I was recently made aware of an new, expanded release of the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Fifty years after this record was first unleashed upon the public, a multi-disc wallow in the creation of this sonic masterpiece will be coming to a music store near you. Music store? Record? What are those?
Well, if you have historical perspective, you can probably come up with reference points to some of this.The Beatles were that band Malcolm Gladwell wrote about in his book Outliers. Record stores were places where you could go and paw through recorded music by hand, hence that "record" business. Records were objects you would tend to find in "record stores." The Beatles made a few of those objects, and a lot of people want to believe that they were the best of the objects to be found in record stores, once upon a time.
Back in 1967, at a time when some folks liked to believe that they were experiencing a summer of love, these lads from Liverpool were providing the soundtrack. As I have suggested, this is generally accepted as a piece of history. Classic music for a classic time. There were a lot of records released in 1967, but this was the one that became the touchstone of a generation.
That generation has moved on. They built a shrine in Cleveland, Ohio and set about converting all that music played via friction to digital. In the meantime, with each passing day, new ears are encountering Sergeant Pepper every day. It's still out there. Just like when my older brother sat me down in front of his record player and I listened to all those sounds. Since then, I have heard those sounds more times than I can count, and I still have buckets of love and respect for that album. What about everybody else?
If you go anywhere on Al Gore's Internet, you can find someone who wants to fight. Trolls will give anything a one-star review just to get the party started. Let those go, and focus instead on the "critics" who want to give Sergeant Pepper a three-star review. Something like this one: "If you grew up in the sixties and liked the Beatles at all, you'll want this. If you didn't, you probably won't 'get' it. Not their greatest selection, but Lonely Hearts Club had its own sound at a time when the Fab Four were 'evolving.'" Or how about, "Again without claiming Rock & Roll expertise... it seems to me that The Beatles were merely an opportunistic pop band that rode the bandwagon of The Doors, Simon & Garfunkle and many others."
Yes, those are the outliers, not unlike the Beatles themselves. Fifty years is a long time. A lot of ears have taken in that music since. Critic proof? No such thing.