Have you ever wondered what Sgt. Pepper would sound like live? By the time the Beatles created their classic, many believe to be the greatest Rock album of all times, they were done preforming live, and the material, which kick started the entire psychedelic movement, was thought to be too complex to even try. It would be sacrilegious to even attempt it. But still, you wonder, what would it sound like live? Would it rock your world the way the studio album did?
In 2007 veteran rockers Cheap Trick added Sgt. Pepper (the entire album preformed start to finish) to their live repertoire. The original Boyz from Illinois had released the successful album Music for Hangovers, a live show from Chicago’s famed Cabaret Metro in 2000, had been touring, and had some relative success with the album Rockford, with its Beatlesue harmonies and pop hooks in 2006. So why not? If anyone could pull it off these Beatles fans themselves, all seasoned accomplished musicians with 40 years of Rock experience under their belts, might. They preformed it on the road from 2007 to 2009, fine tuning it along the way, and delivered the album, Sgt. Pepper Live, in 2009.
I’m not going to compare this version to the original, because there is none. They are two different recordings from two different eras. And there are some out there that wouldn’t even take this taste test, but I’m a Cheap Trick fan, always have been, so I’ll just make a couple of points. First, the playing is spot on. It’s not just the music buried under drums, bass, and guitars. They have stayed true and matched the instruments (as best you can) to the original. Rick Nielson can play anything and he plays everything here, and makes it sound great! Second, Robin Zander’s (who does most of the vocals) voice is raspy and edgier than any of the Lads from Liverpool. That along with the sped up tempo gives the recording power, and electric feel you want in a live recording. They hit every song in the exact same order as the original, and in “The End” add an exclamation with the Abbey Road album-closing medley.
Great Run and great end to the year.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays!