Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Album):

When it comes to influential works, it goes without saying...so I won’t say it, then. But even though people did "borrow" from its individual songs (as we'll see here), Sgt. Pepper's real effect was to revolutionize the concept of “album” itself, and how people would approach them from this point on.  Albums would no longer be just a place to put your hit singles; now you weren’t doing a “real” album unless it was about something.  Or at least sounded like it was about something:  Segueing songs into one another (or just editing them together with no gaps); linking them with sound effects, “reprising” them or using other recurring themes were all tricks that could give the impression of a unifying theme even if none was actually present.  (Or as John put it, Sgt. Pepper was about something because the Beatles said it was.) In this age of song-by-song downloads and shuffle play, the whole idea seems kind of quaint.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Song):

Are you ready for a brand-new beat?  Bmpp-bmpp-baaaaaa; Bmpp-bmpp-baaaaaa  (or Chnk-chnk-chaaaaa, Chnk-ca-chnk-a-chnk-chaaaaa, if you're playing air guitar.)  The rhythmic basis of “Sgt. Pepper’s” title cut, and the very signature of the Psychedelia Era.  Goodbye, Merseybeat.  (Hollies, take note.)  You can hear the “psychedelic march” developing in various people's work during 1966, but it was Jimi Hendrix who really patented the formula.  It’s the heartbeat that runs throughout the “Are You Experienced” album – probably best exemplified by “Foxey Lady” – and it’s easy to hear it as being a slowed down version of the funky, James Brown-type rhythm that had influenced “Taxman,” with the blasting rhythm guitar on the backbeats.  It’s also possible to hear “Foxey Lady” as being a super-slowed down “Louie Louie.”  (As all sitcoms are “I Love Lucy”; so all rock music is “Louie Louie.”)  So maybe it’s a brand-old beat.  A grand old beat.  A high flying beat.

When he arrived in London from Alpha Centauri (okay, Seattle, if you insist), Jimi became the toast of the town with his live performances in late ‘66/early ’67, and the blingiest of the British rock glitterati (Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, The Kinks, The Who, et al) were soaking it all up.  By the spring of 1967 a number of songs with this characteristic psychedelic rhythm and sound had been recorded by the British groups -- and then came Pepper, the title track (recorded on February 1st) being Paul’s own version of “Foxey Lady.”  It was all over rock and roll after that.

So, pre-Pepper, the “Psychedelic Beat” was developing in songs like:

“Season of the Witch” – Donovan
Single; September 1966
“I Found You” - Gene Clark
Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers; September 1966
“Plastic Fantastic Lover” - Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow; February 1967
“Foxey Lady”; “Wind Cries Mary”; “Hey Joe”; etc. - Jimi Hendrix
Are You Experienced?; February 1967
“Love Me Till The Sun Shines” - The Kinks
Something Else; Recorded Spring 1967
“Strange Brew” – Cream
Disraeli Gears; Recorded May 1967

After this, there are (at least) two branches of the tree: the “Peppers” and the “Hendrixes.”  Both have that beat, but the Hendrixes are more straight, hard guitar-rock, while the Peppers have lots of Beatles pop flourishes.  The songs listed below all have the rhythmic hook; most are clearly versions of “Sgt. Pepper,” but some seem to come more from Hendrix or perhaps psychedelia generally, like “Pictures of Matchstick Men”; “Effigy” or “Down By The River” (…and “Out on the Weekend”..?  Wait, where is this going?  Did the psychedelic rockers take that beat with them to country music when everyone started going ‘rootsy’ in 1968?  Maybe they would never have stood still for country music without the ‘stoner’ beat.)  It tends to get a bit jumbled up, since, with this song at least, the Beatles weren’t quite as far ahead of the curve as they had been previously.

So, the “Sgt. Pepper” title track has Hendrix’s big “Foxey Lady” beat and lead guitar (Paul directing George’s playing), and adds things like the trademark Beatles group vocals, the orchestra tuning up, a horn break and crowd noises.  It’s also characterized by a one-note melody with a certain rat-a-tat cadence (“It was twenty years ago today”).  To varying degrees you can find those elements in the following songs.

String Interlude – Johnny Rivers
Realization; January 1968
At the end of Side A, as “Summer Rain” (with its own set of “Sgt. Pepper” references) segues into “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” the orchestra finally tunes up.

 

“Introduction” – The James Gang
Yer Album; 1969
The James Gang added quite a few flashes of Beatle-esque pop sensibility and imagination to their take on the power trio format, mostly thanks to Joe Walsh. However, this Pepperish string intro to their debut album is credited to drummer Jim Fox and producer Bill Szymczyk (sounds just like it’s spelled).


“F.M. Y CIA” - Los Mac’s
Kaleidoscope Men; September 1967 (“Pepperisms From Around The Globe” CD, 2000)
They’re from Chile, so I won’t criticize their punctuation.  (Hey, English isn’t their first language -- what’s everybody else’s excuse these days?)  Los Mac’s had recorded a couple of albums of mostly cover songs, but Willy Morales of the band said in a recent interview that they were inspired by Sgt. Pepper to write their own material.  Their label bought them a whole bunch of new instruments and recording equipment (no more “propaganda” style loudspeakers, for example) and gave them a whole month to record the album, which they did in September of 1967.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Hello!”; i.e. “Welcome to the Show.”  Nice interpretation of Paul’s high bass lines, and the tremelo organ (or is that a guitar?) on the downbeats.

