Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Magical Mystery Tour

Richard Furnstein: "Step right this way!" Paul shouts. Oh, where are you taking us, Paul? Oh, deeper into the Sgt Pepper's technicolor fantasy world? Are we taking a detour into the cartoonish sheen of high quality acid, fragrant fur coats, and BBC session horn players? Well, alright. We'll go with you on this magical ride. We know it will be a dead end, but at least it'll sound interesting (especially when John and George emerge from their drug haze long enough to provide hokey yet focused background vocals).

Robert Bunter: Here's McCartney: "Hmmmmm...look at that bus over there. Average, everyday people ride buses all the time; it's something we can all relate to. What if it was a trippy magic bus, taking everyone on a wild journey to who knows where? That's fantastic, y'know? Okay, let's go ahead and do it. I'll just ring the others and inform them know that this half-baked notion will be the centerpiece of our new album and feature-length Boxing Day television special. That settles that. I'm off to attend a happening at Miles "Hoppy" Indica's new avant-garde gallery. Good thing I have this cocaine! I'll just finish this plate of beans and English 'crisps' and then ring my driver to pop over and take me away. Hmmmm, 'take me away.' That's a good lyric. I'll just write it down on this scrap of paper, that way it will be worth over two million pounds at a Sotheby's auction in 1987. What a life!"
Richard Furnstein: In his classic over explaining of his flights of fancy from this era, Paul describes the mystery tours that were taking over soggy England during the late 1960s. Basically, a bunch of heart disease candidates cram into an unventilated bus to tour the fetid countryside and local oddities. It sounds like a nice diversion for people without real money or a sense of smell. Americans, on the other hand, have no real reference for this phenomena; instead, "magical mystery tour" sounds like a Scooby Doo adventure. The song rarely rises above the Hanna-Barbara implications of my American mind. Your mind isn't advanced by this material (unlike recent triumphs like "She's Leaving Home" or "Fixing A Hole'), it is basically an unconvincing appeal to have a good time. I'm having a grand old time, Paul. There's just no way in hell I'm getting on that gross bus or encouraging this stupid concept.

Robert Bunter: Me, neither. But if you separate this song from the malodorous, cramped bus concept which inspired it, you're dealing with a wonderfully muscular vintage 1967 Beatles song. Okay, so they were recycling the Sgt. Pepper formula a little bit, but come on! It's great, they had every right to explore that territory a bit more. How about that creepy ending? I always enjoyed the way it subtly deflated the brassy mood of the song. Suddenly the bus door opens and you step outside, only to find yourself confronted by a bleak, desolate expanse inhabited by a ghostly piano and the sound of gently tinkling wine glasses from a haunted otherness outside the boundaries of temporal mind-space. Also, the drums sound great on this track.

Richard Furnstein: Sure, Ringo's drums sound great (a perfect era for his snare), the aforementioned backing vocals make the song, and the clipped acoustic guitars deliver a little more grounded energy than most of the overcooked and delicately produced Beatles music for this era.

1 comment:

  1. I think Magical Mystery Tour album has my fav drum sound, I'm sure I mentioned my love for Ringo's "ch'CHAT" snare moves during this era. from 65 on Ringo had a different "feel" on every album. Ringo may be the only drummer I don't hate