24 April 2014

“If I had been there . . .”

This morning, I read that George Martin (the EMI staffer who produced The Beatles' albums) considered the omission of "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" from the Sgt Peppers album the "greatest mistake he ever made."

So I thought, What if? . . .

Although the longest album The Beatles had recorded to date, Sgt Peppers (theres no apostrophe on the album covers bass drum, did you notice?) still clocks in crisply at less than 40 minutes, so (if an artistic flow can be settled upon) interleaving the double A-side singles (and keeping all the original tracks) will not necessarily make an unwieldy album.
The "problem" with "Penny Lane" is that McCartney contributed so much to the album already (singing 6 of the album's 13 tracks, and the "middle bit" of "A Day in the Life"). There is already a three-track stretch ("Getting Better" / "Fixing a Hole" / "She's Leaving Home"), which works partly because of the sequence of contrasting moods, partly because John sings some counterpoint on the last; it's probably too much to ask, to find a way to fit "Penny Lane" in for a second 'triplet'. And, because I do enjoy "Within You, Without You" as an entr'acte which is a bit alien to most of the album, I want to leave that as the start of Side 2. So my suggestion is to slot "Penny Lane" in as track 3. The tempo and swing of "Penny" seem to me almost an extension of "With a Little Help"; and I like the contrast between the close of "Penny" and the opening arpeggi of "Lucy."

We have a different "problem" with "Strawberry Fields Forever": its strength. I think that it would be too much of an intrusion upon "the main album." Now, the idea was that "Sgt Pepper" and the reprise should serve as "bookends" for the album, but The Beatles themselves jettisoned that idea by following the reprise with the powerful encore of "A Day in the Life." So my idea is: insert "Strawberry Fields Forever" as an encore directly after the reprise – and then follow it with the yet stronger second encore, "A Day in the Life."

Obviously, there is no one "right" solution (even if we concede that there is a "problem" to be solved) . . . this is simply one suggestion, and the reasons behind it.

Side one
No. Title Lead vocals Length
1. "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" McCartney 2:02
2. "With a Little Help from My Friends" Starr 2:44
3. "Penny Lane" McCartney 3:00
4. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" Lennon 3:28
5. "Getting Better" McCartney 2:48
6. "Fixing a Hole" McCartney 2:36
7. "She's Leaving Home" McCartney 3:35
8. "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" Lennon 2:37

Side two
No. Title Lead vocals Length
9. "Within You, Without You" Harrison 5:04
10. "When I'm Sixty-Four" McCartney 2:37
11. "Lovely Rita" McCartney 2:42
12. "Good Morning Good Morning" Lennon 2:41
13. "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" 1:19
14. "Strawberry Fields Forever" Lennon 4:05
15. "A Day in the Life" Lennon/McCartney 5:39

Total album duration: 46:47

(P.S./ If I had been there, I'd have been about six years old . . . .)

No comments:

Post a Comment