Gloriously pointless trading cards for the awful ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ movie

I’ve never seen the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which came out in 1978. The movie was directed by Michael Schultz, whose best-known movies are probably Cooley High and Car Wash, both of which are pretty good. Considering the inescapable Britishness of the Beatles and especially Sgt. Pepper, the cast of Sgt. Pepper’s LHCB is simply an extended head-scratcher, with few Britons (Peter Frampton, comedian Frankie Howerd, Donald Pleasence and Paul Nicholas) to be found among a group that includes, most prominently, the Bee Gees, George Burns, Earth, Wind & Fire, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Steve Martin and of course, Frampton. (How could Billy SHears not be English?) The real problem with this movie seems to be its essential California-ness, as it was clearly conceived poolside at a Hollywood bungalow by some coked-up asshole who had never once pondered the lonely existence of Eleanor Rigby.

Late-era Beatles songs didn’t exactly lack for colorful characters, and the people behind the movie crammed a bunch of them in there, including Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Mr. Kite, Billy Shears, and the eponymous sergeant (all from the album), as well as Maxwell (of “Silver Hammer” fame), Mean Mr. Mustard, and, erm, “Strawberry Fields,” none of whom have anything to do with the album. How they neglected to find someone to embody Lovely Rita, who is just begging to be turned into a mesmerizingly gorgeous movie character, I’ll never know. Rather than recruit Bungalow Bill, Polythene Pam, Desmond and Molly, Sexy Sadie, my dear Martha, or Rocky Raccoon, the movie features several wholly invented characters like B.D. Brockhurst, played by Donald Pleasence, and Billy Shears’ brother, whose name is Dougie Shears. (This is the guy that really gets me. THERE ARE NO “DOUGIES” IN THE BEATLES CANON!!!)

Over the weekend, I spotted a trading card with Steve Martin from early in his career, and the caption read “Dr. Maxwell Edison” and I just couldn’t for the life of me figure out who the fuck that was supposed to be—my best guesses were the protagonist of The Man with Two Brains (actual name: Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr) and the sadistic dentist in Little Shop of Horrors (actual name: Dr. Orin Scrivello). That led me to the usual bout of Internet research, through which process I learned that Donruss released a set of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band trading cards in 1978, the same year the movie came out.

From the vatange point of nearly 40 years after the movie came out, every card really reads as a devastating critique of the movie; in essence the entire set is an extended series of exhibits as to why the movie sucks. Don’t believe me? See for yourself.



Much more after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider
10:27 am
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club parodies from the Sex Pistols, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd & many more
09:32 am

In case you haven’t heard, this summer marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Oh yeah, that’s right—you probably have heard. On this very blog, in addition to Richard Metzger’s glowing review of the recent reissue, there’s also the terrific report from our own Oliver Hall on the curious fact that his grandfather, Huntz Hall of the Bowery Boys, is actually one of the gallery of famous faces on the album’s cover.

Sgt. Pepper’s is a common choice for “Greatest Album of All Time” and lots of people get tired of hearing about it for that very reason. It was and is an undeniably influential album, however, and one proof of that is the sheer number of musical artists who have imitated its cover art, which was cunningly executed for the occasion by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.

The first band to do a prominent parody of the cover, of course, was the Mothers of Invention, whose third album We’re Only In It For the Money took an unmistakably sneering attitude towards the Fab Four’s latest world-beating project. (They even got Jimi Hendrix to pose for it with them. That’s not a Hendrix cut-outs, it’s Jimi. Zappa put out an invitation to several others, apparently, but only Hendrix showed up.)

If you’re in a band and you don’t know what to do for your next album cover, you can try this: Spell out something in flowers in front of a drum head with some flamboyant text on it, while a throng of notables gathers and poses for an unlikely group portrait. Pink Floyd bootlegs. The Simpsons have done it. The Sex Pistols have had it done to them. Hell, even Ringo Starr has done it (kind of…..). If nothing else you get extra points for “taking on the rock and roll establishment” because nothing is more established in rock and roll than the Beatles and Sgt. Pepper’s.

There are literally dozens of albums that have used this trick, but we’re only showing a small selection. To single out two of my favorites: For the identically titled 1977 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which presented electronic covers of six tracks from the Beatles’ original, Jun Fukamachi reversed many of the elements in the cover, including having the crowd of personages “pose” with their backs facing the camera, all of which added up to an intriguing “backwards” concept. Meanwhile, Macabre’s 1993 death metal album Sinister Slaughter replaced the likes of Mae West and Gandhi with various serial killers and mass murderers.

