Friday, April 23, 2010

Waiting To Take You Away

The title track on the Parlophone UK EP and the North American Capitol LP is an original Lennon/McCartney song written mainly by Paul entitled "Magical Mystery Tour". This was also the title of the 1967 television special.

The concept of the song came to Paul while he was in the United States visiting the country in April 1967. The idea of a film aboard a mystery coach appealed to him and while McCartney was on route back to England in mid April 1967, he started to jot down ideas for the film. Naturally, since a film was to be made, a title track had to be written and recorded.

On Tuesday April 25 1967 at EMI studio three, Paul was seated at the piano and there were a lot of ideas and rehearsals for the song as it was being composed basically in the studio. Once the basic idea and structure of the song were settled, recording proper began with Paul at the piano, John on guitar and George on guitar and Ringo on the drums. Three takes of the basic track were recorded and take three was selected as the one to be used on the commercial version. A tape reduction of the four track into one track was done in five attempts (with McCartney assisting) bringing the basic track into take eight. Also created at this session were the bus coach noises that appear sporadically throughout the song (panning left to right or right to left on the stereo version).

The next day on April 26 1967 and once again in EMI studio three, the bass guitar played by Paul and percussion played by all members of The Beatles was overdubbed onto the previous day's basic track. Also added some background vocals by John Paul and George. All of this once again filled the four tracks so that another reduction was made bringing the song into take nine.

The next day on April 27 1967 and once again in EMI studio three, the lead vocal (by Paul) and the backing vocals (by John and George) were overdubbed onto take 09. The backing vocals were recorded while the tape was running slow so that the backing vocals would sound speeded up during the playback. At this stage of the song, four attempts at a mono mix were completed but these were mainly used as demos.

A few days later on May 03 1967 at EMI studio three, the brass overdub of four trumpets was completed for "Magical Mystery Tour". Also at this session, a glockenspeil was added for the coda section of the song.

The next day on May 04 1967, seven mono mixes were conducted from the control room of EMI studio three. One of these mixes was used at the beginning of the original mono television special (with added narration by John) but not used for the commercial EP or LP or CD releases. When the home video/ DVD was released, the mix was recreated using the original narration and separating the basic track of take eight with the vocal and brass overdubs of take nine.

Finally, on November 06 1967 from the control room of EMI studio three, a stereo mix of "Magical Mystery Tour" was completed in four attempts although it was decided to edit in a new recorded narration introduction done the following day.

On November 07 1967 from the control room of EMI studio two, it was Paul this time rather than John who recorded the introduction narration and this was then added to the track requiring new mono and stereo mixes. Two stereo mix attempts were completed with the recent mix being used on the commercial stereo versions. Three mono mix attempts were completed with the recent mix being used on the commercial mono versions.

So this is why the television special, the home video and DVD have the introduction narration by John Lennon but the recorded version which appears on vinyl and CD have the introduction narration by Paul McCartney. Also note that the voices on the mono mix are much more "phased" than the stereo mix.

"Magical Mystery Tour" appears on the Parlophone UK 2-EP set as well as the North American Capitol LP/CD "Magical Mystery Tour". The song also appears on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970" as well as the film music compilation EMI/Capitol "Reel Music". Roll up, roll up!!

A performance of the song live by Paul McCartney and his band during the 1993 "New World Tour" is available on the Parlophone CD/ UK 2-LP set "Paul Is Live".

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