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"Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (song)

Categories: Beatles songs

Alternate shot from Beatles' Sgt Pepper front cover photo shoot
Our Band in full regalia
The audience settles as the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band orchestra concludes its tune-up, then — somewhat perversely — in kicks the rocky intro of the title track. They really do let rip, too: it's a corkin' little riff, "guaranteed to raise a smile!" Fine 'n' feisty vocal from Corporal McCartney, to boot. The up-front sound was achieved via 'Direct Input Recording'. In technical terms, this means bypassing the amplifiers (which, as everyone knows, normally only go up to 10) and plugging the instruments straight into the control desk (which goes well past 11). A little cocaine also helped to boost things, I suspect.

The spotlight swings to the band's brass section soon enough, with appropriate audience adulation for the interlude. Let's think: who was it played what? John French horn, Paul cor anglais, George the flute and Ringo the trumpet... Oh no, sorry — that was just on the sleeve, wasn't it? As alternate shots from the photo-session reveal, they were in fact all multi-instrumentalists. On the track, they are actually French horns (four of 'em, double-tracked), though played by session men, one and all.

For all their colourful costumes, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was still really The Beatles: "the act you've known for all these years". And, for all its fancy dress, "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was still a typically Beatley tune. It's essentially a bluesy rock 'n' roller, albeit with longer hair and a moustache: bass and drums and, above all, guitars: doing what they do best. Little surprise, then, that a certain James Hendrix — newly arrived from the US — rapidly absorbed into his set. Paul, who was in the audience with George ("We both flipped!"), holds that it was the same week as release; though other sources date the gig in December. Doesn't matter: as they say, "if you can remember the Sixties, you weren't really there..."

It's wonderful to be here,
It's certainly a thrill

does kind of sum up that whole mood of excited hippie idealism which was starting to spread: "everybody smiling and sitting on lawns drinking tea", as George put it.

However, I digress:

I don't really wanna stop the show,
But I thought you might like to know...
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