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Learning To Love Stereo: Hearing The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's With New Ears

Friday, April 14, 2017

Pete Paphides goes to Abbey Road to listen to the new anniversary edition of Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and marvels at the charge of the "psychedelic light brigade" that is hearing the tweaked versions of songs.

I'd heard that Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the best album of all time, so when I happened upon a picture disc, displayed behind the counter at Birmingham record shop – a snip at £2.99! – it was a no-brainer. This was 1983. I was 13. My pocket money was £5 a week. Every penny went on records, so the fact that I still had £2.01 change from the best album of all time felt like an absolute triumph. Plus! Picture disc! It would take years for me to realise that the version of Sgt Pepper I bought that day is almost certainly the most substandard one in existence. Showing a picture disc to a committed audiophile is an act comparable to showing a shower head to a cat or a picture of  Les Dennis a picture of Amanda Holden. Even worse, the version of Sgt Pepperavailable to record buyers in the early 80s was the stereo one, famously mixed in less than an hour without the band even present. It was the mono one that the band wanted to get right: the one which matched the hardware that most people would use to listen to it.

But I didn't know any of that in 1983. Because Sgt Pepper was the best album of all time, I knew I needed to listen reverently, so I waited until the house was empty and then, in the lull between Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right and Juliet Bravo, I took the record out of its bag, placed it on the stereo in the posh room that no-one ever used, plugged in my headphones and reallyconcentrated. I didn't give myself the option of not liking it because cleverer people than me had already decided that it was the best album of all time, but I was expecting this record to transform me, to push me a significant distance in the direction of adulthood.

By: Pete Paphides

Source: The Quietus

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