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Meet the critic who panned ‘Sgt. Pepper’ then discovered his speaker was busted. He’s still not sorry. – The Washington Post

Meet the critic who panned ‘Sgt. Pepper’ then discovered his speaker was busted. He’s still not sorry. – The Washington Post

Meet the critic who panned ‘Sgt. Pepper’ then discovered his speaker was busted. He’s still not sorry. – The Washington Post
May 12
10:25 2017

That day in the summer of 1967, Richard Goldstein walked into the New York Times offices in midtown Manhattan wearing a dark blue cape. He was 22, a hippie and a freelancer. And he was about to deliver a scathing review of the most important album of the year, perhaps the most important album in rock history.

Goldstein had been thrilled when Sy Peck, a veteran Times editor who wore a tie, handed him the band’s new record, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

Growing up in the gritty Bronx, Goldstein identified with the lads from working-class Liverpool. Those red-hot early Beatles sides were a natural link to the driving rock of the 1950s. And the Fab Four were true artists. Approaching “Sgt. Pepper,” they had branched out into the baroque pop of “Eleanor Rigby” and psychedelic tape loops of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” They had quit touring so they could concentrate on the studio. “Sgt. Pepper” would be their masterpiece.

Goldstein rushed home to the Upper West Side apartment he shared with his wife, Judith. He slipped the vinyl onto his turntable. He took his customary listening position, head back on the rug with a floor speaker aimed on each ear. He turned up the volume as the chugging guitar of the album’s opener kicked in. That’s when the trouble started.

Goldstein hated “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

“Busy, hip and cluttered,” he called the record in a review that ran in the Times on June 18, 1967.

He blasted the Beatles for “a surprising shoddiness in composition” and declared the album, ultimately, “fraudulent.”

“Sgt. Pepper,” of course, was an immediate hit, No. 1 on the Billboard charts for months. It also was critically acclaimed, eventually topping Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. This month, the Beatles’ eighth studio album will get the anniversary treatment with a six-disc box set that includes dozens of demos and alternative mixes of songs now considered part of the pop canon, including “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and the group’s greatest pocket symphony, “A Day in the Life.”

But at least one person still remembers Goldstein’s slashing review. Paul McCartney.

A few months ago, McCartney, in an interview with The Washington Post, was asked about dealing with criticism during his post-Beatles career. In answering, he referenced Goldstein’s take.

Source: Meet the critic who panned ‘Sgt. Pepper’ then discovered his speaker was busted. He’s still not sorry. – The Washington Post

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Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

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