 

“Inside And Out” - The Dave Clark 5
B-side of "Everybody Knows"; Nov. 24, 1967
Heavy on the piano and psychedelic guitar. Same E-G-A-E chord progression as “Sgt. Pepper,” as well as the “melody” line (such as it is) and its rat-a-tat rhythm.  Plus a string break and dive-bombing horns in the bridge.  Title-wise, this might reflect some George Harrison influence; “Withinside and Without,” as it were.

 

“Maze of Love” - The Dave Clark 5
Single; Aug. 18, 1968
Mark II.  Virtually the exact same song as “Inside And Out”; same chord progression (and in the same key), same lyrical theme, but with even more of “Pepper’s” rat-a-tat melodic rhythm, and spot-on version of its biting lead guitar solo.

 

“Pictures of Matchstick Men” – Status Quo
Single; November 1967
More of a Hendrix, with its “Hey Joe” chord progression and walking bassline.  But there are also some flowery psychedelic effects like the bubblegum wah-wah guitars, phasing and a bit of “Friday on My Mind’s” Arabic guitar phrasings.  And, like DC5, they liked it so nice they did it twice, with “Black Veils of Melancholy.” Sure these guys weren't really Spinal Tap?

 

“Colour Sergeant Lillywhite” - West Coast Consortium
Single; March 1968
Wah-wahs and phasing.  No horn section, but a big Macca bass leads the parade in this song about another Sergeant.

 

“Throw My Love Away” – Honeybus
B-side to (Do I Figure) In Your Life; October 1967
A bit rhythm’n’bluesier than the others here, but with the Pepper background vocals, the flashy George-doing-Paul-doing-Jimi lead guitar, and the right cadence to its lyric.  This could actually pass for more of a direct Hendrix cop if they had true hard rock credentials, but Honeybus were pure popsters.

 

“Walking Out” – The Koobas
B-side to “The First Cut Is The Deepest”; Summer 1968
Not “Walking Up con Los Koobas”; “Walking Out.”  The Koobas were contemporaries of the Beatles from the back in the early Liverpool days.  Had a bit part – cut out – in the Ferry Cross the Mersey movie.

 

“Take A Look” – Gary Walker and the Rain
Album #1; Summer 1968
Gary Walker, not of Los Walkers but late of the Walker Brothers.  And Joey Molland, soon to become a Badfinger…nail. GW & TR had released a single, a cover of “Spooky” in Japan in “early 1968,” according to their CD’s liner notes, and, encouraged by its success, their label had them record an album to follow up.  Album #1 was it.  So, this would seem to have been from the summer of 1968.  The Pepper cadence and background vocals, especially with the “Bett-a…so much bett-a” line.

 

“Doctor Doctor” – Gary Walker and the Rain
Album #1; Summer 1968
Lots of mileage in that beat; there seem to be quite a few two-fers from many of these bands.


“Citadel” - The Rolling Stones
Their Satanic Majesties Request; November 1967
The Hendrix power chording of the psychedelic beat is right in Keith’s wheelhouse; he does the whole thing on guitar instead of playing against the bass by just hitting the backbeats, the way most of the other songs here do.

 

“In Another Land” - The Rolling Stones
Their Satanic Majesties Request; November 1967
While Keith and Mick are distracted with their own travails with The Man, Bill Wyman gets a song onto the new album.  Goes all Pepper in the bridge.

 

“Shades of Orange” – The End
Single; March 1968
This goes all Pepper in the chorus.  (We’ll discuss this again on a subsequent page, though, because the verse is another, later Beatles song.) Produced and written by Bill Wyman.  The Stones may have been doing Hendrix with theirs, but this is too poppy-sounding to pass for that.

 

“World” – The Bee Gees
Horizontal; 1968
The Horizontal album showed a lot of influence of the Sgt. Pepper sound, particularly the heavy, compressed “Day in The Life” piano.  In the lead-ins to the verses here, there’s the psychedelic beat and a brief, scathing, Hendrix-like guitar solo.  Almost scandalous, coming from the Bee Gees.  Outdid Paul with this one.  I think the Bee Gees had a point to make at this stage of their career – even allowing for the ballads on this album, this is where they sounded most like legitimate rock musicians.

 

“The Earnest of Being George” – The Bee Gees
Horizontal; 1968
More of a Hendrix, but Bee Gees + Hendrix still = Beatles?

 

“Goose” – The Scaffold
B-side to Charity Bubbles; June 27, 1969
Described by Mike McCartney as a “Dylan-esque” rant, it sounds just as much Lennon-esque to these ears.  Brother Paul plays lead guitar here, so now he gets to do it his own way his own self.

 

“Starman” – David Bowie
Ziggy Stardust; 1972
Well, the beat, anyway. Perhaps neither quite Pepper nor Hendrix, but Psychedelic-Folk-Spacerock, as Bowie moves from hippie troubadour to arch-Glam Rocker.

 

“Dennis Dupree from Danville” – The Cryan’ Shames
A Scratch In The Sky; Recorded October 1967
Originally written and recorded by the Chicago band “Saturday’s Children.”  Haven’t heard their original version, and am not sure when it came out, so this could more properly be a Hendrix; Foxey Lady beat and lead guitar.  Also includes some “Drive My Car”; Hey, get that cowbell outta here!

