Imagine there’s no Sgt Pepper. It’s all too easy in the era of Trump and May | John Harris

This great Beatles album is as thrilling a listen as ever on its 50th anniversary: but it’s a melancholy time for the one-world counterculture the record soundtracked

“At the time Sgt Pepper was released,” the American writer Langdon Winner once recalled, “I happened to be driving across the country on Interstate 80. In each city where I stopped for gas or food – Laramie, Ogallala, Moline, South Bend – the melodies wafted in from some far-off transistor radio or portable hi-fi… For a brief while, the irreparably fragmented consciousness of the west was unified, at least in the minds of the young.”

Related: Sgt Pepper: listen to an unreleased outtake of the Beatles’ classic

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