November 9 – the day of the 2018 release of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ ‘White Album.’ Apple offers several new remixed CD and vinyl packages with the most elaborate being the Super Deluxe edition, which includes a lavish 168-page hardcover book. This set is truly for the hardcore Beatles fan. You’ll feel like you’re a fly on the wall listening in on The Beatles as they record their only double-LP studio album.
On November 9, Apple Corps will release a 50th anniversary version of The Beatles’ 1968 ‘White Album.’ The album’s original 30 tracks are newly mixed by producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround audio, joined by 27 early acoustic demos and 50 session takes, most of which are previously unreleased in any form.
It was Fifty Years Ago Today! The Beatles: Sgt Pepper and Beyond is a new documentary film celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album. It serves as a complement to the Making of Sgt. Pepper documentary from 1992 and also the recent PBS documentary, Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution. While those films offer more of a focus on The Beatles’ recording process, It was Fifty Years Ago Today gives a more cultural context to the Sgt Pepper album.
This film was not officially sanctioned by The Beatles, and therefore no Beatles music was included. Instead it offers interviews with many people who were in the Beatles inner circle and also famous Beatle biographers. They all have some great insider stories and details to share.
Another plus is all of the rare historical footage of The Beatles that you don’t often see in “official” documentaries. However, the flow of the film is at times disjointed with one interview popping up in-between two other unrelated segments.
Also, the film title and DVD cover text leads you to believe that the focus is mainly on Sgt. Pepper. The film starts in August 1966 giving the background of why The Beatles stopped touring which led to their unlimited time in the recording studio. However, the film goes on for 2 hours, and covers material way past the release of Sgt Pepper in June 1967 to include the Beatles trip to India in 1968.
In this reviewer’s opinion, the film was about 30-40 minutes too long and all of the information about what happened after the death of Brian Epstein in August 1967 should have been omitted. The fact that it continues through 1968 leaves you to wonder where this “Sgt. Pepper” documentary is headed and wondering when it will end.
With that said, the interviews are very intelligent and interesting. There is also a second DVD of bonus extra footage of extended interviews with a few people featured in the original film. Highlights are the in-depth interviews with former BBC radio host, Andy Peebles, who interviewed John Lennon two days before he died, and Pete Best. Also included is a brief visual tour of Beatle-related sites in Liverpool and London, with a special stop at 34 Montagu Square, which has a special connection to John, Paul and Ringo.
For Beatles fans who like to get their hands on rare footage and interviews of The Beatles, then this DVD is for you. – T.Y.
(If you are not on our mailing list, go here to subscribe.
Note: this newsletter is different from following our blog posts)
“Sgt. Pepper – Wow! Was it really 50 years ago today? Can’t be true…”
– Paul McCartney in April 2017
Mixed in stereo and 5.1 surround audio, this is a vast improvement over the 2009 remastered Beatles CD version. This is the first time the album has been remixed. The original four-track session tapes were the source and Giles Martin used the original mono mix produced by his father, Beatles producer George Martin, as a guide.
When comparing the 2009 remastered Sgt. Pepper CD to the remixed 2017 version, it’s like going from black and white to color. The 2009 remastered version almost sounds muted when compared to the 50th anniversary remix due to the fact that the sound of the vocals, guitars and drums are all brought to the front.
Paul McCartney commented on the remix in a recent Q&A with Japanese fans: “It’s very clear. So whereas the old mix was just sort of a general mix, this time you can hear every little instrument. And it was quite surprising to hear, ‘Ooh, I’d forgotten we did that.'”
The sound is so clear and enhanced that you can even hear McCartney shouting in the background at the end of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise).” You’ll also hear an unexpected addition to the end of “Within You, Without You.”
Ringo Starr also raved about the new remix. A friend of Ringo’s reported that “it originally was recorded on a 4-track with a lot of overdubs, which buried the drums. Now, the drums have been lifted and come through as they should. He was pleased.”
The remixed Sgt. Pepper CD is definitely worth getting, no matter how many previous versions you have. While you can just get the remixed CD by itself, here’s why you should get the Super Deluxe edition.
If you love to hear outtakes and get a glimpse into how The Beatles’ song process took place, you’ll especially enjoy Disc 2 of the Deluxe package. Here you get 18 tracks including five takes of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and five takes of “A Day in the Life.” These outtakes include an alternate attempt at creating the dramatic piano sound at the end of “A Day in the Life”, instead with all of The Beatles humming in unison. Note that Disc 2 on the Super Deluxe version is different from the outtakes included on Disc 2 of the 2-CD Deluxe set.
Disc 3 offers 15 additional outtakes for the diehard Beatles fan. Disc 4 offers the entire album in the original mono mix, along with 6 additional mono tracks including “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane.”
If you are not that interested in outtakes, the Super Deluxe package is still worth the money because of the lavish hardcover book and The Making of Sgt. Pepper documentary on DVD and Blu-ray.
The Making of Sgt. Pepper documentary was made for the 25th anniversary of the album’s release and contains great interviews with Paul, George, Ringo and George Martin. The highlight is watching George Martin sit at the engineering controls in the recording studio and isolate either the vocal or instrumental tracks on several of the songs and discuss The Beatles’ recording process.
The six-disc Super Deluxe set comes with a 144-page hardcover book the size of an album. The book includes chapters written by different writers on various aspects of the album. Topics include the design of the cover, the album’s musical innovations and its historical context by Beatles historian, author and radio producer Kevin Howlett; composer and musicologist Howard Goodall; music producer and writer Joe Boyd; and journalists Ed Vulliamy and Jeff Slate.
– Trina Yannicos
by Trina Yannicos
[This article was originally printed in Daytrippin’ Magazine, Issue 1.]
It was 50 years ago today…
The Beatles released their album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, during the “Summer of Love” on June 1, 1967. Sgt. Pepper was unlike any album of its time. It was considered unprecedented in many ways due to the innovative ideas and musical techniques presented on the album.
The album cover, the printed lyrics, the musical composition, the lyrical contents and the overall concept of the album proved upon its release to have a great impact on popular music as well as on the rest of popular culture. Considering the attention it was given through prestigious publications such as Newsweek, Time, The New York Times and The Washington Post illustrates that it was recognized as a significant event in the history of the 1960s.
The music industry honored The Beatles monumental achievement at the GRAMMY Awards given in 1968. Sgt. Pepper won for Best Engineered Album, Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Contemporary Rock and Roll Performance, Best Album Cover and Album of the Year. The album’s revolutionary and brilliant qualities were praised. In 1993, the album entered the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.
Sgt. Pepper was considered the first of its kind in many respects. For example, Sgt. Pepper became one of the first rock albums to eliminate the periods of silence traditionally heard between songs. As a result, the concept of the album was to recreate a concert-like performance of the make-believe Sgt. Pepper’s band.
Also contributing to the uniqueness of Sgt. Pepper was the album cover. It was a collage of The Beatles surrounded by famous historical, literary and entertainment figures ranging from Edgar Allan Poe to Marilyn Monroe to Bob Dylan. Apparently, the Beatles’ record company, EMI, obtained permission from each celebrity to include them on the cover.
Musically, this was an extraordinary album not just because of the complex musical arrangements, but also because of the wide variety of instruments used ranging from an electric guitar to a 41-piece orchestra.
The lyrics of the songs had a great effect because of the many ways they could be interpreted. Sgt. Pepper marked the first time that the lyrics were printed on the cover of a major pop release. As a result, the printing of the lyrics put a greater emphasis on the meaning of the songs. Consequently, this rock album, which had several different aspects to analyze, received near-unanimous raves and very little criticism.
Throughout the States, it was widely agreed upon that Sgt. Pepper was a superior achievement for The Beatles. Taken along with the Beatles’ previous successes, Sgt. Pepper‘s release created an outpouring of esteemed praise for The Beatles.
