Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club — Revisited & Reimagined

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The quality of this new 2017 remastering moved me to tears: dancing; thinking; reflecting; astral projecting.  From the album’s opening to the end of “Getting Better” is intensive feel-good optimism proceeded by intensive introspection (which ultimately climaxes back into dancing anyways (“Within You Without You”).   At one point we astral project into the minds of our parents (“She’s Leaving Home”) only to hover over a future image of ourselves, wondering if we’ll always be taken care of (“When I’m Sixty-Four”).

This stereo remaster takes what was already extremely lucid to a downright four-dimensional place.  Any fan of the mono originals of each album, such as myself, would be proud to stand beside this hyper-actualized vision that only The Beatles could bring to life.  It just feels like hearing their original ideas, as they were inside-their-heads (without any limitations of 1960’s technology).

A large portion of how the band feels about being The Beatles is directly addressed in the finale — “A Day In The Life”. John Lennon reveals that the narrative is not being told based upon first-hand experience — he saw a photograph of a dead man at a traffic light in a stopped car, just as the light had turned green (“He didn’t notice that the lights had changed”).   Lennon tells the narrative in such a way that it sounds as if he is living a day in the life of that photograph (only to reveal at the end, that he’s just talking about a photograph).

This is proceeded by another verse where he simply describes wanting to see a film that’s gotten bad reviews (‘the crowds of people turned away’) since he had “read the book”.   It’s interesting that on both verses, Lennon’s narrative is based around escapism into another’s perspective — whether the photograph or a film.  This escapism is where I feel Sgt. Pepper’s resonates with today’s culture.

“A Day In The Life” blasts off once again into an instrumental crescendo — this time in 2017-remastered-glory, at full volume it’s almost as intense as a DMT trip.  Paul McCartney snaps us back with a very literal, day-in-the-life: He wakes up; gets ready; has a smoke and spaces out a bit.  Both narratives suggest that there is nothing all that special about the men behind the Beatles moniker — what’s clearly important to both us and them is making something special for to listen to.

The Beatles turn dense sound and vibes into easy-going and carefree sing-alongs. This is in-part due to lyrics like those described above in “A Day In The Life”, but the sentiment is found all throughout the album — there’s a resilient levity which never subsides.  They sometimes sing light because the music is heavy — as is the life it was drawn from.

The album title references those who, prior to listening, felt alone in some capacity.  Maybe you just needed levity in the background; to break the tension; to kickstart ambition (petty and great). Are you feeling alone? Join the club. Because The Lonely Hearts Club has its own band that performs a world-famous, all-inclusive show — and the Beatles directed the soundtrack.  The new remastering feels like it’s happening for the very first time.

Stereo Version available here.

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“Andrew the Rapper”

When I was 16 I recorded a ‘rap album’ with 11 tracks, a 15 dollar microphone and a program I still use today — Audacity.  I made it mainly because I wanted to liven up the tedious routine of school and I rapped about very tame things (the class botany project; in-jokes with friends recorded for friends and Dance Dance Revolution, sampling South Park’s then-popular episode).  I even tried to make a “real” song, of which I’ll spare you the details.

Among friends, from then on, I was of-course known by my rap alias, “Hateorade”, not necessarily by choice, but always in good-spirit.  The 14-minute album-in-question, “Hate or Die”, did manage to get played in said science class and yes, when the first track, “With a Beat” came on, a few people started dancing (and laughing).

The memory of my friends’ and classmates’ reaction, in addition to the ‘recording process’ itself (i.e. “Name me some stuff and I’ll make a rap about it,” leading to the classic, “Pancaked”) are clearly why I made the project.  The intentions were so pure and the results were so horrible, but everyone just kept going with it because it was honestly pretty funny – this was in 2006.

This is my ultimate take-away from making music: what you record in the present turns into something which helps understand who you were in the past (and thus, who you are today).  I think when I revisited this, years later, this realization refueled my desire to record music.

Fast-forward to the end of 2010, throughout 2011 and into early 2012 and I began to reimagine my favorite moments in music as platforms on which my perspective could stand – this was done by looping portions of songs, then rapping over these loops.  Those are heady statements, too, because the practical result was some uber-lo-fi, uber-quiet raps over weird-ass samples; amassing maybe a collective 1,000 views on YouTube (and over 17 tracks, that’s even less than you think it is).

It was early 2012 and I realized I had recorded about an album’s length of material, so I released it on DatPiff.  I also realized, judging from said ‘album’, that I was a terrible rapper and it was ridiculous to think anyone should waste their time listening to such “armchair Hip Hop”.   This, in itself, was enough for me to ask the question: “Could I do it any better if I actually tried?”

So I did try — really, really hard.  That very summer I made up my mind I was going to make a rap album that was somewhat listenable.  There was also a serious sense of urgency to the project because part of me was a bit sketched out by talks of doomsday and Mayan Apocalypse.  I knew the world wouldn’t end, but I did wonder: “If it would, what would I want to say now?”

I was making music as if it was the last thing I was ever going to make.  Once it was made, however, I realized that life was still continuing and, since I had at least tried to make something, my sense of urgency faded.  Life kicked into full-gear and I was too busy balancing work and school to really find time for rapping.

During this time period, I used Laptop Rap 2 as personal motivation.  Whenever I felt like everything was too much, I remembered that at the end of the day, I made Laptop Rap 2.  It sounds so silly now, but it was quite an accomplishment (in my own head).  Over time, however, inner(/net) criticism dissolved my halcyon daze and I was back to square one: “Could I make an album which would transcend internal criticism?”

Spoilers: Yes.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that making Hip Hop music, in the 100%-DIY manner I choose to make it, is both therapeutic and a powerful tool for self-motivation.  I’m telling you all this because I wanted those who know me in-person to understand my intentions and that no, I haven’t lost my mind.  If you really respect me as a person, you will indulge my rap-fantasy and give my tunes a listen – you’ll be surprised.