Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band – Album Cover Parodies

Left: 16 parodies of the Sgt. Pepper's album cover. Right: The original album cover by the Beatles.

The Beatles' cover for their 1967 release Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is considered a turning point in album cover design. Prior to this album, record labels generally controlled the cover design. After this album, artists began to dictate cover design. This blog post shows 16 album cover parodies of the Sgt. Pepper's cover.

The Sgt. Pepper's album cover was designed by pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth. The cover collage features the foursome among their heroes including dignitaries, friends, actors and even wax models of themselves.

One particular zany spoof of the Sgt. Pepper's album cover of the 1998 album The Yellow Album by the cast of the popular television show, The Simpson's. The Simpsons is the longest-running animated television show in American TV history. It debuted on December 17, 1989. The characters were created by cartoonist Matt Groening.

Famous movie and television actors singing pop/rock favorites – if not rejected outright – certainly must appeal to the part of one's brain that processes the "that's-so-awful-it's-good" type of entertainment. The Golden Throat series does just that. The series was kicked off by Rhino Record's release in 1988 of Golden Throats: The Great Celebrity Sing Off. Volumes 2, 3 and 4 followed in 1991, 1995, 1997, respectively. The cover of Volume 1 is a parody of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). The cover of Volume 2 is a parody of the Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967), itself a parody of the Sgt. Pepper's cover.

Each cover parody has reasoning for the figures included on the cover, usually tied to the origins of the artist or their musical genre. To be in on the parody requires serious scrutinizing of the cover or a trip to Wikipedia. One example, is the parody from the parody from the death metal band Macabre's Sinister Slaughter, which features the band with serial killers and mass murderers instead of famous people.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the Rutles. The Rutles were a rock band that performed visual and aural parodies of the Beatles. The soundtrack album to the Rutles' 1978 mockumentary All You Need Is Cash contained 14 tongue-in-cheek covers of Beatles songs. In Rutle's lore, Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band album was released in 1967, just like the original Sgt. Pepper's album, except it wasn't.

Of the parodies that use songs of the Beatles (marked with an asterisk), our favorites are Big Daddy's doo-wop classic rock interpretation of the album and the Beadochons, giving a French tongue-in-cheek interpretation with songs with French titles that sound like the original English titles.

Row 1:

1992 – *Beadochons – "4 Beadochons dans le vent" – parody, punk, lyrics in French
1992 – *Big Daddy – Sgt Pepper's – doo wop, classic rock
1990 – Bläck Fööss ‎– "Et Es Zwanzig Johr Jenau Jetz Her" – folk, world, country
1996 – The Colorblind James Experience – "I Can Be Your Guide" – rock

Row 2:

1977 – *Jun Fukamaki – Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band – electronic, jazz, rock
2012 – Kishidan – "Nipponjin"
1993 – Macabre – "Sinister Slaughter" – death metal
2011 – *Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Symphonic Sgt. Peppers – classical

Row 3:

1968 – The Mothers of Invention – "We're Only In It For The Money" – electronic, rock, pop
"1967" – The Rutles - Sgt. Rutter's Only Darts Club Band – a fictional album released by the Rutles
1998 – The Simpsons: "The Yellow Album" – hip/hop, funk/soul, world, country
1994 – *Various – "The Exotic Beatles - Part Two" – pop/rock

Row 4:

1996 – *Various ‎– "Tropical Tribute To The Beatles" – latin
1988 – Various – "Golden Throats: The Great Celebrity Sing Off" – novelty, pop/rock
2005 – Devendra Banhart – "Cripple Crow" – folk rock, acoustic
1967 – The Rolling Stones – "Their Satanic Majesties Request" – rock

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