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Magical Mystery Tour (album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


This article is about The Beatles album Magical Mystery Tour. For the Liverpool sightseeing tour see the Magical Mystery Tour (coach trip)

Magical Mystery Tour is an album and double EP by the English rock band, The Beatles, first released in late 1967. The double EP was recorded at the end of an extremely creative 18-month period.

It is also a one-hour television film that originally aired in the UK in 1967. After critical and public response to the premiere proved negative, US plans to air the film on ABC Television were cancelled, and Magical Mystery Tour didn't appear in the US until 1976, as a theatrical release on the midnight movies and college circuits.

History of the project

After Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Paul McCartney wanted to create a film based upon The Beatles and their music. The film was to be unscripted: various "ordinary" people (including John Lennon's uncle Charlie) were to travel on a charabanc bus and have unspecified "magical" adventures, in the manner of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters.

The Magical Mystery Tour movie was made, but it turned out that no interesting adventures actually occurred — at least, none that would have suited the original concept. During the filming, more and more cars followed the hand-lettered bus, hoping to see what its passengers were up to, until a running traffic jam had developed. The spectacle ended after Lennon angrily tore the lettering off the sides of the bus.

This was the first Beatles film project following the death of manager Brian Epstein, in August 1967, and there has been much speculation that the absence of Epstein's judgment contributed to its undisciplined production, such as the lack of a screenplay and professional direction.

The film originally appeared twice on BBC-TV over the 1967 Christmas holidays, but was savaged by critics on its release; however, it has been praised by filmakers like Steven Spielberg.

The soundtrack itself was far more favorably received. It was released in the UK in December 1967 as a double EP. The American version was released in late November 1967 as an LP; its cover depicts the original EP in an orange border, with a list of song titles above it. The Magical Mystery Tour LP was divided into two halves, with the first side being the actual movie soundtrack, and the second side a collection of A and B-sides released in 1967.

The first side, identical to the British EP, was a prime example of music from the psychedelic era, opening with the rollicking title track, and including "Blue Jay Way", an evocative mood piece by George Harrison; the nostalgia-laced "Your Mother Should Know"; "Fool on the Hill", an introspective mood piece by McCartney; and "Flying", one of only three Beatles instrumentals (the first being the very early, and often forgotten, "Cry for a Shadow"; the second, "12-Bar Original").

"I Am the Walrus", at the end of side one, is one of the Beatles' more startling, avant-garde creations. Full of crashing orchestras and dubbed vocals, it was Lennon's response to learning that an English master at his alma mater, Quarry Bank Grammar School, was having his class analyze Beatles songs.

The songs on side two were the band's non-album singles from the period. To keep to its release schedule, Capitol Records used a stereo simulator on the monaural master tapes, rather than wait for the stereo tapes to be sent over from Britain. Even so, the seemingly random choice of songs showed the band at its creative peak.

Side two is anchored by two starkly contrasting, semi-autobiographical songs: Lennon's "Strawberry Fields Forever" and McCartney's "Penny Lane". Originally released as a double A-side single, Lennon's "Fields" was a dark and troubled account of childhood memories, while bandmate McCartney's "Penny Lane" was a light-hearted and poppy treatment of the same subject. Both songs had, in fact, been recorded at the beginning of the Sgt. Pepper sessions, but had been left off that album, a decision that producer George Martin later regretted[citation needed].

The remaining tracks on side two include McCartney's counter (and A-side) to "I Am the Walrus", the effervescent "Hello, Goodbye"; and the Lennon-McCartney collaboration, "Baby You're a Rich Man" (actually the first song recorded specifically for The Beatles' animated film, Yellow Submarine, which would be released to theatres one year later). Lennon's jaunty "All You Need Is Love" (which was the anthem of the Our World program, and, some would argue, of the flower power movement, as well), finishes the LP.

