Label: Independent/Unsigned Release Year: 2017 Country: USA Genre: Progressive/Atmospheric/Melodic/Blackened/Death Metal
Matthew Cerami – Vocals/Guitars/Bass Jordan Navarro – Guitars/Drum Programming/Keyboards/Additional Sounds Jordan Navarro And Nick Shann – Drum Programming/Arrangements
Nick Shann – Guitar Solo & Stringed Arrangememnts on ‘The Long Road Home’ Violin on ‘My Father, My God Benjamin Ian Meyerson (Fin Amor) & Justin Barone (Consonance) – Additional Lyrics & Vocal Arrangements Samantha Marie Rae (Nectar) – Guest Vocals Charles Buonsera – Bass Solo on ‘Evisecrate Divine’ Ben Xenoyr (Ne Obliviscaris) – Logo & Album Artwork Nick Shann – Recorded/Mixed & Mastered
I do not know if it is the ‘Prog Metal Purist’ in me or if it is a more open mind but I find the older I get the heavier and more brutal I can accept some forms of metal. Progressive Melodic Death Metal is one of those fractured sub genres. If you would of told me 20 years ago I would fully embrace death growls or black metal screams in the confines of progressive metal I would called you a total fool and joke. Of course I have been into death metal like DEATH, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Cynic even UK’s own Ackercocke. However when it came to progressive metal I did not bat an eye until I discovered Opeth’s Still Life album and witnessed just how beautifully they took the extreme metal/death metal element and made another force in metal’s longevity in rock n roll.
From that point on my objectivity began to grow and my cynicism began to diminish concerning Extreme/Progressive/Atmospheric/Symphonic/Death & Black Metal. I discovered bands like Agalloch, Lamentation Of The Ashen, Summoning on the Black Metal side. On the more Death Metal side I continued to collect Opeth, Between The Buried And Me, Grey Skies Fallen, etc … Soon I would discover what has been branded as ‘Beauty & Beast’ metal where the female soprano is front and center along with the masculine and brutal extreme vocals by the usually the male counterpart with bands such as After Forever, Epica, Tristania, Revamp, etc .. It seems like the older I get the more I am embracing more ‘Extreme’ Metal’.
The above mentioned bands are basically first generation bands. After 30+ years of Extreme Metalit appears there is no sign it is going to wane nor vanish anytime soon. Bands like Iapetus out of New York almost guarantee the certainty that Extreme/Progressive/Atmospheric/Symphonic/Death & Black Metal will continue to grow a evolve with great strength as the years continue. Iapetus’ The Long Road Home has everyone of those elements present within the general construct of the entire album. Iapetus are definitely on the front line as front-runners of the next generation of this style and genre of progressive metal music.
On the surface at first full listen it appears the band have created a concept album. In many ways on the instrumental side they have. On the lyrical side it runs more of a common conceptual theme of science fiction more so than a full conceptual story having a beginning and a end. Throughout the rest of this review I will point out the Extreme highlights, Progressive highlights, Atmospheric highlights, Symphonic, highlightsand Death & Black metal highlights with a track to track analysis.
Nomads begins with a very heavily synthesized effects and a almost spoken word effect laden inside the those synth effects. The spoken word effects either sound like a newscast or something from ground control in Houston Texas. It simulates the beginning of a migration towards the cosmos. Like every track on the duration of the album, Nomads bleeds and transitions seamlessly into … Of Hangmen & Vertebrae.
… Of Hangmen & Vertebrae picks right up as Nomads is coming to a close. The transition is beautifully and tastefully done. Nick Shann certainly knows what to do with the compositions of the band as far as recording and mixing. This begins with a thick and heavy atmospheric progression before going into a semi low-fi black metal style guitar riff. That riff is soon met by a more progressive thrash riff with a lead solo in harmony with the low-fi rhythmic chord progression. This track blisters in and out of various chord progression and various time signatures including heavy atmospheric section towards the end of the track. The atmospheric sections do a great job melodiously articulating a space or a cosmos atmosphere. This track transitions very fluidly into the next track Lachrymae Rerum with another spoken word section that serves as a introduction to Lachrymae Rerum.
Lachrymae Rerum this one explodes into nothing short of a serious death metal assault on the senses that is further compounded by some very aggressive death growls with a blackened crust just on the surface. The instrumental portion remains heavily progressive based and does not deviate much from its progressive aesthetic. Instead of placing the entire track in the center of the head the band have a very uncanny ability to hit both the right and left channels in the listening experience where the entire composition envelops the senses. This is a song on the album that perfectly introduces the ‘Metal Purist’ to a more progressive leaning style. Among the vicious blackened death growls there are some spoken word elements to articulate some of the story. About the 4:10 mark the track takes a break from the assault and lures the listener further in with a very beautiful atmospheric passage eloquently done by the acoustic guitar. Think Opeth The Moor from Still Life or even Serenity Painted Deaththat is what I am reminded of with this song. Once again towards the end the song carries the album towards a interstellar space atmospheric passage where it bleeds and transitions seamlessly into the following track I Sing Of Satellites.
I Sing Of Satellites transitions perfectly off of Lachrymae Rerum with a gentle acoustic guitar passage created a heavy atmospheric passage. This serves like a intro into Savior Solitude where the track transitions seamlessly into the beautiful beginning of Savior Solitude.
Savior Solitude starts off beautifully with a warm, yet open double acoustic guitar passage that allows the listener to be brought into the track further. Then the senses are once again assaulted with the low-fi black metal style of vocal along with a blackened death metal vocal. All the progressive death metal frenzy is met by a very warm and inviting female vocal done very well by Samantha Marie Rae of Nectar. Samantha Marie Rae is a real wild card and dark horse on the album that adds depth to a already deep contented album. This is a very progressive track going in and out from various time signatures and chord progressions that are very obvious. The chord progressions are in the tradition of Periphery, Between The Buried And Me, Textures even Alkoloid. Once again the song transitions seamlessly into the following song My Father, My God.
My Father, My God transitions seamlessly with perfect continuity from Savior Solitude. This is once again accomplished by beautiful acoustic guitar passages that seem to be part of the root backbone to the album. It is not long before the track takes on a more metal direction. This is also the first of two 15+ minute epics on the album. The heavy guitar passages go on for a bit in progressive fashion to set up other parts of the composition. After a thunderous opening the song drops into a very easy acoustic passage adding layers upon the atmospheric side of the album. The acoustical atmospheres are very appropriate for the progressive element to the track. They allow the listener in to experience a auditory journey even with the more extreme elements that are within the composition. The metal half of this track moves the band in a much more European flavored of metal represented in the composition.
The band uses a very unorthodox method to take the low-fi black metal style riff and layer it as if it were a symphonic piece in the composition. At the same time it is a very atmospheric riff as well. The vocals are very blackened melodic death metal in nature. There are spoken word elements to give the senses a reprieve from the guttural assault. The spoken word elements come from both the feminine and masculine perspective. That is something rare in this style and genre of music. Elements like that will invite a female fan base eventually that will help in the growth of the band. My Father, My God transitions quietly into the following track Crown of Stars.
Crown Of Stars begins with a beautifully done acoustic guitar to keep the listener consumed within the album in its entirety. Here the band confirms that its more progressive elements have roots in the 1970’s more so than any other decade. After the lush acoustic guitar opener the band goes into a more symphonic route with various vocal chants running in harmony with solid guitar riffs before the track drops again to a more atmospheric side. By now the band has pulled many elements out for the listener to feast on. By now they are putting them all together with beauty and ease.This serves as a intro to the next track that seamlessly transitions into the following track Eviscerate Divine.
Eviscerate Divine transitions beautifully from Crown of Stars. The band opens it up with their elegant acoustical chord progression before the all out death metal assault hits you with a wall of sound. This track continue to see the band explore all the extreme/death/black/symphonic/atmospheric and progressive boundaries into uncharted waters. The band are certainly very experimental and never afraid to take chances. This track is another validation of all that. They are also not afraid to show the more mature progressive side with very atmospheric acoustic and semi acoustical guitar passages. The layers upon layers they utilize within all the guitar work shows that they not only record but understand the craft it itself. There guitar work spans from 1970’s progressive rock, to late 1970’s to early 1980’s NWOBHM galloping guitars to the low-fi black metal aesthetic we have heard for the last 30 years in the tradition of Hellhammer or a Mayhem. This transitions very atmospherically into the final song The Long Road Home.
The Long Road Home begins with the trademark beautiful lush acoustic guitar passage. These passages are very welcomed when you get them. Oddly the acoustical passages really allow for the progressive elements to shine throughout the album including the last song on it here. This is another epic at 15+ minutes in length. From the beautiful lush acoustical passage comes a very NWOBHM oriented guitar passage with galloping riffs that move the song forward. This song goes in and out from the heavy to the not so heavy passages. In like minded progressive form the instrumental portions are a lot longer. The journey is a beautiful thing with the objective listener. The guitar work is still rooted within a 1970’s element, yet with very modern elements as well. Matthew Cerami, Jordan Navarro and Nick Shann must of had some killer brainstorms as far as the actual recording and mixing. They definitely have a winning infrastructure in play as far as Iapetus as a project is concerned. The Long Road Home really brings all the elements together the band used throughout the album.
I honestly came into this album expecting nothing and getting a lot more than I could ever expect in my own imagination. Iapetus The Long Road Home is definitely on the front-line in the next evolutionary step into the Extreme/Atmospheric/Death/Blackened/Progressive Metal. When we look back on 2017 this will be one of the albums I can say opened more doors into the possibilities of what progressive metal can do and be. I am definitely a believer in the project. I would like to see them create a full band out of this and tour this if possible. The world deserves to hear and Iapetus deserves to be heard. I give Iapetus The Long Road Home a solid 5/5.
Dream Theater | Images And Words 25th Anniversary Retrospective
Label: ACTO Records Release Year: 1992 Country: USA/Canada Genre: Progressive Metal
Band Members – Iamges And Words Lineup
James Labrie – Vocals John Myung – Bass John Petrucci – Guitars Mike Portnoy – Drums Kevin Moore – Keyboards
Pull Me Under – Kevin Moore 8:14 Another Day – John Petrucci 4:23 Take the Time – Dream Theater 8:21 Surrounded – Kevin Moore 5:30 Metropolis—Part I: ‘The Miracle and the Sleeper – John Petrucci 9:32 Under a Glass Moon – John Petrucci 7:03 Wait for Sleep – Kevin Moore 2:31 Learning to Live – John Myung 11:30
The year 2017 sees Dream Theater celebrate the 25 th Anniversary of their ICONIC sophomore album, and the album that is credited for saving the entire progressive rock and metal genres from extinction Images And Words. The band are even doing an entire world tour to celebrate this monumental milestone in recorded music history. To many they looked upon this release as nothing short of a ‘Miracle’.
What Was Happening In 1992 ?
The conditions for a successful metal band were very grim in 1992 to say the least. In America the nation music station MTV had all but abandoned the heavy metal genre in a nutshell. They would trade heavy metal in for bands out of Seattle Washington like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Tad, Green River and bands like Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins on the Grunge Rock side. They would also cater to more of the Hip Hop R&B with bands like Cypress Hill, Boys 2 Men, etc …
Exceptions to this were bands like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, White Zombie, Corrosion of Conformity, Pantera, a new upstart band TOOL and Dream Theater. You had Dallas’ Z-Rock nationally syndicate a full 24/7 metal format both on AM & FM stations throughout the United States and Canada and KNAC from Los Angeles attempt to nationally syndicate a full heavy metal format nationally as well. Another thing you would of thought was working against a band like Dream Theater was the fact that in North America progressive rock music had seem almost entirely dead since the late 1970’s.
As a matter of fact Prog Rock became the PORN of rock in a way that most prog purists in North America were at one point ashamed of purchasing progressive rock albums in the shops at the time. Both progressive rock and metal bands had been relegating basically from stadiums and arenas to small theaters and night clubs. However in what seemed like the ‘Perfect Storm’ working against the band, Dream Theater not only thrived in this atmosphere but flourished.
Images And Words – The History
After a lack luster reception 3 years earlier with their When Day And Dream Unite, Dream Theater knew there would have to be a change. Little did they know it was going to be a change at the Lead Vocalist position.
After Charlie Dominici’s departure from Dream Theater, the band auditioned nearly 200 people across the nation including former Fates Warning vocalist John Arch, before James LaBrie, then of the Canadian glam metal band Winter Rose, sent the band an audition tape. After a short jam session, he was named Dream Theater’s new lead singer, and remained so ever since.
With James LaBrie on board, the band was signed to a seven-album contract by ATCO Records, which by the way also signed Pantera, and shortly after began recording their new album in late 1991. The lead single, “Pull Me Under”, gained the band considerable commercial success with its airplay on MTV and radio, garnering them a top 10 hit on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. When the album was released, it sold at a steady pace, helped by an extensive world tour.
