What Am I Missing In Sgt Pepper's Mono LP?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by alexbunardzic, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. alexbunardzic

    alexbunardzic Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    OK, I have a confession to make: spent my whole life listening to the Beatles in stereo. Got the mono CD box set that was released in 2009, listened to it once, and walked away unimpressed. Never played it again, as I found 2009 stereo remasters more muscular, more alive.

    Last week received the much ballyhooed 2012 mono remaster of "Sgt. Pepper's" on vinyl. Got super excited, super psyched. Countless sources claim that you haven't lived until you've listened to the mono Sgt. Pepper's on LP. It's supposed to be life-changing experience. Once you hear Sgt. Pepper's in mono, you will finally understand what the Beatles were all about. It sounds THAT different from the stereo LP.

    Guess what -- after listening to it from the beginning to the end, I was left scratching my head. Where is the epiphany? Other than a few glaring differences ("She's Leaving Home" playing back at a faster tempo, the ending of "Within You Without You" with the laughter/sobbing sounding quite bizarre and ham fisted, and the transition from "Good Morning Good Morning" to "Sgt. Pepper's Reprise" sounding as if someone dropped the tape on the floor and then hastily reassembled it), I haven't detected any of the mind-altering differences.

    I do admit that, towards the end, "Sgt. Pepper's Reprise" and "A Day In The Life" do sound much more ominous to me than their stereo counterparts. That part of the mono LP I thoroughly enjoyed. But anything that came before these two songs was just... I dunno... underwhelming.

    What am I missing? Please help me swallow the red pill... I'm desperate!
     
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  2. Alexlotl

    Alexlotl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    York, UK
    For me it's all about the epic flanging on Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, which sounds absolutely transformed in Mono.

    She's Leaving Home not sounding like your Walkman is running out of batteries is a nice plus.
     
  3. Duke90

    Duke90 Member

    Location:
    WI, USA
    I'm with you there. A friend burned me the mono disc of SGT. Pepper. I only listened to it once, but I liked it way more. I heard some things here and there i couldn't on Stereo.

    Plus, Lennon was quoted saying you haven't heard it until you hear it in mono. I don't know if it's essential , but it's cool and I now prefer it. I mean, it is the way they originally made it so, I guess it's how one should experience it.
     
  4. Ram4

    Ram4 Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    You're not alone. I didn't care for Sgt Pepper in mono either. Yes I hear some subtle differences. But hearing it in stereo has always sounded better to me.
     
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  5. Mickey2

    Mickey2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bronx, NY, USA
    I'm with you for the most part. The Good Morning/Pepper (Reprise) edit ruins it for me. I personally don't like the McCartney scatting at the end of Pepper (Reprise). But, on a positive note, I do like the more spacier sounding LSD, and maybe a couple others that don't immediately spring to mind.

    Maybe the stereo mix is so inextricably burned into our brains that we're immune to the benefits of the mono version.
     
  6. alexbunardzic

    alexbunardzic Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    I actually prefer the dirge, the mournful "my Walkman running out of batteries" feel of the stereo version of "She's Leaving Home". More pathos serves that song better. The chipmunk-ish vocals on the mono version rob that gorgeous song of its deepest qualities. Imo, of course.
     
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  7. imag&nos

    imag&nos Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Mt Ag
    It's a bunch of great songs. Stereo, mono... there's a discussion to be had there, but you gotta deal with the songs first. They're good. Some of them are great. The problem is, people are coming in to this album expecting it to cure cancer and fly them to the moon at this point. Too much baggage. It's just a fun way to spend forty minutes of your day.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2017
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  8. alexbunardzic

    alexbunardzic Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    I think McCartney scatting at the end of the Reprise is an early onslaught of his much maligned saccharine sappiness that was afflicting his solo years for many decades. So I'm with you in not digging it.
     
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  9. Vinyl Socks

    Vinyl Socks Forum Resident

    The stereo mix of SPLHCB has some elements that make it sound kind of off, to me.
    The sped-up mono "She's Leaving Home" makes me nauseous, but the slower stereo version sounds like Paul singing. If they could make the mono version the correct tempo, they'd have a winner.
    The Beatles really created a 3-D soundscape with the mono Pepper, and those joys are ironed-out in the stereo mix. It's just my personal preference.

    I suggest listening to it many more times, and give it time to seep in to your soul...
     
