“For years, all we could hear was the left side of the system. I listened to Sgt. Pepper a lot, not realising that huge chunks of vocals and instruments were missing. When I hear a proper mix, it sounds wrong. My versions sound better! They have this eerie, empty quality.”
–Wayne Coyne on listening to The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band growing up… but only the left side!
The Beatles’ stereo mixes are notoriously panned and listening to only one speaker can sometimes change the complete character of a given track. Though the right speaker of Sgt. Pepper has more of the “eerie, empty quality” that The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne liked about listening to Sgt. Pepper’s through one speaker than the left does, both sides are interesting when isolated and this is exactly what Psych Explorations will be exploring: The Beatles one side of the mix at a time – two songs, every Tuesday.
For the first week of “One Speaker-Fab Four-Two for Tuesday” we’re taking a listen to two tracks from Pepper that differ significantly when heard through only the left speaker: “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “Good Morning Good Morning.” In future weeks we’ll take a listen to other albums – both the right and left sides, but never together.
Similar to the mixing approach of The Beatles’ early albums, the stereo mix of “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” has their playing on the left speaker with the vocals mixed almost entirely to the right Isolating the left side, it becomes essentially an instrumental with Paul’s ever-playful bassline taking a lead role.
The Beatles’ stereo mix of “Good Morning Good Morning” has their playing on the left speaker and the brass arrangement (played by Sounds Inc.) on the right (along with Paul’s bass and the refrain – inspired by a TV commercial jingle for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes). Isolating the left side, the rhythm section rocking through Lennon’s odd meter phrasing is at the forefront – rather than buried behind brass – and the track takes on a different vibe than when heard conventionally (similar to the version on Anthology 2 except the stereo left version has Paul’s excellent guitar solo).