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The Beatles / Remixed Sgt. Pepper unveiled at Abbey Road Studios


SDE Editor Paul Sinclair bumps into some old friends outside Abbey Road Studios…

SDE listens to the new Sgt. Pepper stereo remix at Abbey Road and asks Giles Martin about ‘Carnival of Light’…

Apple Corps and Universal Music last night hosted a preview event for a hundred or so journalists from around the world in which Giles Martin discussed his work on the anniversary reissue of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the new stereo remix of the album was played in full. SDE was there…

Sgt. Pepper invitation

Any visit to Abbey Road Studios is incredible, but to be in Studio 2, where the Fab Four recorded most of Sgt. Pepper, for this playback event was pretty special.

After a short introduction by Apple boss Jeff Jones, George’s son Giles Martin (who with Sam Okell remixed the tracks for the forthcoming reissue) was interviewed by BBC 6 Music broadcaster (and former Menswear drummer) Matt Everitt.

Here’s some highlights from Martin’s chat with Everitt and the Q&A at the end:

Goals for the project:

Giles Martin: Music’s a strange thing. You try to recreate, what you remember hearing, if that makes any sense? So the goal behind Sgt. Pepper is to say… ‘What does Sgt. Pepper sound like? We have the privilege of going back to the four-tracks… we can peel back the layers and rebuild it. So the goal.. well there’s two things. There’s the ‘socks and sandals’ brigade – they own every single note of Sgt. Pepper. There’s probably some people in the audience who would claim to be these people – and they are – they are the people I lean on. And then there’s the children and grandchildren of people who are told ‘you should listen to Sgt. Pepper – it’s the most amazing sounding album’ and they can put it on in this crazy world we live in, with all the other music in the world and it bursts out of the speakers as it should do. So that’s the intention, to tick both of those boxes.

On the mono / stereo mixes:

Giles Martin: The Beatles weren’t present for the [original] stereo mixes at all. The monos were to the band what Sgt. Pepper is. What happened is, when The Beatles recorded they’d make notes on the tape boxes, [but] because the speed and pressure with which they were working…  for example, before they finished the mixing – I think – they recorded Magical Mystery Tour, the song, and they recorded the All You Need Is Love broadcast as Pepper was coming out… so things like paying attention to notes on recordings just weren’t done. Our intention was to make a stereo of the mono. I worked with my dad since I was 15, so I know what he would have thought and I know the band well, so you just kind of respect what they think.

Peeling back the layers…

Giles Martin: My first Beatles exposure was on the Anthology project, I was 21, 22, and I went upstairs with my dad and he played me A Day In The Life from the four-track, and it was like they were in the room. The clarity, the tapes… we get credit for this, stuff they did years ago, but the tapes sound amazing. The Beatles don’t sound old and their records shouldn’t sound old. I’ll give you an example of what we can do by not using the bounces… so if you can imagine, if you record guitar, bass and drums and you bounce that down to one track… so [in stereo] you end up with music on one side and voice of the other.. So if you take Lovely Rita, the CD you all know is very heavily biased on the right hand side [plays a section of the original stereo song followed by some of the new stereo mix which is much more balanced]. In essence, what we do is peel back the layers… immersive is such an overused word for albums now, but Sgt. Pepper really is an album you can fall into… the mono of Sgt. Pepper is so technically brilliant.

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds

Giles Martin: We wouldn’t be here listening to this now if they [Paul, Ringo, Olivia & Yoko] weren’t happy. It’s their record. I’ll play you Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. The mono has a lot of ADTing which where you varispeed the tape machine and with the record head and play head at the same time, it gives you this voice effect… This is what John Lennon wanted [plays some of the original mono mix.. followed by the new stereo mix, which has all the correct vocal effects in place]. Again, it’s a stereo of the mono.

“It’s the opposite of ice-cream brain freeze… “

Giles Martin: [This new mix is] about bringing them into the room, because they were so good. They made such a good noise. There’s very few things in life that make you feel better – especially right now – that just exist. And this is one of those things…. It’s the opposite of ice-cream brain freeze, this record. You know, why have When I’m Sixty Four after Within You Without You There’s so much innovation and ideas packed into it. I found while working on it – we didn’t mix in order, we just chose a song and mixed it – that it’s only as we put it together you realise that as an album the songs make more sense.

Putting Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields into the album…(or not)

Giles Martin: I’ve gotta be honest… it’s in the package. We thought a lot about where it should go in the album… but why change Sgt. Pepper’s Hearts Club Band? We’d probably be strung up…

5.1 mixes

Giles Martin: We were quite conservative with the 5.1 mixes on the ‘number ones’ album but with this the 5.1 mixes are much more immersive.

