Why Every Beatles Fan Needs Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: Super Deluxe Edition

It was 50 years ago today when the Beatles unleashed what would become the band’s seminal masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album was a sonic work of art in 1967, forever changing the landscape of what could be achieved in the recording studio. It’s hard to imagine now, but back then, no one had heard anything remotely close to the conceptual revelation that was encapsulated on the fab four’s eighth studio effort.

Now, there’s an entirely new reason to revisit and marvel at the historic wonders of Sgt. Pepper, as a new super deluxe edition box set has been released to coincide with its original release day (May 26th), to commemorate the album’s 50th anniversary. Giles Martin (late producer George Martin’s son) has created a new up-to-date remix, not just another remaster, but a completely remixed version from the original tape masters.

Similar to 1999’s Yellow Submarine Songtrack, the new Sgt. Pepper mix is well balanced, leaving plenty of headroom for the lead vocals to breathe, which are now appropriately up front and center. It’s literally as if you’re hearing this beloved masterwork in stereo for the very first time, highlighting a noticeable wealth of previously buried minute details. The 5.1 surround mix on the box set’s Blu-ray literally brings the album to life in such a way, you literally feel as if you’re standing inside the studio while the Beatles are recording. [Read Full Review]

 

U.S. Albums Box Set Celebrates 50 Years of Beatlemania

Beatles box

The Beatles: The U.S. Albums

Although I wasn’t born when the Beatles first arrived in America, that didn’t stop me from liberating their albums from my eldest sister and memorizing every word, harmony and riff until I could hear them in my sleep, and repeatedly dream of the Capitol Records’ label with its dome logo and colorband ring spinning in my head. However, I’ll shamefacedly admit that during my early adulthood I thought I’d outgrown the mop topped Fab Four and briefly pushed them aside as I sought to forge my own musical identity, but an eager audiophile soon set me back onto the right track. Now, with the release of the Beatles’ 13-disc box set The U.S. Albums, I too finally have the opportunity to turn back time and experience a taste of Beatlemania for myself. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America and first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, this box set includes all of the original artwork from the Capitol Records’ releases, and a 64-page illustrated booklet with an in depth essay written by American television executive and author Bill Flanagan. Warning: this box set is NOT for Beatles purists, but instead intended solely for fans who want to recreate their youthful American listening experience of the Beatles in digital form.

If like me, you lived in the U.S. during your formative years, these are the track sequences and album covers you know (and worship) for better or worse, which differ greatly from the versions first released on CD in 1987, and again with the release of the Beatles’ remastered catalog in 2009. While many can (and undoubtedly will) endlessly argue the U.S. versions’ echt value, the point here isn’t to determine which versions are superior, but instead to transport you back into the youthful euphoria of hearing the Beatles’ albums for the first time in America. Whether revered or despised likely depends upon your own introduction into the Beatles’ musical canon, but these Americanized versions, with their synthesis of Capitol’s stereo and mono versions and George Martin’s remastering, are historic nonetheless. The set includes the best of both worlds; Capitol’s unique variations of several mixes interspersed with the 2009 remastered tracks, ensuring the ultimate retro Beatles experience.

This set also marks the first time many of these albums have been made available in the U.K. (which could mean quite a revelation to young Beatles’ fans across the pond), as well as the first time The Beatles’ Story (available exclusively in this box set), Hey Jude, Yesterday and Today, A Hard Day’s Night (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), and the U.S. version of Revolver have been available on compact disc. The original artwork of these releases has been painstakingly reproduced, complete with a sticker replica of the alternate Yesterday and Today cover, which was originally issued after the “butcher” cover was recalled in 1966.

The U.S. albums (notorious for their equalized echo chamber sound, or duophonic simulated stereo, and arbitrarily sequenced track lists) reportedly annoyed the band members, which is believed to be the inspiration behind the infamous “Butcher’s Block” cover (featuring the band holding disjointed baby dolls and raw meat while sporting white lab coats) for the U.S. only release Yesterday and Today.

The Capitol/Universal 2014 box set includes:

Meet the Beatles!, The Beatles’ Second Album, A Hard Day’s Night (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Something New, Beatles ’65, The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, Help! (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Rubber Soul, Yesterday and Today, Revolver, Hey Jude, and The Beatles’ Story.