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When The Beatles Turned America Into Pepperland

‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ debuted on the US chart, just as it had in the UK, at No. 8.

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Beatles Sgt Pepper gatefold

Later generations who know of its legendary status might be surprised at this Beatles fact. When they unveiled their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band opus, its first appearance on the British charts was at No. 8. With the American charts working a little more slowly, the album didn’t arrive on the bestseller lists there until 24 June 1967 – when it debuted at, yes, No. 8.

The new LP was received with a great deal of rapture and a small amount of suspicion in critical quarters. But it soon got the ultimate endorsement from the group’s multi-millions of fans, on both sides of the Atlantic. In the UK, its second week was the first in an unbroken run of 23 weeks at the top. In America, it also climbed 8-1 in its second chart appearance to begin a 15-week reign.

Sgt Pepper sheet music

But the competition for record buyers’ cash was varied, to say the least. At home, the album that Pepper replaced at No. 1 was the incredibly long-running The Sound Of Music. The soundtrack had already been in the countdown for more than two years. The other hottest new releases of the month was Are You Experienced, the debut album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. That moved up 6-2 in its third chart week, but never made the top. The supremacy of Sgt. Pepper was unshakeable until winter was approaching.

With considerable irony, The Beatles’ album entered Billboard’s Top LPs chart while a manufactured group conceived in their image jumped to No. 1. Headquarters, the third album by the Monkees, was their third US chart-topper in just seven months. It succeeded the massively popular Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass, who had been enjoying their own fourth No. 1 with the Sounds Like album.

Summer Of Love meets Julie Andrews

Pepper is widely credited with being opening the door to what became known as the Summer of Love. But it arrived in what was still, in reality, a fairly middle-of-the-road musical marketplace. Many British record buyers were still adamant that the hills were alive with the sound of Julie Andrews. Their American counterparts were either watching the Monkees on TV and purchasing their records, or relaxing with Mr. Alpert or one of his easy listening counterparts such as Andy Williams, who was high in the album top ten with Born Free.

Aretha Franklin Never Loved A Man

If they were soul fans, they might have been buying Aretha Franklin. After several years in relative obscurity at Columbia, had exploded onto the charts with the LP I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You.

The other albums that signified the Summer of Love, from The Doors to Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, were a few weeks away, and even then they would do chart battle with the likes of Engelbert Humperdinck. Meanwhile, ‘Sgt. Pepper’ duly repeated its UK performance by hitting No. 1 in its second week on the American chart. It overtook the Monkees to begin a 15-week reign that lasted into October.

The Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band reissue was released, to mark its 50th anniversary, on 26 May 2017. Scroll down to read what’s in each version, along with the full tracklisting for the super deluxe box set, and order the reissue here.

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The various versions of the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band reissue are:

Standard CD:
The new 2017 stereo mix, complete with the original UK album’s “edit for LP end” run-out groove.

Deluxe 2CD (and digital edition):
The new stereo album mix on Disc One, plus a second CD of 18 tracks, including previously unreleased complete takes of the album’s 13 songs, newly mixed in stereo and sequenced in the same order as the album.

Disc Two also includes a new stereo mix and a previously unreleased instrumental take of ‘Penny Lane’, plus the 2015 stereo mix and two previously unreleased complete takes of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

Deluxe 2LP:
The new stereo album mix on Disc One and previously unreleased complete takes of the album’s 13 songs, newly mixed in stereo and sequenced in the same order as the album, on Disc Two.

Super Deluxe 4CD+DVD+Blu-ray:
CD1 features the new 2017 stereo album mix.

CDs 2 and 3 include 33 additional recordings from the studio sessions, most of which are previously unreleased and have been mixed for the first time from the four-track session tapes, sequenced in chronological order of their recording dates, plus the new 2017 stereo mix of ‘Penny Lane’ and the 2015 stereo mix of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’.

CD4 features a direct transfer of the album’s original mono mix, plus the ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’ singles, along with the US promo mono mix of ‘Penny Lane’ and previously unreleased early mono mixes of ‘She’s Leaving Home’, ‘A Day If The Life’ and the once-thought-lost early mono mix of ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’.

