A Whole New Experience: Sgt. Pepper’s Remixed

This Memorial Day we were home cooking ramen while listening to NPR podcast, All Songs Considered. The host interviewed Giles Martin, who just remixed a super deluxe edition of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, slated for release June 1st. Giles is the son of George Martin, the famous “Fifth Beatle,” who was part of the magic during much of the Beatles’ recording career.

My husband revealed a happy surprise, he’d pre-ordered the remix. What better way to spend the credits marinating in our Amazon account? Not long after this revelation, there was a knock on the door, and the album arrived on our doorstep— not only on a national holiday, but earlier than expected!

Deluxe doesn’t begin to describe the box set extraordinaire that arrived at our doorstep, but let’s get to the good part: the music.

Wow.

The first thing I noticed was how prominent and professional sound effects were in the remix. The spliced calliope in Mr. Kite, and the animal sounds at the end of Good Morning, are striking examples.

I could hear each pizzicato in the background orchestra. My husband was blown away by the brass.

In his interview, Giles Martin discussed how he was able to uncover Ringo’s drums in the course of the remix, revealing textures and sounds lost in both the stereo and mono versions of the original album. True, but he also unearthed so much personality from George’s guitar. George’s solos sing in any mix, but there were so many little comments from that guitar I’d missed before. Some of the character I associate with George’s solo work were right there in Sgt. Pepper, all along: those humorously snide asides, tiny twangs like a lifted eyebrow, that express so much intelligence and attitude with the slightest gesture.

The depth of character of all the voices, singing or instrumental, was at a whole different level than the original recordings. A sound, or a note, isn’t made of a single pitch, but is actually the sandwiching of many different complementary pitches. These pitches are called overtones, and it’s the unique combination of these hidden sounds within a sound that gives a voice or an instrument its character and tone quality. Giles Martin did some real magic to coax those hidden overtones into peeking out, so the listening experience of the remixed album is a new and exciting experience.

You can check out the remixed Sgt. Pepper’s and a video interview with George Martin on Amazon.

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