March 12, 2008 Jose

An Album Still Wrapped in Hype: Sgt. Peppers by the Beatles

Hype, as defined by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

  1. Deception, put-on
  2. Publicity; especially :  promotional publicity of an extravagant or contrived kind  

While there may not be a public relations blitz to keep Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles on the Latest Hot 100 Bullshit List, it still makes it to the top of influential music lists compiled by dorks everywhere, and I would love for somebody to tell me why. To the best of my reckoning, there are two good songs on the entire album. According to the calculations performed by the auditing offices here at Jose Nation, that would place the album at the bottom of the Beatles pile—but at the top of the Ringo Starr catalogue.

Did you know Ringo has like a dozen LPs out? If Ringo’s recording engineer died in the woods, would anyone care?

I’ve always been amazed at the number of people who fawn over this record. It’s eerily redolent of Apple fan boys arguing all the positive attributes of the Newton, or that peculiar, sad clan of morons clinging desperately to their old-fashioned, manual typewriters. I mean, how fucking WEIRD is that? What kind of pathetic fool can’t even recognize the benefits of electricity? And it’s not like these self-congratulatory Luddite bastards can point to a single benefit that grasping desperately to the dry straws of the past have given them. The computer is clearly better in every conceivable way: It’s quiet; it saves on paper and other resources; it uses fewer chemicals; it stores pages and pages of documents in incredibly small amounts of space that keep getting smaller with every passing year and shows no sign of slowing the “getting smaller” process. It DOES MORE. It does EVERYTHING and your manual typewriter doesn’t even do the thing it was invented to do well.

And your typical Peppers fan is the same kind of asshole. The Beatles had many other records that do what the Beatles do so much better than this album does it, but these die-hard fans can’t let go. And I’ll go a step further: they know it. They’re faking it. They sigh and smile and wipe the tears from their eyes and move the needle back to listen to When I’m Sixty-Four again and again, pelting you with a nauseating array of useless observations about sitars and Linda McCartney and why Ringo’s better than Bonzo (he’s not, he’s not even close, and if you argue with me I swear I’ll pull out Third Eye Blind and make you listen duct-taped and terrified, the whites of your eyes drying and sticky as you succumb to hysterical deafness).

But watch their faces when “A Day In The Life” finally begins to play at the end of the record. The smile falters, wavering like the wings of a moth. Their eyes faintly recognize the dim lie they have perpetrated even onto themselves as they hear the true potential of the band come pouring through this last song, as if it’s waited for this moment. It’s held on until the end, observing you, wanting to startle you, to shock you, to focus your awareness on how easily you are led astray by petty loyalties and peer currents. “This,” the last song says, “this is what we are. This is the Beatles. Don’t you feel like an idiot now?”

Watch their eyes. They feel it.

I have provided to my genial readers a track listing for Sgt. Peppers below, with my Own Personal Thoughts on each song:

Side One

  1. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – Sucks.
  2. “With a Little Help from My Friends” – Blows. Just goofy.
  3. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – Pretty good.
  4. “Getting Better” – Barely not crap. It could, however, get worse, like if John Lennon had never written the line, “It can’t get no worse.”
  5. “Fixing a Hole” – Eh.
  6. “She’s Leaving Home” – Please.
  7. “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” – Pure nonsense.

Side Two

  1. “Within You Without You” – Oh come on.  What is it even doing on this record?
  2. “When I’m Sixty-Four” – Schmaltz.  Kinda catchy, but pure crap.
  3. “Lovely Rita” – What?  I don’t get it. As if Paul McCartney couldn’t nail any meter maid he chose. Name me ONE meter maid that wouldn’t fuck Paul McCartney.
  4. “Good Morning Good Morning” – At least it’s short.
  5. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)” – What, again?  Ugh.  Kill me.
  6. “A Day in the Life” – Fucking awesome. Truly.

And now, here are a few Beatles albums that are at least 50 times better than the above mentioned waste of wax, in no particular order, except that the White Album is obviously the best, and anyone who disagrees has poop on their shoe:

  1. The White Album
  2. Abby Road
  3. Magical Mystery Tour
  4. Let It Be
  5. Revolver
  6. Rubber Soul
  7. Help
  8. The Early Beatles

And who knows.  The rest are probably all better too, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the way early stuff.  The true nail in the coffin, for me, is the awful movie they made back in 1978, the premise of which is still a matter of hot debate in the circles of people that debate useless things.  The Beatles, having been long apart, never appeared in the movie, but history’s most bizarre cast of characters did: The Bee Gees, Steve Martin, Peter Frampton, George Burns, Arrowsmith, Leif Garrett, Wolfman Jack, and many other mismatched celebrities.  I was universally panned.  I don’t need to tell you about it, just watch this awful clip.

Don't wuss out, say something.