Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Concept

Concept

When the Beatles had given up touring, Lennon said that they could "send out four waxworks ... and that would satisfy the crowds", and McCartney later explained, "We were fed up with being the Beatles. We really hated that fucking four little mop-top approach. We were not boys, we were men ... and thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers." In early February McCartney had the idea of recording an album that would represent a performance by a fictitious band. This alter-ego group would give the band the freedom to experiment musically. McCartney explained: "I thought, let's not be ourselves. Let's develop alter egos ... it won't be us making all that sound, it won't be the Beatles, it'll be this other band, so we'll be able to lose our identities in this." Martin wrote of the fictitious band concept: "'Sergeant Pepper' itself didn't appear until halfway through making the album. It was Paul's song, just an ordinary rock number ... but when we had finished it, Paul said, 'Why don't we make the album as though the Pepper band really existed, as though Sergeant Pepper was making the record? We'll dub in effects and things.' I loved the idea, and from that moment on it was as though Pepper had a life of its own".

The album starts with the title song, which introduces Sgt. Pepper's band itself; this song segues into a sung introduction for bandleader "Billy Shears" (Starr), who performs "With a Little Help from My Friends". A reprise version of the title song appears on side two of the album just prior to the climactic "A Day in the Life", creating a bookend effect. However, the band effectively abandoned the concept other than the first two songs and the reprise. Lennon was unequivocal in stating that the songs he wrote for the album had nothing to do with the Sgt. Pepper concept, and further noted that none of the other songs did either, saying "Every other song could have been on any other album". In spite of Lennon's statements to the contrary, the album has been widely heralded as an early and ground-breaking example of the concept album.

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