Sgt. Pepper’s Album Club

Lizzy was the biggest fan of the Beatles I knew who wasn’t my parents. At my first sleepover at Lizzy’s place when we were 12, I discovered her obsession. Her room was covered with Beatles memorabilia, and she even had Beatles collector’s cards. I hadn’t even bought my first CD yet and was still perfectly happy to listen to whatever my sister played, and here was a girl who knew there was only one band for her. It was a while after my friendship with Lizzy that I decided I was going to be a musician, but I wish I could go back and just sit and listen to a whole album with her. I wish I could do that with a lot of people.

It’s Valentine’s Day today, but more importantly for me it’s Album Club. I have always struggled to feel like I belong anywhere and have always been the kind of person who only had one or two good friends, so when I listen to ‘A Little Help From My Friends’, as corny as it may sound, I think of the people from Album Club — the people who I have connected with through music. There is nothing better than sitting back on a Tuesday afternoon and talking about what connects and divides us through music, and it’s part of the reason I chose Sgt. Pepper’s tonight.

When I think of all the albums I’ve listened to all the way through without stopping, I realise that most of the time I’ve done it for a friend or boyfriend in my life. Jeff Buckley’s Grace, Incubus’ Morning View, Coldplay’s Rush of Blood to the Head, Belle and Sebastian’s Fold Your Hands Child You Walk Like A Peasant, Ben Lee’s Awake Is The New Sleep, Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s Californication — they all fall in that category. It’s been good to listen to Sgt. Pepper’s knowing that there are others out there who’ve done the same.

Listening to Sgt. Pepper’s has got me trying to remember albums from my generation that were new and unique that I sat and absorbed, ready to be a fan. But there have been very few albums I’ve sat and listened to the whole way through without stopping. The first album I did this with would have been Moby’s Play. A boy I had a crush on in school lent me his copy after a long discussion about music in chemistry class (sorry Mr. Thompson). I so badly wanted to have a really cool opinion about the music that I stayed up past midnight listening to the album. It kind of feels like now as I finish side two of Sgt. Pepper’s (I wish it could be on a real record player, sadly it’s just my itunes!).

So here’s my opinion of Sgt. Pepper’s (really cool or otherwise) — so many layers of sound and timbres to hear, every song flows so easily from one track to the next, it really is a lesson in making a concept album. I feel like I’ve finally watched a movie all the way through that I’ve only caught glimpses of in the past. I love the effects on the vocals, as simplistic as they often are (e.g doubling the voice), and the familiar sound of the piano they use throughout the album (makes me think of family sing-a-longs), and I love the bass the whole way through. There are tracks where I tune out, and I wonder if that’s because of the order of the tracks, or the familiarity of certain songs, but there is nothing that I want to skip (not that I could do that with a record player). I love how sad the opening line of “A Day In the Life” is after the upbeat reprise of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and it makes me appreciate the rawness of Lennon’s voice.

OK, that’s it for the moment. I’d love to hear what you think, because I really can only continue writing if I have people’s thoughts to spark off! Catch up with you soon.


About Alison Armstrong

Alison Armstrong BMus./BEd. (Queensland University of Technology), Dip. ABRSM (Performance- Singing) I have trained to teach Music (Elementary, Middle and High School) and Drama (Middle and High School). This is my 7th year as a teacher.
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3 Responses to Sgt. Pepper’s Album Club

  1. I was just getting started working out at the school gym when one of the Indonesian staff members plugged his iPod into the speakers. First song Across the Universe. Second song- All You Need Is Love. Far too cruel to play to someone on Valentine’s Day who is in a long-distance relationship! (i.e. me) But I had to laugh… of all the music in the world…

  2. CarolineW says:

    I remember clearly the Moby incident – you even borrowed my CD player if I recall. I’m curious to listen to Sgt. Peppers after what you wrote, but lately I feel like there are really only a couple of Beatles songs I truly like, the majority of them I THOUGHT I liked purely because of parental influence – which makes me wonder “why bother?”. When you’re a little kid and your dad says “I like this song” – that immediately sticks with you that this song must be good. It kinda sucks when you don’t have as much in common with your parents as you thought and you wish you’d been introduced to different music earlier.

    • I am curious about what my parents were like before they had kids though, and the music kinda shows that. I remember sitting down with dad’s collection of Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young), the Rolling Stones and Chicago and trying to understand what made my dad like them. I seem to remember you doing something similar with Pink Floyd?
      Maybe I thought it was interesting what popular music dad was listening to because I never remember him playing anything other than symphonies, oratorios, operas, and Gilbert and Sullivan, and it’s hard to make that view of him link with him listening to the Rolling Stones.

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