“It was twenty years ago today, when Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play…”
So begins the most important Beatles album ever (in my opinion). It was 1967. The band had decided to stop touring to concentrate on writing music. Two of my favorite albums, Rubber Soul (Dec. 1965) and Revolver (Aug. 1966), began the transition from the early Beatles of Love Me Do to the more complex music of their later recordings. With Sgt. Pepper, this transformation was complete.
This is a wonderful album, featuring the competing songwriting talents of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the Indian-influenced orchestration of George Harrison, and probably the most iconic song Ringo Starr ever sang. Mix in some hallucinogenic drugs and a wide assortment of musical instruments and ideas, and you arrive at Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
It’s hard to believe it’s been over 50 years since this album was released. It sounds as groundbreaking today as it must have sounded in 1967. I was fortunate to have just purchased the 50th anniversary edition from 2017, which is an amazing collection of pictures, posters, videos, and of course music. Lots of music. There are four CDs worth of music here, including the original mono mix of the album, the original stereo mix, a new stereo mix, and lots of outtakes.
The biggest reason why I bought this edition is the new 5.1 surround-sound mix of Sgt. Pepper on a separate Blu-ray disc included in it. If you’ve been following along with my social media posts, you know that I’ve really been getting into these surround mixes of great albums. I was curious to hear how the original 4-track recordings would translate into 5.1. I was not disappointed! The surround-sound mix of Sgt. Pepper really pops, introducing me to sounds I hadn’t noticed before.
It was worth it to me to buy this collection just for this new mix. All of the bonus features, including a wonderful book and video on the making of Sgt. Pepper, will keep me busy for a long time enjoying this wonderful album. Which is as it should be, for a masterpiece that has aged well after 50 years.
Mahalo John, Paul, George, and Ringo!