A Fan’s Dream: 50th Anniversary ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Is LOADED

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June 1st… The Beatles’ legendary, renowned, beloved Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band will turn 50 years old.

Apple Records is pulling out all the stops. For the first time, a Beatles studio album re-issue will come with… BONUS TRACKS.

The Beatles’ original UK discography was first issued on CD in 1987. None of those re-issues came with bonus tracks or any supplements. The first four studio albums – Please Please MeWith The BeatlesA Hard Day’s NightBeatles for Sale – were only available in their mono mixes, and the rest were only available in their stereo mixes. The 12-album line-up was also issued with American album Magical Mystery Tour, and non-album collection Past Masters. (Split into two volumes.)

No re-issues ever since, but various compilations did pop up, alongside re-issues of old compilations. 1995 brought on the mini-series special The Beatles Anthology, which came with three 2-CD sets composed of outtakes and early takes. The Anthology series is weird because on the one hand, it feels like a treat to diehards who wanted to hear outtakes and archive recordings, but at the same time it felt sweetened for casual listeners. For instance, on Anthology 2, take a song like ‘Penny Lane’ for example. Instead of presenting one or two earlier takes of the song, they mixed 3-4 different takes from different sessions into one recording! Anthology 2 had a lot to cram in (covering everything from the mid-1965 Help! sessions to the early 1968 ‘Lady Madonna’ sessions), so it is understandable in a way…

The last Anthology volume debuted in 1996. 13 years later, in 2009, the original studio albums were remastered in both stereo and mono (well, the ones that were released in mono form anyway), but again. No bonus tracks.

In the recent years, we’ve been seeing some neat things pop up. The 1977 release of a 1964 show – The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl – was re-issued and expanded last year to coincide with Ron Howard’s Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years. Universal put out The Beatles Bootlegs Recordings 1963 a few years back, and a sequel to the 1994 archival release Live at the BBC.

My go-to place for unreleased Beatles songs and outtakes were the bootlegs. The “Unsurpassed Masters” series, which were pressed in the late 1980s, were a treasure trove. Through those tracks, I heard the evolution of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever.’ (Recorded for Sgt. Pepper in late 1966, but released as a single instead.) Anthology 2 on the other hand condensed that whole evolution down to two complete tracks and a track combining multiple takes. Not this set… We’re getting almost all of it. The breakdowns of other songs will be used as well, spread over two bonus discs… That’s right, two bonus discs…

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Now, will they ever do this for other great Beatles studios albums? RevolverThe BeatlesAbbey Road, and Let It Be immediately come to mind. I certainly hope so! Whether it’s for 50 or 55th anniversaries, their first album (Please Please Me) will turn 55 next March. Maybe this is the start of a loaded re-issue series, maybe not.

Other goodies? Some rare mono mixes of certain recordings, many of which I’ve heard via bootlegs. The never-before-released on home video documentary The Making of Sgt. Pepper, aired in 1992, will be included. I heard many audio excerpts from the documentary (from a 1998 bootleg The Alternate Sgt. Pepper and a Little More), so I’m excited to actually see the whole thing!

Even better, one disc will have the entire album… In mono! The mono mix is very unique to the common stereo mix, and I am so glad it’s on here as well. I never bought the 2009 The Beatles in Mono box, the only way you can get it in mono in this day and age… But I own the mono LP, original pressing complete with the error on the back cover! (‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ is listed as ‘A Little Help from My Friends.’)

I have little to no problems… 2 discs worth of outtakes, 1 disc composed of the mono album and rare mono mixes, and a restoration of an unreleased Sgt. Pepper documentary from 1992! This is a first for a Beatles studio album. I am really excited. Anyways, here’s the complete track-listing:

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]

I’m ready to double-down on my wallet the day it hits…

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