Giles Martin explains the decision to remix Sgt. Pepper

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the great rock albums in history, but it has been given an overhaul for its 50th anniversary release.

Why mess with such a great record? Giles Martin, the son of late Beatles producer George Martin who was at the forefront of the re-release remix, talked to NPR about the decision this week.

“I mean, it’s the most famous album of all time,” Martin said. “It’s not as though it sounded bad. But if you think about when Sgt. Pepper was made, which is 50 years ago, it was really designed for mono, and the band spent a lot of time on the mono mixes. The mixes, in those days, were a performance [there was no automation, all hands were on the mixing console], they were live — and the band, with my father George Martin and with Geoff Emerick, mixed Sgt. Pepper. When the stereo [mixes] were done, they were done very quickly. But no one listens to the monos.”

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You can hear portions of the remixed version in a 30-minute interview NPR conducted with Martin in New York. Click here to download, or head to NPR to listen to the embedded version. One moment where you can hear a great example of the differences between the mono version, the stereo version, and the new remix comes at the 22-minute mark, when Martin plays the last few moments of the album closer “A Day In The Life.” The sound difference is striking, particularly on the final piano chord of the song.

“What was recorded in ’67 sounds pure and crystal clear — there’s not any hiss or anything,” Martin told NPR. “And with this version of Sgt. Pepper that’s what we try to do — we’re trying to get you closer to the music.”

The new version is set to arrive on May 26th.

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