To begin this, (and a little FYI), when the Beatles first mixed the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album, it was mixed in mono only. Stereo wasn’t all that popular in England in 1967 for rock & roll records so EMI (The Beatles British ‘mother label’) opted out of doing it in stereo.
Capitol Records in the USA demanded that they go back and remix the album to stereo because it was indeed becoming very popular in the western hemisphere for pop records..
The EMI team originally spent three weeks mixing to mono, with the band there, and only three days on mixing the stereo version after Capitol’s request, and the band was not even present for that! John Lennon once said that you hadn’t properly heard the album unless you heard the mono version.
Only 5000 mono versions were released which is why if you have a mono one with the cellophane still on it, it’s better than owning prime real-estate. It’s worth a small fortune to collectors.
On the 50th anniversary re-release of the album a few years back, they also re-released the mono version as part of the package which I hadn’t heard since I was a young lad. Since about 1969, if you listened to Sgt Pepper, you most likely listened to the stereo one.
As I was listening… something was bothering me about some of the bass playing on some of the tracks when I revisited the Sgt Pepper mono mixes (especially ‘Fixing a Hole’).
It seemed to be missing bass lines that I knew by heart after so many years of listening!
So as any avid Beatle nut does, I loaded ‘Fixing a Hole’ into my Protools recording software (both mono and stereo versions) and listened.
As you can hear in the following small edits of mono and stereo versions in the same areas of the song, it seems quite evident that there’s a lot of ‘flubs’ or ‘mistakes’ in the mono mix. As a matter of fact, sometimes you don’t hear the bass at all… at least not the notes you hear on the subsequent stereo mix in the same section.
Did McCartney go back into the studio and re-track his bass when they did the stereo mixes that Capitol Records ordered back in 1967?
Check out each of these attachments (Mono then the Stereo)… you may need headphones for this…. or at least decent speakers…
Compare ‘mono 1’ to ‘stereo 1’ etc.
PS – That being said, like John said, I still like the whole album’s mono mixes better overall…