In Time‘s cover story (9/22/67), music writer Christopher Porterfield described The Beatles as “messengers from beyond rock ‘n’ roll, they are creating the most original, expressive and musically interesting sounds being heard in pop music.” Meanwhile, in Newsweek (6/26/67), Jack Kroll called them “Britain’s new Poet Laureate.”
The Beatles were being hailed as the greatest in their field, and by some they were being hailed as the greatest humans on earth. According to Philip Norman in his book Shout! The Beatles in their Generation (1981), Dr. Timothy Leary, a famous personality in the hippie movement, claimed that the Beatles were “the wisest, holiest, most effective avatars the human race has ever produced.”
At the same time, the album itself was receiving the highest critical acclaim. According to Norman, The New York Times Review of Books declared that Sgt. Pepper marked “a new and golden Renaissance of song.” Meanwhile, according to Nicholas Schaffner in his book The Beatles Forever (1977), Tom Philips of New York’s Village Voice called Sgt. Pepper “the most ambitious and most successful record album ever issued.”
The majority of critics had a similar positive response to the album. Obviously, the most influential part of the album was the music. In The Washington Post (6/18/67), Carl Bernstein expressed his view of this amazing creation: “The Beatles have managed to create a musical infinity through a miraculous metamorphosis of dozens of Eastern and Western musical ideas, some centuries old, others from our own era and more than a few from the future.” It was the opinion of many critics that Sgt. Pepper was the most amazing rock album to date.
However, the real proof that Sgt. Pepper was an astounding musical achievement rested in the views of other musicians. Surprisingly, in the classical music world, Sgt. Pepper received great praise.
According to Time (9/22/67), classical conductor Leonard Bernstein declared that the song “She’s Leaving Home” was one of the three great songs of the century. Also, Time reported that classical composer Ned Rorem claimed that this song “is equal to any song that Schubert ever wrote.” Rorem also insisted that the best songs on Sgt. Pepper could compare with those by composers Monteverdi, Schumann and Poulenc.
Meanwhile, within the rock world, the reaction was just as great. According to the authors of The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles (1983), after first hearing Sgt. Pepper, The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson gave up working on his own upcoming album since he believed Sgt. Pepper to be the greatest album ever made and nothing could top it.
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then The Who and The Rolling Stones greatly admired The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper. They both took up the challenge of matching it with their albums, Tommy and Their Satanic Majesties Request.
Although the overwhelming response to Sgt. Pepper was positive, there were a few negative responses. According to Schaffner, Richard Goldstein of The New York Times “dismissed most of the songs [on Sgt. Pepper] as pretentious and gimmicky.” On a more severe note, according to Philip Norman, the John Birch Society, an ultra right-wing Christian group, claimed that the Beatles “were part of a Communist conspiracy and their music displayed ‘an understanding of the principles of brainwashing.'”
The BBC expressed their own form of negative response when they banned the song “A Day in the Life” from being played on the British airwaves. They stated that the song was promoting drugs through lyrics such as “I’d love to turn you on.”
Some fans of The Beatles also saw Sgt. Pepper as a prelude to the inevitable commercial exploitation of the counterculture. According to Schaffner, Robert Somma in Crawdaddy criticized The Beatles because “they tidied up the drug scene, made psychedelia as palatable and mind-blowing as Congress.” Nonetheless, these criticisms were among the few that appeared amidst the plethora of praise for Sgt. Pepper.
Not only did Sgt. Pepper promote good and bad reviews for itself, but it created a new form of criticism for all rock albums which came thereafter. Following the strong reaction to Sgt. Pepper, serious critical reviews on rock albums came into existence. Prestigious publications started including commentaries on The Beatles and rock music in their issues. Until then, the only source of rock journalism came from fan magazines and the underground press. After Sgt. Pepper, a whole new genre of critical review emerged leading to the birth of magazines such as Rolling Stone and Crawdaddy.
The majority of America looked favorably on the release of Sgt. Pepper. The most enthusiastic were the youth of America or the counterculture. With the release of Sgt. Pepper, the youth of the sixties believed that the Beatles were the spokesmen for the counterculture. The hippies studied and dissected the album, believing that it held prophecies, messages and signs for them.
Besides the supposed drug messages in the lyrics, the hippies also interpreted some songs to be a put down of their parents. According to Porterfield, “She’s Leaving Home,” with its story about a teenage girl who runs away from home, was thought of as an anthem for the younger generation. As reported in Time, one 15-year-old hippie commented that the Beatles were “saying all the things I always wanted to say to my parents and their freaky friends.”
According to Jon Wiener in his book Come Together: John Lennon in His Time (1984), Robert Christgau, a writer for the music magazine Cheetah, claimed that Sgt. Pepper served as a “catalyst for the entire youth movement.” Sgt. Pepper was considered to be the perfect soundtrack for the “Summer of Love.” It managed to express almost every aspect of the merging youth subculture.
The cover story in Time (9/22/67) summarized the main messages the album relays: “tension between the generations, the loneliness of the dislocated ’60s, and the bitter sweets of young love in any age.” The youth movement could strongly identify with these messages.
Not only did the younger generation respond to Sgt. Pepper, but for the first time the older generation took a serious look at the Beatles and their music. Sgt. Pepper caused many adults, including parents, professors and business executives, to start taking the Beatles and rock music seriously. It was the first rock album that many people bought, and consequently, average adults started to formulate their own views on the Beatles’ music.
According to Time, Tom Leland, an Atlanta psychiatrist, stated that on Sgt. Pepper the Beatles were “speaking in an existential way about the meaningless of actuality.” Also reported in Time, Robert Tusler, a teacher of 20th century music at UCLA, declared that The Beatles “made an enormous contribution to electronic music.”
Some adults proclaimed that with the release of Sgt. Pepper, popular music had progressed into an art form. According to Time, musicologist Henry Pleasants declared, “The Beatles are where music is right now.”
This sudden change in perspectives on rock music may have been strongly influenced by the gradual progression of the Beatles’ music. The sharp contrast from the Beatles’ earlier music to the later music of Sgt. Pepper was a drastic change from simplicity to complexity. This metamorphosis, which also reflected the changing of the times, resulted from The Beatles desire to grow, experiment and expand their horizons.
This progression caused people to recognize the dramatic effect of popular music as art. Jack Kroll of Newsweek compared the Beatles to other artistic writers: “…loss of innocence is, increasingly, their theme and the theme of more ‘serious’ new art from the stories of Donald Barthelme to the plays of Harold Pinter.”
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band definitely set a new standard of achievement in popular music due to the immense positive response it received almost everywhere. As Jim Hoagland declared in The Washington Post in 1967, “music may never be the same again.” And it wasn’t.
In 1987, on its 20th anniversary, it was voted the greatest album of all time by a worldwide panel of critics. Looking back on the album in retrospect, it obviously had weaknesses. Richard Harrington claimed in The Washington Post in 1987 that the only songs that hold up well are: “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “Getting Better” and “A Day in the Life.” However, he still agreed that the album had tremendous influence over the music industry and the American public.
The music industry changed in several ways after the release of Sgt. Pepper. Since the album took four months to make at a cost of approximately $100,000, the record business began its transformation into a billion dollar industry. Consequently, the album format was emphasized, and recording and marketing techniques were reshaped. After Sgt. Pepper introduced the idea of a “concept album”, this idea was widely imitated. Also no respectable rock star would ever again put out a dull album cover.
Immediately following Sgt. Pepper, there was an unprecedented amount of freedom of expression in rock songs. Due to the acceptance of rock as art, every major album could expect to be critically analyzed and examined like a new novel. This criticism is still prevalent today in such magazines as Rolling Stone, which also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Sgt. Pepper also inspired a new age of studio experimentation and lavish productions. It is generally recognized that with Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles reached their peak in regards to experimentation and influence. This album was definitely seen as a turning point in the music industry.
