By Bill Dudley
Giles Martin is the son of longtime Beatles producer George Martin. He was born on John Lennon’s birthday in 1969. Lennon then warned George that could guarantee his son would be “trouble.” Giles has a great sense of humor about that, and rose to prominence when his famous father was asked to help create the Beatles popular Las Vegas Cirque de Soleil show Love. Giles was heavily involved in that project which entailed remixing classic Beatles songs to be the soundtrack for the dynamic stage production. Giles considers Sgt. Pepper to be his father’s greatest work.
Sadly, we lost the great George Martin last year, but Giles has picked up where his dad left off. Giles made an appearance at the Grammy Museum on Tuesday night, and played the entire newly remastered version of Sgt. Peppers, which I was surprised to find out was originally recorded in mono, at the Abbey Road studios. The Brits were actually way behind us on full dimensional stereo recordings.
We have been listening to the American stereo version for 50 years now, but the brand new stereo mix is much better. Plus, much like in the Love soundtrack, the Beatle whose work is the most noticeably enhanced is that of drummer Ringo Starr. You can hear it in almost every song.
Giles also played a few snippets of studio talk, where you can hear the Beatles talking to each other, while the original recordings were being made. He also said the much publicized confrontations between the Beatles (particularly John and Paul), were highly exaggerated. He made the point that their conflicts “were about business, not about music”. He also let us know there was far less time spent in the studio making this iconic album, than is generally thought by the public. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono all gave their strong approval to this project.
To mark the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper’s, you have your choice of 4 new releases. There is the single disc 50th Anniversary collection, a double disc set, the deluxe LP collection, and a 6 disc Super Deluxe set that also has video. My friend Pete Grasso at Sounsations Records in Westchester tells me they will all be available on May 26th.
I still remember the day in June of 1967, when my childhood friend Steve Tolen said to me: “Bill, this Sgt Pepper’s is something really new, like we have never heard before.” Steve was correct then, and 50 years later, he still is.