Half a century of ‘Sgt. Pepper’

Fifty years ago, one of the greatest rock albums ever recorded was released in the United States.

The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” released June 1, 1967, is a studio album that would garner vast critical praise and win numerous awards. In 2003, it was named the best album of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, and it’s sold more than 32 million copies.

For Even Brande, a lifelong fan of The Beatles, the golden anniversary is worth celebrating.

“The Beatles were trend setters, and they really were a driving influence in changing our culture,” he said.

A Celebration of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Coal Creek Coffee Co.’s downtown location, 110 Grand Ave. The event is free to the public.

The event is set to include a talk by Brande about the popular culture of the time and the significance of the album. “Sgt. Pepper” marked a shift in the transformation of pop music to rock music and the beginning of the album era, when such music was respected as a legitimate art form.

“I think that a lot of the big records that came in the next 20-30 years after that were directly influenced by what The Beatles did in the mid-60s to late-60s,” he said.

The summer of 1967 was significant in other ways besides those affecting the music world. During the Summer of Love, hippies gathered in San Francisco to experiment with drugs and sex, Vietnam War protests were in full swing, and race riots took places in cities around the country.

Several Laramie residents who lived here in 1967 will talk about what the town was like at the time and where it fit with greater cultural movements.

Following the talks, Brande will play an original mono mix of the 40-minute vinyl release through a vintage 1960s-era tube amplifier.

For those who don’t remember a time before listening to a digital recording through earbuds became the ubiquitous way to consume music, vinyl offers a different experience.

“Digital is an electronic representation of the music, whereas the analog, which you have on the vinyl, is a direct transfer of what the band played, so there’s no digital conversion going on,” Brande said. “It’s the actual sound that was recorded.”

Brande said he prefers a vinyl rendition to a digital one. Not only is it more authentic — it just sounds better.

“We’ve kind of regressed, I think, in how we listen to music,” he said. “Back then, you listened through much more extensive equipment, and as a result, the sound quality was much better.”

At the time “Sgt. Pepper” was recorded, most people would have listened to a mono mix, intended for a single speaker. Stereo technology was very new, so The Beatles’ focus was the mono mix. Most people today, however, listen to the stereo mix.

“That’s what came out on CD, and that’s what people listen to digital,” Brande said. “But the mono version is the actual, original version the Beatles put out. That’s the one were going to listen to.”

He said the two mixes have subtle differences, such as the presence of an extra guitar here or a slower tempo there.

Brande said the event should offer new insights both to Beatles novices and fanatics.

“Hopefully, you’ll learn a few things you didn’t know before,” he said.

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