Juxtapoz Sound and Vision is a new segment on our platform dedicated to exploring one piece of substantial album artwork every Sunday/Monday. Album artwork is one of the primary ways that musicians and visual artists are able to collaborate, and many iconic album covers are simultaneously iconic pieces of pop art. It’s also an excuse for us to share some of our favorite albums and the visual component behind what makes an album groundbreaking and fun.
The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Design by Peter Blake
There are few albums from any time that have garnered as much universal acclaim as The Beatles’ 1967 magnum opus Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Groundbreaking on nearly every level, while still one of the best-selling records of all time, albums like Sgt. Peppers have only come around a handful of times in modern history and all the others are up for debate while Sgt. Peppers pretty much isn’t. It came at a time that pop culture and high art were careening towards each other at the end of an incredibly tumultuous decade, and bridged that gap in a way that could reach people from all segments of society in a way that, at the time, only the Beatles could. It could be argued that the primary motive of our magazine, born out of the fusion of “high” and “lowbrow” art to make the creative world more accessible, can trace its origins back to the release of this album.
The album’s cover artwork is similarly groundbreaking. It features the mustachioed Beatles amongst some of the defining characters of the western canon, including Carl Jung, Edgar Allan Poe, Bob Dylan, Sonny Liston, and many many more. The cover was designed by the British pop artist Peter Blake, and the American pop artist Jann Haworth, who painted and blew-up the photos to create the props in a setting originally illustrated by Paul McCartney. The project was ultimately a huge collaboration between members of the high art world, popular art world, and the Beatles, produced in the same style it was received.
Although the music video and single for "Strawberry Fields Forever" was released in the winter before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it marked a new musical and visual direction that would lead to the LP later that year. This promotional video was directed by Swedish television director, Peter Goldmann.