- in Engineering by Bobby Owsinski
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Sam Okell talks about remixing Sgt Pepper
Abbey Road Studios senior engineer Sam Okell had the unenviable task of remixing one of the most listened to and beloved album of all time – the 50th anniversary release of The Beatles seminal Sgt Pepper. Sam and producer Giles Martin (son of original Beatles engineer George Martin) were tasked with a job that many engineers would find terrifying, but the results have been generally positive.
In this interview Sam describes some of the problems that they faced during the remix. Of course, one of the biggest was which original mix to follow, the mono and stereo. Remember that the record was created back in the early days of stereo, and that mix was done almost as an afterthought in most cases. In fact, the band spent most of its time on mixing the mono version, yet it was the stereo version that most of us in the US are most familiar with.
Some have asked why original engineer Geoff Emerick wasn’t involved in the project, and no official answer to the question has been offered. The supposition is that while the label wanted a remix that stayed true to the original, it also wanted a sound that could be more modern (if that’s possible) as well. It’s a shame that he couldn’t be involved.
Also note that if you listen on headphones, you’ll hear a lot of truck rumble, which is surprising coming from Abbey Road. It’s a good example of why you should always use the high-pass filter. Check out the interview