Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Dethroned As Best Album Of All Time
Today Entertainment Weekly released lists of the 100 all-time greatest pop culture rankings of everything from movies, TV shows, to music.
While perennial favorite “Citizen Kane” topped the list of greatest movies (shocker), I was a little more surprised to see the publication’s choice for top album. Though most wouldn’t be stunned to hear that an album from The Beatles topped the list, it was not “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” that claimed the number spot, despite the fact it’s been called the most influential rock album ever made, topping every list from the 1st edition of Colin Larkin’s All Time Top 1000 Albums, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers Definitive 200, and Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.
Not only was “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” bypassed for the top spot, it didn’t even crack Entertainment Weekly’s top 5, and was dethroned by another Beatles album, “Revolver.”
As a life-long Beatles fan, this is interesting to me for reasons abundant. First of all, I applaud EW for it’s choice to crown “Revolver,” knocking “Sgt. Pepper” off it’s pop culture pedestal. While I’d never attempt to deny the pervasive musical influence, prowess, and well-roundedness of this album, my reasons for commending this choice are a bit more personal.
It all comes down to one question. “What’s your favorite album?” It’s always the first thing I ask whenever I meet a fellow Beatles fan.
I’ve never spent more time listening to, discussing, or defending any album than I have “Revolver.” My obsession started in high school when I moved from loving the songs that initially boosted The Beatles to international fame, to the tracks that established them as artists, revolutionaries, and game-changers in terms of what popular music could be. That’s when I found “Revolver” and swiftly fell in love with George Harrison’s burgeoning songwriting skills, and the sounds of his sitar. “Revolver” quickly rose up the ranks to become my favorite album, always in heavy rotation from bedrooms, to dorm rooms, to the place where I call home as an adult.
As a fan, “Revolver” is remarkable due to the fact it so clearly represents the start of a new direction in the band’s musical progression. It was when The Beatles really started sounding like The Beatles. The shift is palpable. As a critic and pop culture junkie, this album is revolutionary. The unique songs combined with the use of artificial double tracking (ADT), and tape-looping, arguably spearheaded the birth of the psychedelic genre. The Beatles were experimenting with techniques and ideas that were unheard of, and not found in mainstream pop music in 1966, paving the way and opening the synapses for their next studio album, 1967’s “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
I’ve spent many a bar night engrossed in this conversation, defending why I choose “Revolver” over “Sgt. Pepper,” often ending in frustration, and blowing off steam with another Jameson on the rocks. When it comes to The Beatles, I’ve learned to accept that “Sgt. Pepper” will almost always be the popular choice, while “Revolver” falls behind. Historically, critics agree, giving “Revolver” 3rd place on Rolling Stone, and listing it at number 42 on the Definitive 200.
In conclusion, EW, I commend you for recognizing “Revolver.” Though selfish my reasons may be, I’m not sorry for this pop culture soliloquy. Because personal reasons aside, “Revolver” is certainly worthy of the honor.
Rounding out EW’s top 5 greatest albums of all time:
5. London Calling – The Clash
4. Thriller – Michael Jackson
3. Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones
2. Purple Rain – Prince
1. Revolver – The Beatles