Few albums have captured the imaginations of as many generations as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles. In fact, the cover art alone of this epic recording has been morphed so many times, from The Simpsons illustrative take to The Beastles’ Beastie Boys vs Beatles mashup, sometimes we neglect to take stock of the sheer brilliance of the original.
Famous for its montage of celebrities that incorporated the dichotomous likes of Mohammad Ali and Marilyn Monroe, Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas, Edgar Allan Poe and William S. Burroughs, there didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to the inclusion of the (mostly) famous folk, and yet they all gelled like they were just meant to be there. Fortunate and famous, yes, but still subjected to the same heartache the rest of us feel from time to time (hence being a ‘part’ of the titular Lonely Hearts Club).
But enough about aesthetics, let’s get to the awesomeness of the music. Sgt. Pepper’s perfectly captured the essence of 1967, a year when the futility of war truly began to be questioned, when youth started to revolt, and movements from feminism to gay rights made themselves prominent in the mainstream thanks to the new medium of technicolour television. The album is like the perfect psychedelic soundtrack to changes in the air all around the world. Even Ringo Starr insists, “Sgt. Pepper’s 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.”
June 1 this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and to salute the occasion, a suite of lavishly presented anniversary edition packages are being issued. The album has been newly mixed by Giles Martin (son of Beatles’ producer, George Martin) and Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround audio and expanded with early takes from the original studio sessions, including no fewer than 34 previously unreleased recordings! Now that ought to have fans giddy with excitement. Heck, even Paul McCartney thinks reaching such a landmark is bonkers.
“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 McCartney in his newly-penned introduction for the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Anniversary Edition.
Below are descriptions of just some of the special anniversary releases of this perennial LP. So, even if you have it on vinyl, CD or MP3, you’ve got to update that collection with all this added value. Antonino Tati
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Anniversary Edition releases include:
CD: featuring the new ‘Sgt. Pepper’ stereo mix, complete with the original U.K. album’s “Edit for LP End” run-out groove.
Deluxe: Expanded 2CD and digital package features the new stereo album mix on the first CD and adds a second CD of 18 tracks, including previously unreleased complete takes of the album’s 13 songs, newly mixed in stereo and sequenced in the same order as the album. The second CD also includes a new stereo mix and a previously unreleased instrumental take of “Penny Lane” and the 2015 stereo mix and two previously unreleased complete takes of “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
Deluxe Vinyl: Expanded 180-gram 2LP vinyl package features the new stereo album mix on the first LP and adds a second LP with previously unreleased complete takes of the album’s 13 songs, newly mixed in stereo and sequenced in the same order as the album.
Super Deluxe: The comprehensive six-disc boxed set features the full album in new stereo mix, 33 additional recordings from original studio sessions, and new stereo mixes of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever, plus Blu-ray and DVD containing, amongst other things, original promo clips for Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane, and A Day In The Life, interviews with the producers, and the doco: The Making of Sgt. Pepper. Phew!
‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ Anniversary Edition packages are all available from May 26.