How many of you are Beatles fans? I don’t mean familiar-glow, singalong fans when The Beatles play on the radio. I mean how many of you would go to a multimedia lecture about the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the 50th anniversary of that album?
There’s this guy, Scott Freiman. He’s geeky knowledgeable about The Beatles. It’s kind of a trip how enthusiastically he shares a song by song cornucopia of who did what; how was this done; and what was that about. He’s been touring his well-honed presentation nationwide for years. One of his whistle stops has been made into the documentary, “Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
The film intersperses audio tracks, photos, video clips, audience reaction, and a depth and breadth of tidbits and insights … next slide, please. It’s an engaging discourse on creativity and collaboration and a telling part of Beatles evolution. With context around a psychedelic pretend-band as the central concept, you learn about an album that needed to be realized in a studio.
The Beatles left behind frightfully non-musical performances, neck-deep in scream-filled sport stadiums. In the studio, they combined cleverness and inventiveness in the song writing and engineering. Kudos to the technical savvy of the unsung Geoff Emerick and to sometimes-designated fifth Beatle, George Martin.
Freiman walks you through instruments and musicians brought in from India. He explains how circus sounds were generated and big orchestral sound on the cheap. Freiman ties in backstories like a runaway girl, a cornflakes commercial, and a friend who died in a car crash.
It wasn’t all The Beatles in 1967. The pulse of the times ranged from Moody Blues to Jefferson Airplane to Jimi Hendrix to Frank Zappa, as well as the expensive studio example of “Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys. Some group called Pink Floyd was cutting their first album in the studio next to The Beatles.
But this film is a focused Beatles fest. You might just enjoy this rather academic way to “tur-rr-rr-rn you-oo-oo-oo ah-ah-ah-ah on.”
[Other Beatles related reviews: "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week"; "Nowhere Boy" about pre-Beatles John Lennon]