The day I bought Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely
Hearts Club Band was one of the seminal experiences of my childhood. I was a pop-mad 10-year-old who spent all his pocket money on records and music magazines. We lived in Hong Kong at the time and in the summer of 1967 I took myself to my favourite record store in Kowloon. I had been waiting for the arrival of the record for weeks and, finally, there it was, multiple copies lining a wall. I remember that new vinyl smell and the excitement of that moment. I went straight home and played it over and over on the little record player in my room.
So I’m pencilling in August 25 when I can relive that childhood experience. That’s the night when the Beatles Back2Back national tour hits QPAC’s Lyric Theatre in Brisbane. This show, featuring Russell Morris, Kav Temperley, Jack Jones and Jon Allen (a new Fab Four), sees them perform every song from two classic Beatles albums – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road.
Both are significant. Sgt. Pepper’s was the apex of 1960s pop music, an album full of poetry with songs covering multiple genres and that amazing cover featuring the Beatles in colourful Edwardian-style band uniforms with cardboard cutouts of themselves and a small crowd of famous faces. There were also those marijuana plants in the picture but, hey, it was the 1960s.
Sgt. Pepper’s was the album of the century. Abbey Road is special, too, for its own reasons. It was the penultimate Beatles album and the last on which all four Beatles participated, recorded mostly at the same place as Sgt. Pep
per’s, the titular Abbey Road Studios in St John’s Wood, London. The cover of Abbey Road is simpler than Sgt. Pep
per’s and features the four band members walking across the zebra crossing outside the studios. Like me, many of you will have done the touristy thing and gone and walked across that crossing, too. You have to if you’re in London. Go on, admit it, you’ve done it, right? It’s a must. The songs on both albums are wonderfully varied. On Sgt. Pepper’s you have Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and A
Day in the Life, one of the most intriguing pop songs ever written, and She’s Leaving Home, one of the most poignant. Abbey Road highlights include two beautiful George Harrison songs – Something and Here Comes the Sun. There are so many great songs on both albums, but Sgt.
Pepper’s is the masterpiece. It ushered in the Summer of Love, if you were living in the northern hemisphere, and it was special. It still is and we get to hear it again soon. Joy. Don’t miss Phil Brown’s arts coverage weekdays on The Courier-Mail website