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.


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.

Paul McCartney had Car Play in 1984

We’re big Beatles fans, so it’s hard to believe there’s a film featuring both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr that we’d never seen.  Last week we finally got around to watching “Give My Regards to Broad Street.”  The movie was fun- lots of music and singing with a dash of the Beatles’ special brand of silly wittiness.  But other than great music, there wasn’t much remarkable about the film.  Except, that is, for Paul McCartney’s car.

I’m no car expert, but to me Paul’s wheels looked like they belonged in the 1940’s, even though he was driving down the streets of 1984 London.  The old-fashioned car had this spiffy little license plate on the back, PM1. Then we cut to the inside of the car, and we’re propelled 30 years into the future.  Paul has a car phone, a bright red dialup rig.  Long before the era of established mores for mobile phones, McCartney already has the intelligence to pull over to the side of the road when it rings.

Cool as that was, I’ve seen car phones in older films before.  What really knocked my socks off was the fact that Paul had Car Play!  I’m not kidding.  There’s a small computer embedded in his dashboard.  The screen looks flat, though certainly the bulky cathode monitor is hidden in the dashboard guts. As Paul begins his day in the life of a busy rock star, he speaks to this little computer in his car.  A voice far more mechanical than Siri’s responds, and brings up the day’s itinerary, reading the appointments off to Paul as he drives.  Anyone with Apple Car Play can now follow in Paul’s footsteps, send and receive calls, get a rundown of the day’s agenda by asking Siri something along the lines of, what are my appointments today?

Of course not everybody has scheduled a recording session with Ringo Starr and George Martin, followed by a filming, then a night time jam session.  For that, you’d pretty much have to be Paul McCartney.