Abbey Road

June 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.

I always liked this Batman comic cover from June 1970.

Batman 222

Spanish Beatle fan Juan Carlos (at least I think that is his name…he doesn’t make it too obvious….) has produced some fantastic digital Beatle Comics that are well worth a look. There are 7 issues so far and he’s still only reached 1963 !! This project is evidentally a labour of love and the attention to detail of the Fab four’s early years in Liverpool seems spot on. I look forward to issue 8 and beyond.

Click here to visit Juan’s Beatle comics.

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All 12 of the UK Beatle LPs will shortly be re-re-issued (having been re-re-mastered) on CD either individually or as a boxed set. There will also be another CD collecting all the fab “b” sides and the singles that never appeared on any LP at the time. Why “All you need is Love” wasn’t on Sgt Pepper is a mystery to me…. or it just proves how much classic material the prolific Beatles were churning out in the mid 1960s !! My current dilemma is do I buy all this music all over again. I bought all the Beatle CDs when they were first available circa 1990 just to have them in my collection. To be honest from being a child growing up constantly surrounded by Beatle music (my father was a big fan and bought all the early singles in their “mop top” phase and I carried on buying the singles and LPs through their later “hippy” and solo musician phases) I haven’t really listened to Beatle music for 30 years !! (Yet I’ve remained a Yoko Ono fan throughout that time..) Will the spell be broken or will they still sound fresh ?? Perhaps I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve heard a few re-mastered tracks although they are bound to sound better than my scratchy 45rpm singles and the original CDs where the “stereo” often consisted of vocals from the left speaker and music from the right speaker !! Even my LP version of “Sgt Pepper” is in mono because so was my record player at the time !!!!!