It is often, and maybe prematurely, said that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is the pinnacle of the Beatles discography. Although it may not necessarily be a misnomer, one can look no further than Joe Cocker’s Greatest Hits to get a sense of sullen disappointment; there is at times an empty feeling. Hearing Cocker’s soulful rendition of “With a Little Help From My Friends” it is easy (and a little blasphemous) to think that he outperformed the Beatles on one of their most recognizable songs.
But this is not the way to listen to the Beatles.
Sgt. Pepper’s exemplifies the Beatles as the Beatles. They are not singers, songwriters, tunesmiths, or wordsmiths. They are only people and they made the music that only their combination of characters could. Cocker may have borrowed notes and lyrics, but he altered the personality. And it’s that very uncompromising personality that sets the Beatles apart. From beginning to reprise to encore, Sgt. Pepper’s shows off a personality that no one can imitate or replicate. It defines the Beatles in their artistic character. It is not because of the great music, (and make no mistake, the music is fabulous) rather, it is the blossoming persona that makes Sgt. Pepper’s yet another masterpiece in the Beatles discography.