The Beatles

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)

Composed by John Lennon / Paul McCartney

Song Review by

The title song of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was performed twice on the album. The "regular" version, by far the more famous of the pair, starts the album; the much shorter, harder-rocking reprise immediately precedes the final song, "A Day in the Life." The reprise is more of a functional track than one meant to stand on its own. Aside from creating a means for "Good Morning, Good Morning" (the track preceding the reprise), the reprise, and "A Day in the Life" to segue together without interruption, it solidifies the illusion of Sgt. Pepper's as a concept album. For just as the "regular" version of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" introduced the concept or illusion of an entire show or album performed by a fictional group of the same name, here that group -- Sgt. Pepper's Hearts Club Band themselves -- come back to finish the show with an encore of a briefer version of the one that kicked it off, in the best showbiz fashion (with, as on the first rendition, crowd noise in the background). Of course, that smiley-face ending is subverted by the epic drama of the following "A Day in the Life," the real conclusion to Sgt. Pepper's. The reprise version of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is rarely discussed on its own merits, but it's notably different from the "regular" version in length and arrangement. While the previous version of the song had been almost like a combination of heavy 1967 rock, a theatrical musical, and a Salvation Army brass band playing on the village square, the reprise version is pure rock, taken at a much faster tempo. If the song were going to be covered live by other artists, this more conventional arrangement would be far easier to play than the more complex one that started the LP. Paul McCartney sounds brimming over with exuberance in his vocal, particularly in the spoken count-in and exclamatory "woo!" that precedes the music during the opening drum pattern. Too, it's taken at a different key than the previous version of the song, with lyric alterations indicating (falsely) that the show's over and thanking the audience, jumping keys upward partly through to add yet more urgency, the harmonies repeating the phrase "Sergeant Pepper's lonely" as if they're getting ready to take on the town. It all culminates in a pretty explosive grand finale on the last line, McCartney extemporizing a rowdy vocal as the hard rock guitar and audience cheers bring the track to an apparent piledriving conclusion. Of course, it's not the end -- as the last guitar note fades away, a somber acoustic guitar strum introduces "A Day in the Life," which will take up the actual final five minutes of the record.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 1967 EMI Catalogue 1:19
No Image 1992 Toshiba EMI
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol 1:18
Anthology 2 1996 Capitol/EMI Records / Apple/Capitol 1:27
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 EMI Catalogue 1:19
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol 1:19
The Beatles in Mono [Vinyl Box Set] 2014 Capitol
blue highlight denotes editor's pick