Amanduh’s feminist theory of Sgt Pepper’s

“Sgt. Pepper’s,” you see, is the album that marked the shift in rock music away from the grubby fingers of the teenybopper crowd and into the hushed halls of Great Art. It was the transition album that turned rock from a debased music for ponytailed fans twisting the night away to music for grown men whose tastes are far too refined to worry about whether a pop song has a beat you can dance to.

“Sgt. Pepper’s” was the point when rock stopped being the music of girls and started being the music of men.

It’s actually possible that this is both an original idea and also that she believes it.

31 thoughts on “Amanduh’s feminist theory of Sgt Pepper’s”

  1. Although sometimes Sgt. P is cited as a kind of “proto prog” album, it’s only a couple of months behind Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd, a couple of months behind “Are You Experienced” by Jimi Hendrix, and six months behind Days of Future Past by the Moodies.

    So to say it’s the pivotal turning point in rock music towards the kind of “art rock” or Prog listened to by an overwhelmingly male audience is showing a very narrow view of music anno 1967…. It may have been a mainstream outburst in the direction of that general trend, but pivotal in and of itself it certainly is not.

  2. I’m quite happy for feminists to discuss how many Beatles can dance on the head of a pin. It keeps them at a safe distance from topics which affect me.

  3. The Meissen Bison

    This is hopelessly anachronistic drivel. The blessed woman was only born ten years later (though you might not think so to look at her) so she doesn’t speak from personal experience or on the basis of having listened to the Beatles music and how it evolved via Rubber Soul and Revolver before Sgt Pepper.

    And teeny boppers are an altogether later phenomenon than rock and roll. The Monkees? The Archies? Bubblegum music?


  4. Bloke in Wiltshire

    For once, she’s not that far wrong. I wouldn’t say “rock”, but it’s certainly the point where the Beatles became more of a bloke’s band. It ticks various rockist boxes about technical innovation and so forth.

    It’s also just not a very good album. Few of the songs are much cop, and where they hang together, it’s because of nice production. The only reason for it’s continued prominence is that like The Graduate, Easy Rider and The Catcher in the Rye, it was part of the “counter culture” of formerly stoned upper middle class teenage boomers who ended up running the media and ramming it down our throats.

    Revolver and Rubber Soul are better albums.

  5. Nice idea, but factually incorrect, because Taxman and Paperback Writer are hardly “girly ” songs. The drift away from pure pop started after the first 4 albums.

  6. No doubt there was an increase around this time (from a baseline of more or less zero!) in the art school rock which especially appealed to males – though there was nothing stopping many females appreciating it too.

    As per usual though writers with an axe to grind can’t be bothered to do facts. Let’s see if we can do better and take a look at the UK top selling singles for 1968 – the first full year after Sgt Pepper’s release:

    Can anyone see a dominance of art/prog rock there?

    Here are the top 10:
    01 Louis Armstrong What A Wonderful World / Cabaret
    02 Mary Hopkin Those Were The Days
    03 Des O’Connor I Pretend
    04 Hugo Montenegro The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
    05 Union Gap Young Girl
    06 Tommy James & The Shondells Mony Mony
    07 The Beatles Hey Jude
    08 The Equals Baby Come Back
    09 Esther & Abi Ofarim Cinderella Rockefella
    10 Tom Jones Delilah

    …. but do take a look.

    Maybe she means the US? Here is the top 100 for the same year:

    Whatever “undanceable prog rock” there might be here is vastly outnumbered by mainstream pop, bubblegum and assorted middle of the road and easy listening – a mix which predominates in every year of the pop era (whatever nostalgic ex-punk music writers like to imagine).

    She rather misses the point that art/prog rock was predominantly a phenomenon of albums rather than singles whereas pop/dance music was mainly about singles. Even the art rock outfits who did care about singles were sensible enough to release their most catchy tracks.

    There never was a shortage of poppy dance singles, not least because record companies were hardly likely to ignore a massive market opportunity.

    To be fair though to The Salon readership they do tear the piece apart in comments – not least for the odd implication that women are only interested in airhead hedonism.

  7. ’67 would’ve been midway through my discovering rock years. It was…yawn. As ever, the Beatles (that rather twee Liverpool showband) were well behind the curve. Those on the leading edge had been playing their Airplane, Great Society, Moby Grape etc West Coast psychedelic vinyl to death for a year or more.

  8. What’s all this scatter-gun apostrophes? It was Sgt Pepper when I worra kid. I blame Americans with their NewYears.

  9. Drivel. Really not worth anyone reading. As the lead comment on Salon says, Amanduh is writing herself into a hospital gown.

    In fact, if it wasn’t for the penny-pinching patriarchy she’d have been hospitalised long ago.

  10. Good point you make there, JG. Living in bedsits in Earls Court through ’67/8 I was probably at ground zero for the prog/rock explosion. Or soft whoosh, more like it. I’d say half a dozen stations on the District line, in either direction, d’ve taken you to places they’d never heard of it. Like most things in fashion (& music’s as much fashion as anything), by the time the herd are buying it in the High Street the fashion setters are already away with something new.
    Seem to remember chancing upon reggae in an upstairs club in Peter St,W1 & a basement one in Westbourne Park, W11 sometime around then.

