BIG Music News: The Beatles, Chicago

THE BEATLES:  Let the 50th anniversary celebration of Sgt. Pepper's  begin

The celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band officially kicks off today with the release of various Anniversary Edition packages of the iconic album.

Originally released on June 1st, 1967, the album was remixed by George Martin's son Giles and expanded with 34 outtakes from the studio sessions.

Giles Martin on the biggest challenge he faced in remixing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for its 50th anniversary:

"I think the biggest challenge is meeting expectations. I think that's it. You know, our job is to serve the band first up, and the legacy of my dad and [engineer] Geoff Emerick, but also the public. So that's the biggest challenge is trying to meet those expectations."

In an introduction to the new collection, Paul McCartney writes, "It’s crazy to think that 50 years later we are looking back on this project with such fondness and a little bit of amazement at how four guys, a great producer and his engineers could make such a lasting piece of art."

Paul McCartney on the 50th anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band:

"It's a really good mix. I really like it. It's very clear, whereas the old mix it was just a sort of general mix. This time you can hear every little instrument and it was quite surprising to hear, 'Ooh, I forgotten we did that.'"

The reissue includes:

  • A previously unreleased instrumental take of “Penny Lane”
  • Two previously unreleased complete takes of “Strawberry Fields Forever”
  • Direct transfers of the album’s original mono mix and the “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” singles
  • Previously unreleased mono mixes of “She’s Leaving Home,” “A Day in the Life” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” (thought to have been erased from a tape in 1967)
  • Promotional films for “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane” and “A Day in the Life” plus The Making of Sgt. Pepper, a documentary film broadcast in 1992

Giles Martin on why people may want to buy the 50th anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band:

"You're closer to the band in the studio than you've ever been because we are working from tapes that have never been mixed from, you know, because they copied the tapes across. And there's immediacy to it. And, you know, it's almost like a time capsule. You're going back to when they were 24 and 25 and the tapes haven't aged. They still sound beautiful. And you're gonna hear Sgt. Pepper like you never heard it before. And I think you're gonna hear it probably as they wanted you to hear it because we followed their notes and listened to what they have to say."

CHICAGO:  Recently fired vocalist Bill Champlin opens up

Bill Champlin spent 28 years with Chicago -- including their '80s pop resurgence. But despite tremendous success, he increasingly felt a "sense of isolation" from the band's founders.

Losing his lead vocals on "Look Away" and "I Don't Want to Live Without Your Love" in live shows was the telling sign that his days in the band were numbered.

Bill Champlin on being fired by Chicago: "They didn't really want me around anymore, really is what the reason... I was unhappy at the time. I just didn't which way... Not that I didn't necessarily, didn't like the music. But I'd been told years and years before, 'Hey man, you get a hit, you're singing it.' That's OK, that's fine.' I got a couple of hits, you know, I didn't write 'em. but I sang 'em. A couple of really big hits and they'd pull it every summer."

As their emphasis changed from writing and recording to touring, Champlin grew uncomfortable with some of their tricks of the trade.

Bill Champlin says his ideas on performing live increasingly clashed with how Chicago worked: "And then I think that how they were playing and how things were being generated... using a click track, like you would in the recording studio. A really loud click track; demanding earphone or in-ear [monitor] usage, just these are things I really was...just railed about. They made me very unhappy. I was very unhappy playing."

He says showmanship seemed to replace musical excellence and innovation.  Bill Champlin says his Chicago bandmates also found fault in how he performed on stage: "They didn't like how I was looking, I was supposed to be jumping up and down and spitting golf balls, I guess. [I'm] not that much of a showman, you know what I mean... on that level. And I think it was just was like... it was time. They were unhappy with me being unhappy with them. So... and I think they probably had every right to do what they did."

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