June 1, 1967, I was 12 years old and I was in Leesburg Drug Fair. Most likely I had a few comic books in hand when I picked up The Beatles’ new album, or what I thought was the Beatles’ new album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Looking at the cover I didn’t know what the hell was going on except amongst the many faces I saw four, eight really, familiar ones with the words The Beatles arranged in flowers on the ground. So with a little over $10 spent I had my reading material and music in a paper bag as I walked home. I was not expecting how everything would change so quickly.
I was a Beatle kid, from Ed Sullivan to Revolver I was in it. I already had the single Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane so I was anticipating something different from the band, but I wasn’t really ready for this.
Opening Pepper was an experience, it was my first gatefold album, it was the first to have the lyrics printed on it, the first to have an insert of cutouts… it was bright, beautiful, shiny and more than new, it was birthed.
I remember my first listen, it was on my white Sears stereo. I was sitting in the middle of my room with the speakers as wide apart as they would stretch with the volume on “loud”. Suddenly a smash of guitars and someone singing “It was 20 years ago today….”
I was gone, I didn’t know what I was listening to, I only knew I wanted to hear again and again. It was rock and roll but it was also something all together different. It was Beatle music, not Fab, but Beatle music. That afternoon discovering Pepper is still close to my living awareness. I can almost bring back that strange feeling of a door opening. In retrospect, it was the day I became a teenager. Pepper grabbed my hand and lashed me into a more adult world with plasticine porters with looking glass ties.
Flash forward 50 years. A new remixed version of Sgt. Pepper is released with great hoopla and anticipation. I received an email notice that an Amazon package arrived at my house. I quickly took the afternoon off, hurried home, opened the package and there was Pepper. Not newly birthed, but it was grinning at me, saying: “well kid, you ready… again”?
I was in the house alone, the volume was on 8 (that’s louder than my 12 year old loud), and that feeling came again, and it was more than what I expected. They did it again. But this time the door did not open to adulthood, it opened a window to that kid in a second floor bedroom with head, ears and heart wide open. I didn’t return to being that kid, but for the first time I could see him with my older eyes. I was equipped with the knowledge of what lies ahead for him in the next 50 years, both good and bad. It was Pepper‘s new gift to me, we are who we were and somewhere deep down in our blood innocence still flows within you and without you.
SG: May 30, 2017
To answer your question, how does the new mix sound?
You can search the net on how this new mix came about, it’s a fascinating read especially with George Martin’s son Giles at the board. Here are 10 of my reactions:
- It’s a totally new listening experience with dynamic leveled stereo.
- Ringo’s drums are brought to the front and he does some of his best work, work that before was buried sonically.
- Getting Better rocks harder.
- Harmonies and background vocals are much sharper, you can even hear George’s wonderful harmony vocals.
- John’s rhythm guitar is very present in the new mix.
- Within You Without You is a new experience.
- Good Morning‘s tension is turned up and it’s great
- There is more space in every song
- You can hear The Beatles as a 4 piece band and realize they could have played most of the songs live.
- A Day In The Life remains the masterpiece and this new mix throws all pretenders to its crown aside
Here’s a link to the 2 CD Deluxe version.
The vinyl version.
I wish there was a record store I could direct you to, or a Drug Fair.