By Lola Augustine Brown
It was 50 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play—okay, perhaps not precisely 50 years ago today. The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the United Kingdom on May 26, 1967 (though June 1 had been the planned release date), and on June 2 in North America. It was widely considered their best album to date, capturing the cultural changes of the time and taking the lads from teen idols to rock stars.
In its most basic version, the re-mastered Sgt. Pepper is available on vinyl, on CD, or as a digital download. But there’s also a deluxe double album that includes a new stereo mix, a previously unreleased instrumental version of “Penny Lane,” and two unreleased cuts of “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
For diehard fans, there’s a Super Deluxe six-disc boxed set that has the above plus 33 more cuts from the Sgt. Pepper sessions, as well as a 144-page book that discusses every detail of the album, the related artwork, and the historical context; Paul McCartney wrote the introduction. (The deluxe CD contains an abridged 50-page version of the book.)
In his review, Rolling Stone’s Mikal Gilmore says the re-release is Sgt. Pepper “as it was always meant to be heard.”
There have been other re-issues of Sgt. Pepper over the years, but after this one, there won’t need to be any more.