Fifty-Year Anniversary Edition of Beatles' Sgt. Pepper - Coming May 26

By , Contributor
Beatlemaniacs the world over have plenty to look forward to with the May 26 release, in multiple configurations, of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band—the 50th Anniversary Edition. This is arguably the most exciting Beatles release since the Anthology series began back in 1995. Though the Beatles' catalog was overhauled in 2009 with remasters of every album in stereo and mono, the Sgt. Pepper reissue marks the band's first foray into Super Deluxe territory. Pre-order information can be found here.

And while the jam-packed Super Deluxe boxed set will be the go-to version for the hardest of hardcore fans, thankfully there are more economically-priced versions as well. At the most basic, the brand-new stereo remix of Sgt. Pepper will be available as a single disc. The move to remix a Beatles album is a bold one, and already it has sparked debate among fans. But producer Giles Martin (son of the late legendary Sir George) has already demonstrated he's the man for the job. The remix waters were tested last year with the 2015 1 + compilation reissue. His work was tasteful (invisible at times, really) and seemingly few fans objected. Contrast that to the highly mixed reaction that greeted the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, which presented relatively drastic modernized remixes in '99.

"Now when we listen to [Sgt. Pepper], it's like we're there," states Giles Martin in an interview released in conjunction with the reissue. Martin goes on to speak about preserving the legacy of the album while modernizing the sound. "In a way, the record was sort of trapped in a box of its own time," Martin continues, speaking of technological limitations that dated the album over the decades. That kind of tinkering understandably raises red flags among many fans, but given Martin's obvious respect for the work it seems likely that the changes will not be radical (we'll soon find out for certain). According to the official press materials, the new stereo mix was "sourced directly from the original four-track session tapes and guided by the original, Beatles-preferred mono mix." 
 
rsz_rs10_the_beatles_sgt_pepper_2cd_3d_product_shot-1-scr.jpg A step up from the single-disc edition, the Deluxe version offers a second disc "of 18 tracks, including previously unreleased complete takes of the album’s 13 songs, newly mixed in stereo and sequenced in the same order as the album. The second CD also includes a new stereo mix and a previously unreleased instrumental take of 'Penny Lane' and the 2015 stereo mix and two previously unreleased complete takes of 'Strawberry Fields Forever.'"

The double-album 180-gram vinyl edition includes the new stereo remix on one LP and the "previously unreleased complete takes of the album’s 13 songs, newly mixed in stereo" found on the Deluxe 2-CD edition (but not the "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields" bonus tracks).

Now for the Super Deluxe, the mother lode as it were. The first disc in the six-disc boxed set includes the new stereo remix of Sgt. Pepper. The second and third discs present an expanded version of disc two from the Deluxe set: "33 additional recordings from the studio sessions, most previously unreleased and mixed for the first time from the four-track session tapes, sequenced in chronological order of their recording dates," plus "a new stereo mix of 'Penny Lane' and the 2015 stereo mix of 'Strawberry Fields Forever."

The fourth disc contains "direct transfers of the album’s original mono mix and the 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and 'Penny Lane' singles; Capitol Records’ U.S. promotional mono single mix of 'Penny Lane'; previously unreleased early mono mixes of 'She’s Leaving Home,' 'A Day In The Life,' and 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' (a mix thought to have been erased from a tape in 1967, but discovered during archive research for the anniversary edition)."

Discs five and six are a DVD and Blu-ray, each containing the same material: "new 5.1 surround audio mixes of the album and 'Penny Lane' by Giles Martin and Sam Okell, plus their 2015 5.1 surround mix of 'Strawberry Fields Forever'; high resolution audio versions of the new stereo mixes of the album and 'Penny Lane' and of the 2015 stereo mix of 'Strawberry Fields Forever'; Video features: 4K restored original promotional films for 'Strawberry Fields Forever,' 'Penny Lane,' and 'A Day In The Life;' plus The Making of Sgt. Pepper, a restored, previously unreleased documentary film (broadcast in 1992), featuring insightful interviews with McCartney, Harrison, and Starr, and in-studio footage introduced by George Martin." 
 
rsz_rs13_the_beatles_sgt_pepper_6_disc_3d_product_shot-1-scr.jpg As for the Super Deluxe packaging, again quoting from the press materials: "Housed in a 12-inch by 12-inch box with lenticular artwork and two bonus posters, the six-disc Super Deluxe set is presented with a 144-page hardcover book. The book includes new introductions by Paul McCartney and Giles Martin, and chapters covering comprehensive song-by-song details and recording information, the design of the cover, the album’s musical innovations and its historical context by Beatles historian, author and radio producer Kevin Howlett; composer and musicologist Howard Goodall; music producer and writer Joe Boyd; and journalists Ed Vulliamy and Jeff Slate, illustrated with rare photographs, reproductions of handwritten lyrics, Abbey Road Studios documentation, and original ‘Sgt. Pepper’ print ads."

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Anniversary Edition Tracklists

Single CD

(‘Sgt. Pepper’ 2017 Stereo Mix)

1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

2. With A Little Help From My Friends

3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

4. Getting Better

5. Fixing A Hole

6. She's Leaving Home

7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!

