The idea for a reprise of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’s title track was suggested by The Beatles’ assistant Neil Aspinall, who thought the album should be bookended with words from the imaginary compère.
I said to Paul, ‘Why don’t you have Sgt Pepper as the compère of the album? He comes on at the beginning of the show and introduces the band, and at the end he closes it. A bit later, Paul told John about it in the studio, and John came up to me and said, ‘Nobody likes a smart-arse, Neil’… That was when I knew that John liked it and that it would happen.
‘Sgt Pepper (Reprise)’ was the final music recorded for the album, apart from the strings overdub for ‘Within You Without You’. Taped in a single day, it was the perfect rousing performance to introduce the grand finale, ‘A Day In The Life’.
The reprise was faster than the previously-recorded title track, and with different lyrics. Opening with McCartney’s 1-2-3-4 count-in and Lennon’s cheeky “bye”, it featured all four Beatles on vocals and was one of the more straightforward rock songs on the Sgt Pepper album.
Take five of the song, with a guide vocal by McCartney, was released on Anthology 2. A remix of the more familiar version, meanwhile, was used between ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘All You Need Is Love’ on the Love album.
In the studio
‘Sgt Pepper (Reprise)’ was recorded on Saturday 1 April 1967 in Abbey Road’s vast studio one. Between 7pm and 6am The Beatles firstly recorded nine takes of the rhythm track, with McCartney singing a guide vocal. They then overdubbed vocals to take nine, along with extra instrumentation.
Although Sgt Pepper’s songs were recorded with Abbey Road’s four-track recording technology, the reprise was the only one not to have reduction mixes to free up extra tracks. It was a straightforward recording, but one of the most exciting in The Beatles’ catalogue.