Concerning American society, Sgt. Pepper also had a great influence. The music seemed to distill the moods of that time. It opened up the eyes of the people, young and old. The album accurately personified the psychedelic sixties. It reflected the beliefs and thoughts of the people, especially the youth.
Landgon Winner wrote in The New Yorker about the feeling evoked by the release of Sgt. Pepper: “The closest Western Civilization has come to unity since the Congress of Vienna in 1815 was the week the Sgt. Pepper album was released. For a brief while, the irreparably fragmented consciousness of the West was unified, as least in the minds of the young.”
Will there ever be another album/CD that will have as enormous an impact as Sgt. Pepper did? Judging from the 50 years since Sgt. Pepper‘s release, that seems highly doubtful.
Copyright Daytrippin’. No part of the article text may be reprinted without permission from the author.
For details on the 50th Anniversary release of Sgt. Pepper, click here
To order a PDF or hard copy version of this article in Daytrippin’ Magazine Issue 1, click here
It was 50 years ago on June 1, 1967 when The Beatles surprised the world ushering in the Summer of Love with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the groundbreaking masterpiece that became popular music’s most universally acclaimed album. To salute the occasion, The Beatles will release special CD and Vinyl packages of the Sgt. Pepper 50th Anniversary Edition on May 26. The album is newly mixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround audio and expanded with early takes from the studio sessions, including 34 previously unreleased recordings.
“It’s crazy to think that 50 years later we are looking back on this project with such fondness and a little bit of amazement at how four guys, a great producer and his engineers could make such a lasting piece of art,” says Paul McCartney in his newly-penned introduction for the Sgt. Pepper Anniversary Edition.
“Sgt. Pepper seemed to capture the mood of that year, and it also allowed a lot of other people to kick off from there and to really go for it,” Ringo Starr recalls in the Anniversary Edition’s book.
This is the first time Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has been remixed and presented with additional session recordings. To create the new stereo and 5.1 surround audio mixes for Sgt. Pepper, producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell worked with an expert team of engineers and audio restoration specialists at Abbey Road Studios in London. All of the Anniversary Edition releases include Martin’s new stereo mix of the album, which was sourced directly from the original four-track session tapes and guided by the original, Beatles-preferred mono mix produced by his father, George Martin.
Ringo Starr has expressed his delight at the new remastered Sgt. Pepper recordings. According to Keith Allison, former Paul Revere and the Raiders bassist, who was recently hanging out with Ringo: “He thought it was great! Why? Because it originally was recorded on a 4-track with a lot of overdubs, which buried the drums. Now, the drums have been lifted and come through as they should. He was pleased.”
Fans have been waiting for a new stereo remix of Sgt. Pepper since the original stereo release was rushed out with no input from The Beatles. The mono version was what The Beatles and George Martin had poured their heart and soul into back in 1967.
“The alternate takes are full of discoveries; hours of new Beatle music that gives a taste of how many treasures remain in the vault. It’s not just historic value — it’s an astounding listening experience,” says Sheffield, who got an exclusive first listen to the Sgt. Pepper outtakes.
The Super Deluxe set includes a 144-page hardcover book featuring new introductions by Paul McCartney and Giles Martin, and chapters covering comprehensive song-by-song details and recording information, the design of the cover, the album’s musical innovations and its historical context.
The Super Deluxe edition also includes a DVD and Blu-ray featuring the previously unreleased documentary film The Making of Sgt. Pepper (broadcast in 1992), with insightful interviews with McCartney, Harrison and Starr, and in-studio footage introduced by George Martin.
For Record Store Day on April 22, Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe will release an exclusive, limited edition seven-inch vinyl single of The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane,” among the first songs recorded during the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ sessions, which began in November 1966.
(Source: Includes excerpts from official press release)
Quick Order Links:
Super Deluxe edition (4 CD/DVD/Blu-ray combo)
See the FULL Track listings of each CD package by clicking here