8. Within You Without You

9. When I'm Sixty-Four

10. Lovely Rita

11. Good Morning Good Morning

12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)

13. A Day In The Life

Deluxe [2CD, digital]

CD 1: ‘Sgt. Pepper’ 2017 Stereo Mix (same as single-disc CD tracklist, above)

CD 2: Complete early takes from the sessions in the same sequence as the album, plus various versions of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane”

1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [Take 9]

2. With A Little Help From My Friends [Take 1 - False Start And Take 2 - Instrumental]

3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds [Take 1]

4. Getting Better [Take 1 - Instrumental And Speech At The End]

5. Fixing A Hole [Speech And Take 3]

6. She's Leaving Home [Take 1 - Instrumental]

7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! [Take 4]

8. Within You Without You [Take 1 - Indian Instruments]

9. When I'm Sixty-Four [Take 2]

10. Lovely Rita [Speech And Take 9]

11. Good Morning Good Morning [Take 8]

12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) [Take 8]

13. A Day In The Life [Take 1 With Hummed Last Chord]

14. Strawberry Fields Forever [Take 7]

15. Strawberry Fields Forever [Take 26]

16. Strawberry Fields Forever [Stereo Mix - 2015]

17. Penny Lane [Take 6 - Instrumental]

18. Penny Lane [Stereo Mix - 2017]

Deluxe Vinyl [180g 2LP]

LP 1: ‘Sgt. Pepper’ 2017 Stereo Mix (Sides One and Two, same as single-disc CD tracklist, above)

LP 2: Complete early takes from the sessions in the same sequence as the album

SIDE THREE

1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [Take 9 And Speech]

2. With A Little Help From My Friends [Take 1 - False Start And Take 2 - Instrumental]

3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds [Take 1]

4. Getting Better [Take 1 - Instrumental And Speech At The End]

5. Fixing A Hole [Speech And Take 3]

6. She's Leaving Home [Take 1 - Instrumental]

7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! [Take 4]

SIDE FOUR

1. Within You Without You [Take 1 - Indian Instruments]

2. When I'm Sixty-Four [Take 2]

3. Lovely Rita [Speech And Take 9]

4. Good Morning Good Morning [Take 8]

5. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) [Take 8]

6. A Day In The Life [Take 1 With Hummed Last Chord]

Super Deluxe [4CD/DVD/Blu-ray boxed set]

CD 1: ‘Sgt. Pepper’ 2017 Stereo Mix (same as single-disc CD tracklist, above)

CD 2: Complete early takes from the sessions, sequenced in chronological order of their first recording dates

1. Strawberry Fields Forever [Take 1]

2. Strawberry Fields Forever [Take 4]

3. Strawberry Fields Forever [Take 7]

4. Strawberry Fields Forever [Take 26]

5. Strawberry Fields Forever [Stereo Mix - 2015]

6. When I'm Sixty-Four [Take 2]

7. Penny Lane [Take 6 - Instrumental]

8. Penny Lane [Vocal Overdubs And Speech]

9. Penny Lane [Stereo Mix - 2017]

10. A Day In The Life [Take 1]

11. A Day In The Life [Take 2]

12. A Day In The Life [Orchestra Overdub]

13. A Day In The Life (Hummed Last Chord) [Takes 8, 9, 10 and 11]

14. A Day In The Life (The Last Chord)

15. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [Take 1 - Instrumental]

16. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [Take 9 And Speech]

17. Good Morning Good Morning [Take 1 - Instrumental, Breakdown]

18. Good Morning Good Morning [Take 8]

CD 3: Complete early takes from the sessions, sequenced in chronological order of their first recording dates

1. Fixing A Hole [Take 1]

2. Fixing A Hole [Speech And Take 3]

3. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! [Speech From Before Take 1; Take 4 And Speech At End]

4. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! [Take 7]

5. Lovely Rita [Speech And Take 9]

6. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds [Take 1 And Speech At The End]

7. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds [Speech, False Start And Take 5]

8. Getting Better [Take 1 - Instrumental And Speech At The End]

9. Getting Better [Take 12]

10. Within You Without You [Take 1 - Indian Instruments Only]

11. Within You Without You [George Coaching The Musicians]

12. She's Leaving Home [Take 1 - Instrumental]

13. She's Leaving Home [Take 6 - Instrumental]

14. With A Little Help From My Friends [Take 1 - False Start And Take 2 - Instrumental]

15. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) [Speech And Take 8]

CD 4: ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and bonus tracks in Mono

(Tracks 1-13: 2017 Direct Transfer of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Original Mono Mix)

14. Strawberry Fields Forever [Original Mono Mix]

15. Penny Lane [Original Mono Mix]

16. A Day In The Life [Unreleased First Mono Mix]

17. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds [Unreleased Mono Mix - No. 11]

18. She's Leaving Home [Unreleased First Mono Mix]

19. Penny Lane [Capitol Records U.S. Promo Single - Mono Mix]

DISCS 5 & 6 (Blu-ray & DVD)

Audio Features (both discs):

- New 5.1 Surround Audio mixes of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ album and “Penny Lane,” plus 2015 5.1 Surround mix of “Strawberry Fields Forever” (Blu-ray: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby True HD 5.1 / DVD: DTS Dolby Digital 5.1)

- High Resolution Audio versions of 2017 ‘Sgt. Pepper’ stereo mix and 2017 “Penny Lane” stereo mix, plus 2015 “Strawberry Fields Forever” hi res stereo mix (Blu-ray: LPCM Stereo 96KHz/24bit / DVD: LPCM Stereo)

Video Features (both discs):

- The Making of Sgt. Pepper [restored 1992 documentary film, previously unreleased]

- Promotional Films: “A Day In The Life;” “Strawberry Fields Forever;” “Penny Lane” [4K restored]

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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