Giles Martin, son of The Beatles’ producer George Martin, used the earliest-generation four-track tapes to create a new stereo mix for the 50thanniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s. He centers the lead vocals and spreads the music across a larger soundstage. The result has the focus of the mono release (which the Beatles helped oversee), yielding a richer, more panoramic presentation than stereo can provide.
Miles Showell cut the LP version at half speed using the 24-bit/96kHzfiles that served as the basis for the various digital releases. The sonics are more impressively open and enveloping than the Blu-ray disc included in the Super Deluxe box set of Sgt. Pepper’s.
The crowd noise opening the album now sounds luxuriously rich—you feel as if you’re standing in the midst of all the people gathered to hear the band. When the music begins, instruments come out into the open more clearly than on prior releases. Low frequencies, such as Paul McCartney’s bass and Ringo Starr’s kick drum, punch harder, but don’t overwhelm the music.
Throughout, the vocals feel more focused and textured, especially when compared to the original Parlophone stereo pressing from 1967—as well as the 2012 pressings Sean Magee cut from digital files. The processed harpsicord on “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is wider across both channels, the strings on “She’s Leaving Home” harmonically richer, and “A Day in the Life” more epic and encompassing.
The original release of Sgt. Pepper’s forms part of our cultural DNA and, in its original form, should be part of every record collection—preferably as an all-analog Parlophone pressing made before the mid-80s. However, this deluxe 2LP release exists as a model of how technology can improve a great recording without compromising its original intent.
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