The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour
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Magical Mystery Tour

The Beatles devised, wrote and directed a television film called Magical Mystery Tour which was broadcast on BBC Television at Christmas, 1967

Even before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, had hit the shops, the idea of the programme had been born and work had commenced on the title track.

It was decided that the soundtrack for the programme would be released on two seven inch discs which would be packaged with a booklet in a gatefold sleeve. The booklet contained stills from the show along with a comic strip telling the story. A lyric sheet was also stapled into the centrespread of the booklet. The EP was a runaway success and reached no. 2 in the UK singles chart, held off the top spot by their own single... “Hello, Goodbye”.

In the US, the double-EP format was not considered viable so instead, Capitol Records created an album by placing the six songs from the EP on side one of an album and drawing side two from the titles that had appeared on singles in 1967. These titles were “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane”, “All You Need Is Love” – their anthem that had been broadcast around the world via Satellite in June. “Baby, You’re A Rich Man” and their current single, “Hello, Goodbye”. The US release made # 1 in early January 1968 and stayed there for eight weeks. Its initial chart run lasted 59 weeks

!967 had certainly been a year of great achievement but it was also tinged with sadness. Brian Epstein, The Beatles’ manager since 1961 passed away on 27th August, 1967 at the age of 32.

The US configuration for Magical Mystery Tour was later adopted by many other countries (including the UK in 1976). When the Beatles catalogue was first issued on Compact Disc in 1987, Magical Mystery Tour joined the core list of titles.

NME July 20, 1967

If they aren’t already planning so, the Beatles should start planning their next full-length film immediately. After watching a rough cut of their ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, which BBC viewers can see on Boxing Day. I am convinced they are extremely capable of writing and directing a major movie for release on one of the major cinema circuits.

The film sequences for the musical numbers are extremely clever. For ‘Blue Jay Way’ George is seen sitting cross-legged in a sweating mist which materialises into a variety of shapes and patterns. It’s a pity that most TV viewers will be able to see it only in black and white. ‘I Am The Walrus’ has four of them togged up in animal costumes switching at times to them bobbing across the screen as egg-men.

A special word of praise for Ringo, who more than the others comes over very, very funnily. But praise to all of them for making a most entertaining film. I only wish they would now put out a sequel made up from the parts they left on the cutting-room floor.

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