The Beatles Will Put Out Sgt. Pepper Anniversary Remixes

The one and only Billy Shears and a few of his friends get by with a half century of remixed tapes for Sgt. Pepper party.

It was fifty years ago this year that the John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr celebrated a bandleader from 20 years before that. Some people point to that original date as corresponding to the death of dark wizard Aleister Crowley, but the band’s magic gave voice to the summer of love. The Beatles official web site announced that they will celebrate a half century’s worth of appreciation with a new mix of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with previously unreleased session recordings, video features and special packaging. They will also release the newly restored and previously unreleased 1992 documentary film, The Making of Sgt. Pepper in the Anniversary Edition’s Super Deluxe Boxed Set.

The Beatles will release a suite of lavishly presented Sgt. Pepper Anniversary Edition packages on May 26 (Apple Corps Ltd./Capitol/UMe). 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 no fewer than 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,” Paul McCartney writes in the new introduction for the Sgt. Pepper Anniversary Edition.

The album began as a way for the band to fully immerse themselves as studio artists after wrapping up their last tour. It was the first “concept” album, with the band slated to put on another band’s uniforms and personas.

“Just as many ideas are sparked by chance, Sgt. Pepper first sprang from a conversation between Paul and Beatles roadie Mal Evans on an airplane, when Mal’s request to pass the salt and pepper was misheard by Paul as “Sgt. Pepper,” recalls the official statement.

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“The concept of who such a figure could be took root in Paul’s mind, blooming with the imagination of The Beatles as an Edwardian era military band — ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’

Sgt. Pepper was also McCartney’s answer to The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album, which he had deemed a masterpiece, and he saw it as part of an artistic conversation. The inspirations were varied, from the Victorian circus poster that became the tape-edit masterpiece “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!”, through the TV breakfast cereal ad that woke up Lennon to “Good Morning Good Morning” to the school drawing his son Julian did for “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” McCartney turned the story of a teen runaway he saw reported in the news into “She’s Leaving Home. Hari Georgeson brought transcendent time signatures and Hindu teachings to the Western World with “Within You Without You”).

Upon its release on June 1, 1967, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band initially spent 148 weeks in the British chart, including a total of 27 weeks at number one The album held the number one spot for 15 of the 88 weeks it appeared in the Top 200 during its first U.S. chart run.

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 writes in the Anniversary Edition’s book.

Sgt. Pepper won four GRAMMY Awards, including Album of the Year. In 2003, the U.S. Library of Congress selected Sgt. Pepper for the National Recording Registry, recognizing the album as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Sgt. Pepper tops Rolling Stone magazine’s definitive list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

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.

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Rather than being held for inclusion on the album, the two songs were released as a double A-sided single in February 1967. Amidst intense media speculation about the band’s next move, the single bridged what was then considered a long gap between the Revolver album, released in August 1966, and Sgt. Pepper, which followed 10 months later.

Using the standard four-track tape recording equipment of the day, The Beatles collaborated with producer George Martin to achieve “the impossible,” as they dubbed it, to go as far out as they could with arrangements and new technology to realize their collective vision for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. As “We were into another kind of art form where you were putting something down on tape that could only be done on tape,” George Martin described it in The Beatles Anthology.

“The Beatles clocked more than 400 hours in Abbey Road’s Studio 2 to record the album, wrapping sessions in April 1967,” reads the official announcement.

This is the first Beatles album to be remixed and expanded since the 2003 release of Let It Be… Naked. It is also 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 producer George Martin’s son Giles worked with mix engineer Sam Okell and with an expert team of engineers and audio restoration specialists at Abbey Road Studios in London. All of the Anniversary Edition were sourced directly from the original four-track session tapes.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Anniversary Edition releases include a CD that features the new stereo mix, complete with the original U.K. album’s “Edit for LP End” run-out groove.

The Deluxe version is an 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.”

The Deluxe Vinyl verions is an 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.

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The Super Deluxe six-disc boxed set also includes 33 additional recordings from the studio sessions, most previously unreleased and mixed for the first time from the four-track session tapes, sequenced in chronological order of their recording dates. It also has a new stereo mix of “Penny Lane” and the 2015 stereo mix of “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Previously unreleased early mono mixes of “She’s Leaving Home,” “A Day In The Life,” and a mix of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” that was believed to be erased from a tape in 1967.

The album’s artwork was created by Peter Blake and Jann Haworth in collaboration with the band. The original artwork is showcased across the suite of Anniversary Edition releases, including the album’s pull-out sheet of Sgt. Pepper cutouts. The six-disc Super Deluxe set is presented with a 144-page hardcover book. The set will also include promotional films the band made for “A Day In The Life;” “Strawberry Fields Forever;” and “Penny Lane.”