“Greenburg, Glickstein, Charles, David Smith & Jones” – The Cryan’ Shames
Single; Recorded July 1968
Mark II.  Now, this is a true Pepper.  “Greenburg, Glickstein’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  Add a measure of “Talk Talk” and a dash of “Tobacco Ro-wo-wo-woad.”  Wild lead guitar and a huge lead bass worthy of Roy Wood.


“The Painter” – The Cryan’ Shames
Synthesis; December 1968
Okay, that’s enough from these guys now
.

 

“Just Because I’ve Fallen Down” – The Buckinghams
Portraits; 1968
Plenty of the newly-discovered psychedelic effects here as well as the "Pepper" rhythmic foundation:  Backwards piano intro, George-Paul-Jimi guitar, psychedelic break (two of ‘em, including a pre-Revolution #9-type montage of backwards sounds) with free-form strings.  And a change-of-pace chorus with horns plus a segue into the next song.  The entire Pepper album encapsulated.

 

“The Big Show” - John Fred & His Playboy Band
Love My Soul; 1970
We stop off in New Orleans with John Fred and his Louisiana Playboys.  John Fred’s career was made by a Beatles parody, so he wasn’t above making a few more pointed references as he does in the lyric here.

 

“Hung Upside Down” – Buffalo Springfield
Buffalo Springfield Again –Recorded June 30, 1967
From LA to L.A. In keeping with his personality type, Stephen Stills naturally got off the mark very quickly.  Sgt. Pepper came out amid the flurry of recording the Springfield were doing for their second album, and here’s the "Pepper" beat hidden in the opening riff and chorus.

 

"Laughing" - David Crosby
If I Could Only Remember My Name; 1971
In keeping with his personality type, David Crosby naturally got off the mark rather more slowly. (Actually, that's unfair - I just wanted to make a joke at David Crosby's expense.) In reality, he was all over this beat, and pretty quickly, too; even though he didn't record this song until 1971, he has said that he originally wrote it for the Byrds, which presumably means that it dates from around 1967. Or perhaps even earlier, because he was becoming part of the San Francisco scene just as psychedelic music was developing in 1966. And you can hear the psychedelic beat -- delicately played -- in "Draft Morning" and "Triad," from July-Aug. of 1967.

Interestingly, Crosby had been instrumental in bringing "Hey Joe" to prominence back in 1965, and that song would of course become one of Jimi Hendrix's trademark uses of the beat. Crosby would use it himself a number of other times, in "Wooden Ships," "Almost Cut My Hair," and "Deja Vu."

But none of these would really be Peppers; more just the San Francisco sound, probably.

 

“Down By The River” - Neil Young
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere; May 1969
Okay, not a Pepper either.  But this was Neil’s version of the psychedelic beat.  In the chicken scratching opening guitar work you can hear the echoes of the intro to “Are You Experienced?” And then, with the Harvest album, he trademarked his own version of the beat (“Out On The Weekend,” to name just one) and, as Jimi had, he distilled it down to its bare essentials.  But again, I digress.

 

“Effigy” - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Willy And The Poor Boys; November 1969
Not a Pepper either; just John Fogerty’s “Hey Joe.” Let's get back on track.

 

“Artificial Energy” - The Byrds
Notorious Byrd Brothers; Recorded Dec. 6, 1967
One of the most un-Byrdsy-sounding Byrds songs, probably because they were getting out of their natural element by doing Pepper.  Beat’n’horns, and a Droogish lyric about amphetamines and killing “queens.”

 

“Bad Night At The Whiskey” – The Byrds
Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde; Feb. 1969
Getting out their natural element by doing a slow country rock Hendrix.  Always startling when Roger gets heavy.

 

“Gemini Childe” – The Mamas & The Papas
The Papas & The Mamas; 1968
Talk about getting out of your natural element.  John Phillips upping the Hendrix quotient in the hard rock sections of this work of musical schizophrenia.  (Gemini. Ah. I get it.)

 

“Listen Listen” - The Merry-Go-Round
Single; Recorded February 1968
Pretty clearly about the Beatles themselves; maybe Emitt Rhodes was at one of the Hollywood Bowl shows. “Nothing you can do or say”...“Twenty years ago today.”

 

“Got To Be On My Way” - The Moon
Without Earth; Autumn 1967
The Moon, perhaps most noteworthy for having original Beach Boy David Marks as a founding member.  Again, the trademark Pepper rhythm, as well as the psychedelic lead guitar lines and the “Twenty years ago today” cadence.  (“Nothing you can do to change me.”)  With a connection to Mike Curb, Marks and his cohorts (Larry Brown and Matthew Moore) had access to lots of studio time, and basically set about deconstructing and reconstructing the whole Sgt. Pepper album.

 

“John Automaton” - The Moon
The Moon; 1969
Do it again.

 

“Land of Oz” – Le Cirque
Single; November 1967
The archetypical sound of the Sgt. Pepper horns and beat.  With some proto-synth…or possibly just a square-wave generator.  And Varispeed vocal effects. From the Soft Sounds For Gentle People series of CDs on Pet Records -- who apparently have no website.

 

“I Had a Dream” – Paul Revere & The Raiders
Revolution!; August 1967
Never ones to miss a good Beatles trick.  Like many Paul Revere songs, this was mighty quick work.  Good thing bands put out albums every 3 weeks in the 60's.