When standardizing The Beatles' releases for compact disc in the late 1980s, the American LP version (which had actually sold better in the UK as an import than the double EP[citation needed], and was issued by Parlophone Records in Britain during 1976) was included with the British album lineups instead of the British EP, with true stereo recordings replacing the earlier processed ones. (The true-stereo version of the Magical Mystery Tour LP was first issued in Germany in 1971, but the 1976 Parlophone issue used the Capitol masters with the fake stereo.) Capitol quietly reissued the Magical Mystery Tour LP using the German masters in the USA with catalogue number C1-48061 in true stereo. The remaining Beatles non-LP single sides were compiled as Past Masters, Volume One and Past Masters, Volume Two.

1977 German MMT LP reissue with every track in true stereo
1977 German MMT LP reissue with every track in true stereo

Track listing (LP, CD)

  • All songs written by Lennon-McCartney, except where noted.

Side one

  1. "Magical Mystery Tour" SAMPLE (122k)
    • Featuring Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall on percussion, David Mason, Elgar Howarth, Roy Copestake and John Wilbraham on trumpets.
  2. "The Fool on the Hill"
    • Featuring Christoper Taylor, Richard Taylor and Jack Ellory on flute.
  3. "Flying" (Lennon-McCartney-Harrison-Starkey)
  4. "Blue Jay Way" (Harrison)
  5. "Your Mother Should Know"
  6. "I Am the Walrus" SAMPLE (133k)
    • Featuring Sidney Sax, Jack Rothstein, Ralph Elman, Andrew McGee, Jack Greene, Louis Stevens, John Jezzard and Jack Richards on violins, Lionel Ross, Eldon Fox, Brian Martin and Terry Weil on cellos and Neil Sanders, Tony Tunstall and Morris Miller on horns, Peggie Allen, Wendy Horan, Pat Whitmore, Jill Utting, June Day, Sylvia King, Irene King, G. Mallen, Fred Lucas, Mike Redway, John O'Neill, F. Dachtler, Allan Grant, D. Griffiths, J. Smith and J. Fraser on backing vocals.

Side two

  1. "Hello, Goodbye"
    • Featuring Ken Essex, Leo Birnbaum on violas.
  2. "Strawberry Fields Forever" SAMPLE (141k)
    • Featuring Mal Evans on percussion, Tony Fisher, Greg Bowen, Derek Watkins and Stanley Roderick on trumpets and John Hall, Derek Simpson, Norman Jones on cellos.
  3. "Penny Lane" SAMPLE (192k)
    • Ray Swinfield, P. Goody, Manny Winters and Dennis Walton on flutes, Leon Calvert, Freddy Clayton, Bert Courtley and Duncan Campbell on trumpets, Dick Morgan and Mike Winfield on English horns, Frank Clarke on double bass and David Mason on piccolo trumpet.
  4. "Baby You're a Rich Man"
    • Featuring Eddie Kramer on vibraphone.
  5. "All You Need Is Love"
    • Featuring George Martin on piano, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithful, Keith Moon, Eric Clapton, Pattie Harrison, Jane Asher, Mike McCartney, Graham Nash and wife, Gary Leeds and Hunter Davies on backing vocals, Sidney Sax, Patrick Halling, Eric Bowie and Jack Holmes on violins, Rex Morris and Don Honeywill on sax, David Mason and Stanley Woods on trumpets, Evan Watkins and Henry Spain on horns, Jack Emblow on accordion and Brian Martin on cello.

Track listing (double EP)

Double EP sleeve
Double EP sleeve
  • All songs written by Lennon-McCartney, except where noted.

Side one

  1. "Magical Mystery Tour"
  2. "Your Mother Should Know"

Side two

  1. "I Am the Walrus"

Side three

  1. "The Fool on the Hill"
  2. "Flying" (John Lennon-George Harrison-Paul McCartney-Richard Starkey)

Side four

  1. "Blue Jay Way" (George Harrison)

Release history

See also

  • Magical Mystery Tour (film)

External links

  • Recording data and notes on mono/stereo mixes and remixes
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