Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sgt. Pepper's at 50.

Image via The Beatles' Facebook page
I’m not even gonna dip my toe into the never-ending argument over the merits of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band versus other records in The Beatles’ catalog. I do know it was the first vinyl album I ever bought (along with the KISS Ace Frehly solo picture disc), so it obviously means a lot to me on a personal level. At the time we only had a full stereo system with no headphones—this was the late ‘70s, after all—so I didn’t realize that the stereo mix was all hard-panning and not “true” stereo.

As the years progressed and I graduated to the wide world of the cassette Walkman, I realized just how crazy the mixing sounded on Beatles albums. I actually found it pretty cool … until I started DJing and realized how weird the songs sounded if the speakers were in wildly different areas of a room. This prompted me to switch the mixer to mono whenever I wanted to play a Beatles song.*

So enter this 50th anniversary of the album, rebuilt and remixed by Giles Martin from master tapes, many of which were original and not the bounced-down versions needed to fit as many tracks into a mix. The result is truly enjoyable, expanding on my memories of the album while beefing up the sound a touch and adding the touch of true stereo to help unify all the bit and pieces into a united whole instead of splitting them between ye olde ear holes.

NOTE: The bonus material is for hardcore fans only. The various takes of the songs as they grew into their final shapes are interesting, but in no way essential. So if you want to take them in my suggestion would be to stream them and not waste your dough on the deluxe version of this reissue. The single CD new mix of the actual album is 100% worth your dough though.

*This was long before the mono mixes were ever available to me. Or, more accurately before I even realized they existed!

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