  11. I have a fairly strong suspicion that the post-war British jazz boom, as well as being frequently organised by one of the various Communist Parties, was largely comprised of young men stroking their goatees in appreciation and baffled women they’d dragged along. To quote Barbara Flynn in jazz fiend Ala Plater’s “The Beiderbeck Affair” – “I know there are three sorts of jazz; ‘hot’, ‘cool’ and ‘where’s the tune?'”

  12. Amanduh is a moron.

    Sgt. Pepper’s was Lennon/McCartney’s response to the Mothers of Invention’s Freak Out!. McCartney said so, publicly, and more than once. They weren’t inventing prog rock, they were trying to catch up to Frank Zappa.

  13. You beat me to it and what’s more, no-one caught up.
    I can just imagine Amanduh listening to the music and lyrics of one of music’s most ardent defenders of free speech. Triggered into a complete meltdown would be my guess.

  14. Bloke in Costa Rica

    This is just another example of a journalist not even knowing enough to understand what she doesn’t know. She’s obviously never heard Tomorrow Never Knows from Revolver. That was using tape loops, reverb and voice compression a year before Sgt. Pepper’s (it also lends the lie to the idea that Ringo couldn’t drum). And I’d like to know how you’re supposed to dance to Eleanor Rigby.

  15. I can just imagine Amanduh listening to the music and lyrics of one of music’s most ardent defenders of free speech. Triggered into a complete meltdown would be my guess.

    Sending her a copy of “Meets The Mothers Of Prevention” might be amusing.

  16. BiCR –

    Does anyone want to take bets on whether Amanduh has actually ever heard Revolver? I’d put down $20 on “no”.

    wiggia –

    Yes, she is a moron. It’s a fact that has been verified by extensive testing of her intellectual output.

    Invicta –

    I can just imagine Amanduh listening to the music and lyrics of one of music’s most ardent defenders of free speech. Triggered into a complete meltdown would be my guess.

    I’m pretty sure the only FZ song Amanduh could follow would be Valley Girl.

  17. The Inimitable Steve

    Track listing:

    Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Heterosexist phallocentric brainwashing that probably influenced Elliot Rodger

    With a Little Help from My Friends – Terrifying paean to rape culture

    Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – Misogynistic hate screed about alleged female cupidity

    Getting Better – Veiled threat from a self-confessed ‘angry young man’ that his womynfriend shouldn’t even think of leaving his abusive clutches

    Fixing a Hole – Rape

    She’s Leaving Home – To escape all the rape

    Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! – For the benefit of a MAN, of course!

  18. Correct me if I’m wrong but gender reassignment surgery wasn’t a thing in 1967 and the Beatles was a group made up of four men. The music was always the music of men. All those girls who listened before were all guilty of gender appropriation.


    Four young blokes wrote songs for young birds for the same reasons young blokes have always written songs that appeal to young birds. As they aged priorities shifted and so did the songs.

    While I personally believe the second option is preferable I am honestly willing to placate Amanda on this point. In order to ensure Amanda’s work isn’t gender appropriated I will refrain from reading it.

    Of course if she was really that concerned about appropriations the piece wouldn’t have been published somewhere that men might accidentally read. Based on her surname it should have also been written in French.

  19. iliked this comment “This is what happens when your mind is overtaken by ideology. Everything is seen through a lens, and you read meaning into things that are utterly meaningless. Women purchase just as much music as men. If they prefer male artists to female ones or vice versa, then good for them. If they prefer Pop to Rock or “pretentious” to “danceable,” then who cares? THERE IS NO DEEP MEANING HERE. Does she really believe the Beatles sought to “save rock & roll from its female fan base?” That men really care if women are buying the same records they are? Ms. Marcotte is one step away from muttering to herself in a hospital gown. Seriously: seek help”


  20. To be honest I didn’t pay much attention to Sgt Pepper when it was released. Mind you I was only 5.

  21. Here was I thinking rock music didn’t make it to being Great Art until The Girl from Ipanema was released in 1964!

  22. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    Dennis the Peasant

    Gag me with a spoon !

    I also didn’t know that story about Tipper Gore in a smackdown with Frank – that’s so incredibly ironic considering the obscene bullsh*t her husband spouts about global warming.

  23. There’s a little bit of truth in what she says, but it’s hardly an original point. Endless critics have complained for decades that rock went all male and nerdy around the time of Sgt Pepper.

  24. So Much For Subtlety

    Totally off-topic but the Telegraph’s decline continues apace:

    Climate change has also been attributed to the surge in bear attacks in Japan in the past, as a growing number of the creatures reportedly leave their natural habitat in search of food.

    So shooting all the bears in Japan must be the cheapest way to deal with climate change. Myself I am on the side of the bears.

  25. So Much For Subtlety

    As Amanda is too young to remember the pre-Sgt-Pepper world, and is too stupid to re-create it in her head, and is woefully educated so her knowledge of pretty much anything complex (or in this case, bubble gum music) is essentially zilch, the question is what has she been reading? Who is she plagiarising? Is it Camile Paglia?

  26. “As Amanda is too young to remember the pre-Sgt-Pepper world, and is too stupid to re-create it in her head, and is woefully educated so her knowledge of pretty much anything complex (or in this case, bubble gum music) is essentially zilch, the question is what has she been reading? Who is she plagiarising? Is it Camile Paglia?”

    she’s just a moron trapped by her own ideological worldview. Anything outside that must be confusing for her.

  27. Sgt Pepper’s was knocked from no1 spot on the UK album chart by Val Dominican Rocks, But Gently. Good old Val.

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