Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: June 1, 1967
Appears on: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Lead vocal: Paul
"It was twenty years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. They've been going in and out of style, but they're guaranteed to raise a smile. So let me introduce to you, the act you've known for all these years! SERGEANT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND!!!!!!!"
After you drop the needle on side one, the first thing you hear is crowd noise before Paul's lead guitar comes screaming onto the stereo. Then, Paul's screaming vocal comes on, inviting all the listeners to relax, sit down and listen to some fantastic music.
The title track for the album that ended up defining a decade is easily the simplest song on the record. There is no technical wizardry beyond George Martin's use of the crowd noise. Paul plays bass and lead guitar. John's on rhythm and George adds a third guitar part. Ringo plays drums. So, beyond the standard, there is a group of session musicians adding French horns.
"Sgt. Pepper's..." does exactly what it sets out to do, acting as an introduction to the world's most famous fake band. I've always loved Paul's idea to 'tour the album' rather than the band, making the album as a show within itself. However, the idea that this is a 'concept album' is wrong. There is no overall concept within the songs. Rather, the concept is that we are listening to a show, so the album is sequenced as if it was one. Most of the songs don't end in a fade and those that do are followed by less than half-a-second of silence before the next song starts.
If it is possible to call a song on one of the best selling albums in the world underrated, the fact is that this song is. Everyone knows how great a pop record Sgt. Pepper's is, but songs like the title tack prove that the Beatles never forgot what they really were: a great rock band.
Strangely enough, "Sgt. Pepper's..." has made appearances outside of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...always attached to the next song, of course. The two appeared on 1967-1970, then remixed on the Yellow Submarine Songtrack. In 1978, EMI issued a "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends" b/w "A Day In The Life" to cash-in on Robert Stigwood's Sgt. Pepper's film. The 45 hit #63 in the UK and #71 in the US.