Dream Theater originally intended to release a double album, but this was rejected by ATCO, causing several songs to be omitted from the album. One of these songs, “A Change of Seasons”, would later be re-recorded by the band and released on an EP of the same name in 1995.
The song “Take the Time” includes samples from Kurtis Blow’s “Christmas Rappin'” (“Hold it now”), Frank Zappa’s “Dancin’ Fool” (“Wait a minute”), and Public Enemy’s “Power to the People”, (“Come on”). James LaBrie had appeared as a guest vocalist on Fates Warning’s 1991 album Parallels, for which the band was credited as “Dream Theatre” in the “special thanks” of the album’s credits. Dream Theater responded by thanking “Fatez Warning”in the credits of Images and Words.
Images and Words was played in its entirety on several occasions during the European leg of the 2007 “Chaos in Motion”tour, in celebration of its 15th anniversary. On July 7, 2012, at a concert in Austin, Texas, the songs “Pull Me Under”, “Another Day”, and “Metropolis” were performed as an encore to celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary. Additionally, “Surrounded” was performed during the main set.
In 1993 Dream Theater Live At The Marquee would include 3 songs from Images And Words those include Metropolis Pt 1 – ‘The Miracle And The Sleeper’ , Another Day and Pull Me Under.
In 1998 Dream Theater’s Once In A Livetime live album would feature ‘Take The Time’, Pull Me Under’, Metropolis Pt 1 – ‘The Miracle And The Sleeper’and ‘Learning To Live’ from Images And Words.
In 1999 , due to the insane popularity of ‘Metropolis Pt 1 – The Miracle And The Sleeper’,Dream Theater would release a entire and ambitious concept album inspired by Metropolis Pt 1 – The Miracle And The Sleeper affectionately titled ‘Metropolis Pt 2 – Scenes From A Memory’.
In 2000, Dream Theater would go on to play the entire Metropolis Pt 2 – Scenes From A Memory in New York’s Starland Ballroom. This would be filmed for the band’s first ever DVD concert titled Metropolis Pt 2 – Scenes From New York. A special reworked edition to Metropolis Pt 1 – The Miracle And The Sleeper would be featured and called Metropolis 2000 – The Miracle And The Sleeperalong with Learning To Live.
In 2008 , as a tongue and cheek humorous gesture towards the moderately successful ‘Pull Me Under’, Dream Theater would release Greatest Hit (…And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) . Then-drummer Mike Portnoy explained in the album’s booklet that the selection of songs were carefully made in order to appease both the newcomer and the already existing fan by offering up different versions of songs on other albums to “make the newcomer want to buy the albums from whence they came”and to “give different versions of songs already on other albums”to the current fan. He also suggests that a third disc should’ve been included called “The Epic Side”.
In 2013, the album was reissued on vinyl as a limited edition 180 gr. double LP.
In 2017, Dream Theater celebrated the 25th anniversary of Images And Words on the “Images, Words & Beyond”tour in Europe, starting on January 30 at the Auditorium Parco Della Musica in Rome, Italy.
The Album Cover
In a March 2015 interview with Teamrock’s Prog branch, artist Larry Freemantle sat down and answered a few question concerning the iconic cover to Images And Words. The following information is courtesy of Prog @ Teamrock.
Prog@Teamrock : How did you get involved in the project?
“At the time they were with Elektra, and at that time they didn’t really have an art department. I was with Atlantic and was assigned it like any other project. They had some company they were somehow connected with called Access Images. It was a pre-computer graphics time, and everyone was just getting into computer work. Access Images was one of those companies that did that sort of stuff, before Photoshop became huge. And they had a few people that worked there, so I sort of oversaw that project.”
Prog@Teamrock : How did you come up with the idea?
Larry Freemantle “The concept of what was on that cover came from the band. I tried to make it look compositionally like an old painting from a design point of view. I remember I met with the band and we sat down and went through everything. They were very hands on in the early days. John Myung was probably the key person I met along with John Petrucci. Kevin Moore and Mike Portnoy were also very much involved too. They were very specific about what should be where on the sleeve. It was just a matter of trying to piece it together. So they wanted a little girl, they wanted the bird flying and that style of room. It was a collage of engravings and illustrations which I thought was pretty cool. The engravings and the room were from old engravings book that we spliced together, and the sky was worked into it too. As for the font, I had that created and hired a calligrapher, John Stevens, as I wanted it to be personalised and to look like a type font.”
Prog@Teamrock: Stylistically, it’s reminiscent of some of the 70s album sleeves. Is that something that you were conscious of? Larry Freemantle “Those guys and myself were huge Hipgnosis fans and that it’s pretty obvious. And in fact, later on they actually used Storm Thorgerson to do some the art for their Falling Into Infinity album. I’m a big fan of how that stuff was done pre-computer. The sleeve is a little dated now, simply because you can see how well things are done today. So I look back and think that I could have done it in so many different ways. Those Hipgnosis phenomenal sleeves are beautiful and haven’t dated, and I suppose Images And Words holds up to some degree. I like the fact that it is a collage rather than, say, it being all photographic.”
Prog@Teamrock Who was the girl who features on the cover? Larry Freemantle “The girl was somebody that the photographer, Dan Muro, chose and I think he just cast someone for that. It wasn’t anybody specific for the band. I remember that the flaming heart logo was physically created, and they made a model of it and then photographed it.”
Prog@Teamrock How were the band to work with? Larry Freemantle “The guys were down to earth and from Long Island, where I’m from, and we were the same age. They were easy going and it’s always easier to work with a new band than someone who has been around for a long time. In the beginning they were so happy just to be doing some of the stuff we were doing, and it wasn’t a big budget job. They were a very serious and professional band right from the start. A lot of bands are like the deer in the headlights when it comes to ideas so their attitude was quite unusual. They were always great when they came to the table as they always had ideas.”
A Breakdown Of Reason – A Track By Track Analysis Of Dream Thetaer’s Images & Words
Pull Me Under
Pull Me Under was the first song and first single off Images And Words. Pull Me Under is by far the band’s most well-known song. Originally titled “Oliver’s Twist” in instrumental form, the song was added to the album late, replacing Don’t Look Past Me. The song catching on in the mainstream surprised the band, as they had written Another Day in hopes of it being a hit single, due to its softer, more melodic nature. According to Mike Portnoy, Pull Me Under’s success is proof that “the fans like balls and chunk”.
Pull Me Under peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 200, skyrocketing the popularity of the album. A video was shot from it using stock footage of the band performing along with conceptual footage. The conceptual footage has nothing to do with the song and was created without any input from the band. The character in the video is referred to as both a vampire and a werewolf by members of the band, who admit they don’t understand what the video is about or what its relation to Pull Me Under is.
The song’s success led to Images and Words going Gold in 1995, and it has become the band’s anthem, though they admit they are sick of playing it. The compilation album Greatest Hit (…and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)’s name refers to Pull Me Under as the band’s only major mainstream hit. The song was included as an unlockable song in the game Guitar Hero: World Tour as the song the player plays during the credits, and then as a part of an unlocked set taking place in “Valhalla”. It does not include the abrupt ending with the “would melt” lyric in this game.
This would be the second song from Images And Words and the second song released as a single for radio play consideration. John Petrucci wrote Another Day about his father, John Petrucci Sr. who was diagnosed with cancer. John Petrucci Sr. would be the subject of another Dream Theater song, Take Away My Pain from Falling Into Infinity following his death. The video for Another Day follows the song’s lyrics, with a father and son spending time together. MRI scans are visible in the background, tying in to the cancer theme.
Another Day is a melodious ballad with pop sensibilities. The song was written to be accessible, and was presented with radio, single and video releases. Another Day does build up to a crescendo, though it never becomes heavy, instead going into a soprano sax solo by Jay Beckenstein from Spyro Gyra. Jay Beckenstein also owned the studio that Images And Words was recorded in. Though Another Day was written to be accessible and a possible hit, it was surpassed surprisingly by Pull Me Under which became the band’s biggest hit.
Despite a single and video, the song never caught on in the mainstream, the video not being used by MTV and the EP release being considered the rarest commercial release by Dream Theater, often fetching large prices on eBay. The video features the young girl who was the model for the cover of Images and Words.
Take The Time
Take the Time is a song by Dream Theater. It is the third song from their second album, Images and Words. Take the Time is the third radio single release from the album and its second video release.
Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy said of this song:
“We decided to write a song about everything we’d been going through for the past 3 years – looking for a new singer, a new label and new management – just all the changes we made and all the frustrations we went through, but have it coming from each of our 4 different perspectives. So, we broke it up, and said, ‘Okay, you take the first verse, you take the second verse,’ went away, wrote lyrics about our feelings about all the stuff we were going through, and then put it together. Then we wrote the chorus together. That was the first time we had ever done that, and it’s the only song on the album where the lyrics were actually written by everybody.”
A video was shot for Take the Time and a radio-edit was released, though neither were used. The video is for the most part a performance video with some mild conceptual elements.
The sampled voice saying “Ora che ho perso la vista, ci vedo di piu”used during the song is from the film “Cinema Paradisio”.The voice saying “Wait a minute...” is sampled from the ending of Frank Zappa’s “Dancin’ Fool”,“Hold up!”is sampled from “Christmas Rapping” by Kurtis Blow, and “Come On!” comes from “Power to the People” by Public Enemy.
Take the Time was originally known as “Grab That Feel”.
Surrounded is one of Dream Theater’s more abstract songs. The exact meaning of the lyrics has eluded fans since its release. The song at one time was dedicated to Arthur Ashe, a tennis player who died of AIDS. The general tone of the lyrics is spiritual, though no literal meaning can be ascertained.
Compared to many of the songs on Images and Words, performances of Surroundedhave been rare. Dream Theater performed the the song very scarcely, though it has recently seen a rise in popularity. The reason the band hasn’t played it often may be because it is a “Kevin Moore song”though they routinely play other songs he has penned such as Pull me Under. Live performances of the song may vary wildly from the album version, often with extended lengths and atmospheric solos.
On occasion, alternate live versions have heavily quoted the song “Sugar Mice” by Marillion, to the point of James LaBrie even singing some of the lyrics from that song, as well as quoting the guitar solo from the song “Mother” by Pink Floyd. Jordan Rudess is also known to play keytar during live performances of Surrounded. During the Chaos In Motion 2007-2008 tour,
Dream Theater performed an extended version running at 15 minutes.
Of course like most music in relation to people’s individual personalities and moods, the exact meaning of the song could fracture into many different impressions upon the general audience.
Metropolis, Pt. 1 – The Miracle and the Sleeper
Metropolis, also known as Metropolis, Pt 1 – “The Miracle and the Sleeper” or simply Metropolis Pt 1 is a song by Dream Theater. It is the fifth song from their second album, Images and Words. Metropolis is one of the band’s most beloved and popular songs, despite never being a single. The concepts from Metropolis eventually led to the release of Metropolis Pt 2 – Scenes from a Memory in 1999.
The lyrics to Metropolis have been the source of much debate and analysis with Dream Theater fans, with the band themselves being evasive regarding its exact meaning. A popular theory is that it is about the founding of Rome (Metropolis) by two brothers (Romulus and Remus); however, it is an unofficial explanation. The release of Scenes from a Memory,surprisingly enough, complicated matters, with the album continuing some themes (both lyrical and musical) from the song, but having a much more literal story that did not seem to definitively explain the original.
Metropolis is a very progressive and varied song and is one of the heavier songs on Images and Words. The song is most known for its extended instrumental section, which was some of the most difficult and complex music the band had written and performed at that time. As with many progressive songs, the song has multiple sections and changes.
The “Pt 1” in the title was originally added by John Petrucci as a joke, as no sequel was ever intended. However as fans demands began to increase, and the popularity of the song eventually led to a second song being written. That second song was originally conceived as a 20 minute epic originally intended to be on Falling Into Infinity; however, it was cut from the album at an early state, before the song was completed. Lyrics for Metropolis Pt 2 were never written and the only recording of the whole song is a rough rehearsal. However, various sections of the song were worked into Scenes from a Memory, most notably the entirety of Overture 1928, and most of One Last Time.
Metropolis was also known as “Crumbling Metropolis” early on.
The song was originally written when Charlie Dominici was in the band, and was played live at every show in 1989, although this version had a different intro and a slightly shorter outro.
Under A Glass Moon
Under a Glass Moon is a song by Dream Theater. It is the sixth song on their second album, Images and Words. Despite never being released as a single, Under a Glass Moon is one of the band’s more popular songs especially in live sets. It was written by John Petrucci.
This song was the most obvious Easter Egg on the album cover itself.
Under a Glass Moon is one of the heavier songs on Images and Words, known for its signature opening and crunching riff. The song is mid-tempo, and contains one of John Petrucci’s more famous guitar solos.
In a testament to the strange titles Dream Theater songs can have before lyrics are written for them, Under a Glass Moon was originally known as “The Battle of Jimmy Cocoa and Fish-Face”.