 

“Dizzy” – Tommy Roe
Single; 1969
Psychedelic strings and lightheaded key changes.  Tommy started his career with Buddy Holly imitations and evolved into a creator of a slew of psychedelic bubblegum hits with variations on the Pepper beat. And proto-hip-hop breaks.

 

“Bang-Shang-A-Lang” – The Archies
Single; 1968
This beat was the perfect rhythm for bubblegum, making sexual innuendo safe for general consumption.

 

“Rock Me Baby” – David Cassidy
Rock Me Baby; 1972
Speaking of which, this beat is just the thing to toughen up the “safe” image of a pop teddy bear like David Cassidy.  Or perhaps Johnny Farnham.

 

“Rock Me Baby” – Johnny Farnham
Single; 1972
The Australian David Cassidy.

 

“Wishes” – The Flames
Soulfire!!; April 1968
From the Colonies, specifically South Africa.  The Fataar brothers, including Ricky, before his Beach Boys and Rutles days.  And pre-“Flame,” too, the shortened version of their name that they would soon adopt.

 

“See The Light” – The Flame
The Flame; 1971
Carl Wilson would discover the Flame and bring them to the Beach Boys’ Brother label to do this album, which is an impressive batch of Pepper and Abbey Road-flavored rock. Blondie Chaplin was also in the band by this point, before he and Ricky were co-opted into the BBs themselves.

 

“Hey Lord” – The Flame
The Flame; 1971
Another "Pepper."  Or "Foxey Lady." In case you can’t tell from their titles, there’s definitely a spiritual outlook to their music.

 

“The Real Thing” – Russell Morris
Single; 1968
From the Colonies, specifically Australia.  Some high flying bass fills, and it’s got the Pepper beat at the outset, before it charges into the full-blown (up) ending, culminating in the Hitler Youth and the A-bomb.  Nice setting for the Coke slogan.

 

“9-5 Pollution Blues” – The World
‘Lucky Planet’; 1970
“Major Happy’s Up and Coming Once Upon a Good Time Band” - The Rutles
Archaeology; 1996
Neil Innes does it both straight and warped.

 

“Magic Man” – Heart
Dreamboat Annie; 1976
The penultimate expression of the “Foxey Lady” beat, done as a voodoo love incantation.

 

“We Will Rock You” – Queen
News Of The World; Nov. 1977
The ultimate expression of the “Foxey Lady” beat, done as a football chant.  We’re pretty far removed from Sgt. Pepper and Hendrix by this point, but there’s still the “20 years ago today” lyrical beat, and the ghost of Jimi’s guitar.

 


“Heavy Duty” – Spinal Tap
This Is Spinal Tap; 1984
The Dobliest expression of the “Foxey Lady” beat, done as a T-shirt.

 

After a certain point you just lose count.  So we move on to…

 

With a Little Help From My Friends:

“Listen To The Man” – Robbie
B-side to Indigo Spring; Sept. 1967
Listen To The Bass, with its contrapuntal beats like little snare shots in the breaks.  But to tell the truth, we run into a little trouble here, because the musical elements in “With A Little Help” are very similar to those in “Penny Lane,” and since those two were released so closely together, it gets a little difficult with some of these songs to say that they are strictly one or the other. This is probably a bit of both.

“Robbie” being West Coast Consortium’s lead singer Robbie Fair, although the personnel lineup was just the same.

 

“On With the Show” - The Idle Race
The Birthday Party; 1968
“On With The Show”: Summarize “Sgt. Pepper” in five words or less.  (We would also accept “Come see the show,” John’s own summary.)  Musically, “With A Little Help” used the other iconic rhythm of the psychedelic era, the “music hall” two-step, as in “Sunny Afternoon” and “Penny Lane,” with various nuances.  When the Kinks did it (“Sunny Afternoon,” “Autumn Almanac”), it had a lot of emphasis on every downbeat; good for swinging your beer mug.  “With A Little Help” is a bit more easygoing, with more of a backbeat.  “On With The Show” shares that feel and a simple, Ringo-like “la-la” melody.

This also features a music/sound montage at its beginning which utilizes some production music from another icon of 60's coolness, Patrick McGoohan’s “The Prisoner”; specifically, some carnival music from Episode 15, “The Girl Who Was Death,” aired on Jan. 19th, 1968.

 

“Everything’s Alright” - The Aerovons
Resurrection; Recorded 1969
The Aerovons: Good band, great hair, lousy name.  Gifted Beatles channelers from St. Louis, whose demo tape won them an audition with Capitol, a recording contract with Parlophone, recording sessions with Beatles engineer Norman Smith at Abbey Road and shoulder rubbing with some of the top bands in London. Before their album could be released the band broke up and they went back to St. Louis and college. La de da.

The chorus really nails it, vocally rhythmically and lyrically, and there’s a nice break toward the end with some Ringo drum fills. Plus the way the song resolves (see also Oasis below).  A real Hollies sound in the vocals, which is not surprising since they were one of the bands who gave a few first-hand pointers to these guys.


“Rendezvous” - The Rutles
Archaeology; 1996
Barry Wom takes center stage.  This expands on the device of a “conversation” between the lead and backup singers, who then nearly run away with the song as it degenerates into a Python-esque argument.

 

“She’s Electric” – Oasis
(What's The Story) Morning Glory?; 1995
The ending, with its vocal climb is straight from the ending of “With a Little Help.”  The bridge harks to “On a Carousel,” enhancing its 60's feel.

 

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds:

“Good Times Roll” - The Rutles
The Rutles; 1978
Tthe “Psychedelicatessen” beat. There are only a few bits of actual rock’n’roll on Sgt. Pepper:  The opening and closing theme, “Good Morning” and the chorus of “Lucy”, which would presumably be John’s version of the “Foxey Lady” “Chnk-chnk-chaaa” rhythm.  (Or maybe that was Paul’s contribution..?)

 


“Butterfly” – The Hollies
Butterfly; November 1967
This covers the non-Hendrix part of the song -- the verse. Instead of tangerine trees and marmalade skies, we get lemonade lakes and candyfloss snow. Musically, with its full orchestral arrangement and waltz time, this is something of a cross between the verse of “Lucy” and “She’s Leaving Home.”

 

Getting Better:

“Care of Cell 44” – The Zombies
Odessey and Oracle; Recorded Aug. 16, 1967
Underneath the Zombies style and obtuse sense of humor, there’s the “Getting Better” heartbeat.  Nice mellotron, too, making this 1967.  The date of recording, the rhythm, the cadence of the lyric, the way-up-high bass fills, the “better” reference in the first line all tie it to, well, “Better.”

 

“Goodbye Holly” - The Left Banke
The Left Banke Too; November 1968
Mostly the intro, really, with the arpeggio guitar lick overlaid on their own set of chord changes. After that the song proper goes off more into Association-like, “Ba-ba-ba” vocal territory.

 

“Sweet Girl of Mine” – The Cryan’ Shames
Synthesis; December 1968
More of that rhythm guitar.

 

“Yes” – Grapefruit
Around Grapefruit; 1969
“Getting Better” without the sarcasm and the vaguely disconcerting “Clockwork Orange” overtones. Not only did John and Yoko name the band, but they’re likely responsible for the title of this song as well, directly or indirectly; “Yes” was the word one saw through the mini-telescope at Yoko’s artshow where she and John met in 1966, and John has told us that that was what made him decide that he liked this person. In retrospect, it ties in nicely to the theme of John’s own “The Word,” too.

 

Fixing a Hole:

“Feel Too Good” - Utopia
Deface The Music; 1980
“Fixing a Hole” probably ranks lowest on the marquee of Sgt. Pepper songs, but that makes it a bit of a “stealth” number, and it may actually be one of the songs that really makes Pepper “Pepper.” Maybe the first definitive “album cut.” It helps to frame the rest of the record, and it’s hard to imagine it existing outside of the album. (Also hard to imagine the album with “Strawberry Fields” or “Penny Lane” in its place -- which was an option the Beatles had.) There’s a placebo effect as well; this much effort expended on a song literally about nothing makes you think it must be about much more, which probably contributed to its cachet as an alleged “drug song.” Maybe it’s always that way with songs about loafing; “Get Off My Cloud”; “Lazy Old Sun”; “I Went To Sleep.” They’re not on drugs. All they want is a Pepsi.

Oh yeah; this Utopia song is a given, combining both “Fixing A Hole” and “Getting Better.”

 

She's Leaving Home:

“Mournin' Glory Story” - Harry Nilsson
Harry; 1969; Recorded Sept. 10, 1968
With its obvious musical and lyrical references, “Mourning Glory Story” could also be the story of the harsh aftermath that might have followed Paul’s heroine’s impulsive dash to the city, a la the Kinks’ “Big Black Smoke.”  Don’t trust those men from the motor trade.


“Lullaby” – Grapefruit
Around Grapefruit; 1969
The 3-note melody line at the end of each chorus in “She’s Leaving Home” (“…after living alone for so many years”), used here as the melody for the verses here.  The band’s connection to the Lennons (plus the John-like delivery) probably contributed to the rumour going around at the time that this song actually was the Beatles.  Not bad PR to have, although there were bands who found out that it could backfire when the truth came out.

 

“Mary Jane” – The Moon
The Moon; 1969
“She’s Leaving Home’s” staccato string arrangement.  This is a kind of hybrid, because it bears as much of a resemblance to Brian Wilson’s Smile-era string arrangements and rhythms, which fits with the band's West Coast heritage.  Part of the baroque-rock school that was developing.

 

“Margie” – Liverpool Express
Dreamin’; 1978
This is a mate of Paul’s; Billy Kinsley, Liverpool lad himself, late of the Merseybeats/Merseys, put together Liverpool Express in 1975.

There’s a little of “Eleanor Rigby's” minor-key feel here, but also “She’s Leaving Home’s” interplay between the lead and backing vocals in the chorus, and the way that the strings resolve to end of the song.

 

“Vanity Fair” – Squeeze
East Side Story; 1982
Difford and Tilbrook, the Lennon-McCartney of New Wave. Their updating of “She’s Leaving Home’s” string arrangement and third-person narrative about a young lady’s life.

 

“Frivolous Tonight” – XTC
Apple Venus; 1999
“All so frivolous…to-night” = “She’s leaving home…bye-bye.”

