Apple Records has announced a special 50th anniversary limited edition box set of The Beatles masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hears Club Band May 26 featuring a new stereo mix overseen by Giles Martin, the son of Beatles producer George Martin who has been working with the Beatles catalog for over a decade. “It’s crazy to think that 50 years later we are looking back on this project with such fondness and a little bit of amazement at how four guys, a great producer and his engineers could make such a lasting piece of art,” wrote Paul McCartney in the new introduction.

The celebration will kick off on Record Store Day April 22 with a 45rpm single release of "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever," the first two songs recorded for the Sgt. Pepper sessions that were not included on the album since 60s era bands typically did not include singles on LPs, a choice that George Martin later called "the biggest mistake of my life."

Several versions of the new Sgt. Pepper's--as it's typically known--will be made available May 26 close to the origina June 1 release date in 1967. Along with Martin's new stereo mix, several Deluxe packages will be available on CD and LP, each including completed unreleased tracks, session outtakes, and instrumentals. A Super Deluxe version will include 1992 BBC documentary on the making of the album with interviews by George, Paul and Ringo, and George Martin plus artwork, photographs, and much, much more. The Super Deluxe version will also include a 144-page hardcover book with reproductions of Abbey Road session notes, John, Paul, and George's handwritten lyrics, and print ads for Sgt. Pepper from 1966, all housed in a reproduction of an EMI/Abbey Road mid 60s era tape box.

Since the band's original mono and stereo mixes have already been remastered, Giles Martin decided to revisit the album using the modern technology he perfected for the Cirque de Soleil soundtrack.  “By moving back in time… by removing the layers of process that’s there… now when you listen to the album, it’s like you’re there." Martin said. "In a way, the record was sort of trapped in a box of its own time, due to technology. What we’ve done is lifted those layers and let the record breathe and live.”
 
Fans are notoriously possessive about Beatles recordings and Sgt. Pepper is perhaps the most hotly contested of all of their albums since the original stereo mix--though more widely distributed--has always been considered by hardcore fans to be inferior to the mono mix that The Beatles oversaw as a group. Expect the full range of emotion--from grumbling to ecstasy--when the much maligned and misunderstood Sgt. Pepper rises again in June. You can bet that we'll be listening since John, Paul, and George used their Epiphone Casinos on virtually every track.  Stay tuned.