Wait For Sleep
Wait for Sleep is a song by Dream Theater. It is the seventh song off their second album, Images and Words. The song is notable for being one of only two songs penned completely by Kevin Moore, the other being Space-Dye Vest from Awake 1994.
The song is said to be about a friend of Kevin Moore’s who he claimed had “a spiritual void” who struggled with her beliefs regarding the death of a friend
Along with Space-Dye Vest, Wait for Sleep is one of only two songs penned completely by Kevin Moore. The song features no drums, guitar or bass, though live performances occasionally use a full-band arrangement.
The song, much like Only a Matter of Time before it, lent a lyric to the title, the line “Where images and words are running deep” is the source of the album’s title.
Performances of Wait for Sleep are somewhat rare, especially since Kevin Moore’s departure from Dream Theater. The band rarely plays the song as it is on the album, usually instead opting for a full band arrangement that fans usually refer to as the acoustic version, due to John Petrucci’s use of acoustic guitar. Some versions, particularly early ones have been known to have been extended in length, usually due to an elaborate intro from Kevin Moore.
Learning To Live
Learning to Live is a song by Dream Theater. It is the 8th and final song off the band’s second album, Images and Words. It is also the longest song on Images And Words.
Through Learning to Live is heavily metaphorical, some sense can be made of it. The song is said to be about the AIDS crisis, which in 1992 was quite prevalent. The opening line “He had no time for pain, no energy for anger” is said to be borrowed from the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, said to be an influence on John Myung.
Learning to Live is the longest and most progressive song on Images and Words and is the band’s first officially released song to go beyond ten minutes long. The song reprises the piano theme from Wait for Sleep, making the songs somewhat of a pair.
Live performances of Learning to Live are quite common, and even when the band does not play the entire song, it is a common element in medleys
It should be noted that Change Of Season’s was suppose to be on Images And Words. When the band released its Images And Words Demos 1989-1991on the installment of Official Bootlegs in 2005, the original instrumental demo was included. The band would release Change of Seasons in 1995 as a EP with various other live performances. Images And Words also is a real rarity in that it was one of the few progressive rock or metal albums to avoid the second album or ‘sophomore jinx’. Images And Words was like a rebirth for Dream Theater in both lineup and sound for the band. Images and Words was a moderate commercial hit, reaching number 61 on the US Billboard 200 chart. It is also Dream Theater’s only album to be certified gold by the RIAA, and remains their best-selling album to date, selling more than six hundred thousand copies. It is still the bands bestselling album to date.
For the last 20+ years TEN have been one of the most ‘criminally under rated’ sometimes brutally overlooked bands within progressive melodic metal communities and even the AOR community. This band first entered my radar with 2000’sSpellbound and 2001’s Far Beyond The World. All I could fixate my interest on was the beautifully eloquent yet very versatile lead vocals of Gary Hughes. Both Spellbound & Far Beyond The World made me a instant fan of any work related to Gary Hughes. A little later on I would come across a very well written and produced Rock/Metal Opera created by Gary Hughes titled One And Future King Parts 1 & 2.From that point on I was totally sold as a fan of Gary Hughes.
It seems TEN has been a very white hot band within the last five years. First they would release both the critical and fan approved Albion in 2014, Isla De Muerta 2015 and The Dragon And St. George EP in 2015. Now in 2017 the band makes yet another triumphant return with their heaviest and darkest album since The Twilight Chronicles and The Robe that album being Gothica. This also marks TEN’s triumphant return to Frontiers Records srl.
In TEN Gary Hughes has managed to successfully surround himself with a lot of the top melodic metal/rock, AOR talent in the world. Joining Gary Hughes is Dann Rosingana – Lead Guitars , Steve Grocott – Lead Guitars , John Halliwell – Rhythm Guitars , Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards , Steve McKenna – Bass , Max Yates – Drums. This lineup here manages to keep TEN well balanced between its main elements of progressive metal, melodic metal, hard rock, AOR. These lineup also has been proven one of the most consistent lineups serving the needs of the band while satisfying a global fan base that seems to grow more and more with every album and tour.
TEN’s Gothica is a darker more seductive album lyrically. This is matched in harmony to many of the darker heavier instrumental portions that accompany the lyrical content from track to track. TEN also put the ‘Adult’ inside of AOR or Adult Oriented Rockwith their lyrical content that is so racy and laden with sensual innuendo’s. I am shocked they have not had a Parental Advisory label placed on the front of their albums. TEN also have had the uncanny ability to match their album cover art with the melodic content that lies within each album. Now I am will point out some highlights from every track.
The Grail starts out with the lead vocal serving in the capacity of a chant. Soon the twin lead guitar riffs along with the keyboards open the track up with a wonderful wall of sound. The guitars take this track in many different chord progressions and time signatures. The riffs carry the track with the big bass/drum rhythm section. Gary Hughes gives the listener the appearance he is singing with a isolated vocal in harmony with the instrumental portion of the track. One of the unsung heroes to this particular track is Steve McKenna – Bass & Max Yates – Drums giving the track a lot of teeth and bite where the rhythm guitar and the twin lead guitar’s can take root on this melodious canvas. About the 4:40 mark the drums really anchor another isolated lead vocal section to allow the lyrical content of the story to come through smoothly. Their is a spiritual element in the lyrical content. Darrel Teece Birch – Keyboards actually incorporates a beautiful grand piano sound to the track. The Grail is the epic of the album clocking in at 8:03
Jekyll And Hyde is obviously a story of two personalities within one person. This starts out with the sound of someone walking the brick streets before being engulfed in a strong unified rhythm section between all instruments involved. The lead guitar bleeds through from time to time to add accent to the heavily induced rhythm section. The lyrical content is seriously dark much like the title of track itself. The lead vocals are more soulful on the track. The piano adds a classical element in certain places on the song. The rest of the song is a straight away hard rock song.
Travelers starts out with a sound effect of a clock tower both ringing and tick toking giving the track a subtle sense of urgency with the listener. The lyrical content talks about time and how humans have used it in both our lives and our travels. About the 1:05 mark the track explodes into a heavy wall of sound with a big guitar and bass/drum section. The lead vocals keep getting stronger with every song and Travelers serves as a great example of them. Much in the tradition of hard rock there are towering guitar solo’s serving as transitions within the song.
Man For All Seasons begins in a very traditional folky renaissance chord progression much like what would of been heard in the 16th century Europe. It gives the appearance that a king has returned home to his castle and kingdom. This track takes away a lot from Gary Hughes early work with 2003’s Once And Future King Parts 1&2. The folky passage in soon joined by a straight away hard rock chord progression passage. The lyrical content even speaks of a a era ruled by King Henry. The twin lead guitar and the stringed section gives the song some extra fire. The track maintains a very steady and progressive melodic metal chord progression. This track builds layer upon layers subtlety and gradually. Both twin lead guitar’s very fluently back off one another in their solo’s as if they are communicating back and forth.
In My Dreams starts out with a thunderous rhythm section that meets the senses of the listener immediately. There is also a noticeable method to the madness with the open intro. This track has a lot of the AOR elements you would find in a film to a 1980’s soundtrack. Lyrically it is a risque style love story perhaps by a adolescent with a hard crush on a girl or full grown adult woman for that matter. The twin lead guitar solo’s really play off one another giving the stringed portion of the track a deeper level of fullness.
The Wild King Of Winter opens up very atmospheric with steady keyboards and lush guitars to form a semi electric/semi acoustic landscape allowing for the listener to be enveloped within the song. It soon takes off with a blistering straight ahead dark heavy guitar. This is one of those tracks that make Gothica darker than the last few previous TEN albums. The heavy instrumental portion gives the listener the appearance that there is this great conflict about to happen or is in progress. The riffs are also straight away galloping riffs that remind much of early NWOBHM sound. The thunderous rhythm section remains pretty consistent throughout the song providing both heaviness and depth.
Paragon lyrically talks about virtue or the lack thereof. This track is another one of those with lyrical content that put ‘Adult’ into Adult Oriented Rock or AOR. The opening starts with a beautiful piano in harmony with a isolated vocal that opens the story up for the listener. This song can be looked upon as a power ballad with some heavy elements within the guitars and full rhythm section, all that can be heard very well. With all the erotica and love elements there is still a darker under layer in the song.
Welcome To The Freakshow starts out like you might expect it, a total circus. The opening is as if the listener becomes a audience member in the town circus. This would be a adult circus. Once again there are some heavy erotica elements. This track here is also a great testament of how Gary Hughes & TEN can tell several stories within the album construct. Although there may be a common theme present every song has its own uniquely written, recorded and melodiously articulated story. Welcome To The Freakshow is a perfect example to this. The song even gets a little bluesy and gritty the further along it goes.
La – Luna Dra -cu – la opens up with a heavy chord progressive passage with big rhythm guitars in harmony with the bass/drum rhythm section. The twin lead guitars continue to add depths and layers. It also opens with very dark elements which are appropriate due to the very nature of the title. Some of the lyrical content is reminiscent of a Bram Stoker novel meets a Boris Karloff film. The guitar solo’s are a bit nasty yet groove laden. This track is also more into the melodic heavy metal genre. The band pulls no punches and spares no expense being intentionally heavy on this one. There is still a erotic tone through the song as well.
Into Darkness opens up with a sound effect much like a film projector inside a cinema. The track opens up musically with a beautiful piano of Darrel Treece Birch. This song is a all out heavy power rock ballad. It soon picks up and takes various twists and turns into heavier dimensions and breaks and comes back to the power ballad element. The vocals are isolated perfectly as to allow the story to harmoniously be articulated towards its target audience. The beautiful twin lead guitar solo’s really stand out in the production as well.
Paragon (Bonus Mix) – Japanese Version Only this track is a more user audience friendly version that is only on the Japanese version. It is also edited down considerably from the album version to be radio friendly also. There is more heavy keyboard atmospheres present here as well.
TEN’s Gothica is the perfect album for their return to Frontiers Records srl. There is a little bit of every element the band has utilized over its 20+ years in the business. Once again Gary Hughes surrounds himself with some of the top musicians in the world to carry out such fantastic vision. Gothica also proves that melodic heavy metal and AOR can also have a darker heavier appeal to attract a much larger audience. TEN’s Gothica gets a 5/5for staying true to their vision and values their fans and audience members have come to expect.
The Samurai Of Prog are definitely a modern ‘Progressive Rock Enigma’. There is a uncanny ability among its members to celebrate progressive rocks’ past while appealing to a modern more current audience with more contemporary elements that make for their unique sound. Last year in 2016 I was introduced to this Progressive Rock Enigma by Marty Dorfman at House Of Prog. It turned out to be one of the best introductions I have had with a pure progressive rock band in the past 20 years. What I heard defied some of my expectations as to what a progressive rock band could do.
When Steve Unruh sent me the promotion copy of Lost And Found I was floored by the physical presentation of the packaging. It was at that moment I noticed that this band was very different from where their contemporaries were and are. It may of been a CD , however it certainly opened in the way a gatefold would with a vinyl experience. The individual disc’s even had their very own sleeves within the fold out jacket as a whole. The very detail in their packaging and physical representation translated very well into the music itself. My review for The Samurai Of Prog Lost And Found can be found HERE
Where Lost And Found was older music dusted off the shelf and reworked, re-recorded and remastered, On We Sail is a album of all brand new material. On We Sail on the surface gives you the appearance that it might be a conceptual work, however the 9 songs on the album are more set to a common theme or thread throughout the album. Once again Marco Bernard, Steve Unruh and Kimmo Porsti have gathered together a all star cast ensemble of world class musicians as noted above in the ‘Guest Musician’s’ roster. On We Sail also sees the band bring both its progressive rock influences such as Jethro Tull ,Gentle Giant, Yes, Camel, Caravan, Renaissance on the early end. On the modern end there are influences from 1980’s Neo Progressive Rock with the likes of Marillion, IQ, Galahad, Pallas, Pendragon and Enchant.
The Samurai of Prog seem to know what they want in album art and never shy away from recruiting top artists in the progressive rock art genre. One name that has remained synonymous with The Samurai Of Prog has been Ed Unitsky. I remember when I reviewed Lost And Found last year how utterly accurate Ed Unitsky captured both the band’d personality and their personalities in relationship to the music on the double album. Ed Unitsky is easily in the same conversation with the likes of Roger Dean and Storm Thorgerson as one of the definitive progressive rock album artists of the past 50 years. Once again Ed Unitsky has captured the personality and mood of The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail perfectly like he always has. The packaging is almost too gorgeous to open.
When you open The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail it is a 6 panel digipak style with the exception that the plastic tray has been replaced with a very fine mini jacket sleeve much in the tradition of a vinyl album. When you remove the CD it even share the same spirit and tradition of a vinyl release in a otherwise digitally handicapped musical atmosphere. With the lyrical content on the album having a heavy nautical theme throughout it, Ed Unitsky has perfectly and tastefully captured that in a moment in time that will help preserve the albums integrity and eventual legacy.
