Something was bothering me about some of the bass playing when I revisited the Sgt Pepper mono mixes recently. It seemed to be missing bass lines that I knew by heart after so many years of listening. In fact it seems quite evident that there’s a lot of bass ‘flubs’ on the mono mix. Did McCartney go back into the studio and re-track his bass when they did the stereo mixes that Capitol Records ordered? I will use Fixing a Hole here as an example…. but first….
Some history: In late 1966 and early 1967 when the Fab Four set to work on “Sgt. Pepper” as the follow-up to “Revolver,” monaural sound was the dominant format for music.
Stereo counterparts often were created hastily for the U.S. and other foreign markets. Because the “Sgt. Pepper” stereo mix was better known in the U.S., Lennon once famously stated, “You haven’t heard ‘Pepper’ until you’ve heard the mono version.”
In part that’s because the group’s vocals are often divorced from the instrumental accompaniment, separated in different channels of the original stereo mix because that was how engineers charged with creating that version could get the job done quickly.
Just how quickly? George Martin and the Beatles spent about three weeks mixing the mono version; its stereo counterpart was completed in barely two days.
So as any avid Beatle nut does, I loaded “Fixing a Hole” into Protools in my studio (both mono and stereo versions) and listened…
Check out each of these sections (Mono then Stereo)… you may need headphones for this…. or at least decent speakers…
Enjoy and see what you think. Aside from the obvious ‘left/right’ split of the stereo mix, the bass notes are different in these three examples: