Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Deluxe 2CD Set Features 2017 Stereo Mix, 50-Page Booklet, and 18 Bonus Tracks: Includes Previously Unreleased Alternate Takes of Each of the Album's 13 Songs
It's getting better all the time: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the watershed Beatles classic many consider the finest album in pop history, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in a big way. Newly mixed by Giles Martin and Sam Okell at Abbey Road Studios in stereo, it is expanded on this deluxe 2CD set with an array of previously unreleased material. This 2CD 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 previously unreleased instrumental take of "Penny Lane" and the 2015 stereo mix and two previously unreleased complete takes of "Strawberry Fields Forever." A 50-page booklet abridged from the box set's book tops off this fantastic package.
"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. "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 adds.
This is the first time Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has been remixed and presented with additional session recordings, and it is the first Beatles album to be remixed and expanded since the 2003 release of Let It Be... Naked. To create the 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.
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." 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." The Beatles' creative wellspring for Sgt. Pepper also flowed from such myriad sources as The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album, a Victorian circus poster ("Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!"), a TV commercial for breakfast cereal ("Good Morning Good Morning"), a picture drawn by John's young son, Julian ("Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"), a teen runaway reported in the news ("She's Leaving Home'), and Hindu teachings ("Within You Without You").
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 George Martin described it, "We were into another kind of art form where you were putting something down on tape that could only be done on tape." The Beatles clocked more than 400 hours in Abbey Road's Studio 2 to record the album, wrapping sessions in April 1967.
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 No. 1. During its first U.S. chart run, the album held the No. 1 spot for 15 of the 88 weeks it appeared in the Top 200. Sgt. Pepper won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and it remains one of the most influential and bestselling albums of all time. 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.