Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is not actually one of my top albums, although it’s good (Abbey Road would actually be my top Beatles album, with a few others rounding out my top choices). It is, however, a landmark album that no one under 40 today can really appreciate. The Beatles entered a 60’s world that saw the single as the norm in the recording industry. They had a major part in changing the music field so that albums became the norm by the ’70s. The Beatles made an earthshaking move with the Pepper concept album in 1967, and nothing was ever really the same again. They initiated a huge paradigm shift in the production of the concept album, the studio album, and music techniques in general. Pepper made it clear that they couldn’t tour again–there was no way that they could duplicate these new sounds in a live arena. There was a whole world of difference between the Revolver album in ’66 and Pepper a year later.

To paraphrase a story I once read, “in 1967 at Christmastime we put Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on the turntable and listened, amazed by the new world the Beatles opened up for us.”

This history makes things even more interesting now that new music services like Apple’s rumored 99 cent song downloads have appeared. Evidence appears strong that these kinds of services herald a shift back to singles after more than thirty years of album-centric music publishing.