The Common Nautical Thread
The listener does not have to look into it too much to realize that The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail has a common theme through it. This is a heavy nautical theme. Although there is not a main concept, each song is a representation of what the band want to convey to the listener. The listener also hears something new or something different with every listen due to the multiple instruments and melodic layers. Let us now journey into The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail with a track to track analysis.
On We Sail Music – Kerry Schaklett Lyrics & Vocal Melodies – Steve Unruh Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Violin , Kerry Schacklett – Keyboards, Srdjan Brankovic – Electric Guitars
This one opens up with a beautifully done vintage style synth with modern neo progressive rock elements. Soon the deep rhythm section of bass and drums adds to the deepening layers the band utilizes through out the song and the album. Soon heavy melodies of violin come into the mix. The instrumental melodies really jump out with brief breaks to allow the composition to breathe. Soon a Gentle Giant style vocal comes in perfect harmony and melody with the instrumental backdrop. The violin enters in and soon provides even more layers to the song. The instrumental solo’s are very deeply rooted a more neo progressive mindset. The guitar solo’s really allow the track to gel with this heavily stringed section composition. Some of the guitar work reminds me a lot of Steve Howe meets Ronnie Stolt of the Flower Kings.
Elements Of Life
Music – Octavio Stampalia Lyrics – Steve Unruh Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Violin/Flute , Octavio Stampalia – Keyboards , Ruben Alvarez – Electric & Acoustic Guitars
This one has a very unique isolated flute to open up the track. The isolated flute reminding me more of Camel with a little bit of Jethro Tull in it. The flute also adding a more classical music imprint. Soon the song takes a more lush orchestral direction before the deeper warmer bass comes in both as a melodic and rhythmic instrument. The track itself has a deep classical musical aesthetic throughout it. On the instrumental portion of this the band provides for a great soundtrack to the various weather elements of the human experience. This is perfectly matched in harmony with the lyrical content of the song. Like Fire, Wind, Water, Earth the band explores all these within the melody in relationship between the instrumental and lyrical content. Part of this reminds me of parts of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung. The deep Rickenbacker bass adds a deep Earth like tone to the rhythm section. The guitar solo’s do a great job in conveying the wind elements. The keyboards have a heavy Dixie Dreg’s style to them.
Music – Luca Scherani Lyrics – Pikko Salhi & Kev Moore Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass, Kimmo Porsti – Drums/Percussion & Backing Vocals , Steve Unruh – Violin/Vocals/Flute , Luca Scherani – Keyboards , Ruben Alvarez – Electric Guitar , Michelle Young – Vocals
If you like Annie Halsam and Renaissance you will like this. Michelle Young stands out as a true treasure on vocals. She sings with a very sultry yet soulful voice. The opening of this track sets up much in the tradition of Renaissance’s Mother Russia. The guitars have a heavy Floydian influence about them. The opening top this is very stringed section driven with obvious emphasis on guitar’s , violins, and keyboards interchanging and weaving like a beautiful web. It is matched in melody and harmony with both rhythm sections and beautifully orchestrated feminine vocals. This is a track that also places a great emphasis on time signatures and chord progressions. There is also beautiful exchange of both male and female vocals. The backing vocals are very heavily symphonic in their nature. There are some nice breaks in between vocal lines allowing the track to breathe so the listener can take in its full intended purpose.
Music – David Meyers Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass, Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Violin/Flute , David Meyers – Keyboards , Jacques Friedmann – Electric Guitar
This open up with a very atmospheric keyboard orchestration that is soon picked up in melody with a subtle and brilliant bass line from Marco Bernard. It soon takes a more fusion funk chord progression with the gentle style of the flute accentuating the instrumental melody. The electric guitar opens this one up into a deeper layer of a atmospheric track. The way this was tracked you can tell they had some fun with this instrumental. It all comes together like they played it live as a unified band in the studio. This is one of those tracks that appears to have been minimal effort with the pay off of maximum distribution. The piano allows a classical element to be present in the song as well.
Music – Sean Timms Lyrics & Some Vocal Melodies – Steve Unruh Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Violin/Vocals/Flute , Sean Timms – Keyboards , Mark Trueack – Vocals , Jacob Holm Lupo – Electric Guitars , Ruben Alverez – Electric Guitar Solo
This opens with a beautifully guitar led passage that is enhanced with the subtle sound of the flute and immediate vocals. It is a perfect set up for a great story. There are great melodies and layers of violins and flutes along with the guitar and keyboard stringed sections. This has a very heavy Celtic/Folk atmosphere about it much like a element of World influences. The rhythm section really anchors this allowing every other instrument involved their ‘Day In The Sun’ if you will. I also feel at times elements of Camel and Caravan peaking through the melodic veil. Steve Unruh has such a highly distinctive flute that has become a major staple in the discography of The Samurai Of Prog. I like the way the track isolates the piano and vocals around the 5:30 mark. The vocals are very Southern Empire meets IQ. This is also a very uplifting song lyrically wise. The band also has a very astute ability to let every song breathe where all the instruments shine through and this song is a perfect example of it.
The Perfect Black (Instrumental)
Music – Oliverio Lacagnina
Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass ,Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Flute/Violin/AdditionalClassic Guitar , Oliverio Lacagnina – Keyboards , Flavio Cucchi – Classical Guitar
This is a little bit darker track. It begins with a deep rhythm section along with a open atmospheric style Hammond Organ. This is a heavily stringed section based track along with a heavy wind instrument track. Its nature carries a tone about it like the captain of a ship navigating through some rough waters. The Perfect Black is a excellent title due to the unpredictable chord progressions and time signatures. The very backbone to this track is heavily classical in nature. For those who score films this track gives the listener the appearance that a symphony orchestra is playing to a set of film clips. This track also allows the listener to breathing room to absorb the adventure as they see fit instead of forcing the motion picture on the screen of the theater of the mind. The piano reminds me more of Bach or Mozart playing progressive rock. The classical guitar’s also have a heavy Latin element about them.
Music & Lyrics – Kerry Schacklett Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Volin/Flute , Kerry Schacklett – Acounstc & Electric Guitar/Keyboards/Vocals ,Brett Kull – Electric Guitar
This definitely has a very vintage Jethro Tull element about it. Much of the opening passage is in the tradition of Jethro Tull’s Thick As A Brick. The band does a great job in storytelling with the lyrical content. Even traditionally non progressive fans can relate to its content. The heavy Ian Anderson influenced flute of Steve Unruh is the unsung hero in this song. The drums of Kimm Porsti really allow the flute and stringed instruments the opportunity to engage the listener on many levels. This is another uplifting and positive song of childhood innocence. In general this is a very fun song that will resonate with many objective listeners.
Over Again (Instrumental)
Music – David Meyers David Meyers – Bosendorfer Grand Piano
This opens up with a baby grand piano passage about it. The piano really reminds me a lot of Beethoven meets Bach. This is a great transition instrumental that will work in live sets to give the other members of the band a brief rest period. This is also a very soothing track that allows the listener time to digest the album thus far. It also transition’s seamlessly into the final track on the album Tigers.
Music & Lyrics – Stefan Renstrom Marco Bernard – Rickenbacker Bass , Kimmo Porsti – Drums & Percussion , Steve Unruh – Vocals/Violin/Flute , Stefan Renstrom – Keyboards/Vocoder ,Daniel Faldt – Vocals , Roberto Vitelli – Moog Taurus Pedals
This comes right in smoothly and seamlessly off Over Again. The track opens up with most its instrumental in one melodic coco phonic harmony. The opening has some very heavy piano and violin elements. It drops and then the isolated piano in harmony with isolated vocals begin to tell the story intended by the band. This track is a very traditional progressive rock track. It is heavy on the keyboards, flute and violin to add greater depth and layers that are the signature of The Samurai Of Prog. The vocals are very soulful and executed with great conviction. The vocals not only serve as a harmonic story teller, they also hit every note perfectly as they go. The transitions within the vocals are spot on perfect. The open ended guitar solo’s add a depth of great emotion about them. The rhythm section also picks this up quite nice towards the 7:00 to 8:00 minute marks.
This final track gives the listener the appearance that they have taken the album to its final destination thus finishing the beautiful melodic journey that has been The Samurai Of Prog On We Sail.
Although this was not a deliberately planned out conceptual piece it certainly felt that way. I like how the band always leave breathing room for the listener to absorb and digest every album according to their individual personalities. The Samurai Of Prog also prove there is still a market for organic uncompressed traditional progressive rock. Nothing ever seems forced to appease a record label or the industry whatsoever. They also have a intelligent awareness to incorporate newer elements that may attract a newer listener base. I am giving The Samurai Of Prog’s On We Sail a 5/5.
The Beatles | Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band | A 50th Anniversary Retrospective
In Memory Of;
John Lennon – October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980 George Harrison – February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001 George Martin – January, 3, 1926 – March, 8 , 2016
Label – Original Release: EMI Studios and Regent Sound Studio, London Release Year: 1967 Country: United Kingdom Genre: Pop Rock/Psychedelic Rock/Art Rock/Proto-Progressive Rock
Band Members – The Players
John Lennon – Vocals/Electric Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/Piano/Hammond organ/Cowbell Paul McCartney – Vocals/Electric Guitar/Bass/Piano/Lowery Organ George Harrison – Vocals/Electric Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/Harmonica/Tambura/Sitar/Maracas Ringo Starr – Vocals/Drums/Harmonica/Tambourine/Maracas/Congas/Bongos/Chimes George Martin – Hammond organ/Lowery organ/Piano/Pianette/Harpsichord/Harmonium/ Glockenspiel Mal Evans – Harmonica/Hammond organ/Piano/Alarm Clock Neil Aspinall – Harmonica/Tambura Erich Gruenberg, Derek Jacobs, Trevor Williams, José Luis Garcia, Alan Loveday, Julien Gaillard, Paul Scherman, Ralph Elman, David Wolfsthal, Jack Rothstein, Jack Greene, Granville Jones, Bill Monro, Jurgen Hess, Hans Geiger, D Bradley, Lionel Bentley, David McCallum, Donald Weekes, Henry Datyner, Sidney Sax, Ernest Scott – Violin’s John Underwood, Stephen Shingles, Gwynne Edwards, Bernard Davis, John Meek – Viola’a Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel, Reginald Kilbey, Allen Ford, Peter Beavan, Francisco Gabarro, Alex Nifosi – Cello’s Cyril MacArthur, Gordon Pearce – Double Bass Sheila Bromberg, John Marston – Harp Robert Burns, Henry MacKenzie, Frank Reidy, Basil Tschaikov, Jack Brymer – Clarinet’s Roger Lord – Oboe N Fawcett, Alfred Waters – Bassoon’s Clifford Seville, David Sanderman – Flute’s Barrie Cameron, David Glyde, Alan Holmes – Saxophone’s David Mason, Monty Montgomery, Harold Jackson – Trumpet’s Raymond Brown, Raymond Premru, T Moore, John Lee – Trombone’s Alan Civil, Neil Sanders, James W Buck, Tony Randall, John Burden, Tom (surname unknown) – French Horn’s Michael Barnes – Tuba Tristan Fry – Timpani/Percussion’s Marijke Koger: – Tambourine’s Unknown Musicians – Dilruba/Svarmandal/Tabla/Tambura
Producer – George Martin Engineers – Geoff Emerick, Adrian Ibbetson, Malcolm Addey, Ken Townsend, Peter Vince
Track Listing – Original Soundtrack
Side 1 1. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” Paul McCartney 2. “With a Little Help from My Friends” Ringo Starr 3. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” John Lennon 4. “Getting Better” Paul McCartney 5. “Fixing a Hole” Paul McCartney 6. “She’s Leaving Home” Paul McCartney with John Lennon 7. “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” John Lennon
1. “Within You Without You” George Harrison 2. “When I’m Sixty-Four” Paul McCartney 3. “Lovely Rita” Paul McCartney 4. “Good Morning Good Morning” John Lennon 5. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” John Lennon/Paul McCartney and George Harrison 6. “A Day in the Life” John Lennon and Paul McCartney
It was 50 years ago this monththat what many believe to be the very first concept record was released to the world , depending who you ask. .Some consider this a loose conceptual album while others consider it as a concrete master of concept albums. It is definitely the first proto progressive concept album that would go on to inspire and be ‘The Blueprint’album in which progressive rock and progressive metal bands would use in creating their own respective concept albums. This would also be The Beatles first album made after they retired from touring, thus allowing the band much more studio time and a longer creative process. This retrospective is broken down into three major categories of discussion, the first section is, The Genesis To The Genius – Method To The Madness – Influencing Facts and Factors Of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, A Journey Through The Trip – A Track To Track Analysis Of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Genesis To The Genius – Method To The Madness
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by English rock band The Beatles. Released on 26th May 1967 in the United Kingdom and 2nd June 1967 in the United States, it was an immediate commercial and critical success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the UK albums chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US. On release, the album was lauded by the vast majority of critics for its innovations in music production, songwriting and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and legitimate art, and for providing a musical representation of its generation and the contemporary counterculture. It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year 1967 , the first rock LP to receive this honour.
