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With guest host Sacha Pfeiffer

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” gets remixed for its 50th anniversary. We’ll listen.

In this June 1967 photo, Paul McCartney, from left, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon of The Beatles appear backstage during a break in rehearsals for the live broadcast on the "Our World" program at EMI studios in London. (AP Photo, File)
In this June 1967 photo, Paul McCartney, from left, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon of The Beatles appear backstage during a break in rehearsals for the live broadcast on the "Our World" program at EMI studios in London. (AP Photo, File)

It’s been called the most celebrated album ever recorded, and also a “mishmash of rubbish.” Fifty years ago this week the Beatles released Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which many critics say changed music forever. It was the Beatles at their most experimental and influential, and people are still talking about it a half-century later. This hour, On Point: the reissued, remastered version and why it’s endured. -- Sacha Pfeiffer

Guests

Tim Riley, author of “Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary," and "Lennon: The Man, The Myth, The Music." Associate professor of digital journalism at Emerson College. (@triley60)

Rob Sheffield, author of “Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World." Writer at Rolling Stone. (@robsheff)

From The Reading List

NPR Music: Why Remix 'Sgt. Pepper's'? Giles Martin, The Man Behind The Project, Explains — "'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' turns 50 next week — so what's been done to celebrate one of the greatest records ever? They've remixed the entire album! The word "remix," in fact, may not capture the scope of the project — it's more like someone rebuilt a pyramid with fresh bricks. But a question remains: Why would anyone do so? I traveled to New York to meet Giles Martin, who spearheaded the project, to find that out."

Rolling Stone: Inside Unheard 'Sgt. Pepper' Outtakes: Exclusive First Listen — "But the real treasures are the 34 bonus tracks, which will dazzle hardcore Beatlemaniacs — 'the socks and sandals brigade,' as Giles Martin fondly calls them. No new songs, no sign of the mythical lost psychedelic jam 'Carnival of Light' ('It's not really part of Pepper'), but the alternate takes are full of discoveries; hours of new Beatle music that gives a taste of how many treasures remain in the vault. It's not just historic value — it's an astounding listening experience."

Los Angeles Times: The Beatles’ best album is really its worst. ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ we need to talk — "'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band' is the Beatles’ worst album.But let me save you the outrage you may think I’m looking to foment. I’m not saying it’s a bad record; I’m merely pointing out that the most impactful rock band in history made better ones — some catchier, some weirder, some more energetic, all filled with songs I’d rather listen to today."

Your 'Sgt. Pepper's' Memories

"I was nearly a teen and so my mom drove me to the record store to get it! Played it until there were no grooves left on the LP." -- Chris on Facebook

“I was in second grade when my music teacher allowed me to stay in for recess and listen to the album with headphones. It blew my mind! I became a musician!” — Jack in Maryland

"Oh my! The new edits of 'Lucy' and 'Mister Kite' show so much more going on in that album than what I could hear back when I was 18. It's almost as if better headphones and new technology have removed a layer of dust between the artists and the listener." -- John on Facebook

I was 9 when Pepper came out, and it really confused me. I've never liked thin-sounding instruments or voices, so from that perspective, this was the beginning of the end of my whole-hearted love of the Beatles. On the other hand, the melodies and harmonies themselves were amazing, so I listened to them anyway. And then the lyrics were not simple – you really had to think about them. So I ended up loving the songs, but not liking to actually listen to them. -- Becky on Facebook

Listen To “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

This program aired on May 31, 2017.

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