Slaughtering Rock’s Sacred Cows

This week the blog sites are all abuzz with discussions of an article appearing in the UK’s Guardian Unlimited entitled, “Sgt. Pepper Must Die.” The article begins, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? It’s meant to be a classic album, but all you can hear is a load of boring tripe.” They asked musicians to nominate “great records” that they could do without ever hearing again.

Some of the great albums that were nominated include Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys,  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles and L.A. Woman by the Doors. There are many other albums in the list, but these are the ones I whole-heartedly agree the world might be a better place without!

I mean really, at the time they may have been cutting edge, trend-setting, and had amazing production value, but now they are at best museum pieces to be studied and learned from. Songs by these bands were overplayed to death when they came out and are still being played to death on rock and classic stations (excepting maybe the Beach Boys). Enough is enough. move along nothing to see here.

I have always thought that the Beatles were the most overrated band, producing some of the most disinteresting music. In the article, Billy Childish says, “Sgt Pepper signaled the death of rock’n’roll. Rock’n’roll is meant to be full of vitality and energy, and this album isn’t. It sounds like it took six months to shit out” and that it’s “middle-of-the-road rock music for plumbers.”

While I’m not sure I agree with the plumber bit – I know a plumber with some very interesting taste in music – I do agree with the rest. The Beatles basically started out as a cover band, performing and recording music by other artists. Sure, they eventually made their own music, but by my account most of it is unlistenable. On their own is when things started to get interesting, but sadly, Lennon’s music remained unlistenable while McCartney wrote some decent pop tunes.

Don’t get me started on the Doors! Radical at the time? Sure. Today, not so much. Interesting music? Sure, if you like circus music. Pet Sounds? Excellent production and pretty vocals. Strangely dark album, but try to listen to it more than once. I dare you!

Some of the other albums mentioned in the list I would hardly consider “classic.” All Eyez On Me by Tupak Shakur? The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses? This Is It by The Strokes? Arrival by Abba? Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd? Well, I love this album. I’ll keep it on my list of classic albums.

Aside from Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), Green Gartside (Scritti Politti) and Peter Hook (New Order and Joy Division) who are these people to say what’s classic anyway? Not that these guys matter. As a matter of fact, who am I to say either?