In August 1966 , The Beatles permanently retired from touring and began a three-month holiday from recording. During a return flight to London in November, Paul McCartney had an idea for a song involving an Edwardian era military band that would eventually form the impetus of the Sgt. Pepper concept. Sessions for the album began on 24 November in Abbey Road Studio Two with two compositions inspired by their youth, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane”, but after pressure from EMI, the songs were released as a double A-side single and were not included on the album.
In February 1967, after recording the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”song, Paul McCartney suggested that The Beatles should release an entire album that would represent a performance by the fictional Sgt. Pepper band. This alter ego group would give them the freedom to experiment musically. During the recording sessions, the band furthered the technological progression they had made with their 1966 album Revolver. Knowing they would not have to perform the tracks live, they adopted an experimental approach to composition and recording on songs such as “With a Little Help from My Friends”, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life”. Producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick’s innovative recording of the album included the liberal application of sound shaping signal processing and the use of a 40-piece orchestra performing aleatoric crescendos. Recording was completed on 21st, April 1967. The cover, depicting The Beatles posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by the British pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.
It’s an analog heirloom that’s still resisting oblivion — perhaps because, even in its moment, it was already contemplating a broader sweep of time. The music on “Sgt. Pepper” reached back far before rock as well as out into an unmapped cosmos, while its words — seesawing between Paul McCartney’s affability and John Lennon’s tartness — offered compassion for multiple generations.
We simply can’t hear “Sgt. Pepper” now the way it affected listeners on arrival in 1967. Its innovations and quirks have been too widely emulated, its oddities long since absorbed. Sounds that were initially startling — the Indian instruments and phrasing of George Harrison’s “Within You Without You,” the tape-spliced steam-organ collage of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” the orchestral vastnesses of “A Day in the Life”— have taken on a patina of nostalgia. George Harrison was also under the ‘Spiritual Tutelage’ of Ravi Shankar. “Sgt. Pepper”and its many musical progeny have blurred into a broader memory of “psychedelia,” a sonic vocabulary (available to current music-makers via sampling) that provides instant, predigested allusions to the 1960s. Meanwhile, the grand lesson of “Sgt. Pepper” — that anything goes in the studio — has long since been taken for granted. Psychedelia is also the organic improvised creation of music that is not really pre written nor preconceived.
Recorded in over 400 hours during a 129-day period, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandhelped define the 1967 Summer of Love, and was instantly recognised as a major leap forward for modern music.
The mood of the album was in the spirit of the age, because we ourselves were fitting into the mood of the time. The idea wasn’t to do anything to cater for that mood – we happened to be in that mood anyway. And it wasn’t just the general mood of the time that influenced us; I was searching for references that were more on the fringe of things. The actual mood of the time was more likely to be The Move, or Status Quo or whatever – whereas outside all of that there was this avant-garde mode, which I think was coming into Pepper. There was definitely a movement of people. All I am saying is: we weren’t really trying to cater for that movement – we were just being part of it, as we always had been. I maintain The Beatles weren’t the leaders of the generation, but the spokesmen. We were only doing what the kids in the art schools were all doing. It was a wild time, and it feels to me like a time warp – there we were in a magical wizard-land with velvet patchwork clothes and burning joss sticks, and here we are now soberly dressed.
Paul Mc Cartney : The Beatles Anthology
Even more so than its predecessor, Revolver, Sgt Pepper saw The Beatles pushing boundaries within the studio, creating sounds which had never before been heard. They made extensive use of orchestras and other hired musicians, and combined a variety of musical styles including rock, music hall, psychedelia, traditional Indian and Western classical.
From the fairground swirls of Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!to the animal stampede that closes Good Morning Good Morning, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandsignaled to the world that The Beatles were no longer the lovable moptops of old, unwilling to sing simple love songs and perform for crowds who were more interested in screaming than listening.
The album was always going to have Sgt Pepper at the beginning; and if you listen to the first two tracks, you can hear it was going to be a show album. It was Sgt Pepper and his Lonely Hearts Club Band with all these other acts, and it was going to run like a rock opera. It had started out with a feeling that it was going to be something totally different, but we only got as far as Sgt Pepper and Billy Shears (singing With A Little Help From My Friends), and then we thought: ‘Sod it! it’s just two tracks.’ It still kept the title and the feel that it’s all connected, although in the end we didn’t actually connect all the songs up.
Ringo Starr : The Beatles Anthology
During The Beatles’ final US tour in August 1966, Paul McCartney noticed the inventive names adopted by many new bands. This was making word play off some of the titles of bands that were primarily coming out of San Francisco, California.
Sgt Pepper is Paul, after a trip to America and the whole West Coast, long-named group thing was coming in. You know, when people were no longer The Beatles or The Crickets – they were suddenly Fred and His Incredible Shrinking Grateful Airplanes, right? So I think he got influenced by that and came up with this idea for The Beatles.
John Lennon, 1980 – All We Are Saying, David Sheff
The title came from a conversation between Paul McCartney and Evans about the sachets marked S and P which came with their in-flight meals.
Me and Mal often bantered words about which led to the rumour that he thought of the name Sergeant Pepper, but I think it would be much more likely that it was me saying, ‘Think of names.’ We were having our meal and they had those little packets marked ‘S’ and ‘P’. Mal said, ‘What’s that mean? Oh, salt and pepper.’ We had a joke about that. So I said, ‘Sergeant Pepper,’ just to vary it, ‘Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper,’ an aural pun, not mishearing him but just playing with the words.
Then, ‘Lonely Hearts Club’, that’s a good one. There’s lot of those about, the equivalent of a dating agency now. I just strung those together rather in the way that you might string together Dr Hook and the Medicine Show. All that culture of the sixties going back to those travelling medicine men, Gypsies, it echoed back to the previous century really. I just fantasised, well, ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. That’d be crazy enough because why would a Lonely Hearts Club have a band? If it had been Sergeant Pepper’s British Legion Band, that’s more understandable. The idea was to be a little more funky, that’s what everybody was doing. That was the fashion. The idea was just take any words that would flow. I wanted a string of those things because I thought that would be a natty idea instead of a catchy title. People would have to say, ‘What?’ We’d had quite a few pun titles – Rubber Soul, Revolver – so this was to get away from all that.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Although the idea was well received by the other Beatles, it wasn’t intended as a concept album; indeed, an early working title was One Down, Six To Go, a reference to their contract with EMI.
As I read the other day, he said in one of his ‘fanzine’ interviews that he was trying to put some distance between The Beatles and the public – and so there was this identity of Sgt Pepper. Intellectually, that’s the same thing he did by writing ‘He loves you’ instead of ‘I love you’. That’s just his way of working. Sgt Pepper is called the first concept album, but it doesn’t go anywhere. All my contributions to the album have absolutely nothing to do with this idea of Sgt Pepper and his band; but it works ’cause we said it worked, and that’s how the album appeared. But it was not as put together as it sounds, except for Sgt Pepper introducing Billy Shears and the so-called reprise. Every other song could have been on any other album.
John Lennon, 1980 – All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Having finished touring in August 1966, The Beatles were free to spend time in the studio working on their next masterpiece. As EMI owned the studio at Abbey Road time and costs were of little consequence, and The Beatles knew that the songs recorded wouldn’t have to be performed live.
The first songs to be recorded were When I’m Sixty-Four, Strawberry Fields Forever & Penny Lane. When I’m Sixty-Four actually had its origins in The Beatles’Hamburg days, though it was recorded in December 1966.
Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever, meanwhile, were taken for the group’s first single of 1967, a decision which George Martin later described as “a dreadful mistake”.
The album’s monumental closer, A Day In The Life, was recorded from January 1967; the second Sgt Pepper song to be taped. The third was the title track, which was first recorded on 1 February 1967.
I used to share a flat in Sloane Street with Mal [Evans]. One day in February Paul called, saying that he was writing a song and asking if he and Mal could come over. The song was the start of Sgt Pepper.
At my place he carried on writing and the song developed. At the end of every Beatles show, Paul used to say, ‘It’s time to go. We’re going to go to bed, and this is our last number.’ Then they’d play the last number and leave. Just then Mal went to the bathroom, and I said to Paul, ‘Why don’t you have Sgt Pepper as the compÃ¨re of the album? He comes on at the beginning of the show and introduces the band, and at the end he closes it. A bit later, Paul told John about it in the studio, and John came up to me and said, ‘Nobody likes a smart-arse, Neil.’
Soon after The Beatles began recording the song Sgt Pepper, they realised that it could introduce a fictitious concert.
The idea came about gradually. Basically it was Paul’s idea: he came in and said he had the song ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and that he was identifying it with the band, with The Beatles themselves. We recorded the song first, and then the thought came to make it into an idea for the album. It was at a time when they wanted to concentrate on the studio, and that probably fomented the idea of the alter-ego group: ‘Let Sgt Pepper do the touring.’
George Martin – The Beatles Anthology
George Harrison, meanwhile, was less enamored by the album and The Beatles in general, having lost his heart to India. His main contribution to the album was Within You Without You,although his first offering – Only A Northern Song – was first recorded in February 1967.
I felt we were just in the studio to make the next record, and Paul was going on about this idea of some fictitious band. That side of it didn’t really interest me, other that the title song and the album cover. It was becoming difficult for me, because I wasn’t really that into it. Up to that time, we had recorded more like a band; we would learn the songs and then play them (although we were starting to do overdubs, and had done a lot on Revolver). Sgt Pepper was the one album where things were done slightly differently. A lot of the time it ended up with just Paul playing the piano and Ringo keeping the tempo, and we weren’t allowed to play as a band so much. It became an assembly process – just little parts and then overdubbing – and for me it became a bit tiring and a bit boring. I had a few moments in there that I enjoyed, but generally I didn’t really like making the album much.
I’d just got back from India, and my heart was still out there. After what had happened in 1966, everything else seemed like hard work. It was a job, like doing something I didn’t really want to do, and I was losing interest in being ‘fab’ at that point.
Before then everything I’d known had been in the West, and so the trips to India had really opened me up. I was into the whole thing; the music, the culture, the smells. There were good and bad smells, lots of colours, many different things – and that’s what I’d become used to. I’d been let out of the confines of the group, and it was difficult for me to come back into the sessions. In a way, it felt like going backwards. Everybody else thought that Sgt Pepper was a revolutionary record – but for me it was not as enjoyable as Rubber Soul or Revolver, purely because I had gone through so many trips of my own and I was growing out of that kind of thing.
George Harrison – The Beatles Anthology
During the Sgt Peppersessions Ringo Starr was aware that The Beatles were doing their best work to date, although he learned to live with the sporadic nature of the recording sessions.
Sgt Pepper was our grandest endeavour. It gave everybody – including me – a lot of leeway to come up with ideas and to try different material. John and Paul would write songs at home, usually – or wherever they were – and bring them in and say, ‘I’ve got this.’ The actual writing process was getting to be separate by now, but they’d come in with bits and help each other, and we’d all help. The great thing about the band was that whoever had the best idea (it didn’t matter who), that would be the one we’d use. No one was standing on their ego, saying, ‘Well, it’s mine,’ and getting possessive. Always, the best was used. That’s why the standard of the songs always remained high. Anything could happen, and that was an exciting process. I got to hang out and listen to it unfolding, although I wasn’t there every day.
As we got up to Sgt Pepper, George Martin had really become an integral part of it all. We were putting in strings, brass, pianos, etc, and George was the only one who could write it all down. He was also brilliant. One of them would mention: ‘Oh, I’d like the violin to go “de de diddle”,’ or whatever, and George would catch it and put it down. He became part of the band.
John, Paul and George – the writers – were putting whatever they wanted on the tracks, and we were spending a long time in the studio. We were still recording the basic tracks as we always did, but it would take weeks to do the overdubs for the strings or whatever, and then the percussion would be overdubbed later and later. Sgt Pepper was great for me, because it’s a fine album – but I did learn to play chess while we were recording it.
Ringo Starr – The Beatles Anthology
Influencing Facts and Factors Of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Within this part we will mention many of the facts and factors that influenced Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. These facts and factors have been long agreed upon by The Beatles, those who worked with them on the album and the general pop culture and industry consensus.
The Beatles’ status as the Biggest Music Group in the World was in danger of being taken away from them during the first few months of 1967. The band had announced they were no longer going to perform live because of the growing physical dangers that came with touring, largely thanks to John Lennon’s seemingly blasphemous comments on Christianity, which stoked religious fervor in the United States. Guaranteed sellout audiences—crowds so loud that nobody, not even the band, could hear a note of the music—were replaced by half-empty stadiums by the time the Fab Four performed in San Francisco on August 29, 1966 for what would be their final concert (not counting that rooftop performance in 1969).
When they reconvened in November of 1966, they found themselves with as much time as ever to get their next album as perfect as they could. What John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, producer George Martin, and engineer Geoff Emerick came up with was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a loosely conceptual album that was both a celebration and a piss-take on the psychedelic bands that had been popping up at the time. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandwas released to the public on June 1, 1967—50 years ago today—and served as a confirmation that The Beatleswere not only alive and well, but still at the forefront of pop music innovation; “The Summer of Love” came shortly after. These will be the Top 5 facts or factors that happened leading up to and during the recording sessions , although there are much more.
1. The Title Came From Airplane Salt And Pepper Packets.
By the time The Beatles took a three-month vacation in the latter part of 1966, they were all tired of being The Beatles. Paul McCartney and tour manager/assistant Mal Evans ruminated on this problem as the two traveled together, ending their international adventures in Kenya. On their flight back to London, McCartney was developing an alter ego for the band for their next record.
“Me and Mal often bantered words about, which led to the rumor that he thought of the name Sergeant Pepper,” McCartney explained to author Barry Miles about how he came up with the name. “But I think it would be much more likely that it was me saying, ‘Think of names.’ We were having our meal and they had those little packets marked ‘S’ and ‘P.’ Mal said, ‘What’s that mean? Oh, salt and pepper.’ We had a joke about that. So I said, ‘Sergeant Pepper,’ just to vary it, ‘Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper,’ an aural pun, not mishearing him but just playing with the words.” McCartney then added “Lonely Hearts Club” to “Sergeant Pepper,” and figured it would be a “crazy enough” band name, “because why would a Lonely Hearts Club have a band?”
2. The Band Was Under a lot Of Pressure.
Because of the perceived fading popularity of the group, The Beatles manager Brian Epstein and their label EMI put pressure on George Martin and the band to release a “can’t-miss” hit single. Caving in to the pressure, two of the first three songs from the Sgt. Pepper sessions were released as a double A-side single: “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane.” As was the practice at the time with singles, those two classic songs weren’t included on the album. George Martin later said that listening to Brian Epstein and EMI in this instance was “the biggest mistake” of his professional life.
3. It Was Influenced By The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, And Frank Zappa.
George Martin was quoted as saying that if Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys had not created and recorded their classic album Pet Sounds,
“Sgt. Pepper never would have happened.”
Paul McCartney repeatedly played the album at Abbey Road during recording sessions. Unbeknownst to The Beatles, they were fulfilling their part in a pop group ouroboros, because Wilson was inspired to write Pet Sounds after hearing The Beatles’ Rubber Soul.
In June 1966, Frank Zappa’s The Mothers of Invention came out with the double-record Freak Out!, a satirical album that also happened to contain classical music-influenced movements instead of individual tracks; some consider it to be the first rock concept album. “This is our Freak Out!” Paul McCartney supposedly said during the Sgt. Peppersessions.
4. Dogs Might Go Nuts If You Play Them “A Day In The Life” All The Way Through.
A 15-kilohertz high-frequency tone/whistling noise can be heard—if you have the remastered CD version and not the vinyl repressing anyway—after the iconic final piano chord finishes resonating and before the backwards talking that closes the album. It was John Lennon’s idea to add the equivalent of a police dog whistle after he had an hours-long conversation with Paul McCartney about frequencies. Paul McCartney later admitted to it all in 2013. Some believe the inclusion of the dog whistle was a subtle nod to the influence Pet Soundshad on the album.
5. The BBC BANNED “A DAY IN THE LIFE.”
Sgt. Peppermade its public debut on May 20, 1967 at 4 p.m. on the BBC’s Where It’s At. Excerpts from every song except “A Day In The Life” were played, as the tune had been officially banned the day before for promoting “a permissive attitude toward drug-taking.” BBC believed that Paul McCartney’s singing “found my way upstairs and had a smoke” was a drug reference, and that John Lennon’s line about “Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” might be a reference to a heroin junkie’s arm.
Because of that ban—and the belief that “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”also referenced drugs—the three suspicious songs were omitted from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when it was released in South Asia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.
A Journey Through The Trip – A Track To Track Analysis Of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Here we revisit The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band track by track. Within the analysis there will be some factoids that you may or may not have heard concerning the origin’s, recording, production and mastering of each and every track. To those of us old enough to remember they only had a 4-Track process they had to get creative with instead of the multi tracked systems of computer programs such as Pro Tool’s affords both artist and producer today. To those progressive rock fans that credit this as a proto prog album, they only had 3 chords they made useful to their maximum. Food for thought to keep in mind here.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Lead Guitar/Bass John Lennon – Vocals George Harrison – Vocals/Guitar Ringo Starr – Drums James W Buck, Neil Sanders, Tony Randall, John Burden – French Horn
The song itself is just a show intro where the lyrics mimic an MC talking to the audience before introducing the lead singer – Billy Shears.
Just imagine the words – no music – being spoken before a concert starts:
Crowd anxiously waiting for their show to start, then a hush when the lights go all the way down. You begin to hear a voice start with .
“It was twenty year ago today…) and from there the excitement and tension builds until the star is announced with “So let me introduce to you the one and only Billy Shears…”
If you’re asking who the band is supposed to be, the Lonely Hearts Club Band is the alter ego of John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr; Paul McCartney pulls double duty as the Master of Ceremonies doing the introduction and his alter ego Billy Shears.
If you’re asking WHO Sgt Pepper is, it’s been speculated about for years. None of The Beatles have ever said, but some of the speculations are John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Brian Epstein, various singers that influenced them, etc… and also speculated there is no specific person because the Beatles would have been in early childhood 20 years earlier – but that only works if you think SPLHCB is actually The Beatles and not their alter egos.
With A Little Help From My Friends
Written by -John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Ringo Starr – Vocals/Drums/Tambourine John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Cowbell Paul McCartney – Backing Vocals/Piano/Bass George Harrison – Lead Guitar George Martin – Hammond organ
The album was recorded as if Sgt. Pepper was a real band. It opens with the title track, then segues into “With A Little Help From My Friends.”Beatles drummer Ringo Starr sang lead, introduced as “Billy Shears,” a name chosen because it sounded good and played up the idea that the group was in character.
The song was never released as a single, but became one of the group’s most enduring tracks. Since it there is no break on the album between the fade of the title track (and “Billy Shears” introduction) and the beginning of this song, radio stations were forced to either play the tracks together or play the awkward open.
This was one of the very last songs John Lennon and Paul McCartney sat down and wrote together in a true collaboration.
They were at Paul’s house messing around on the piano.
The original title was “Badfinger Boogie.” The Beatles got some use out of the name when they signed a group to their label, Apple Records, and named them Badfinger.
The cheering at the beginning was taken from a Beatles concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The Beatles had stopped touring by the time this was recorded.
This hit #1 on the UK chart three times: first by Joe Cocker in 1968, again by Wet Wet Wet in 1988 and finally by Sam and Mark in 2004. >>
John Lennon claimed this was not about drugs, but many people didn’t believe him, including US vice president Spiro Agnew, who once told a crowd that this song was a “Tribute to the power of illegal drugs.”He said the lines, “I get by with a little help from my friends, I get high with a little help from my friends,” “Is a catchy tune, but until it was pointed out to me, I never realized that the ‘friends’ were assorted drugs!”
The first line was originally “What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and throw tomatoes at me?” Ringo did not want to sing it, fearing that if they ever did it live he would be pelted with tomatoes.
The Beatles finished recording this the night they shot the cover for the Sgt. Pepper album. This continued the “Concept” of the album, but until the reprise of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” at the end, the theme of the fictional band ends with this.
When Ringo Starr was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, he performed this song with many of the evening’s participants, including Joan Jett, Miley Cyrus, Dave Grohl, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
John Lennon – Vocals/Lead Guitar Paul McCartney – Backing Vocals/Lowrey Organ/Bass George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/Tambura Ringo Starr – Drums/Maracas
The “Lucy” who inspired this song was Lucy O’Donnell (later Lucy Vodden), who was a classmate of John’s son Julian Lennon when he was enrolled at the private Heath House School, in Weybridge, Surrey. It was in a 1975 interview that Lennon said, “Julian came in one day with a picture about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”
The identity of the real Lucy was confirmed by Julian in 2009 when she died of complications from Lupus. Lennon re-connected with her after she appeared on a BBC broadcast where she stated: “I remember Julian and I both doing pictures on a double-sided easel, throwing paint at each other, much to the horror of the classroom attendant… Julian had painted a picture and on that particular day his father turned up with the chauffeur to pick him up from school.”
Confusion over who was the real Lucy was fueled by a June 15, 2005 Daily Mail article that claimed the “Lucy” was Lucy Richardson, who grew up to become a successful movie art director on films such as 2000’s Chocolat and 2004’s The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers. Richardson died in June 2005 at the age of 47 of breast cancer.
Many people thought this was about drugs, since the letters “LSD” are prominent in the title, and John Lennon, who wrote it, was known to drop acid. In 1971 Lennon told Rolling Stone that he swore that he had no idea that the song’s initials spelt L.S.D. He added: “I didn’t even see it on the label. I didn’t look at the initials. I don’t look – I mean I never play things backwards. I listened to it as I made it. It’s like there will be things on this one, if you fiddle about with it. I don’t know what they are. Every time after that though I would look at the titles to see what it said, and usually they never said anything.”
John Lennon affirmed this on the Dick Cavett Show, telling the host,
“My son came home with a drawing of a strange-looking woman flying around. He said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds.’ I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote the song about it.”
It’s not just fans that didn’t believe him: Paul McCartney said it was “pretty obvious” that this song was inspired by LSD.
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineers – Malcolm Addey, Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar/Bass Guitar/Piano John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Handclaps George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar/Tambura Ringo Starr – Drums/Congas George Martin – Piano/Pianette
The idea of “Getting Better” came to Paul McCartney while he was walking his dog, Martha. The sun started to rise on the walk and he thought “it’s getting better.” It also reminded him of something that Jimmy Nichol used to say quite often during the short period when he was The Beatles drummer. This song was a true collaborative effort for John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with John Lennon adding that legendary part about being bad to his woman. He later admitted to being a “hitter” when it came to women. He said “I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself, and I hit.”
John Lennon had a bad acid trip during the recording. While doing the overdubs, John began to get very sick. He said, “I suddenly got so scared on the mike. I thought I felt ill and I thought I was going to crack. I said I must get some air.” George Martin took him up on the roof of the studios for air and John started walking towards the edge. Martin panicked, thinking that John would fall or leap off and that would be it. On the roof, when John saw Martin looking at him “funny,” he realized he was on acid. John decided he couldn’t do any more that night, so he sat in the booth and watched the others record. Paul eventually took him home and stayed to keep him company, and he decided to drop some acid with John. It was Paul’s first LSD experience.
George Harrison played the tamboura, a large Indian string instrument. It is the droning noise about 2/3rds of the way through.
The string sound at the end was The Beatles producer George Martin hitting the strings inside a piano.
Fixing A Hole
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineers – Geoff Emerick, Adrian Ibbetson
Paul McCartney – Lead & Backing Vocals/Bass John Lennon – Backing Vocals George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar Ringo Starr – Drums/Maracas George Martin – Harpsichord
Paul McCartney wrote this after fixing the roof on his farm in Scotland. McCartney said the song was “about the hole in the road where the rain gets in, a good old analogy.”
This was the first time The Beatles used a studio other than one owned and operated by their record label EMI. The takes in this new studio – Regent Sound Studio, located in Tottenham Court Road, London – were numbered 1-3. They returned to Abbey Road the next day however, recording “A Day In The Life.”
It was rumored that this was about heroin, as in “getting a fix.” There is no truth to this rumor.
She’s Leaving Home
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Lead Vocals/Backing Vocals John Lennon – Vocals/Backing Vocals Erich Gruenberg, Derek Jacobs, Trevor Williams, José Luis Garcia – Violin John Underwood, Stephen Shingles – Viola Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel – Cello Gordon Pearce – Double Bass Sheila Bromberg – Harp
This was based on a newspaper story Paul McCartney read about a runaway girl. On February 27th, 1967 the London Daily Mail’s headline read: “A-level girl dumps car and vanishes.” That girl was 17-year-old Melanie Coe, who had ran away from home leaving everything behind. Her father was quoted as saying, “I cannot imagine why she should run away, she has everything here.” McCartney said in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutnerand Spencer Leigh,
“We’d seen that story and it was my inspiration. There was a lot of these at the time and that was enough to give us the storyline. So I started to get the lyrics: she slips out and leaves a note and the parents wake up, it was rather poignant. I like it as a song and when I showed it to John, he added the Greek chorus and long sustained notes. One of the nice things about the structure of the song is that it stays on those chords endlessly.”
