7/5/08

Sgt. Pepper's Loney Hearts Club Train Wreck


The Beatles' LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is perhaps the high water mark in the history of popular music. There are only two types of people who would not include it in their top ten albums of all time: (1) those that would put Fergie or Beyonce in their top ten, and are thus on a completely different musical plane and likely will never read this post and (2) rock snobs who would put an album by Gentle Giant or Captain Beefheart on their list just to show you how musically superior they are.

Anyway, only a couple of musicians have gotten away with covering any of Sgt. Pepper's songs. Elton John scored a hit with "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and Joe Cocker did a wonderful (if not spasmodic) rendition of "With a Little Help from My Friends". But who would dare to cover the entire album (and even a little Abbey Road as well)? Who would be so bold and pretentious? The Bee-Gees, that's who.... and, boy did they learn to regret it.



(Dynamite cover courtesy of a Blogfoot post) The Bee-Gees vs. The Beatles? My God, what was going on in 1978? Well, for one, the Bee-Gees had an absolute stranglehold on the charts in a similar way The Beatles had about a decade earlier. Everything they touched turned to gold -from Saturday Night Fever, Spirits Having Flown, Grease, a live album, songs for Andy Gibb - they had the Midas touch... that is, until Sgt. Pepper.


Granted, it didn't ruin their career (although, Peter Frampton insists it killed his, and it destroyed the RSO record label) - the disco backlash in 1981 was what ultimately drove the brothers Gibb into hiding. Consequences aside, the titanic train wreck of a film is fun to watch.

A highlight of the film has to be George Burns' rendition of "Fixing a Hole".





Of course, there's been other rather sad attempts at Sgt. Pepper that make the Bee-Gees version look good. The Bill Cosby rendition comes instantly to mind.



A thanks to Frank's Vinyl Museum for this awful treasure.

For years, the Bee Gees 2 disc LP could be found in bargain racks at record stores across the country. I wonder if the cheesy poster inside the sleeve was ever hung on anyone's wall.


The soundtrack's high point: Aerosmith's version of "Come Together". Low point: Steve Martin's rendition of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". Oh well, sometimes you win and sometimes you... destroy an entire record lable.

5 comments:

  1. Oh my god Donald Plesance in this movie is isane! You are so right this is the absolute perfect train wreck, if there is any justice in the world Peter Frampton's career would have ended right then and there.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What are you talking about? It didn't ruin RSO records. They had Grease immediately after which sold over 25 million copies! I agree also that the Sgt Pepper film is a train wreck. Until recently it was teh worst musical I'd ever seen....then I saw Mamma Mia which makes Pepper look like a work of art!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This from Wikipedia:

    As high as the label was flying in 1978, the disastrous commercial and critical failure of RSO's movie version of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band crippled the company.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's said bootleggers made so many counterfeit copies, expecting monster sales, RSO got more albums back than they produced

      Delete
  4. Ah Dynamite! I remember getting that issue in the mail. Not digitally delivered!

    ReplyDelete