Happy Sgt. Pepper's Day!

by tristero

Yep, 40 years ago today, Sgt Pepper was released and that's as good an excuse as any to do a Beatles roundup.

First of all, to you kiddies out there who want to know what all the brouhaha about The Beatles was all about, I strongly suggest you - hell, everyone should have it - grab the four Complete Ed Sullivan Shows with The Beatles . Now here's the thing: you have to watch one a night, all the way through, including Miitzi Gaynor sing what she calls "real music," and Frank Gorshin doing Kirk Douglas impressions. You will learn two things. First of all, that life in mainstream white America in 1964 was bereft of any positive cultural merit whatsoever. And secondly, this is the ideal society your average Republican politician has in mind for America, sans Beatles of course. It truly is hard to believe. You must see these shows in their entirety to understand how much this country has changed.

The greatest book I know on The Beatles' music - and there are some remarkably good ones - is Recording The Beatles which goes into awesomely meticulous detail about how the boys worked at Abbey Road. With scads of photos and tons of info on techniques like ADT, close mic-ing drums, and flanging, no home is complete without it!

For those of you who are intimidated by so much tech geek, try Geoff Emerick's memoir, Here, There and Everywhere which has wonderful stories (he was their main engineer from Revolver forward) and insights into their musicianship, but much less technical. A charming book.

And finally, if you've ever wanted to be your own mop-top, East West released today Fab Four, their long awaited "virtual instrument" collection which meticulously sampled the instruments and gear used by the rocking teen combo and created high-quality instruments you can play on your computer with a midi keyboard. How good it is is anyone's guess right now - they haven't even posted demos, but East West does very good sampling and it could be a lot of fun, especially if you have some halfway decent keyboard chops.

Sorry, I can't suggest a bio as I grew up with the story, so there hasn't been much need to read about it. I'd imagine any of the popular ones are ok. If you look, you can also find fairly good score transcriptions of the recordings, plenty of bootlegs, and so on. But really, it's the music, y'know, and you should own quite a bunch of Beatles albums in the original US or UK release. Which ones? They're all terrific, even Let It Be if you listen to it once every five years or so :-)