Abbey Road

Jun 1, 2017

It’s fifty years ago today (give or take a few weeks) since I bought the LP “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (Parlophone PMC 7027). It was the first (new) LP I ever owned. I saved a record token from my birthday along with a few weeks pocket money and was still short of the asking price. Luckily my father made up the difference. My LP was mono. I suspect the Stereo version would have been even more money and superfluous to me as I owned a mono Dansette record player. I still own the (now extremely scratchy) LP but I don’t own the cover! It spent a year or so pinned up on my bedroom wall and disappeared in the early 1970s! Ironically it is the first-pressing stereo LPs that are now worth the most money as they are rarer than mono versions. It is interesting to listen to both though due to the different mixes.

The difference in the stereo and mono mixes is due to the analogue compressor that was between the mixer and the tape recorder.The stereo mix used a Fairchild stereo compressor. The mono mix used an Altec limiter. This gave everything a punchy compressed sound which was how I heard my sixties music on the (medium wave and long wave) radio then. Also the mono echo used was different to the stereo version.

Originally meant to be a “concept” album only “Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!” really fitted in with the title track. That was probably a good thing. I doubt it would have been a classic if it was just full of novelty/music-hall type songs. But is it really such a classic as people claim? There are a few throwaway songs on there along with the classics such as “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “A Day In The Life”. “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” should really have been on the album too, but such was the desire for Beatles “product” those tracks were rush-released as a double A-side single in February 1967 (although why that prevented them being added to “Sgt Pepper” anyway escapes me!).

1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help From My Friends
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing A Hole
6. She’s Leaving Home
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I’m Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life

Already owning the mono LP, the Stereo LP, a pre-recorded cassette, the T-Shirt and the original CD I now have the chance to purchase Sgt Pepper once more. This time it is a new (improved?) Stereo re-mix by Giles Martin and umpty-thrumpty versions/works-in-progress of the 13 tracks along with Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields from the Sgt Pepper sessions. At over £100 the box set is a luxury I could live without…but I bought it anyway. The best LP of all time? No. The most famous LP of all time? Probably.

PS: Nothing to do with the above whatsoever but I’ve always wondered if it was my car pictured on the “Abbey Road” sleeve. Not the Beetle LMW 281F, but what appears to be a Triumph Herald Estate visible further back on the left just above Paul’s head.

2 Responses to “Abbey Road”

  1. Niblet Says:

    I don’t think the stereo version would have been more expensive at the time of the lp’s original release. I recall excitedly heading down to the record shop on my local high street, intent on buying the Magical Mystery Tour double EP soon after it was released. I was 11 years old at the time and had been saving my pocket for some weeks. I had access to my parents’ stereo radiogram (remember them? – radiograms that its, not my parents), so when the girl behind the counter asked me if I wanted the mono or stereo version, I chose stereo. A sudden thought then struck me, and I asked the girl if the stereo MMT was more expensive. ‘Yes’ came the reply, ‘it’s a pound dearer’. Seeing my face drop, the assistant had a good laugh at my discomfiture and said ‘I’m just joking, they’re the same price’.

    To experience the full stereo effect, I used to lie on the floor with my head almost under the centre of the radiogram. MMT’s ‘Flying’ gave a good demo of stereo as I think the drums were panned across to one channel with all the other instruments on the other, or something similarly wacky – those Fabs, eh?. Funnily enough I bought the deluxe Blu-ray/DVD/EP box set of Magical Mystery Tour a couple of weeks ago. It doesn’t say on the EP label whether it’s mono or stereo, and I have no way of playing vinyl now.

  2. My HiFi and LPs have been banished to the shed (actually it’s a “Summer house”). Who knows, one day it all may come back into the lounge, or perhaps I might even get around to installing power to the bottom of the garden. Then I could move in down there at least whilst the soaps are on the TV.

    I do have one tiny record player currently in use. It’s a DigitNow! Portable Mini USB Vinyl Record Player to mp3 converter. It cost the princely sum of £17.99 from Amazon and will be invaluable for transferring some extremely odd vinyl to digital which I may have completed by next month.

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