Pretty from the time it was released and on through the '70s and '80s, "Sgt. Pepper" was almost universally lauded as the Beatles' masterpiece. It regularly topped any list of "best albums of all time" and was held up as a stunning piece of conceptual pop art. During the '90s something curious happened... the status of "Pepper" began to tarnish as "Revolver" (which was always considered a great album) began getting a critical reappraisal, until in many circles it has overtaken "Pepper" as the nominal "best" Beatles album. So what happened? In 1967, the release of "Sgt. Pepper" was by all accounts a major event. Top 40 pop stations took the extraordinary step of playing the album in its entirety. Many have said that everywhere they went that summer, they heard "Sgt. Pepper" blaring out of windows. It inspired countless copycat albums, by artists who should have known better. The entire pop music landscape shifted instantly. Those who were deeply affected by the album in 1967 continued to hold those impressions, and its stature only grew during the next couple of decades. By the '90s, the incoming generation had no first-hand memories of 1967. The quality of the Beatles' music was strong enough that many young people were still interested in it, but without the context of the era it was produced, the music was now judged solely on its merits. What had sounded revolutionary or groundbreaking in 1967 sounded quaint and dated in 1997. By comparison, "Revolver" cuts as sharp as a knife. There are no flowery gimmicks - even George's sitar-based song has a hard rock edge. Every song is brilliantly arranged and compact. There is a certain urgency about it. In short, it holds up as a cohesive work that sounds every bit as fresh today as it did in 1966. This is not to say that "Sgt. Pepper" is not a brilliant album - it is - but it is impossible to not associate it with the naive optimism of the Summer of Love, and that is what distinguishes it from the timeless brilliance of "Revolver."