It took 129 days to record, between autumn 1966 and spring 1967, and it changed the world. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band may have all but disappeared under an avalanche of hyperbole, but if thereís one reason why this album stands the test of time itís because its sum is greater than its whole. After five listens most people will know it as a suite, where Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds always follows With a Little Help from My Friends. And it will always be thus.
The reason it took 129 days to piece together isnít due to the bandís indulgences Ė on the contrary, The Beatles were extremely disciplined during their studio sessions. Itís simply because guiding an album this complex to fruition in those days took a long time. These guys werenít just recording songs; they were inventing the stuff with which to make this record as they went along.
But with George Martin and his backroom boys on hand, the Faberge psychedelic egg that was finally laid on the eve of the Summer of Love came so fully-realised that it changed the way we listened to recorded sound forever. Sgt PepperísÖ is at once warm and familiar, yet wild and strange; cosy and English with a very empirical eye on the exotica of the East (note George Harrisonís underrated Within You Without You). Shot through with Peter Blake-assisted Edwardiana, it was also as fashionable as it could possibly be.
It was also a release key in the canon of concept albums, coming with its own alter-ego mythology and very much addressing the pressing concerns of their generation, ie: how to achieve higher states of consciousness in 60s suburbia.