Sgt Pepper's Musical Revolution - with Howard Goodall

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Sgt Pepper's Musical Revolution - with Howard Goodall
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Review

If the Beatles’ defining album were a car, this would be the Haynes manual, an exploded diagram showing how all its many and beautiful parts fit together. Presenter Howard Goodall is a wizard mechanic, polishing up each chorus and key change so we appreciate it anew.

To help him he has access to the original Sgt Pepper master tapes as well as unused takes and those scraps of Beatles-y backchat (“Ringo, keep it a bit straighter at the end”), the result being very much for the benefit of anyone interested in pop music’s perfect moment.

We learn, for instance, that there are seven pianos and two organs playing that thundering final chord of A Day in the Life. Strawberry Fields Forever (not on the album, of course, but part of the same sessions) was apparently stitched together from takes recorded a week apart that used different instruments. George Martin sounds a little weary as we hear him say: “Strawberry Fields Forever take seven… remix from four-track take six.”

Summary

The composer explores why the Beatles' 50-year-old album is still revered as an innovative, revolutionary and influential release. With the help of out-takes, studio conversations between the band and never-heard-before outside of Abbey Road, Howard gets `under the bonnet' of the album, taking the music apart and reassembling it to reveal how it works. Producer George Martin and his team constructed the album sound by sound, layer by layer - a formula that became the norm for just about every rock act who followed.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Howard Goodall
Director Francis Hanly
Producer Martin R Smith
Producer Jonathan Clyde
Documentary