Sgt Pepper remix 2017

Remix Master Giles Martin… Thank You!

Finally a real digital remix rather than a mere digital remaster (of 4-track analogue tapes) of the wonderful Sgt Pepper. Listening again, and really enjoying it for the first time in years, after just one hearing this is what I can say… Thank you, Thank you, Giles Martin. I think this outstrips his brilliant work on Love by actually taking a revered national treasure, ignoring the pitfalls that might bring, and simply improving it sonically. First George Martin, now Giles; oh how well we Beatles fans have been served by the productions of this brilliant family.

Rather than sounding like a fascinating set of pop curios left over from some mythical Edwardian era Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band now actually sounds like a great rock band embellishing their core sound with fabulous sonic explorations and colourations that, as was customary, serve the purpose of the song, whatever the original quality of the writing. The Beatles rock hard like a working band and several tracks reveal this difference in the new mix by Giles Martin.

Mojo4music have always maintained that this is Ringo’s best album for drumming and the drums sound just *great* here. The explosive shock of how hard he hits them in With A Little Help from my Friends (the boys and various Fifth Beatles) banishes all wet wet wet thoughts.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds has moved out of its newspaper taxi version and into a machine-tooled Evoquation of the summer of love, and kids drawing at school. Lucy’s gold painting never sounded so glossy. The Beatles never sounded so fulsome…

It’s really getting better all the time, the production no longer keeping us apart from the things that we love…

The 2-track sorcerers apprentice has finally followed the Beatles self-help advice and fixed the hole where hand-made EMI technology had left the future brilliance of Peppers’ sonics languishing. For me the simply “good” tracks like Fixing A Hole are burnished afresh and pull you in with their wealth of fresh detail.

The fuller 2017 sound means that the whirligig Wurlitzer brilliance of Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite is now driven by the band performance rather than the amusingly quirky oddities of the circus poster. Another track now full of depth rather than surface brilliance.

Vinyl Pepper offered a perfect interval after that swirling Sevenoaks souvenir and, shortly after Mr Kite, Pepper started again with the Indian World chill meditation masterpiece of Within You Without You, now clear and lighter with fresh details abounding. Peppers’ claim to be a concept album lies more in the emotional journey that it carries you on than in the thematic coherence offered by a “rock opera” such as The Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow.

When I’m 64 offers a musical pacing that works perfectly across “side 2” (hip vinyl slang) help setting us up for the forthcoming finale rather than being a big tune. It remains in place but lacks any real revelations…

Lovely Rita perhaps McCartney’s most Lennon-inspired song of the everyday (and their most “Abbey Road” song) rocks terrifically. I still don’t know why someone hasn’t looped the riff from 2’13” and turned into a floor filler…

Good Morning Good Morning, which I had always loved for the sound effects of ever bigger animals chasing each other in a crazed stereophonic foxhunt, actually rocks, no thumps, like fury with an unbelievably massive sound. ANother track that now sounds like a band rather than a production.

A Day in the Life, with its double-decker reflective melancholy, remains timelessly brilliant, and a cut above the rest of the album. It’s deathless genius produced fearful shivers down my spine again in the orchestral sections. Paul’s perfectly banal everyday comb comedown creating a calm before the climatic piano forte climax of the album; now staggeringly forceful all over again despite its familiarity.

(Mind you I still think McCartney should have waited for George Martin to finish scoring a track for Cilla rather than using Mike Leander on She’s Leaving Home)

My thoughts on first buying Sgt Pepper in 1967 are captured in the story Good Morning Good Morning  and for some months this was, to me, clearly the best album of all time (even though I was also given Hendrix’s Are You Experienced as a birthday present in June 1967).  Hendrix was a big fan of The Beatles, preferring John Lennon to Eric Clapton as a guitarist as “he played rhythm as well as lead” (highlighting his own skills) and was the first artist to cover Sgt Pepper in front of the Beatles 5 days later.

Over time my view changed and it declined in my affections. Recently I would have nominated both Revolver and Abbey Road ahead of Pepper, and Hard Days Night, Rubber Soul, Magical Mystery Tour, the White Album and Kinfauns as roughly its equal. Pepper, for decades, seemed of its time. This, better revealed version, might re-establish Pepper as a mighty album, not just of the sixties, but as part of the canon of currently playable Beatles rock band albums.

Why the Beatles were so #creativeAll You Need is Heutagogy;

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