Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
Buy Magical Mystery Tour on CD, on stereo vinyl, on mono vinyl, or on iTunes
Originally begun as a side project of Paul’s, who was experimenting with video and electronic soundtracks, Magical Mystery Tour was the Beatles’ first project since the death of manager Brian Epstein. Soon all four of the Beatles were involved in the project, which turned out to be a disaster. Without Epstein to look over the project, everything wrong that could’ve happened did – including the “Magical Mystery Tour” sign falling off of the bus. The film aired on BBC at Christmas time and was criticized, mocked, and laughed at. Paul replied, “Aren’t we entitled to a flop?” The album, though, was a smash. In the UK it was originally released as a double-EP set and reached #1 across the world.
Capitol’s full length LP version
Capitol, noting that their two previous US Beatles EPs were flops, refused to issue a double EP set, instead adding recent singles and b-sides for a full album. That full LP version was issued in England in 1976 and Germany in 1971 and became part of Beatles canon when their discography was standardized in 1987 on compact disc. It was the last US release to be issued in both mono and stereo, the mono version being more rare. Nominated for the 1968 Grammy for Album Of The Year.
The sourcing disaster
When EMI decided to issue the US LP version of Magical Mystery Tour in the UK for the first time they contacted Capitol for their masters rather than recompiling the album from their own masters. The Capitol masters were fourth generation masters; the original stereo EP mix was copied for Capitol, those mixes were redubbed to match Capitol’s audio standards along with fake stereo mixes for side B, then those tapes were duplicated and sent to EMI who cataloged them in their tape vaults as the stereo masters. It was from those fifth generation masters that the MFSL reissues were created – which were supposed to be sourced from the original masters for the best possible audio quality. Needless to say, fans were extremely critical of the MFSL reissue.
The notable German edition: Magical Mystery Tour Plus Other Songs
The German edition of Magical Mystery Tour is notable for offering, for the first time, true stereo remixes of 3 of the non-soundtrack songs found on side B: Penny Lane, Baby You’re A Rich Man, and All You Need Is Love. In reality it wasn’t until the second version of the album, released in 1973, that these songs were featured on the album. There are three main versions of the album:
First version, released 1971 (matrix SHZE 327 – A-1 and SHZE 327 – B-1). The first version is the same as the 1967 Capitol US edition, which utilized duophonic or “fake stereo” versions of Penny Lane, Baby You’re A Rich Man, and All You Need Is Love. The cover features a red/pink Hörzu logo in the upper left. This version was also released in 1973 as Odeon 28 642-7.
Second version, released 1973 (matrix SHZE 327 – A-1 and SHZE 327 – B-3). The second version utilized the 1969 stereo mix of All You Need Is Love from the Yellow Submarine LP as well as new stereo mixes of Penny Lane and Baby You’re A Rich Man. It also included a brand new remix of Strawberry Fields Forever with greater stereo separation, improved percussion, and moving of the left to right panned cello and trumpet heard at the edit point of the song to only the right. This cover features the black and orange Hörzu logo in the upper left (pictured above), and an Apple-branded variation released around the same time features the Apple logo in the upper left instead. This is generally considered to be the best-sounding stereo vinyl pressing available.
Third version, released 1976 (matrix SHZE 327 – A-1 04449-A1+C and SHZE 327 – B-3 04449-B1+C). The third version has a smaller deadwax area with the same matrices as the second version and features significantly heavier bass. It features the Apple logo in the upper left of the front cover.
- Magical Mystery Tour
- The Fool On The Hill
- Blue Jay Way
- Your Mother Should Know
- I Am The Walrus
- Capitol MAL 2835 (mono), released November 27, 1967
- Capitol SMAL 2835 (stereo), released November 27, 1967
- World Record Club SLZ 8308, released 1970 (New Zealand, as ‘Magical Mystery Tour And Other Splendid Hits’)
- Apple PCSM 6084, released 1970 (New Zealand, as ‘Magical Mystery Tour And Other Splendid Hits’)
- pple/Horzu SHZE 327, released 1971 (Germany, as titled ‘Magical Mystery Tour Plus Other Songs’)
- Odeon 28 642-7 (club issue with same mixes as the 1971 release and 1967 US Capitol stereo versions), released 1973 (Germany, as titled ‘Magical Mystery Tour Plus Other Songs’)
- Apple SHZE 327 (2nd issue), released 1973 (Germany, as titled ‘Magical Mystery Tour Plus Other Songs’)
- Apple/EMI 1C 072-04 449 (3rd issue), released 1976 (Germany, as titled ‘Magical Mystery Tour Plus Other Songs’)
- Parlophone PCTC 255, released November 19, 1976
- Parlophone PCTC 255 (yellow vinyl), released May 1979
- Mobile Fidelity MFSL 1-047, released January 30, 1981
- Parlophone CDP 7 48062 2 (stereo CD), released September 22, 1987
- Capitol C1-48062, released July 1, 1988
- Apple 0946 3 82465 2 7 (remastered stereo CD), released September 9, 2009
- Capitol MAL 2835 (remastered mono CD), released September 9, 2009 in The Beatles In Mono box set
Cassette edition covers
Magical Mystery Tour And Other Splendid Hits (New Zealand, 1970)
In New Zealand Magical Mystery Tour was released as Magical Mystery Tour And Other Splendid Hits and with three known label variations but with the same track list. The last 4 songs are in mono.
Magical Mystery Tour Plus Other Songs (Germany, 1971)
Magical Mystery Tour Plus Other Songs (Germany, 1971, First version Hörzu cover cover)
Magical Mystery Tour Plus Other Songs (Germany, Apple label cover)