Time for a confession.
Because I came to know Beatles songs first as singles on the radio and then via the red and blue greatest-hits comps from 1973, I must confess that I’m still not all that familiar with some Beatles songs in the context of their studio records. That is to say, Beatles songs as the Beatles intended for them to be heard.
I’m working on that. Today, I dropped “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” onto the turntable.
Three years ago, one of my birthday gifts was the 50th anniversary edition of “Sgt. Pepper.” It’s a two-record set. The first record is the “Sgt. Pepper” everyone knows, but with a crisp new stereo mix produced by Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George Martin. The second record is from the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions, presenting alternate takes or instrumental versions of all the songs in order, along with studio chatter here and there. It’s a fun thing to have. Here are a couple of cuts from the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions.
“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Take 1),” from Side 3. Recorded March 1, 1967.
From the liner notes: “Take seven of the instrumental backing from this session was used as the basis for various overdubs. This is the first proper run-through.” John’s lead vocal is here, but the choruses are missing. In their place, dig Paul on the Lowrey organ and George Martin on piano.
“Within You Without You (Take 1 with Indian instruments),” from Side 4. Recorded March 15, 1967. An instrumental version.
From the liner notes: “The song’s recording began with a performance by musicians from the Asian Music Circle based in London. The featured instruments are: tabla (a drum first featured on a Beatles record in “Love To You”), swaramandala (which made the harp-like glissando on “Strawberry Fields Forever”), tamboura (a stringed instrument plucked to create an atmospheric drone for “Love To You” and “Getting Better”) and a bowed instrument called a dilruba.”
Both from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” 2-LP edition, 2017 re-release of the 1967 original.