The Origin of The Rarest and Most Sought After Pressing of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” | Analog Planet
AnalogPlanet reader Bill Wright interviews Australian mastering engineer Don Bartley, who cut lacquers back in 1983 for what many consider to be the best sounding and certainly the rarest pressing of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, produced by EMI Australia for the 1983 Sydney Audio Show. Fewer than five hundred copies were pressed.
Mr. Wright tells the story, followed by his interview with mastering engineer Bartley:
It began for all of us differently, and the result was usually the same. For me, it happened during a humid summer day in Tokyo, back in 1969.
To a young boy from San Francisco, Japan was a fantastic landscape. Western fashion had taken hold, but many residents still wore the traditional clothing. Women drifted by in kimonos, their fabric awash in bold graphic designs. Children in school uniforms safely walked the streets alone, cartoon art flourished on every newsstand, and cherry blossom trees lined the streets.
My father was an American advertising executive assigned to Japan Air Lines, and had been transferred to Yokohama. And my mother was a bit of a bohemian – born in Paris during the 1920’s, her parents were members of the Lost Generation. She was happy to be in Japan, but realized we still needed a connection to home. So one hot summer day, we rode a crowded train to a Tokyo theater specializing in American movies.
We arrived and took our seats, the aisles crowded with expatriates. The first film was “Marooned,” about astronauts stranded in space. The special effects were state of the art, with our friends the Russians saving the day at the end. But then the second feature started to roll – the movie was “Yellow Submarine.”
I was transfixed. The landscapes and characters were a radical departure from the usual Disney cartoons, and the vertical Japanese subtitles on the left side of the screen completed the surreal effect. A wide range of cinematic styles and techniques were used to create a strange, bold vision. But it was the music and sound that captivated me.
It was amazing to hear at that age. It evoked a haunting, hallucinogenic world. The soundtrack was a combination of elements – classical, Indian sitar, English vaudeville and psychedelic rock. And when I returned home, I begged my mother for a record player. Soon, a red and white plastic clamshell model arrived, along with a Japanese pressing of Yellow Submarine.