Fifty years ago, The Beatles gave birth to the pioneering opus that's long been recognized as the psychedelic era's creative zenith: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Which naturally means that the album, long regarded as the greatest of the band's masterworks — now more commonly (and correctly) ranked below both 1965's Rubber Soul and 1966's Revolver — is getting a plush 50th-anniversary release.
We come neither to bury nor praise Sgt. Pepper, however, but to consider its cultural moment, and how it relates to our own. Pepper is just one of a series of landmark releases from 1967. Some come out of the psychedelic playbook: Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow, Cream's Disraeli Gears, Love's Forever Changes, the Jimi Hendrix Experience's Are You Experienced. Others followed their own path: The Velvet Underground & Nico, Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, The Kinks' Something Else, Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding, and the great Philadelphia soul man Howard Tate's overlooked-at-the-time Get It While You Can.