The Mothers of Invention, ‘We’re Only In It For the Money

Ringo Starr, ‘Ringo

Jun Fukamachi, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Rutles, ‘Sgt. Rutters Only Darts Club Band’
Much more after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider
09:32 am
My grandfather is on the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ album cover and here’s the story

From the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ photo shoot
The Summer of Love hasn’t begun. There’s LBJ at Expo 67, thanking God for putting the U.S.A. next to Canada instead of, say, Pakistan or Greece; there’s Cher modeling the short-cut pantsuit. There’s Robyn Hitchcock saying goodbye to his late grandmother with a little help from Brian Eno, and there’s my father, Gary, not yet 18, hearing Peter Bergman announce on Radio Free Oz that his own father, Huntz Hall, is pictured on the cover of the Beatles’ new album.

In the original photo shoot for the album cover, Huntz appeared next to Leo Gorcey, his co-star in hundreds of Dead End Kids, East Side Kids, and Bowery Boys movies, or “pictures,” as he would have said. (Though Leo isn’t in in it, I’m partial to Looking for Danger, in which the Bowery Boys lend Uncle Sam a hand by impersonating Nazis in North Africa.) But Leo asked for money, and Peter Blake airbrushed him out. Huntz, bless him, did not ask for money, so he stands alone in the back row between a Vargas girl and Simon Rodia, whose head seems to be growing out of Bob Dylan’s. Lined up in front of him are Karl Marx, H.G. Wells and Paramahansa Yogananda.

Now, some smart aleck will claim FEAR settled the balance when they conspicuously thanked Leo, but not Huntz, in the liner notes of More Beer, another album that is close to my heart. This game of one-upmanship will only end in triumph for my mighty clan and tears of shame for the rest of humanity. He can deny it all he likes, but Rick Nielsen of John Lennon’s onetime backing band Cheap Trick bit gramps’ style. And it was Huntz, not Leo, who shared the stage with Duke Ellington, busted a hang with Alice Cooper, and accompanied Ken Russell to a Sex Pistols show during the filming of Valentino. After which these candid shots of Huntz posing with members of THOR at a Travelodge in 1983 seem hardly worth mentioning. Q.E.D.!

It is strange and puzzling to see your grandfather on the cover of a Beatles album. When you are on the playground 20 years after the Summer of Love and you tell your school chums your grandfather is on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s, they respond that you are wrong and he is not. Juvenile rock scholars immersed in the backstairs literature of the Satanic panic tell you about the “Paul is dead” clues, so you lie awake all night wondering: My God, what was peepaw’s role in all that? And the title of the NME compilation Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father had an unusual resonance.

The biggest puzzle was Huntz’s appearance. Squinting in the daylight, wearing a tarboosh, a green djellaba and a red velvet scarf, he looks more like a carpet dealer standing in the Jemaa el-Fnaa at high noon than a Depression-era NYC tough. But, at last, I have discovered the solution to this puzzle: he is not wearing any of those things. Thanks to the good work of the Sgt. Pepper Photos blog, I now see that cover artist Peter Blake’s source was this black and white group shot of the Dead End Kids, with Huntz in familiar attire.

via Sgt. Pepper Photos
While Blake says the Bowery Boys were his choice, my father—who has contributed to a forthcoming book of essays about the crowd on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s whose name I do not yet know—thinks the pot bust that sent Huntz to jail in 1948 must have endeared him to the Fabs. (Though he was exonerated, I can confirm that Huntz was a lifelong slave to the ruinous vice of marijuana abuse. He may have been a comedian, but take it from me: there is nothing funny about watching a loved one support a $2-a-day drug habit.)

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall
07:06 am
A Beatles fan is hunting down all the original photos from the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ cover

It’s obvious almost to the point of tedium to point out that the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, along with all of its merits as a work of music and a cultural touchstone, boasts one of the most surpassingly iconic album cover photos of the rock era. It was staged and shot by Jann Haworth and Peter Blake (who won a Grammy for their effort) using photo enlargements and wax figures of famous and obscure figures to whom the Beatles’ members wished to pay tribute, over 70 in all, including the Beatles themselves, both in real life and waxwork form.

Parodies of the cover abound (including one rather spectacular recent example by Blake himself), and diagrams identifying all of the personages and objects in the photo have been around for about as long as the album—half a century as of this year, as it happens. But I’m not aware of anyone undertaking this endeavor until now: one Chris Shaw is trying to hunt down all the original photos used to create the cover. He’s documenting his progress on his Twitter feed (@Chrisshaweditor) and on a blog.

Shaw was recently quoted about the project by The Poke:

Being a bit of a Beatles obsessive, I’m excited about the 50th anniversary rerelease of Sgt Pepper. The legendary album cover is regularly popping up on my news feeds and I became curious as to the origins of the photos Peter Blake used to create the iconic sleeve.

My first search was for Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller (the picture behind Ringo and Paul). When I eventually located the source image, with the unexpected chimp and horn, it was so bizarre and out of context it piqued my interest.

I’ve now set myself the challenge of hunting down all of the original pictures on the sleeve. I may be some time.

Some were surely not terribly elusive—W.C. Fields, Tony Curtis, and Marlon Brando were culled from widely circulated promo pictures, and Bob Dylan was enlarged from the cover of Highway 61 Revisited. But some of his finds are quite marvelous; the Johnny Weismuller photo Shaw cites in the quotation above really is quite wonderful, and he even found the doll in the Rolling Stones sweater. I’d imagine some Dangerous Minds readers might have some insights to share with Shaw, and I’ll bet he’d be delighted if you’d point him toward any as-yet-unfound photo sources using the hashtag #SgtPepperPhotos, or through the contact form on his blog.


More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch
09:06 am
‘Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father’: Sonic Youth, the Wedding Present and the Fall’s tribute to the Beatles

In 1988, NME got in on the ground floor of the burgeoning turn-of-the-‘90s fad for tribute compilations when it released Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father, a song-for-song recreation of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by various artists with popular or cult followings in the UK, including several tracks that have held up quite well by the likes of the Fall, Courtney Pine, and Sonic Youth.

At the time, the original album had recently been the subject of much 20th-anniversary fawning by midlife-ing Baby Boomers, but in hipper circles its rep was in the shitter, as undergroundists vastly preferred a heavier psychedelia stripped of that acutely Barrett/McCartney/Davies’ penchant for Edwardian whimsy. In just a few years, the rise of Brtipop would slow much alt-handwaving of the Beatles’ legacy, but in 1988, the advance guard would have been happy to bury it. Accordingly, much of Sgt. Pepper Knew My Father drips with a viscous irony. The Scottish soul-pop band Hue and Cry attempted a pretty drastic transformation of “Fixing a Hole,” but it falls short of its ambitions. The Three Wize Men’s version of the title song is similarly transformative, and it certainly has moments, but it’s acutely ‘80s UK hip-hop, of which I’m really not a fan. YMMV, of course. Wet Wet Wet’s version of “With A Little Help From My Friends” is icky and fey, and only merits mentioning because that band was a big enough deal at the time that they alone probably accounted for at least half of the copies of the record sold. The Triffids’ version of “Good Morning Good Morning” is not only the worst thing on the album, it might be the worst thing period.

The comp shines more brightly when its artists aren’t afraid to get weird without trying to erase the source material. The Wedding Present’s contribution, an amped-up version of “Getting Better” with Talulah Gosh’s Amelia Fletcher, is exactly as you’d expect that band to perform the Beatles—poppy and bouncy, yet aggressive and clamorous as all hell. Sonic Youth, in the thick of their dense, twisty, and epic Daydream Nation era, are a beautiful match for George Harrison’s raga-rock freakout “Within You/Without You,” and in fact that cover eventually re-emerged on one of Daydream Nation‘s later reissues. The very very eccentric Frank Sidebottom—the spherically-headed masked singer who inspired the 2014 film Frank—does an absolutely wonderful remake of the very very eccentric John Lennon music hall paean “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” The Courtney Pine Quartet’s instrumental take on “When I’m Sixty Four” is a tremendously fun piece of lounge jazz. But the original album’s great set-piece—“A Day in the Life”—is also the tribute’s huge closer, and that song is handled with incredible reverence by the Fall. You’d figure of all bands the Fall would have been likely to go in for the piss-take, but no. It’s quite a stunner.
Listen after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch
10:45 am
Deconstructing ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’: Hear The Beatles in the Studio 1967

It’s probably the most famous pop album in the world, and here is its title track, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” broken down into its constituent parts, and all in one clip.

With thanks to Tim Lucas
Bonus documentary The Making of Sgt Pepper, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
05:57 am