Melanie Coe, who became an estate agency director, told Dave Simpson her story in a 2008 interview for The Guardian. Said Coe: “London was a very different place in the ’60s. I went to a club called the Bag O’ Nails [Soho] and I met everybody. You sat on the next table to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Hollies, because there weren’t many clubs in London. I got in coz I was a cute little girl and I dressed in the latest fashions. I’d go to Mary Quant and Biba, sketch the dress and get my aunt to make my clothes. Ready Steady Go! loved that. They held open auditions. I was 13. It went on what you were wearing and how you danced. I was asked to come every week. I met the Beatles at Ready Steady Go! George was great to meet – I looked a lot like Pattie Boyd, who later became his wife, of course.
I was always going out. I danced the night away and was a face in London. In those days, to be trendy everything had to be French. I bought the T-shirt of the moment, which was my star sign in French. I loved that T-shirt. One day I got home and my mother had cut it to ribbons. She wanted me to look like Princess Anne, not my idol, Marianne Faithfull. When my parents found out I had the pill they grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and made me flush them down the toilet.
I was 17 by then and ran away leaving a note, just like in the song. I went to a doctor and he said I was pregnant, but I didn’t know that before I left home. My best friend at the time was married to Ritchie Blackmore, so she hid me at their house in Holloway Road. It was the first place my parents came to look, so I ran off with my boyfriend, who was a croupier, although he had been ‘in the motor trade’ like it says in the song. I think my dad called up the newspapers – my picture was on the front pages. He made out that I must have been kidnapped, because why would I leave? They gave me everything – coats, cars. But not love. My parents found me after three weeks and I had an abortion.
I didn’t realize for a long time that the song was about me. Years later Paul was on a program talking about how he’d seen a newspaper article and been inspired by it. My mother pieced it all together and called me to say, ‘That song’s about you!’
I can’t listen to the song. It’s just too sad for me. My parents died a long time ago and we were never resolved. That line, ‘She’s leaving home after living alone for so many years’ is so weird to me because that’s why I left. I was so alone. How did Paul know that those were the feelings that drove me towards one-night stands with rock stars? I don’t think he can have possibly realized that he’d met me when I was 13 on Ready Steady Go!, but when he saw the picture, something just clicked.”
No Beatles played instruments on this. John and Paul contributed vocals, which were double-tracked to sound like a quartet, and session musicians played strings. The first female to play on a Beatles album, Sheila Bromberg, played harp.
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
John Lennon – Vocals/Lowrey Organ Paul McCartney – Acoustic Guitar/Bass Guitar George Harrison – Harmonica Ringo Starr – Drums/Harmonica/Shaker Bells George Martin – Piano/Harmonium/Hammond Organ/Tape Loops Mal Evans – Bass Harmonica Neil Aspinall – Harmonica Geoff Emerick – Tape Loops
On 31 January 1967, while The Beatles were in Sevenoaks, Kent, making a promotional film for Strawberry Fields Forever,John Lennon wandered in to an antique shop close to their hotel. There he bought a framed Victorian circus poster from 1843.
The poster announced Pablo Fanque’s Circus Royal, coming to Town Meadows in Rochdale. It grandly announced that the circus would be for the benefit of Mr Kite, and would feature “Mr J Henderson the celebrated somerset thrower” and Zanthus the horse.
Mr Kite was William Kite, a performer and the son of circus owner James Kite. In 1810 he had founded Kite’s Pavilion Circus and later moved to Wells’ Circus. It is thought that he worked in Pablo Fanques’ fair between 1843 and 1845. Fanque, pictured below, was Britain’s first black circus owner. He was born William Darby in Norwich in 1796.
John Lennon hung the poster in his music room at his home in Weybridge, and began to use it as inspiration for a song. Some of the facts he changed – the circus was coming to Bishopsgate rather than Rochdale; the horse became Henry; the circus became a fair; Mr Kite was ‘late of Wells’s Circus’ rather that of Pablo Fanque (pictured below); and Mr Henderson, rather than Mr Kite, promised to challenge the world.
Minor changes aside, the words of the poster found their way almost unchanged into Lennon’s Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!, which closed the first half of the Sgt Pepper album. Lennon sat at his piano and sang phrases from the poster until he had the song, possibly with help from McCartney.
John Lennon was later dismissive of the song, as revealed in a range of interview snippets collated in the Anthology book,
.I wrote that as a pure poetic job, to write a song sitting there. I had to write because it was time to write. And I had to write it quick because otherwise I wouldn’t have been on the album. So I had to knock off a few songs. I knocked off A Day In The Life, or my section of it, and whatever we were talking about, Mr Kite, or something like that. I was very paranoid in those days, I could hardly move.
John Lennon, 1970 – Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
Within You Without You
Written by – George Harrison Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
George Harrison – Vocals/Sitar/Acoustic Guitar/Tambura Anna Joshi – Amrit Gajjar/Dilruba Buddhadev Kansara – Tamboura Natwar Soni – Tabla Unknown musician – Svarmandal Erich Gruenberg, Alan Loveday, Julien Gaillard, Paul Scherman, Ralph Elman, David Wolfsthal, Jack Rothstein, Jack Greene – Violins Reginald Kilbey, Allen Ford, Peter Beavan – Cellos Neil Aspinall – Tambura
Within You Without You was composed on a harmonium following a dinner party at the London home of Klaus Voorman, the German artist and musician whom The Beatles first met in Hamburg. Written by George Harrison, it was the only non Lennon-McCartney song on the Sgt Pepper album.
The song was George Harrison’s second full-blown Indian recording, after Revolver’s Love You To. Although regarded by some as a dull interlude in the otherwise masterful Sgt Pepper, Within You Without You encapsulated the exploration of spiritual themes that had become popular in 1967’s Summer of Love.
Clear references to the counterculture (‘Are you one of them?’) and the LSD-related ego death (‘And to see you’re really only very small and life flows on within you and without you’) can be found amid the more other-worldly exploration of spiritual philosophy and religious teachings.
The laughter at the end of the track was Harrison’s idea. While some listeners initially thought it was the sound of the other Beatles mocking his songwriting effort, it was in fact meant to lighten the mood after five minutes of sad, almost mournful, music.
Within You Without You came about after I had spent a bit of time in India and fallen under the spell of the country and its music. I had brought back a lot of instruments. It was written at Klaus Voormann’s house in Hampstead after dinner one night. The song came to me when I was playing a pedal harmonium.
I’d also spent a lot of time with Ravi Shankar, trying to figure out how to sit and hold the sitar, and how to play it. Within You Without You was a song that I wrote based upon a piece of music of Ravi’s that he’d recorded for All-India Radio. It was a very long piece – maybe 30 or 40 minutes – and was written in different parts, with a progression in each. I wrote a mini version of it, using sounds similar to those I’d discovered in his piece. I recorded in three segments and spliced them together later.
When I’m Sixty-Four
Written by – John Lennon/Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Piano/Bass John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Guitar George Harrison – Backing Vocals Ringo Starr – Drums/Chimes Robert Burns, Henry MacKenzie, Frank Reidy – Clarinets
The first of the Sgt Pepper songs to be recorded, When I’m Sixty-Fourwas originally intended to be the b-side to Strawberry Fields Forever.
The song dates back to The Beatles’ earliest days. Paul McCartney had composed it on the family piano at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool “when I was about 15”.
Back then I wasn’t necessarily looking to be a rock ‘n’ roller. When I wrote When I’m Sixty-Four I thought I was writing a song for Sinatra. There were records other than rock ‘n’ roll that were important to me.
Paul McCartney used to perform a variation of the song in their Cavern Club era, on piano, when the group’s equipment used to stop working.
When I’m Sixty-Four was something Paul wrote in the Cavern days. We just stuck a few more words on it like ‘grandchildren on your knee’ and ‘Vera, Chuck and Dave’. It was just one of those ones that he’d had, that we’ve all got, really; half a song. And this was just one that was quite a hit with us. We used to do them when the amps broke down, just sing it on the piano.
John Lennon – The Beatles Anthology
The song was dusted down in 1966, the year Paul McCartney’s father Jim turned 64. When I’m Sixty-Fourfocuses on a young man anxiously looking towards old age; the vocals were sped up in the studio to make them sound more sprightly.
The music is suitably old-fashioned, with a music hall melody and an arrangement prominently featuring George Martin’s clarinet score.
I thought it was a good little tune but it was too vaudevillian, so I had to get some cod lines to take the sting out of it, and put the tongue very firmly in cheek.
It’s pretty much my song. I did it in a rooty-tooty variety style… George helped me on a clarinet arrangement. I would specify the sound and I love clarinets so ‘Could we have a clarinet quartet?’ ‘Absolutely.’ I’d give him a fairly good idea of what I wanted and George would score it because I couldn’t do that. He was very helpful to us. Of course, when George Martin was 64 I had to send him a bottle of wine.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
When I am 64 In Studio
On 6 December 1966 The Beatles recorded Christmas messages for the pirate stations Radio London and Radio Caroline. Afterwards they spent some time rehearsing When I’m Sixty-Four, before two takes of the rhythm track were recorded.
Two days later, without the other Beatles being present, McCartney added his lead vocals to take two. The song was then left until 20 December, when McCartney, Lennon and Harrison taped backing vocals and Starr played chimes.
When I’m Sixty-Four was completed the next day, with the overdub of the three clarinets. During the mixing stage, meanwhile, McCartney decided that the song needed speeding up. On 30 December they scrapped all previous mixes and created a new mono one, which raised the key from C to D flat major.
Written by – John Lennon- Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Piano/Bass/Comb and Paper John Lennon – Backing Vocals/Acoustic Rhythm Guitar/Comb and Paper George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Acoustic Rhythm Guitar/Comb and Paper Ringo Starr – Drums/Comb and Paper George Martin – Piano
Paul McCartney’s affectionate tale of a female traffic warden was originally written as an anti-authority satire. As Paul McCartney later explained,
“I was thinking it should be a hate song… but then I thought it would be better to love her.”
Traffic wardens were a relatively new feature of British life in 1967. In America they were colloquially known as meter maids, a term which caught the imagination of McCartney via a newspaper story.
There was a story in the paper about ‘Lovely Rita’, the meter maid. She’s just retired as a traffic warden. The phrase ‘meter maid’ was so American that it appealed, and to me a ‘maid’ was always a little sexy thing: ‘Meter maid. Hey, come and check my meter, baby.’ I saw a bit of that, and then I saw that she looked like a ‘military man’.
Paul McCartney – Anthology
Paul McCartney wrote the words for Lovely Rita in the Wirral near Liverpool, while walking near his brother Michael’s house in Gayton.
I remember one night just going for a walk and working on the words as I walked… It wasn’t based on a real person but, as often happened, it was claimed by a girl called Rita who was a traffic warden who apparently did give me a ticket, so that made the newspapers. I think it was more a question of coincidence: anyone called Rita who gave me a ticket would naturally think, ‘It’s me!’ I didn’t think, Wow, that woman gave me a ticket, I’ll write a song about her – never happened like that.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Lovely Rita – In Studio
Recording began on 23 February 1967 in Abbey Road’s studio two. Eight takes of the rhythm track were recorded, with George Harrison and John Lennon on acoustic guitars, Ringo playing the drums and Paul on piano. Take eight was the best, and onto this McCartney added his bass part.
The next day his lead vocals were taped, following which Lovely Rita was left until 7 March. On that day the song’s distinctive backing vocals and sound effects were recorded. Led by John Lennon, The Beatles made various groaning, sighing and screaming noises, played paper and combs, and added some cha-cha-chas for good measure.
The paper and combs can best be heard immediately before the line “When it gets dark I tow your heart away”. The Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans was sent to collect paper from Abbey Road’s lavatory. Stamped with the words, “Property of EMI”, the paper was threaded into hair combs and blown, giving a kazoo-like effect.
On 21 March George Martin recorded the song’s piano solo. It was recorded with the tape machine running at 41¼ cycles per second, and was mixed at 48¾ cycles. This made the solo much faster and higher pitched than it had been during the recording.
Good Morning Good Morning
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
John Lennon – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar Paul McCartney – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar/Bass George Harrison – Backing Vocals/Lead Guitar Ringo Starr – Drums/Tambourine Barrie Cameron, David Glyde, Alan Holmes – Saxophone John Lee, Unknown Talent – Trombone Tom (Surname Unknown)– French Horn
Born of John Lennon’s post-touring retreat into suburban daydreaming, Good Morning Good Morning was inspired by a Kellogg’s commercial he heard while working with the television playing in the background.
Good Morning is mine. It’s a throwaway, a piece of garbage, I always thought. The ‘Good morning, good morning’ was from a Kellogg’s cereal commercial. I always had the TV on very low in the background when I Was writing and it came over and then I wrote the song.
John Lennon – All We Are Saying, David Sheff
The Kellogg’s jingle went
Good morning, good morning The best to you each morning. Sunshine breakfast, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Crisp and full of fun.
With time signatures varying almost from bar-to-bar, Good Morning Good Morning’s unruly meter was a result of Lennon’s tendency to write words first before fitting the music around them.
