Thursday, 8 June 2017


It has been described as the ‘most important and influential rock and roll album ever recorded’.
Winning four Grammys and selling millions of copies worldwide, the Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was received to almost unanimous acclaim.
Unanimous, that is, bar one lone voice – American music critic Richard Goldstein.
Fifty years on from his damning appraisal for the New York Times – in which he infamously labelled the album ‘an undistinguished collection of work’ – the 73-year-old reviewer has apologised for his remarks, blaming faulty speakers. He said: ‘Yes, I have changed my mind; I think all critics should revisit their opinions periodically, and my view of this album has changed.

‘I now see it as immensely important in the history of pop music, a prophetic work released six years before the word postmodernism was even coined, and a major statement of psychedelic values.
‘[But] my speakers weren’t working properly, so I missed a lot of the stereo effects.
‘I was a rock purist as a young man, quite rigid in my loyalties. I wanted the Beatles to go back to their roots, and in retrospect I think that made me more conservative than the Beatles were. As Bob Dylan once wrote, “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now”.’

Goldstein’s backtracking comes on the anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’s release, and in the week it has once again reached the top of the UK charts.
The third best-selling British studio album of all-time, the seminal 1967 record was an instant hit with fans on both sides of the pond.An important work of British psychedelia, it incorporated a range of stylistic influences, including vaudeville, circus, music hall, pop, rock and Indian classical music.
Billed as the first ‘art rock concept’ LP, it was an immediate commercial success, spending 27 weeks at the top of the UK albums chart and 15 weeks at number one Stateside.
In 2003 Rolling Stone magazine ranked it number one in its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and it has sold over 34 million copies globally.
However, Goldstein was not a fan.
Comparing the album to a ‘spoiled’ and ‘over-attended’ child, and he blasted it for being over-produced.His negative review of Sgt. Pepper led to hundreds of irate fans sending hate mail, whilst he was publicly labelled a ‘fascist’ by one radical student.
Last night he added: ‘Over the years, a number of rock critics have agreed with my original opinion, but at the time I was alone.
‘One critic in the 60s, Kenneth Tynan, called the album “a decisive moment in the history of Western civilization”, and I was the subject of hundreds of angry letters sent to my editor at The New York Times.‘The whole thing struck me as bizarre, and it still does, but being a young man with an all-too-strong ego, I set out to defend myself.'At this point, I think the debate over the album’s merits is the greatest homage to it. ‘Apparently Paul McCartney still remembers my negative review. It’s a bit like King Solomon objecting to a pan of the Bible. 'There’s no truth about a musical work—there’s only a consensus. So I think Paul should be satisfied with that.’

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