Question from SDE: Was Carnival of Light considered for the bonus material in the box?

Giles Martin: Yes, it was. As was It’s Only A Northern Song, as well, actually. But it wasn’t really part of Pepper. It wasn’t part of the Sgt. Pepper recording. It’s a very different thing. I hope we can do something interesting with that at some point…but it wasn’t really part of the Sgt. Pepper album.

Quad mix of Sgt. Pepper

Giles Martin: Did I reference the Quad Mix of Sgt. Pepper while making the new 5.1? No, I didn’t, is the answer! It wasn’t done by The Beatles… was it? Again, I go back to what they did and what they think. So no, I didn’t. Nor did I know that it existed, so that’s probably why [laughs].

What’s left that hasn’t been heard?

Giles Martin: The Beatles were very economical in terms of how they recorded. They did multiple takes of the same song. To give you an example, on the bonus disc [CD 2 in the super deluxe edition] is take 1 of Sgt. Pepper which has no vocal on it, no bass on it. It’s just the band working out the song. And then take 9 which is the take, without overdubs. Even I can work out that there’s takes 2, 3 , 4, 5, 6, 7  and 8 between those, but they’re pretty much the same, to be honest. Here’s the thing, from our point of view you have to charge money for this – that’s the way it works, because you’ve got to pay publishing and all these sorts of things. It gets to the stage where it’s money for old rope… and my job is to make sure we’re providing stuff that’s worth it. With Sgt. Pepper we’ve been really careful and have taken a long time and been really diligent, and giving people a real feeling of what it’s like to be part of the album…


SDE verdict: Paul Sinclair on the new stereo remix

During the evening, the new stereo mix of Sgt. Pepper’s Hearts Club Band was played in full. This was being driven directly via 96/24 files from Giles Martin’s laptop, to what are presumably hideously expensive speakers (see image above).

So how does it sound? It’s a difficult question to answer accurately since ANY version of Sgt. Pepper being blasted in Studio 2 of Abbey Road Studios would sound amazing and it’s very, VERY easy to get sucked into just enjoying the record and forget to listen out for tell-tale improvements (or otherwise). And you can’t say “stop, can I hear that bit again?”. That said, I thought Giles and Sam had done a great job and the best indications were earlier in the evening when Martin compared tracks side-by-side (Lovely Rita, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds). The goal – as stated – was to “make a stereo of the mono” and from what I heard, they seem to have fixed many/all of the limitations and/or mixing errors on the original stereo version. The new stereo remix is unquestionable superior to the original stereo mix. Whether that renders the original mono mix semi-redundant, is another, more interesting question.

Giles talks about ‘peeling back the layers’ but when you unglue everything in the original mixes in a digital domain and then try to ‘reseal’ for a 2017 remix do you lose something intangible? Does the dust in the air of 1967’s Abbey Road Studio 2 leave the room?

The positives are numerous, such as clarity, separation and depth of bass and drums in particular. But whether by accident or design recording Sgt. Pepper on a four-track and ‘bouncing down’ meant compromising on clarity and separation and the question is, do those compromises detract from or add to the magic of the album? Maybe it’s a moot point. The original mono album endures and indeed has a place at the table within the new super deluxe edition box set, although it’s worth noting, for all its accepted superiority, that Apple have never made it available separately on CD. I guess the nuances are too hard to communicate to a general audience. Why would I want to listen to something in mono?!

Technological advances have allowed Giles Martin to create a stereo mix his father simply couldn’t do in the 1960s, and I can see this new remix fairly quickly superseding the flawed original. As Giles pertinently pointed out, our children and grandchildren have a version of the album that ‘works’ in this new millennium and also honours the original mixing decisions of the mono version. Crucially, this means the general audience will now be listening to a mix of the album that is close to what the band wanted when they oversaw those mono mixing sessions. But that’s the general audience. I suspect purists will still gravitate to the ‘unpeeled’ mono version for the ultimate mix of authenticity and (in Giles’ own words) technical brilliance.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is reissued as a six-disc super deluxe edition (and other formats) on 26 May 2017. Read more about it here.

