Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is not my favorite Beatles album. (yes, yes, yes. no one needs to be lectured about this groundbreaking, innovative, astounding album, least of all me. i didn’t say i didn’t like it. i just said it wasn’t my favorite.) but for kids, this colorful and bright album is chockablock full of sounds and sonic styles. i remember putting on headphones and being simply awed by every tiny bit of audio joy on this pup — and i wasn’t even on anything.
you’ve got straightforward rock and roll. you’ve got groovy psychedelics. you’ve got a mystical indian offering (which, admittedly, i skipped each and every time i played the album when i was young. i loathed that stuff back then.) you’ve got orchestral moments. in short, the only things missing from here are jazz and countrified offerings. and who cares whether lucy in the sky with diamonds is about acid or not: it’s a wonderful song to sing with kids, as is with a little help from my friends. ringo’s delivery of the latter charms me to this very day.
this is a great chance to teach kids about different styles AND different instruments. listen for the harpsichord (fixing a hole), the harmonium (for the benefit of mr. kite), the sitar (within you, without you), the sax (good morning, good morning). the swirling sound at the end of for the benefit of mr kite is an audiophile’s delight. and of course, all the animal sounds in good morning, good morning will delight any preschooler. it’s all there and more.
the sleeve art is legendary — you really need to see the album size to appreciate it (sigh, i mourn the days of albums, if only because CDs have completely marginalized album cover art.) and if you’re really, really lucky to own a non-US album version (or possess it on rarities), you might even have the end bit that is inaudible to humans but which has been annoying dogs now for 40 years.