24 May 2017 by Paul Gallagher
We’re only days away from the first of Liverpool’s celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the release of the seminal album ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band’. All 13 tracks will be evoked in wonderfully different and creative ways; film, dance, drama, fireworks, circus and more. The programme is as exciting and dynamic as the music it represents.
The Beatles have always been game changers. They pretty much invented the blueprint for any credible pop/rock band – the group as a gang; freethinking outliers in charge of their own destiny, playing their own instruments and writing their own songs.
Successfully bridging worldwide commercial success and huge crucial acclaim, the Beatles continue to influence so much and so many, but their greatest legacy will always be their songs. It always comes back to the songs doesn’t it? In 1967, free from the distractions of touring, we are witnessing the group under the guise of the alter ego ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, in their pomp – ambitious, experimental, inquisitive, supremely confident, pushing relentlessly forward the boundaries of rock and pop – crafting a collection of songs that continue to endure and beguile. From Vaudeville to Avant-garde, Music Hall to Indian raga, with everything in between.
As the city begins its joyful celebration of this seminal album through an exciting series of imaginative reinterpretations of the songs, it feels like Pepper has come home. I’m sure one or two of us will also think of the two songs that anchor the Beatles to Liverpool more than any others, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’. Both were also recorded during the Sgt Pepper sessions and released as a double A sided single – another high watermark in their creativity and imagination. The songs, a delicious teaser for the ground-breaking album that followed, offered a deeper insight into their consciousness whist resonating a warm, wistful affection for their hometown.
I vividly recall buying Sgt Pepper as a callow 13 year-old in NEMS, in 1974. Whilst I soaked up the music, I stared and stared, mesmerised by Peter Blake designed cover. Who were all these people? I even looked up what the word ‘concept’ meant. You wouldn’t get that with an Ed Sheeran album would you?
We are excited to be joining the city-wide party for the album and the 50 Summers of Love celebrations with our own packed season of events. It’ll be an opportunity to time travel back to the sixties, and revisit the decade four local lads began a cultural revolution. With objects from our handling team, groovy costumes to try on, themed craft sessions and more, the whole family can learn more about a time when Liverpool was setting the music scene ablaze. With events to also mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of ‘The Mersey Sound’ and the completion of the futuristic Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, don’t miss this chance to celebrate an incredible year in Liverpool’s history.
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