John was feeling trapped in suburbia and was going through some problems with Cynthia. It was about his boring life at the time – there’s a reference in the lyrics to ‘nothing to do’ and ‘meet the wife’; there was an afternoon TV soap called Meet The Wife that John watched, he was that bored, but I think he was also starting to get alarm bells.
Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney – Vocals/Bass Guitar John Lennon – Vocals/Rhythm Guitar George Harrison – Vocals/Lead Guitar Ringo Starr – Vocals/Drums/Tambourine/Maracas George Martin – Organ
The idea for a reprise of Sgt Pepper’s title track was suggested by The Beatles’ assistant Neil Aspinall, who thought the album should be bookended with words from the imaginary compère.
I said to Paul, ‘Why don’t you have Sgt Pepper as the compère of the album? He comes on at the beginning of the show and introduces the band, and at the end he closes it. A bit later, Paul told John about it in the studio, and John came up to me and said, ‘Nobody likes a smart-arse, Neil’… That was when I knew that John liked it and that it would happen.
Sgt Pepper (Reprise) was the final music recorded for the album, apart from the strings overdub for Within You Without You. Taped in a single day, it was the perfect rousing performance to introduce the grand finale, A Day In The Life.
The reprise was faster than the previously-recorded title track, and with different lyrics. Opening with Paul McCartney’s 1-2-3-4 count-in and John Lennon’s cheeky “bye”, it featured all four Beatles on vocals and was one of the more straightforward rock songs on the Sgt Pepper album.
Take five of the song, with a guide vocal by Paul McCartney, was released on Anthology 2. A remix of the more familiar version, meanwhile, was used between Hey Jude and All You Need Is Love on theLovealbum.
A Day in the Life
Written by – John Lennon-Paul McCartney Producer – George Martin Engineer – Geoff Emerick
The Players John Lennon – Vocals/Acoustic Guitar/Piano Paul McCartney – Vocals/Piano/Bass George Harrison – Maracas Ringo Starr – Drums/Bongos George Martin – Harmonium Mal Evans – Piano/Vocals/Alarm Clock Erich Gruenberg, Granville Jones, Bill Monro, Jurgen Hess, Hans Geiger, D Bradley, Lionel Bentley, David McCallum, Donald Weekes, Henry Datyner, Sidney Sax, Ernest Scott – Violins John Underwood, Gwynne Edwards, Bernard Davis, John Meek – Violas Francisco Gabarro, Dennis Vigay, Alan Dalziel, Alex Nifosi – Cellos Cyril MacArthur, Gordon Pearce – Double Basses John Marston – Harp Basil Tschaikov, Jack Brymer – Clarinets Roger Lord – Oboe N Fawcett, Alfred Waters – Bassoons Clifford Seville, David Sanderman – Flutes Alan Civil, Neil Sanders – French Horns David Mason, Monty Montgomery, Harold Jackson – Trumpets Raymond Brown, Raymond Premru, T Moore – Trombones Michael Barnes – Tubas Tristan Fry – Timpani/Percussion Marijke Koger – Tambourine
The climax of their masterpiece Sgt Pepper, A Day In The Life found The Beatles at the peak of their creative powers, an astonishing artistic statement that saw them fearless, breaking boundaries and enthralling generations of listeners with the timeless quality of their music.
A Day In The Life – that was something. I dug it. It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had the ‘I read the news today’ bit, and it turned Paul on. Now and then we really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he just said ‘yeah’ – bang, bang, like that. It just sort of happened beautifully.
John Lennon – Rolling Stone
A 41-piece orchestra played on this song. The musicians were told to attend the session dressed formally. When they got there, they were presented with party novelties (false noses, party hats, gorilla-paw glove) to wear, which made it clear this was not going to be a typical session. The orchestra was conducted by Paul McCartney, who told them to start with the lowest note of their instruments and gradually play to the highest.
This was recorded in three sessions: First the basic track, then the orchestra, then the last note was dubbed in.
The beginning of this song was based on two stories John Lennon read in the Daily Mail newspaper: Guinness heir Tara Browne dying when he smashed his lotus into a parked van, and an article in the UK Daily Express in early 1967 which told of how the Blackburn Roads Surveyor had counted 4000 holes in the roads of Blackburn and commented that the volume of material needed to fill them in was enough to fill the Albert Hall. Lennon took some liberties with the Tara Browne story – he changed it so he “Blew his mind out in the car.”
John Lennon stated this regarding the article about Tara Browne:
“I didn’t copy the accident. Tara didn’t blow his mind out. But it was in my mind when I was writing that verse.” At the time, Paul didn’t realize the reference was to Tara. He thought it was about a “stoned politician.” The article regarding the “4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire” was taken from the UK Daily Express, January 17, 1967 in a column called “Far And Near.”
John’s friend Terry Doran was the one who completed John’s line “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill…” Terry told him “fill the Albert Hall, John.”
Paul McCartney contributed the line “I’d love to turn you on.” This was a drug reference, but the BBC banned it for the line about having a smoke and going into a dream, which they thought was about marijuana. The ban was finally lifted when author David Storey picked it as one of his Desert Island Discs.
The final chord was produced by all four Beatles and George Martin banging on three pianos simultaneously. As the sound diminished, the engineer boosted to faders. The resulting note lasts 42 seconds, and the studio air conditioners can be heard toward the end as the faders were pushed to the limit to record it.
This being the last song on the album, The Beatles found an interesting way to close it out. After the final note, John Lennon had producer George Martin dub in a high pitched tone, which most humans can’t hear, but drives dogs crazy. This was followed by a loop of incomprehensible studio noise, along with Paul McCartney saying “Never could see any other way,” spliced together. It was put there so vinyl copies would play this continuously in the run-out groove, sounding like something went horribly wrong with the record. Kids, ask your parents about vinyl.
David Crosby was at Abbey Road studios when The Beatles were recording this. In an interview with Filter magazine, he said:
“I was, as near as I know, the first human being besides them and George Martin and the engineers to hear ‘A Day In The Life.’ I was high as a kite – so high I was hunting geese with a rake. They sat me down; they had huge speakers like coffins with wheels on that they rolled up on either side of the stool. By the time it got the end of that piano chord, man my brains were on the floor.”
As you can see much of this masterpiece has been over analyzed and over commentated on. The entire goal to this retrospective is to open the eyes and hearts to newer generations to this album and to perhaps renew interest for those long time fans who are still seeking more information or tidbits on Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Concept albums such as Pink Floyd’s Darkside Of The Moon & The Wall, Yes’ Tales Of Topographic Oceans, Moody Blues Days Of Future Passed, The Who’s Tommy & Quadraphenia, Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention We’re Only In It For The Money, Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell Trilogy, RUSH’s 2112, etc.. may not otherwise exist without The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Neither would all those albums respective influence on future bands and concept albums may not exist either.
The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will never stop being a topic of keen interest within the pantheon of rock. With every anniversary milestone and birthday you will always see articles and retrospectives like this one. This is a testament of the utter generational defying reach The Beatles have had as a band and that Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandhas had as a album for the last 50 years and will for the next 50 or so years. ‘It was 50 Years Ago This Month ……’
When I first heard that The Wizards Of Winters’ guitarist Fred Gorhau was going to be putting together a project that would allow him to leave the ‘Christmas Time Only’ cocoon I was elated. I was also in a bit of anticipation of the unknown. To be honest I had only heard him in The Wizards Of Winters and Trans Siberian Orchestra. With his new project Dark Sky Choir it is a return to force of quality old school prog related heavy metal with a very modern and contemporary twist to it.
Make no mistake about it Dark Sky Choir are NOT a reflection or a re-visitation of what is now termed ‘Hair Metal’. I mean back in the day we all had hair whether we were thrash, glam, death, power, progressive or black metal with the exceptions of Rob Halford, Graham Bonnet or UDO Dirkschneider ex- Accept. If there is any visitation of the past with Dark Sky Choir it is the mentality of when bands were out drawing and designing their own fliers to have them wrapped around the local telephone poles of the vicinity of the local club or venue for the show promoted.
‘To you millennials who only know of and rely on photo-shop there was a time when we actually hand drew up fliers and printed them out in mass.’ We did not sit at home on a computer and hope people would show up.’
Dark Sky Choir also is a legitimate reminder that no matter how metal changes and evolves it will always return to its roots. Joining Fred Gorhau on this run are Hollywood How – Vocals, Joe Stabile – Bass and Mike James Sakowski – Drums. There is also a certain creative democracy going on with the album because the listener can hear every instrument come through where they properly need to. This may be a new concept to those millennials who have bought into a cheapened form of compressed music for entertainment. The guitar, the bass and the drums are all allowed to breathe and be heard. Hollywood How -Vocals is also allowed to be heard and tell a actual story with the lyrical content instead of it only serving as background noise or instrumental elements. Yes the album is a return to common sense straight away metal performed with a hint of the progressive.
Yes this is a album that is also a triumphant return to the verse/bridge/chorus/solo that metal enjoyed in the 1980’s and early 1990’s here in America. It is also a return of the style of music you would see on MTV instead of shitty and cheesy reality programs that make no sense whatsoever. Now some brief highlights from every track.
Death Of A Nation
The track Death of A Nation is both a track laden with progressive tendencies met with some heavy social commentary. Hollywood How – Vocals soars up into ranges that are explored by Rob Halford, David Coverdale and Primal Fear’s Ralph Scheepers. Fred Gorhau – Guitars shows us a entirely other dimension of his playing. This is a dimension that is more straight away progressive hard rock/heavy metal than what we have been accustomed to hearing in his other outfit The Wizards of Winter. There is also some powerful spoken word element on this track as well.
Like It Or Not
This track fades in a frenzy of a heavy distorted rhythm based chord progression. It has the signature verse/bridge/chorus with great raunchy heavy instrumental passages in harmony with the high end vocals. The guitar solo really shines through with a wonderful melody from the rhythm section.
Walking By Myself
This track here is the standard ballad. For those who were not there or this is still alien to you, the power ballad usually showed up on a album around the second, third or fourth song into the album. It standard ballad fashion this opens up with a beautiful lush acoustic guitar to create a more classical chord progression. The band does a great job painting a beautiful guitar oriented atmosphere for the ballads lyrical content. The guitar solo is spot on with the instrumental off the atmospheric layers.
Die Young (Maybe He Wanted To)
This one is almost a straight away power metal track. Its charging and galloping guitar in harmony with a rather fast bass/drum rhythm section really establish it as one of the faster and heavier songs on the album. In the midst of the fast chord progressions there are some breaks to take the song into a heavier layer. The guitar solo reminds me a lot of Uriah Heep meets Iron Maiden. There are some layers of progressive metal sprinkled throughout this track. The backing vocals serve more as a echo vocal than melodic vocal.
This one starts off on a more old school doom metal chord progressive passage. It contains some very heavy handed and deep doom like rhythm section between the bass/drum/guitar. Even the lyrical content reminds me more of a Black Sabbath Children Of The Grave. The guitar channels Tony Iommi quite well. The bleak instrumental definitely works in perfect harmony with the brooding lyrical material. Part of me feels like I am listening to Trouble meets Iron Maiden on this one. This is definitely a unique tribute of original material to Black Sabbath.
The Sails Of Charon
This one opens up with a blistering down tuned guitar passage. There are breaks in between the rhythm section and the lead guitar. Those breaks allow the song to breathe and grow into itself naturally. A lot this track reminds me a lot of Savatage’s Hall Of The Mountain King both instrumentally and lyrically. The vocals even soar like Jon Oliva’s at times.
Cry For The Legions
This opens up with a blistering thunderous frenzy of layer upon layers in the chord progressions. This track is very heavily progressive induced with the way it builds various layers upon layers on the instrumental half of this. The chorus takes a slight anthem form with the backing vocals. This track is definitely one of those that is designed for fist pumping.
Show No Mercy
This another track that opens up with the galloping Iron Maiden style rhythmic progression. This also is a track that builds layers upon layers. It carries both traditional heavy metal elements with light progressive metal elements. It does take a few breaks to allow the song to breathe so the listener can digest it. The guitar solo is one raunchy beast driving straight away which works very well for the soaring vocals.
This is the final song on the album and subsequently the end of the journey for now. This track is half a ballad style track and half a straight away traditional metal track. This is also the only instrumental on the album. The rhythm section and stringed sections still do a wonderful work telling their own story throughout the instrumental composition. Some of the elements we have come to know of Fred Gorhau from The Wizards of Winter project shine through on this track more so than the other tracks on the album.
I approached this album with some reservation and caution. It exceeded all of my expectations. This is definitely not a clone of The Wizards of Winter nor does it sound dated where it can easily fall through the cracks and branded as a nostalgia album. This does visit a era of metal many have forgotten about but maintains very modern and updated elements. The updated elements definitely prove this album is not your father’s metal but is also very modern to be your metal as well. With this project Fred Gorhau now has something he can work with on a year round basis without being pigeonholed to a specific time of year like he does with The Wizards Of Winter. I give Dark Sky Choir Dark Sky Choir a 4.5/5.