How ‘The Grey Album’ Re-Invented the Remix
Gino Sorcinelli
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I’m reading reading Beatles books right now in prep for the Sgt. Pepper 50th anniversary. It’s fascinating to realize how they and George Martin really established what I would call “proto-sampling.” McCartney was experimenting with incorporating tape loops of his guitar playing (i.e., a sample) into the music as early as Revolver. George Martin took several recordings of circus music, had them literally cut up and tossed into the air — as you do in 1967 Apple Studios — then picked them up at random to make the trippy circus music in “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite.” They sampled BBC radio (a Shakespeare play) for the outro to “I Am The Walrus” (the voice that says “…service of a villain. Oh, untimely death!”)

It’s true that these are not samples from another artist’s recorded work, but the idea of samples as an instrument was clearly there. These mashups carry on the tradition of sonic innovation that the Beatles helpt to establish, and allow the work to be heard and appreciated in new ways.

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