Why Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was a decisive moment for Western civilisation
One of the more surprising figures on the cover — top left, between Lenny Bruce and W C Fields — is Karlheinz Stockhausen, whose avant-garde compositions, especially his electronic music, had recently begun to fascinate McCartney.
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has what is probably the most famous record cover in history, yet its really significant feature was not the photography on the front, but the words on the rear.
Today we take such documentation for granted, but Sgt Pepper was the first pop album to publish its song lyrics in this manner, and the implication is obvious: the Beatles expected their new record to be listened to with the same kind of attention commonly given to classical music.
In 1963, their first album, Please Please Me, had been recorded in a little under 10 hours; Sgt Pepper took 129 days.
The Beatles now required a correspondingly greater investment of time and effort from their listeners.