The first concept album in the history of popular music, the soundtrack of the Summer of Love or 'Hippy Symphony No. 1': Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is first and foremost the album that gave rise to 'hopes of progress in pop music' (The Times, 29 May 1967). Sgt. Pepper and the Beatles commemorates the fortieth anniversary of this masterpiece of British psychedelia by addressing issues that will help put the record in perspective. These issues include: reception by rock critics and musicians, the cover, lyrics, songwriting, formal unity, the influence of non-European music and art music, connections with psychedelia and, more generally, the sociocultural context of the 1960s, production, sound engineering and musicological significance. The contributors are world renowned for their work on the Beatles: they examine Sgt. Pepper from the angle of disciplines such as musicology, ethnomusicology, history, sociology, literature, social psychology and cultural theory.
Contents: Preface; 'Their production will be second to none': an introduction to Sgt. Pepper, Olivier Julien; 'Tangerine trees and marmalade skies': cultural agendas or optimistic escapism?, Sheila Whiteley; Sgt. Pepper and the diverging aesthetics of Lennon and McCartney, Terence O'Grady; Sgt. Pepper's quest for extended form, Thomas MacFarlane; The sound design of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Michael Hannan; The Beatles and Indian music, David Reck; The Beatles' psycheclassical synthesis: psychedelic classicism and classical psychedelia in Sgt. Pepper, Naphtali Wagner; Cover story: magic, myth and music, Ian Inglis; Within and without: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and psychedelic insight, Russell Reising and Jim LeBlanc; The whatchamucallit in the garden: Sgt. Pepper and fables of interference, John Kimsey; The act you've known for all these years: a re-encounter with Sgt. Pepper, Allan Moore; 'A lucky man who made the grade': Sgt. Pepper and the rise of a phonographic tradition in 20th century popular music, Olivier Julien; References; Index of names; Index of songs, albums, films and musical works.
Reviews: Winner of the 2009 ARSC (Association for Recorded Sound Collections) Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research: Best Research in Recorded Rock and Popular Music
‘Like the album that it analyzes, this collection of essays by an international array of Beatles scholars has more than just a few hooks to capture everyone's particular fancy. The authors present a wide-ranging and contextualized discussion that shows us why Sgt. Pepper is a monument in the history of rock music. Given the richness of the Beatles' work and the densely dynamic times in which they flourished, all pivoting around Sgt. Pepper, this book is more than welcome.’
Deena Weinstein, DePaul University, USA
‘The eleven chapters, written by distinguished international scholars, approach this groundbreaking album from eleven interrelated points of view: connections with psychedelia (psychedelic lyrics, sonic and conceptual realizations of the psychedelic experience), aesthetic unity and complexity (formal unity, aesthetic divergence of Lennon and McCartney, classical and psychedelic aesthetic ideals, influence of Indian music), production (sound design, position in the rise of a "phonographic tradition", album cover), critical reception and musicological significance. These diverse points of view cover the key issues, which made Sgt. Pepper not only the soundtrack of the "Summer of Love" but also the album of all times - an album which is remembered 40 years after its first release and will also be remembered in the future. This book is a "must" in the bookshelf of anybody interested in the Beatles or Sixties culture in general.’
Yrjö Heinonen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
‘… the continued writing of these leading academics is imperative to the growing body of work on the subject of popular music in general. The value of the format of essay collection is that not only does it bring us up to date with the work of these leading Beatles experts, but it presents it all in one place … an enjoyable and interesting collection of essays, focusing on a broad range of topics, often insightful and inspired, with an emphasis on the socio-cultural aspects of music. It will certainly appeal to a broad audience, academics and fans of the music alike. I look forward to more titles from Ashgate’s important series on popular and folk music.’
Alison Notkin, The International Association for the Study of Popular Music
‘An unprecedented survey…’
‘The technical tricks used by the Beatles on their new record … [the way they] break, according to certain observers, the image of authenticity of the rock singer … the influence of India, the psychedelic culture, the aesthetic divergence [of] John Lennon and Paul McCartney … and the important innovations in the album cover design … are other aspects addressed in this excellent book…’
Circuit, musiques contemporaines
‘… 12 essays from world-renowned Beatles scholars on the ubiquitous recording. Each of the essays provides an insightful discussion of a theme of the album … Recommended. All readers, all levels.’
‘Given the amount of coverage Sgt. Pepper has received in Beatles' histories, biographies, memoirs, interviews, and scholarly and popular periodicals, what more is there possibly to learn? Surprisingly, after reading the collection of essays edited by Olivier Julien … one realizes that much uncharted territory remains … Sgt. Pepper and the Beatles: It Was Forty Years Ago Today acts as an exquisite program guide that enhances experienced as well as novitiate's listening to this monumental album.’
North American British Music Studies Association
‘Each of the authors present their “take” on the album, and many of the essays included complement … each other, ultimately making this collection useful not only for its individual chapters, but as a whole.’
'The Beatles have been the subject of many extended analytical treatments, and this collection offers a few additions to that tradition … Scattered throughout its pages are occasional jewels of insight…'
‘In keeping with the nature of Popular Music Studies, the approaches range from the musicological to the sociological … one of the strengths of the book is that the majority of the chapters are historically located and usefully contextualised. In particular, the importance of "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "All You Need Is Love" … is nicely highlighted…’
‘The contributors to this volume form an impressive array of scholars whose work on the Beatles has been well regarded and influential … This book is well edited, coherently written throughout and should provide a welcome addition to both the teaching and analysis of late-1960s popular culture.’
'The Beatles and their repertory have grown in popularity as subjects with both general audiences and scholars … As familiar as many of us are with the music, the artwork, and the ideas behind Sgt. Pepper, readers will find new ideas in this volume.'
Music & Letters
'Noted Beatles and music scholars such as Ian Inglis, Russell Reising, and Sheila Whiteley, to name just a few, contribute provocative insight … that help us understand how the forty years that have passed since its debut offer new insights into the cultural uniqueness and merit of the album … We do gain interesting insight into the behind-the-scenes creation of [Sgt. Pepper] throughout the collection.'
Volume! La revue des musiques populaires
'Perhaps the finest compliment one can pay the book is that the best essays in Sgt. Pepper and the Beatles: It Was Forty Years Ago Today are liable to prompt the reader to hear and think about various parts of the album in new ways some forty-five years after its initial release.' Perfect Beat