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Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (2017)

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Scott Freiman, composer/producer and Beatles historian, shows audiences how the Beatles made their 1967 masterpiece album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, through long lost ... See full summary »


David Zellerford


Scott Freiman



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Credited cast:
Brian Ackerman Brian Ackerman ... Himself
The Beatles ... Themselves (archive footage)
Scott Freiman Scott Freiman ... Lecturer
George Harrison ... Himself (archive footage)
John Lennon ... Himself (archive footage)
Paul McCartney ... Himself (archive footage)
Ringo Starr ... Himself (archive footage)


Scott Freiman, composer/producer and Beatles historian, shows audiences how the Beatles made their 1967 masterpiece album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, through long lost recordings, vintage photographs, and interview footage of the band members and those close to them. Written by Tyler Partnow

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Release Date:

6 February 2017 (USA) See more »

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Did You Know?


Although this film went the unusual route of booking mostly one-night-only screenings in 2017 across the country - from the Sunshine Cinema in New York and the E Street Cinema in Washington, DC, to the Imperial Theatre in August, Georgia, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Dallas, and the Mary D. Fisher Theatre in Sedona, Arizona - two houses booked it for an entire week: the Real Art Ways Theatre in Hartford, Connecticut and the Circle Cinema in Tulsa, Oklahoma. See more »


Lecturer: Paul gets right up to the microphone next to Ringo, and Ringo delivers one of the finest performances he's done, including hitting that high note. So in a way, you could say that Ringo did get high with a little help from his friends.
See more »


Features Ready, Steady, Go! (1963) See more »

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Terrific peek behind the scenes of a classic
18 March 2017 | by dloft59See all my reviews

This video of one of the "Deconstructing the Beatles" lectures Freiman has been giving over the past eight years at universities, cultural centers, and other venues offers an absorbing look at the creative work behind one of the most groundbreaking rock albums of the 1960s. Freiman's multi-media presentation includes video clips, music out-takes, alternate versions of famous cuts, stills, news footage, and the album covers, TV ads and sitcoms, circus poster, and other sources of inspiration for the songs on this beloved LP.

Freiman starts his talks with a trivia quiz for the audience, which focuses viewers' minds on what you remember and don't know about the Beatles and the album in question. From there, he moves through the songs in order, spending more time on some than others. (There's also considerable discussion of the double-sided single "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane," which was released that spring of 1967 but ultimately left off the album.)

Occasional dips into sound engineering details such as DI boxes, phasing, and flanging may go over the average listener's head, but are more than made up for by the musical content. In some cases, especially "Lucy in the Sky," "She's Leaving Home," "Within You Without You," "Good Morning Good Morning," and "A Day in the Life," Freiman presents alternate versions, or is able to isolate various tracks -- background vocals, percussion, lead guitar, etc. -- so you get to hear things you've never noticed in songs you've listened to dozens, even hundreds, of times.

There's also plenty of trivia for anyone who hasn't pored over the dozens of Beatles books, especially Margotin & Guesdon's _All the Songs_ (2013), for which Freiman served as consulting editor. Did you know that producer George Martin cherry-picked audience noises from live performances of Beyond the Fringe, the comedy troupe he produced before signing the Beatles, for this album? That a new EMI act called Pink Floyd was recording its first album, _Piper at the Gates of Dawn_, in the studio next door and dropped by to watch the recording of "Lovely Rita"? Or that hair combs wrapped in toilet paper are part of the instrumental backing for "When I'm Sixty-Four" (a song McCartney composed for his Dad when he was only 16)?

Perhaps the most startling piece of trivia involves "She's Leaving Home," the haunting ballad McCartney composed after seeing a news story about a 17-year-old who disappeared from her parents' home, also leaving behind a mink coat, diamond ring, and car. It turned out that Paul generally guessed correctly about the circumstances: Melanie Coe indeed ran away to be with a man, but she had no idea the song was about her when she heard it. (She also got tracked down two weeks later and came home pregnant to have an abortion.) But here's the crazy part: Several years before, on Oct. 4, 1963, McCartney judged a dance contest on the TV show "Ready, Steady, Go!" (three girls jiggled to Brenda Lee's "Let's Jump the Broomstick"), and awarded the prize to a young teen . . . that very Melanie Coe, about whom he would unknowingly write a song three years later! It is, as Freiman says when he runs the footage of McCartney handing the girl her prize on the show, a "Twilight Zone moment."

This video lecture was shot during a Freiman presentation at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, NY -- about 30 miles north of New York City. Cameras regularly focus on people in the audience who are mouthing the lyrics of the songs, or smiling, which didn't add much for this viewer. But the cumulative effect of the movie is to renew your admiration and respect for this amazing quartet of musicians and their technical support (Freiman gives a lot of props to sound engineer Geoff Emerick as well as Martin), and send you home with the songs dancing through your mind. What could be better than that?

(NOTE: Videos of Freiman's lectures began screening at select houses across the U.S. in late 2016, and as of the spring of 2017, they continue to roll out mostly in one-night, one-screening-only performances at venues such as The Imperial Theater in Augusta, GA, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Living Room Theater in Portland, OR, where I saw this one. Check Freiman's "Deconstructing the Beatles" website for scheduled screenings.)

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