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Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band super deluxe edition box set

CD 1 / New Stereo Remix
1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life

CD 2 / Sgt. Pepper Sessions
1 Strawberry Fields Forever – Take 1
2 Strawberry Fields Forever – Take 4
3 Strawberry Fields Forever – Take 7
4 Strawberry Fields Forever – Take 26
5 Strawberry Fields Forever – Stereo/Giles Martin Mix 2015
6 When I’m Sixty-Four
7 Penny Lane – Take 6
8 Penny Lane – Vocal Overdubs and Speech
9 Penny Lane – Stereo / Giles Martin Mix 2017
10 A Day In The Lif e- Take 1
11 A Day In The Life – Take 2
12 A Day In The Life – Orchestra Overdub
13 A Day In The Life – Hummed Last Chord
14 A Day In The Life – The Last Chord
15 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Take 1
16 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – Take 9
17 Good Morning Good Morning – Take 1
18 Good Morning Good Morning – Take 8

CD 3 / Sgt. Pepper Sessions
1 Fixing A Hole – Take 1
2 Fixing A Hole – Speech And Take 3
3 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
4 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! – Take 7
5 Lively Rita – Speech and Take 9
6 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – Take 1 And Speech
7 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – Speech
8 Getting Better – Take 1
9 Getting Better – Take 12
10 Within You Without You – Take 1
11 Within You Without You – George Coaching The Musicians
12 She’s Leaving Home – Take 1
13 She’s Leaving Home – Take 6
14 With A Little Help From My Friends – Take 1
15 Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) Speech and Take 8

CD 4 – Sgt. Pepper in Mono
1. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life

Bonus tracks

14 Strawberry Fields Forever
15 Penny Lane
16 A Day In The Live – First Mono Mix
17 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds – Original Mono Mix
18 She’s Leaving Home – First Mono Mix
19 Penny Lane – Capitol Records Mono Mix

Disc: 5 / Blu-ray: Sgt. Pepper in 5.1 surround sound and hi-res stereo
1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life
14. Strawberry Fields Forever
15. Penny Lane
16. The Making Of Sgt. Pepper
17. A Day In The Life
18. Strawberry Fields Forever
19. Penny Lane
20. Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
21. Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
22. Sgt. Pepper’s Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
23. Strawberry Field Forever/ Penny Lane Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
24. Video Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
25. Making of Chapter 1 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
26. Making of Chapter 2 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
27. Video Setup Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Disc: 6 / DVD: Sgt. Pepper in 5.1 surround sound and hi-res stereo
1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life
14. Strawberry Fields Forever
15. Penny Lane
16. The Making Of Sgt. Pepper
17. A Day In The Life
18. Strawberry Fields Forever
19. Penny Lane
20. Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
21. Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
22. Sgt. Pepper’s Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
23. Strawberry Field Forever/ Penny Lane Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
24. Video Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
25. Making of Chapter 1 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
26. Making of Chapter 2 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
27. Video Setup Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 2LP vinyl

LP 1 – Sgt. Pepper – new stereo mix

Side 1

1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!

Side 2

1. Within You Without You
2. When I’m Sixty-Four
3. Lovely Rita
4. Good Morning Good Morning
5. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
6. A Day In The Life

LP 2 – ‘Alternative’ Sgt. Pepper (all previously unreleased)

Side 3

1 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Take 9 And Speech]
2 With A Little Help From My Friends [Take 1 – False Start And Take 2 – Instrumental]
3 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds [Take 1]
4 Getting Better [Take 1 – Instrumental And Speech At The End]
5 Fixing A Hole [Speech And Take 3]
6 She’s Leaving Home [Take 1 – Instrumental]
7 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! [Take 4]

Side 4

1 Within You Without You [Take 1 – Indian Instruments]
2 When I’m Sixty-Four [Take 2]
3 Lovely Rita [Speech And Take 9]
4 Good Morning Good Morning [Take 8]
5 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) [Take 8]
6 A Day In The Life [Take 1 With Hummed Last Chord]

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 2CD edition

CD 1 – Sgt Pepper – new stereo mix
1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life

CD 2 – Previously unreleased session takes
1 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band [Take 9]
2 With A Little Help From My Friends [Take 1 – False Start And Take 2
3 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds [Take 1]
4 Getting Better [Take 1 – Instrumental And Speech At The End]
5 Fixing A Hole [Speech And Take 3]
6 She’s Leaving Home [Take 1 – Instrumental]
7 Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! [Take 4]
8 Within You Without You [Take 1 – Indian Instruments]
9 When I’m Sixty-Four [Take 2]
10 Lovely Rita [Speech And Take 9]
11 Good Morning Good Morning [Take 8]
12 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) [Take 8]
13 A Day In The Life [Take 1 With Hummed Last Chord]
14 Strawberry Fields Forever [Take 7]
15 Strawberry Fields Forever [Take 26]
16 Strawberry Fields Forever [Stereo Mix – 2015]
17 Penny Lane [Take 6 – Instrumental]

SuperDeluxeEdition.com helps fans around the world discover physical music and discuss releases. To keep the site free, SDE participates in various affiliate programs, including Amazon and earns from qualifying purchases.

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