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  10. alexbunardzic

    alexbunardzic Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    I adore Pepper, grew up with it, and I do think it's a cure for many diseases. Hence my surprise at how underwhelmed the mono version strikes me.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2017
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  11. alexbunardzic

    alexbunardzic Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    I think you're probably right. It may take some adjusting. I always feel a bit disoriented whenever I listen to mono. I almost want to pull some imaginary wool out of my ears and so make the sound spill out of that crack in the middle and flow naturally all the way to the left and the right speaker. Just not accustomed to the mono playback, I believe.
     
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  12. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, CA
    :wtf:
     
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  13. sekaer

    sekaer Member

    Location:
    New York City
    Would you mind me asking how much you paid for it? I might try it
     
  14. alexbunardzic

    alexbunardzic Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    I got it as a birthday present.
     
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  15. imag&nos

    imag&nos Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Mt Ag
    There's a whole cult built around it now, but mono only works when it's the default dedicated version and the stereo one is a perfunctory afterthought. I mean, there are examples like "Key to Love" by John Mayall, where the right mix is crucial, but Pepper is something else.

    About your handle - The Balkans origin? We may be neighbors.
     
  16. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, CA
    The stereo has the vocals slowed down by about 4% and the mono has the vocals sped up by about 1%. Name another Beatles song (other than the slowed down "Strawberry Fields") where Paul's voice sounds the way it sounds on the stereo mix of "She's Leaving Home". It's not his natural timbre at all.
     
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  17. originalsnuffy

    originalsnuffy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Upper Midwest, USA
    Well this thread is naturally about Sgt Peppers. My understanding is that the other album that is worth listening to in Mono is the White Album. Anybody agree or disagree there, and have any particular tracks that they point at?

    The funny thing is that I own the Mono box; but I played a few tracks when it came out and went back to the stereo. At the time it was billed as a limited edition to I jumped on the Mono box at nearly the suggested retail price (because it was "rare"). Of course then it was almost immediately reprinted and the value dropped from something near the list price to almost nothing overnight.
     
  18. alexbunardzic

    alexbunardzic Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    Neither is "When I'm 64" his natural timbre (it was sped up by a semi tone). Your point?
     
  19. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, CA
    "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" sounds better as it doesn't have ADT on the vocals and "I Will" doesn't have the bass singing on the first verse which is nice. There are a lot of other differences that are worthwhile too.
     
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  20. Drifter

    Drifter AD survivor

    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, CA
    I was responding to Vinyl Socks.
     
  21. CybrKhatru

    CybrKhatru Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I'm way more used to the Stereo mix, but I do like the Mono a lot.

    And "Lucy" IMO is definitive in Mono. SO much better.
     
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  22. stereoptic

    stereoptic Anaglyphic GORT Staff

    Location:
    NY
    Try toeing your speakers in or out to get the perfect phantom center.
     
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  23. Archtop

    Archtop Forum Resident

    Location:
    Greater Boston
    I much prefer the stereo Pepper to the mono, with the regurgitating chicken on the mono version being one primary reason, along with She's Leaving Home, which has been mentioned - I also prefer the slower version.
    The track that immediately springs to mind is While My Guitar Gently Weeps. On the mono version, McCartney's bass line is mashed up with everything else and is nearly indistinguishable. In the stereo version, it is resplendently crisp and well articulated Jazz Bass loveliness (especially on the choruses). Now, I understand that a different mix was used for the mono and stereo releases (and I'm talking 2009 CDs here), so I cannot separate how much of the effect on McCartney's bass line is due to the different mixes as opposed to mono vs. stereo, but at the end of the day, the mono "Weeps" is a relatively uninspired recording for me while the stereo allows me to hear the instruments individually and assemble them in my head, which is my preferred way of hearing music.
     
  24. Alexlotl

    Alexlotl Well-Known Member

    Location:
    York, UK
    Long Long sounds heaps better in Mono, IMO, not least because you can actually hear the verses. It's a great track, but I'd never really noticed on the stereo disc.
     
  25. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    I like the stereo, but prefer the mono because I know it reflects the artists' intentions. We know from the Recording Sessions book that the stereo mix was done in three (?) days by Martin and the engineers after the fact, whereas the mono mixes were done over months, during the course of recording, with the Beatles present. That matters to me - from that perspective, the absence of phasing on Lucy, the slowed speed of She's Leaving Home and the buried "scat singing" at the end of Reprise were just errors.
     

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