'Sgt. Pepper's Musical Revolution' Explores Innovation in Recording

"Our feeling was that the only real reason why people are still talking about The Beatles after all this time, the reason they’re such a powerful force, is the music."
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To mark the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' album

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

, director Francis Hanly collaborated with composer and music historian Howard Goodall on a new documentary for PBS, S

gt. Pepper's Musical Revolution

.

Sgt. Pepper's Musical Revolution

features material never before accessible outside of Abbey Road Studios, including recordings of studio chat between band members and isolated instrumental and vocal tracks. It reveals the nuts and bolts of how the album came together, and provides insights into the choices made by The Beatles and their producer George Martin.

"Howard and I had made a film quite a while ago about John Lennon and Paul McCartney as songwriters," Hanley tells Megan Kashty. "When the

Sgt. Pepper

anniversary came up, we thought that there’s been so much written about the Beatles as a cultural phenomenon, but not much about them just as musicians. Our feeling was that the only real reason why people are still talking about The Beatles after all this time, the reason they’re such a powerful force, is the music. It all starts with the music. Obviously once they became successful, then they became cultural icons and cultural leaders. But if the music hadn’t been any good it wouldn’t have taken off. So we wanted to look at the

Pepper

album purely from the point of view of music.

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"You have to remind people just how primitive recording techniques were compared to today and how revolutionary the Beatles were. You’ve got to remind people just what things were like 50 years ago, and it’s very difficult because things have changed so much and so rapidly. Especially for the younger generation, to think about a pre-digital era is very difficult. You have to remind people that things were incredibly primitive, and that the Beatles changed the rules by constantly questioning everything around them. They always tried to move beyond the horizon."

To read more of the interview with Hanley, click here:

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