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Music Reviews: Sgt. Pepper’s 50th, Buckingham/McVie and Katy Perry’s Witness

Music Reviews: Sgt. Pepper’s 50th, Buckingham/McVie and Katy Perry’s Witness

By Samantha Anne Carrillo

The Beatles
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Capitol Records

From Beatles completists raised on The Fab Four to nascent noobs accessing the band’s work through their parents’ iTunes accounts, the 50th anniversary edition release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band commemorates a sea change in our cultural history. The ultimate triumph of postmodernism in pop music can be reflected on—that was a big deal in the late ’60s, when items like Sgt. Pepper’s nimbly demonstrated how the counterculture was taking over—or compared with the latest in youth culture; the work’s heady tone stands up and serves as a permanent referent for rock and hip-hop experimentalism. This new edition offers enough extras to have itself consecrated it as a holy document, but its primary meaning still shines through. This is excellent, timeless music presented in a format that rightly engenders wonder and influence—by anyone during any era—every time the play button is pressed.

Lindsay Buckingham/Christine McVie
Lindsay Buckingham/Christine McVie
Rhino Records

Relatively few listeners may recall that Lindsay Buckingham made his way into the orbit of legendary rock outfit Fleetwood Mac via Stevie Nicks and on Buckingham Nicks; the duo made this overwhelmingly Californian record in the early ’70s. The addition of these two Americans to otherwise deeply blues-centric English rock band Fleetwood Mac cemented the group’s cred on a self-titled record and Rumours. After that renaissance, many ups and downs, continued collaboration, dissolution and a latter-day reemergence and consequent touring, Buckingham has finally made a record with longtime Mac singer and keyboardist Christine McVie. The results are quirky, sometimes even verging on kinky, but both artists are in top form for sizzling numbers like “Sleeping Around the Corner” and “Red Sun.” A rhythm section made up of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie lends the record heft, but I can’t help wondering where Nicks was during these sonic shenanigans.

Katy Perry
Witness
Capitol Records

Through her five full-length releases, pop star Katy Perry has demonstrated resilience, independence and an evolving songcraft. The singer’s latest record, Witness, continues to self-consciously explore her evolution and development as an artist and performer. As Perry herself has notably stated, she considers this new work part of “an era of purposeful pop.” Like many of the pop musicians that came before her, this means embracing a slick, tautly produced, bright version of both herself and the oeuvre she represents. In no way subtle and verging on bombastic, alluringly danceable songs like “Swish, Swish” define the new album. Witness doesn’t explore new territory so much as it seeks to reassure the listener—and perhaps even Perry herself—that there are rewards to applying shine to your shoes and starching your shirt as we await the next great album to erupt glossy and songlike from the singer’s ever-expansive vision.

Samantha Anne Carrillo is: a Burqueña; a freelance writer & editor; a social media consultant & brand strategist; and a fourth-wave feminist & devout situationist. Connect with her at facebook.com/samanthaannenm, samanthaannecarrillo.contently.com and twitter.com/SamAnneCarrillo.