The DVD and Blu-ray discs both include new 5.1 surround sound audio mixes of the album and ‘Penny Lane’ by Giles Martin and Sam Okell, plus their 2015 5.1 surround sound mix of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, along with high-resolution audio mixes of the album, ‘Penny Lane’ and the 2015 stereo mix of ‘Strawberry Field Forever’.

Additionally, these discs will include 4K restored promo clips for ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘A Day In The Life’, plus The Making Of Sgt Pepper, a restored, previously unreleased documentary film originally broadcast in 1992.

The full tracklist for the super deluxe edition box set is:

CD1: St Pepper’s 2017 stereo mix
‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’
‘With A Little Help From My Friends’
‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’
‘Getting Better’
‘Fixing A Hole’
‘She’s Leaving Home’
‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!’
‘Within You Without You’
‘When I’m Sixty-Four’
‘Lovely Rita’
‘Good Morning Good Morning’
‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)’
‘A Day In The Life’

CD2: Outtakes
‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ [Take 1]
‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ [Take 4]
‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ [Take 7]
‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ [Take 26]
‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ [2015 stereo mix]
‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ [Take 2]
‘Penny Lane’ [Take 6: instrumental]
‘Penny Lane’ [Vocal overdubs and speech]
‘Penny Lane’ [2017 stereo mix]
‘A Day In The Life’ [Take 1]
‘A Day In The Life’ [Take 2]
‘A Day In The Life’ [Orchestra overdub]
‘A Day In The Life (Hummed Last Chord)’ [Takes 8, 9, 10 and 11]
‘A Day In The Life (The Last Chord)’
‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ [Take 1: instrumental]
‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ [Take 9 and speech]
‘Good Morning Good Morning’ [Take 1: instrumental, breakdown]
‘Good Morning Good Morning’ [Take 8]

CD3: Outtakes
‘Fixing A Hole’ [Take 1]
‘Fixing A Hole’ [Speech and Take 3]
‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!’ [Speech from before Take 1; Take 4 and speech at end]
‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!’ [Take 7]
‘Lovely Rita’ [Speech and Take 9]
‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ [Take 1 and speech at the end]
‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ [Speech, false start and Take 5]
‘Getting Better’ [Take 1: instrumental and speech at the end]
‘Getting Better’ [Take 12]
‘Within You Without You’ [Take 1: Indian Instruments Only]
‘Within You Without You’ [George coaching the musicians]
‘She’s Leaving Home’ [Take 1: instrumental]
‘She’s Leaving Home’ [Take 6: instrumental]
‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ [Take 1: false start; Take 2: instrumental]
‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)’ [Speech and Take 8]

CD4: Sgt Pepper’s and bonus tracks in mono
Tracks 1-13: 2017 direct transfer of Sgt Pepper’s original mono mix)
‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ [Original mono mix]
‘Penny Lane’ [Original mono mix]
‘A Day In The Life’ [Unreleased first mono mix]
‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ [Unreleased mono mix: No.11]
‘She’s Leaving Home’ [Unreleased first mono mix]
‘Penny Lane’ [Capitol Records US promo single: mono mix]

DVD and Blu-ray:
Audio Features (both discs):
New 5.1 surround sound audio mixes of Sgt Pepper’s and ‘Penny Lane’, plus 2015 5.1 surround sound mix of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ (Blu-ray: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby True HD 5.1; DVD: DTS Dolby Digital 5.1)

High-resolution audio versions of 2017 Sgt Pepper’s stereo mix and 2017 ‘Penny Lane’ stereo mix, plus 2015 ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ hi-res stereo mix (Blu-ray: LPCM Stereo 96KHz/24bit; DVD: LPCM Stereo)

Video Features (both discs):
The Making Of Sgt Pepper [restored 1992 documentary film, previously unreleased]

Promotional films: ‘A Day In The Life’; ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘Penny Lane’ [4K restored]

Follow The Beatles Greatest Hits playlist.

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