Double Reed Society – 25th Anniversary
Marisa Robles – Harp Concertos
Mieczysław Weinberg – Mieczysław Weinberg
Alvin Singleton – Sweet Chariot
Kenneth Tse – Kenneth Tse, soprano saxophone
Georg Philipp Telemann – Twelve Fantasias
Edward T. Cone – Solo & Chamber Music
Sarn Oliver – Tangled Flow
Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra – Tangled Flow
Kevin R. Gallagher – Guitar Recital
Johan Dismas Zelenka – Chamber Sonatas, Volume One
Heinrich Koll – The Art of the Viola
Lillian Fuchs – Complete Music For Unaccompanied Viola
Quicksilver – Fantasticus: Extravagant & Virtuosic Music of the German Seventeeth Century
Jon Manasse – Trio, op. 11 / Beethoven. Grand duo : op. 48 / Weber. Trio, op. 114 / Brahms.
Trio Indiana – Trio Indiana
Hilary Hahn – The Hilary Hahn encores : in 27 pieces
Heinrich Koll – The Art of the Viola
Liturgical Organists Consortium – Divinum Mysterium
Hilary Field – Premieres – Contemporary Lyrical Works for the Classical Guitar
Manchester Festival String Orchestra – Vision: Music of the 20th & 21st Centuries
Franz Schubert – The Unauthorised Piano Duos, vol. 2: The Gahy Friendship
Boston Symphony Orchestra – Bolero; La valse / Ravel. Pictures at an exhibition / Mussorgsky.
Wiener Glasharmonika Duo – Glas & Steine
Music & Art in the Time of Rembrandt – Music & Art in the Time of Rembrandt

Vocal/Opera

Weser-Renaissance Bremen- Virgo Prudentissima
Giacomo Puccini – Puccini Rediscovered
Titta Ruffo – Titta Ruffo

Pop/Rock/Country

Sam Smith- In The Lonely Hour
Julie Andrews- Don’t Go in the Lion’s Cage Tonight
Merge Records – Oh, Merge: A Merge Records 10 Year Anniversary Compilation
The Texas Troubadours – Almost To Tulsa: The Instrumentals

Musicals

Jeanine Tesori – Fun Home
Richard Rodgers – The King and I (2015 Broadway Cast Recording)
John Kander – The Visit (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Skip Kennon – The Pioneers of Movie Music: Sounds of the American Silent Cinema

Jazz

Adrian Cunningham – Ain’t That Right! The Music of Neal Hefti
Arturo O’Farrill – Cuba The Conversation Continues
John Burnett Swing Orchestra – Swingin’ In The Windy City
Cécile McLorin Salvant – For One To Love

World/Folk Music

Harry Everett Smith – Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, Volume Four
Rumanian Folk Music – Rumanian Folk Music
Maleem Mahmoud Gania – Gnawa Essaouira
Louisiana Cajun Music – Louisiana Cajun Music
Martilar – Memories From Turkey

Electronic Music

Qluster – Lauschen

New CD’s added this month!

Classical

Clara Schumann – Complete Piano Works
Javier Camarena – Recitales
Temianka & Shure – Beethoven – 10 Sonatas for Violin and Piano

Jazz

Donald Byrd – Kofi
Duke Ellington – Festival Session
Duke Ellington – At Newport

Pop/Rock

The Beach Boys – Sounds of Summer
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Night moves
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Stranger in Town
Canned Heat – Uncanned – The Best of Canned Heat
Cherryholmes – Cherryholmes
Cherryholmes – Cherryholmes III, Don’t Believe
Cornell Dupree – Child’s Play
Don Henley – Building the Perfect Beast

Soundtracks

Stephen Flaherty – Rocky: Original Broadway Cast Recording
Tom Kitt – If/Then: Original Broadway Cast Recording