Sgt Pepper Remix

Remix Master Giles Martin… Thank You Very Much!

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 brilliant production work of this amazing family. Every track sounds like Giles Martin has said “one more take and this time sound like you mean it!

Rather than sounding like a fascinating set of pop curios left over from some mythical Edwardian era Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 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 now rock fulsomely and several tracks reveal a big difference in the mix. If you loved a track before you’ll find it amplified, with many surprises across several tracks. I can now listen to Sgt Pepper for pure pleasure rather than for nostalgic reasons, as it sounds rich, layered and musical, rather than quirky and psychedelic.

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.

Key revelations, as well as Ringo’s drums and Paul’s Bass, are Good Morning Good Morning (thumps), Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite (swirls mesmerically), Lovely Rita (roars away from the meter maid), and Lucy…

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds has moved out of its newspaper taxi version and into a machine-tooled Halewood 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” like the Pretty Things (quite wonderful) S.F.Sorrow. Perfect sequencing.

When I’m 64 offers a musical pacing that works well in the context of “side 2” (some hip vinyl slang) of Pepper, setting us up for the forthcoming finale rather than being a big tune in itself. It remains solidly in place but lacks any real revelations, other than exhibiting the beautifully rich detail and vocal work the album now abounds in.

Lovely Rita perhaps McCartney’s most Lennon-inspired song of the everyday (and their most “Abbey Road” song) rocks along 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 playing instruments rather than a production of sonic effects.

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 once again produced fearful shivers down my spine 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 enduring electric guitar masterpiece Are You Experienced as a birthday present in June 1967).  Over time my view changed and it declined in my affections. Recently I would have nominated both Revolver and Abbey Road well 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, with its brilliant soundstage now ideal for headphones, should re-establish Pepper as a mighty album, not just of the sixties, but as part of the current canon of wonderfully playable Beatles rock band albums.

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