Friday, May 26, 2017

CD/DVD Review: The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" Turns 50!

Released exactly 50 years ago today (in the U.K.) was an album that would change the course of popular music. The Beatles made magic in the studio with their 1967 album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Universal Music in association with Capitol and Apple Corps is releasing a six-disc box set on May 26th. This is the beginning of what fans have been waiting years for. Finally, we get the outtakes, studio chatter and multiple versions of songs that have been examined time and time again for the last 50 years.
 
This new luxurious box set contains 4CD/DVD/Blu-Ray/hardcover book/2 posters/cutouts housed in a sturdy black cardboard box with a slipcover that contains a 3D collage of the original album cover. The posters and the cutouts are a nice touch and the 144-page hardcover book covers everything about the album. Each song has its own detailed write-up as to how it was recorded in the studio as well as historical content from authors, composers, producers and journalists. The book also contains many rare photographs and illustrations that will even surprise the biggest Beatles fans.
 
Now, lets get into the music. The 4 CDs, DVD and Blu-Ray are kept in a replica of the "Sgt. Pepper" vinyl album cover, but when you open it, it contains each disc housed in it's own thin cardboard case with a outtake from the cover photo shoot on the front and the songlist for each disc on the back. The first CD features a brand new stereo mix of the album done by Giles Martin (George Martin's son). He brings the music back to life by lifting the music from the instruments and harmonies that were buried in the original stereo mix. The singing in "She's Leaving Home" has more truth in the vocals, while the music of "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!" and "Within You Without You" has room to breathe as you can hear every instrument involved.
 
The exciting part for fans will be CDs 2 & 3, which contain 33 outtakes from the studio sessions. You'll be able to follow the structure of "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "A Day In The Life," as they each begin with early acoustic takes. A special treat is when you hear The Beatles talking in the studio, discussing the vocals for "Penny Lane" or ideas behind "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." All of the music that appears on these two discs were placed in the chronological order of when they were recorded in the studio.
 
The 4th CD contains the original mono version of the album with six bonus tracks, including newly discovered mono mixes of "A Day In The Life," "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "She's Leaving Home." The Blu-Ray and DVD mirror each other as both contains a newly created 5.1 surround sound mix of "Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band." Also included is a newly restored version of the 1992, 25th anniversary documentary "The Making Of Sgt. Pepper," as well as promotional films for "A Day In The Life," "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane." It's nice to relive the making of the album through the eyes of those directly involved with it.
 
This new anniversary edition of The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" will also be available as a singe CD (containing the new stereo mix), 2CD set (containing the new stereo mix and a compilation of the outtakes) and deluxe vinyl, 180gram double LP (contains the new stereo mix and compilation of outtakes in the same running order as the album). To find out more about this amazing new release, please visit sgtpepper.thebeatles.com.

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