Saturday, March 24, 2018

Magical Mystery Tour - AM*

Magical Mystery Tour (AM*)
Artist: The Beatles
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott
Released: November 27, 1967 (US Album Version)
Tracks - Side One: 1) Magical Mystery Tour (2:48); 2) Fool On The Hill (3:00); 3) Flying (2:16); 4) Blue Jay Way (3:50); 5) Your Mother Should Know (2:33) 6) I Am The Walrus (4:35); Tracks - Side Two: 1) Hello Goodbye (3:24); 2) Strawberry Fields (4:05); 3) Penny Lane (3:00); 4) Baby You're a Rich Man (3:07); 5) All You Need Is Love (3:57)
Players: John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, Hammond organ, cowbell; Paul McCartney: vocals, electric guitar, bass, piano, Lowery organ; George Harrison: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, harmonica, tambura, sitar, maracas; Ringo Starr: vocals, drums, harmonica, tambourine, maracas, congas, bongos, chimes; George Martin: Hammond organ, Lowery organ, piano, pianette, harpsichord, harmonium, glockenspiel; Mal Evans: harmonica, Hammond organ, piano, alarm clock; Neil Aspinall: harmonica, tambura; Guest Musicians: Marianne Faithfull; Mick Jagger, Keith Moon; Graham Nash

Try to follow this. There are three Beatles AM10s: Revolver, Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road. Magical Mystery Tour doesn't make the cut, but only through technicalities. When the Beatles' catalog was released on CD, the original UK versions of the albums were chosen as the definitive collection; all with the exception of Magical Mystery Tour. In the U.K., MMT wasn’t released as an album at all, but as an EP, a format that never caught on stateside and the key factor making it unratable.  The EP contained only the music from the film, but none of the hits that appeared on the B side of the American issue. It was a Beatles Policy in the U.K. not to release in album form songs that were previously issued as singles, though Capitol Records held no such policy in the States. Two of those tracks, "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields" were actually from the Sgt. Pepper sessions and released nearly a year earlier as a double-sided A single.

Today, in retrospect, and with the American issue standard, Magical Mystery Tour certainly deserves, if nothing else, an AM10 with an asterisk. Along with the concept piece, which works better as an album than a film, the B side contains five No. 1 singles – with, of course, more asterisks… Officially, "Penny Lane" was a No.1 single on the Billboard 100, with "Strawberry Fields" only reaching the #8 position, but that sounds like monkeyshine (doesn't the back seat of a car go the same place as the front?). "Hello Goodbye" was released as well in a similar format b/w "I Am a Walrus," though "I Am a Walrus" was the B side. Samesies for "All You Need is Love" b/w "Baby You’re a Rich Man." All in All, three singles made it to No. 1 on the charts, yet six songs were popularized on the radio - that delineation is a tough call.  

Magical Mystery Tour is the Pete Rose of rock 'n' roll: an AM10 that doesn't get to be. It is contemporary, fantastic, forward thinking, challenging, experimental and influential; indeed an AM*.