In a new Esquire interview, Keith Richards says:
“The Beatles sounded great when they were the Beatles. But there’s not a lot of roots in that music. I think they got carried away. Why not? If you’re the Beatles in the ’60s, you just get carried away—you forget what it is you wanted to do. You’re starting to do Sgt. Pepper. Some people think it’s a genius album, but I think it’s a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like Satanic Majesties—’Oh, if you can make a load of shit, so can we.'”
Finally, someone is calling out the emperors’ old album.
I’ve been saying for years that Sgt. Pepper’s rep is based more on hazy nostalgia than musical quality. Though it often tops critics’ polls, Sgt. Pepper is not the “best rock album.” It is not even the Beatles’ best album (that would be Rubber Soul; I’d place several of their other albums over Sgt. Pepper, too).
Too many people tend to listen to Sgt. Pepper through rose-colored headphones. Yes, it was a landmark album in rock music’s pursuit to be taken seriously, but was that really such a good thing? Besides leading classical musicians and critics like Leonard Bernstein . . .
. . . and critics like Wilfrid Mellers to recognize the value of rock (often for all of the wrong reasons, highlighting complex melody over basic rhythm), it also led numerous stoned musicians to take themselves far too seriously, creating the oxymoronic fusion of classical (as opposed to classic) or symphonic rock. Which is why I, along with so many others, welcomed punk’s (not so successful) attempt to be the comet that rendered this sort of dinosaur rock extinct.
And for all of the (not entirely misplaced) scorn heaped on The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request, I’d put its “2000 Light Years from Home” up against anything on Sgt. Pepper: