The act you've known for all these years

Yesterday news outlets were falling all over themselves mentioning that it was the 40th anniversary of the release of the Beatles psychedelic masterpiece Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. If you were listening to the BBC, that would be accurate. But here in America, the album didn't come out until June 2, 1967. So all those cheesy intros about how "it was 40 years ago today" were (slightly) inaccurate.

The album is often cited as the band's magnum opus, but most Fab Four officianados would argue that came a year earlier with Revolver. Regardless of nitpicking, it is an amazing artistic accomplishment, and without a doubt marked the high water point of the band's studio experimentation. But perhaps the most extraordinary thing is that a work of its magnitude was released less than six months after recording had begun (December 6, 1966), and even more amazingly less than six weeks after recording was finished (April 21, 1967). In an age where artists take years to record an album and then record companies spend up to a year developing marketing plans, that kind of productivity is simply remarkable.

The Beatles marked the occasion yesterday with the launch of a microsite celebrating the album. The highlights include a photo gallery from the making of the album cover, and a slideshow of photos of the recording of the album narrated by John, Paul, George, Ringo and producer George Martin.

I'll celebrate its anniversary with a couple of live covers...

Paul McCartney - "Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" (mp3)

Recorded November 23, 1989 in Los Angeles. From Tripping The Live Fantastic

Elton John & John Lennon - "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" (mp3)

Recorded November 28, 1974 at Madison Square Garden, New York. From the Lennon box set.

Sting - "A Day In The Life" (mp3)

Recorded July 25, 1993 at Villa Manin, Cudriopo, Italy. From the Demolition Man EP.

I hear they're doing a reggae version of this called "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club, Mon." I bet it will be AWESOME.
As classic rock covers go, though, you can't beat Limp Biscuit's version of "Behind Blue Eyes."
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