 

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!:

“Turn of the Century” - The Bee Gees
Bee Gees 1st; August 1967
The ice is getting pretty thin here -- not only was this first recorded just two weeks after “Mr. Kite,” but the Gibb brothers tell us that they wrote it on the ship en route from Australia to England in January of 1967 -- almost exactly the same time John was writing "Mr. Kite," and certainly well before the Beatles recorded it. Still, the Bee Gees were working just across town, and with their manager Robert Stigwood having just recently departed from Brian Epstein’s NEMS, it’s plausible that they got a preview of “Mr. Kite” -- although the Gibbs have claimed that they didn’t hear Sgt. Pepper until after they’d completed their own album. It is true that nothing else on Bee Gees 1st bears any real resemblance to Pepper, and two weeks is, to quote Neil Young, a mighty tight squeeze. But not impossible. To quote Richard Nixon, technically, I have committed no crime here. But really, I think the Bee Gees just get credit with this for fulfilling their mission statement of "writing the Beatles' next single."

As to the song itself, there’s a two-step rhythm and a lyric full of carnival imagery such as horseless carriages, tall white hats and town criers.  And the orchestral arrangement, which can get a little rich on other Bee Gees recordings, is right at home here.  Not a rock and roll instrument in sight. This also sounds as if they tried a Beatl-esque production trick of putting some tape on the capstan of the recording deck to mess around a little bit with the sound of the harpsichord.  Maybe I just need a new record player.


“The Old Circus Poster” - Philip Pope
Alas Smith And Jones; BBC comedy series; 1985
Alas, there’s no real song – just a snippet that I recall seeing many years ago on their show.  (“They” being Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones.) There’s a Rutles-like skit which refers to an old circus poster being the inspiration for the song“The Old Circus Poster”: “Before we turn it into glue, the horse will do a trick or two.”  Brilliant. Have to see what their soon-to-be-released “Best of” DVD may hold.  Philip Pope did a lot of this kind of musical pastiche on a number of British TV shows, and imdb.com also credits him with a song called “I Read The News This Afternoon,” which sounds promising.

 

“The End of The Pier” - Andy Partridge
Unreleased track from Nonsuch sessions; 1990 ('Fuzzy Warbles' Vol. 6; 2004)
Maybe not really being fair here, because Andy tells us that this came from the actual source, i.e. seaside fairgrounds. And its resemblance to "Mr. Kite" isn't very specific -- except for one phrase at the end of each verse, where everything stops and the organ fills the gap with six staccato blasts. That's probably also a legitimate fill traditional to the form, but it will certainly make you laugh if you're American, because there's only one piece of music that it'll make you think of. Hey, we know Andy knows too.

 

Within You Without You:

“Maker” – The Hollies
Butterfly; Nov. 1967
As Evolution was the Hollies’ Revolver, so Butterfly was their Sgt. Pepper.

 

“Sattva” - The Rascals
Once Upon A Dream; Feb. 19, 1968
“This is love, this is love, this is love...” That’s really about the only lyric you can do for this kind of thing, isn’t it.

 

“Solitude” - The Flames
Soulfire!!; April 1968
Ravi Fataar?

 

“Nevertheless” - The Rutles
The Rutles; 1978
These days Neil Innes has to share songwriting credit with Lennon and McCartney for the Rutles songs.  Out of curiosity, I checked the Harry Fox Agency’s website. (They’re the organization responsible for licensing most music in America; when you do a cover version of somebody else's song, you pay them the licensing fees and they distribute them to the publishing companies for the appropriate authors.) And on their site, the listings for the Rutles songs do indicate an authorship of either “Neil Innes” or “Lennon/Innes/McCartney.”

But apparently somebody forgot about this song. The credit for “Nevertheless” reads “Lennon-McCartney”(!)  Now, that is wrong on so many levels.  Surely Neil should be in there somewhere -- or maybe George.  Do John and Paul really get credit for Neil Innes’ take on a George Harrison song? And then Michael Jackson gets the royalties? Wrong on so many levels.

 

“Within You Without You” - Big Daddy
Sgt. Pepper’s; 1992
Big Daddy’s “Sgt. Pepper’s” album is a must-have for any Beatles fan; for those not familiar, Big Daddy were an 80’s L.A. band whose premise was that, during a 1950’s USO tour, got stranded on a desert island for 30 years and, after being rescued, resumed their career, doing 50's-style version of contemporary 80's songs. On Sgt. Pepper’s, their masterpiece, they do “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” as “Palisades Park,” and “A Day In the Life” as “Peggy Sue,” complete with plane crash ending.

Obviously, listing this is a bit of a ringer, because it’s just a cover song, but I had to mention it because doing George Harrison’s bit of eastern philosophy as Beat Poetry is too perfect.

 

“This Is All Real” - Chris Thile
Deceiver; 2004
Grown-up ex-child prodigy from Nickel Creek (the nuevo bluegrass group, not a locale), Chris Thile reaches out to pop influences on this experimental album.  Something of a spiritual cousin to Ben Kweller’s “Family Tree.

 

When I'm Sixty Four:

“Till Death Us Do Part” - The Kinks
Recorded September 1968; Film Soundtrack 1969; The Great Lost Kinks Album; 1973
The theme from the film from the TV series. With British groups like the Kinks, this kind of thing was more legitimate; they at least had Music Hall somewhere in their collective background. Paul McCartney and Ray Davies certainly had it in their households growing up.


“With You In My Life” - The Raspberries
Raspberries; 1972
But not the American bands. To the extent that they had (or paid attention to) those kinds of roots, they would have been Swing. Interesting that Swing didn’t make it as a rock style in the 60's, but that Music Hall did. Brian Wilson did have a go at traditional American styles, but “Heroes and Villains” didn’t exactly start a mad rush to Barbershop Rock.


“Back in ’64” - The Rutles
Archaeology; 1996
This ties it all together; the 30's, the 60's, the 90's, old age and nostalgia.

 

Lovely Rita:

“Rockalizer Baby” – The Bonzo Dog Band
The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse; Dec. 1968
Neil Innes again. The chorus is built on an extended version of the descending chord pattern from the “Standing by a parking meter” section, stitched in amongst the Bonzos’ musical comedy theatre.

 

“Missing You” - The Merry-Go-Round
B-side to Listen Listen; Recorded Apr. 29, 1968
Halfway through this song the proceedings come to a halt and we go into a variation on the piano and wordless vocal from “Rita’s” intro.

 

Good Morning, Good Morning:

“I Hide” – Paper Garden
The Paper Garden; 1968
The time signatures in "Good Morning" are many and varied. Generally, it’s based on a 4/4 beat -- with a few extra beats scattered strategically -- and then in a couple of places it goes into a straight boogie-beat (i.e. “meet the wife”), which is what we have here – just imagine replacing George with Neil Young as lead guitarist.  As a matter of fact, this does recall the Springfield’s “Leave” somewhat. Calling this “Good Morning” might be a more difficult call if the rest of Paper Garden’s album wasn’t so Peppery.

“You Can Dance Your Rock and Roll” – Wizzard
Wizzard's Brew; 1973
For a while there, Roy Wood made his mark channeling 50's rock for the 70's, so he was just the man to come up with something like “Good Morning,” John’s channeling of 50's rock for the 60's.  This might be a bit circumstantial, because Roy was arguably just drawing directly from the same sources as John was, but his ‘LBTB’ credentials are well-established, so he’s not completely off the hook. This sure has the same cacophony. And saxophony.

 

Sgt. Pepper (Reprise):

“It’s Too Groovy” – The Ohio Express
Beg, Borrow & Steal; 1967
You couldn’t find a more perfect replication of the Pepper reprise “groove” (so to speak) unless you sampled it.  People didn’t do that back then.  They did this.  And sometimes they took it to ridiculous extremes.  This is too groovy for its shirt.  It’s so groovy it hurts.  It’s also too groovy to keep on rhythm.  Hey, man, just feel it, will ya?

 

“Mr. Soul” (Reprise) intro to Broken Arrow - Buffalo Springfield
Buffalo Springfield Again; 1968; 'Live' 'Mr. Soul' reprise recorded Aug. 25, 1967
“Hey, you guys, I’ve got a great idea; we could reprise the opening song at the end, do it just like the reprise of Sgt. Pepper, and segue into a big magnum opus to finish the album.”
This would be the first of several times in his career that Neil would use the “reprise” motif to bookend an album.  This is a nice tongue-in-cheek re-creation, with its shaker rhythm and concocted “live” atmosphere.

 

“See The Light (Reprise)” – The Flame
The Flame; 1971
“Hey, you guys, I’ve got a great idea; we could do a reprise of the opening track at the end of the album…”

 

A Day In The Life:

“Expecting To Fly” - Buffalo Springfield
Recorded May 6, 1967
David Crosby brought a bootleg tape of “Day in the Life” back to L.A. in the spring of 1967, a few months before Sgt. Pepper was released. (Which led to an interesting side adventure when Greene & Stone, the Springfield’s managers, hired a couple of girls who knew Crosby to get them a copy of the tape through nefarious means, and...well, anyway, they got a copy of the tape. Greene & Stone then used it to get airplay for another one of their bands, so “A Day In The Life” got a little pre-release bootleg airplay in L.A., and certain legal repercussions ensued. See www.songfacts.com)

Anyway, the point is that “A Day In The Life” was having its influence with Crosby and his friends during this time frame. And with “Expecting To Fly” Neil Young and Jack Nitschke pick up where “Day In The Life” leaves off, opening with that famous final chord running in reverse.

 

“Horizontal” - The Bee Gees
Horizontal; January 1968
This is a Mellotron, so we must be in 1967. The Bee Gees big moody magnum opus to close the album, with stately piano subbing for John’s stately guitar.

 

“Space Oddity” - David Bowie
Man of Words/Man of Music; 1969 (Re-released in 1972 as “Space Oddity”)
This is a Stylophone, so we must be in 1969. Bowie even did an ad for the Stylophone based on its use here.  It’s that low, annoying, bumble-bee kind of drone you can hear at the bottom end.  I can tell you from personal experience that it must be used judiciously. It’s a little like garlic.

There’s a lot of “Day in the Life” here; the opening guitar strumming, the spooky, reverb-y atmosphere punctuated by sparse drum fills, and, most notably, the chaotic orchestral build --which in “A Day In The Life” became the subject of some controversy; some interpreted it to be an allusion to a drug user’s rush. The Beatles probably weren’t trying to be that specific, but David Bowie was. “Space Oddity” is a pointed, chilling analogy for addiction itself, so the musical metaphor is more apt.

 

“Lola” (Instrumental) - The Kinks
'Percy' Soundtrack; 1968
An instrumental reworking of “Lola” for the Percy soundtrack, ending with a big accelerating climb up an octave or two or three -- a device they would also employ in “Last of the Steam Powered Trains.” Kind of a 4-piece band interpretation of the “Day In The Life” climax.

