Roll Up for the Magical Mystery Tour (again)

Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Articles | 3 comments

Roll Up for the Magical Mystery Tour (again)

By Aaron Kupferberg
On September 1967 The Beatles embarked on making their third film, with help from Richard Lester who directed A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965). The band was in uncharted waters after the death of long time manager Brian Epstein, and to prevent additional tax levies by the the government the band formed Apple Corps.  “Magical Mystery Tour” was the first film project directed by the entire band under that banner. It was a loose unscripted free for all, dreamt up by Paul McCartney on a flight from the US to the UK earlier that year.  The “plot” was scribbled by Ringo,  a sheet of paper with a circle drawn on it. Most of “Magical Mystery Tour” was filmed in a rented coach, filled with friends and acquaintances, Beatles office staff, a camera crew, and a handful of experienced actors, rambling around the English countryside one holiday weekend.


It debuted on British TV and to say it was a disaster is an understatement. Critics called it “Positively the worst programme I can remember being on any channel,” declared one viewer. “I think a lot of people were looking for a plot,” McCartney explained, “and they didn’t get one.” At the time, the Beatles were still bathed in the glow of “Sgt. Pepper” and seemingly invincible to any serious criticism. This proved them to be fallible and human, and the result of four talented musicians who proved to be pretty lame filmmakers without professionals to guide them. Or were they?


What is thankfully not overlooked is the music. It proved to be truly wonderful and the soundtrack contained some of the best Beatles music ever made. The restoration of Magical Mystery Tour has been overseen by Paul Rutan Jr. of Eque Inc., the same company that handled the much acclaimed restoration of Yellow Submarine. The soundtrack work was done at Abbey Road Studios by Giles Martin and Sam Okell. Trivia note: The house band near the end of the film can be heard singing “Death Cab for Cutie” (The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, whose first album was produced by Paul McCartney in the background of the scene). This was the inspiration for the Grammy-nominated band of the same name.


Now critics see the film for what it really is. Part home movie, and proto-music video years before MTV existed. Unlike previous scripted films by those lovable moptops,  Magical Mystery Tour’s music isn’t simply a transitional piece from scene to scene; it takes center stage and gives fans a new way to experience them. Each song tells a story, from “Fool on the Hill” to “I Am the Walrus.” Between each tune are Monty Python styled silliness that included surreal midgets, visual gags and a visit to a strip club. The home movie aspect to the film with Ringo and his Aunt Jessie arguing through the trip is now much clearer. It shows our heros (wizards) during a slice of their magical lives in vibrant color and high resolution. And its more popular than ever, as the remastered Magical Mystery Tour DVD entered the Billboard Top Music Video chart at No. 1 for the week ending October 27, 2012. The more you explore the film, the better it gets. The website is another marvel, using Ringo’s sketch as navigation with bits from the movie, all arranged in a tumblr-styled layout with history and behind the scenes commentary — visit and tell your friends “Goo goo gajoob!”


  1. Hoping to see an update this year on IPO’s blog.

    • I agree with you, lyrics are far ore important sonically than what they happen to mean.

      My 100 favorite Beatles Songs:

      1. Can’t Buy Me Love
      2. I Feel Fine
      3. Revolution
      4. It Won’t Be Long
      5. A Hard Day’s Night
      6. Come Together
      7. Ticket To Ride
      8. Hello Goodbye
      9. She Loves You
      10. Eight Days A Week
      11. Nowhere Man
      12. Penny Lane
      13. All My Loving
      14. Please Please Me
      15. Savoy Truffle
      16. Tell Me Why
      17. All I’ve Gotta Do
      18. Rain
      19. I’ll Cry Instead
      20. I Saw Her Standing There
      21. All You Need is Love
      22. Twist And Shout
      23. A Day In The Life
      24. I Want To Hold Your Hand
      25. You’re Going To Lose That Girl
      26. Love Me Do
      27. Rock And Roll Music
      28. Don’t Let Me Down
      29. You Can’t Do That
      30. I Should Have Known Better
      31. Glass Onion
      32. I’m A Loser
      33. This Boy
      34. Help!
      35. She’s A Woman
      36. The Ballad of John and Yoko
      37. Get Back
      38. Something
      49. We Can Work it Out
      40. You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
      41. Roll Over Beethoven
      42. Run For Your Life
      43. Revolution I
      44. The Night Before
      45. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
      46. Day Tripper
      47. Let It Be
      48. Across The Universe
      49. Here, There And Everywhere
      50. I’ll Be Back
      51. Paperback Writer
      52. And Your Bird Can Sing
      53. From Me To You
      54. Any Time At All
      55. Magical Mystery Tour
      56. Getting Better
      57. Hey Jude
      58. Lady Madonna
      59. Back in the U.S.S.R.
      60. Birthday
      61. Yes it Is
      62. Good Day Sunshine
      63. It’s Only Love
      64. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
      65. Strawberry Fields Forever
      66. With A Little Help From My Friends
      67. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
      68. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
      69. Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby
      70. No Reply
      71. Here Comes The Sun
      72. Baby’s In Black
      73. Yesterday
      74. Drive My Car
      75. There’s A Place
      76. Dizzy Miss Lizzy
      77. Thank You Girl
      78. When I Get Home
      79. You Like Me Too Much
      80. In My Life
      81. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
      82. Little Child
      83. I’ll Get You
      84. Misery
      85. Kansas City
      86. Do You Want To Know A Secret
      87. I’m Down
      88. Another Girl
      89. Girl
      90. You Won’t See Me
      91. Words of Love
      92. Things We Said Today
      93. She’s Leaving Home
      94. Got To Get You Into My Life
      95. Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite
      96. I’m Only Sleeping
      97. Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds
      98. Every Little Thing
      99. I Want To Tell You
      100. Hold Me Tight

  2. Mr. Bash, what’s your opinion of this album?

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