Released by Capital Records in November, 1967, the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour album was an 11-track LP including the six-song soundtrack to the band's 1967 film of the same name. Originally appearing on the BBC, the movie did not do well with either critics or fans. Perhaps it was the lack of color (it was broadcast in Black and White) that proved disastrous for the colorful psychedelic and surrealistic feel of the movie.
EMI has released the fully-restored Magical Mystery Tour to DVD and Blu-ray. The sketchy plot follows The Beatles and a group of ordinary travelers as they go on a psychedelic bus tour.
The original idea for the movie came about when Paul McCartney remembered mystery tours from his childhood in Liverpool where people took bus trips without knowing their final destination. Wanting to recreate that, The Beatles wrote a basic story outline that started with a hand drawn pie chart. They recorded songs, found actors and a few friends, and then set off in a brightly colored bus toward the southwest coast of England. The dialogue for the most part was improvised and no one on the bus knew their ultimate destination.
Richard Lester (the director of the first two Beatle's feature films) may have been responsible for Magical Mystery Tour's very loose structure. He said, (according to the insert that comes with the Blu-ray) "They should make their next film themselves, just the way they make an album. I mean that it should grow organically rather than having a professional cult or film making superimposed upon it."
The silliness of most of the scenes is in keeping with the psychedelic culture of the time (1965-1969). Many of the songs have references to drugs and drug use including "Roll up! Roll up!" Psychedelic rock was influenced by the psychedelic drug culture and its attempts to enhance the effects of psychedelic drugs. Paul McCartney, himself, stated, "Because those were psychedelic times it had to become a magical mystery tour, a little bit more surreal than the real ones to give us a license to do it. But it employs all the circus and fairground barkers, 'Roll up! Roll up!,' which was also a reference to rolling up a joint. We were always sticking those little things in that we knew our friends would get; veiled references to drugs and to trips. 'Magical Mystery Tour is waiting to take you away,' so that's a kind of drug, 'it's dying to take you away'..."
Magical Mystery Tour features the songs "Magical Mystery Tour," "The Fool On The Hill," "Flying," "I Am The Walrus," "Blue Jay Way," and "Your Mother Should Know." There really isn't any continuity from one scene to another and a majority of the scenes don't follow any logic.