 

“The Biggest Night of Her Life” - Harper’s Bizarre
Anything Goes; October 1967
Bump, bump, bump, bump.  Now we get to Paul’s part of the song. No mistaking that thumping one note bass line.  (“The Biggest Night in the Life,” maybe?)  A Randy Newman song, written for the Bizarre.  Lots of cover songs from the ‘20's on this album, following through on the music hall scare of the previous year.

 

“Mr. Blue Sky” - Electric Light Orchestra
Out Of The Blue; 1977
Bump, bump, bump, bump. An even better re-creation, complete with the getting out of bed theme and huffing and puffing after the bus. But this is done straight, without any hint of the foreboding undercurrent found in the original.

 

“I Want You To Want Me” - Cheap Trick
In Color; 1977
Bump, bump, bump, bump. Anything ELO can do, Cheap Trick can do…also.

 

“How Are You” – Cheap Trick
Heaven Tonight; 1978
Bump, bump, bump, bump. Part Two. And this time it’s an even more overt reference: “Wake, up, good morning... lie in bed…”  With the clear ELO influence from the very beginning of their career, this may owe just as much to “Mr. Blue Sky” as “A Day in the Life.”

 

“Double Talk” – Shoes
Boomerang; 1982
The Shoes (or, more correctly, just “Shoes”) did such a good job of bringing their own style to Beatle-esque pop that it’s hard to find specific matches for their song. They always seem to skim under the radar of sounding like any particular Beatles song -- or time period; Shoes always sound like Shoes. But this is certainly the thumping rhythm and drum build from the “Day” bridge.

 

“Hush” - Billy Joe Royal
Billy Joe Royal; Recorded October 1967
Now we get to John’s wordless vocal link back to the main section of the song. This was written by Joe South, sneaking yet another Beatles reference into one of his swamp-rockers. Joe produced this, the original version by Billy Joe Royal, and did his own version in 1969. But it was Deep Purple who had the big hit with it in August of 1968 -- and theirs stretches the riff down to half time at the very end, underlining its similarity to the Beatles original.

This is such a classic hook, it almost sounds like some old blues riff. But we’ve already seen various degrees of Beatles influence in several pieces of Joe South’s work, and there's also "Pepper's" psychedelic beat in this. Nice bit of utility to pick the riff up and make a whole song out of it.

 

“A Day” - Paper Garden
The Paper Garden; 1968
A Day, but not in the Life. Actually, wait, it is; there’s the similar guitar strumming and moody approach, plus a random sound effects break. And the main musical hook is another variation on the wordless vocal link.

 

“Up the Junction” - Manfred Mann
Up The Junction soundtrack; January 1968
Written by bandmember Mike Hugg, this is a dichotomous hybrid of two of the big production epics from the preceding year; “California Girls” (in the chorus) and “A Day In The Life” (in the verse), with its cathedral reverb, massive Ringo fills and moody acoustic guitar strumming, particularly noticeable as it transitions out of each chorus.

 

“A Master’s Fool” – The Cryan’ Shames
Synthesis; December 1968
Just the strings, really; an amorphous climbing intro to the song.  But there’s also the big minor key, dramatic sweep…and those Ringo fills…

 

“Symphony of the Wind” – The Cryan’ Shames
Synthesis; December 1968
Just the strings, really.  Part Two.  We’ve got a string section and we’re gonna use it…this time in the center break.  Another dramatic climb when it goes into the instrumental bridge.

 

“Blagged!” - Peter Sarstedt
Where Do You Go To My Lovely; April 1969
F. Scott Fitzsarstedt, penning stories of the world-weary rich.  This tale of an encounter between our esteemed hero and a high priced companion is built around “Day’s” low rumbling piano, monstrous Ringo tom tom fills, and a dizzy string coda.

 

“The Children” – The Aerovons
Resurrection; Recorded 1969
Structurally, this is a ringer for the whole song:  Starts with a pensive piano-based dirge and John’s trademark vocal trills, goes into an uptempo piano shuffle center section, and then returns to the moody opening theme, with a distant background vocal section (like the ‘Hush’ riff) as a coda.

 

“Cheese and Onions” - The Rutles
The Rutles; 1978
Do I have to spell it out?

 

“Deep Note” (THX Demo) - Dr. James “Andy” Moorer
‘Return of the Jedi’ premiere; 1983
Commissioned to show off the capabilities of Lucasfilm’s new THX sound system, boffin Andy Moorer created this ubiquitous piece of theatre music, which oftentime is the best part of the movie. More correctly, he wrote the algorithm that drove this computer-generated crescendo of noise, which builds from an ominous cacophony of randomly coalescing notes to culminate in a breathtaking, full-body Shiatsu massage, major-chord resolution. Algorithm and Blues. See www.thx.com.

 

Inner Groove:

“Zilch” - The Monkees
Headquarters; May 1967 (Recorded March 1967)
Hey, good for the Monkees!  Recorded pre-Pepper, so obviously the avant-garde ideas were now beginning to catch up with the Beatles’ shock wave. Nice bunch of tape loops.  Not alleged to say anybody is dead if you play it backwards.

 

“Track Records” – The Who
The Who Sell Out; Dec. 16, 1967
But this one really is a legitimate reaction to Sgt. Pepper, being the Who's own 'inner groove.'