Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Remasters Fun : Hoorah For The Mystery Tour!

It's been a while since I could sit down with my remasters and compare (damn you, algebra... your useless square roots are getting in the way of my quality Paul time!), but while we were off to Phoenix, I had quite a few driving hours to play with the different versions of Magical Mystery Tour, or, as I like to call it, All The Songs You THOUGHT Were On Sgt. Pepper, But Are Really Way Cooler.
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YOU think we're cool, don't you, innocent reader?

Incidentally, I was wearing one of my favorite Beatles shirts that day...
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...perhaps it influenced my decision to play Magical Mystery Tour?

ANYWAY. Enough of my foolishness, let us get down to business.
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OK, I'm done now, I promise. It's out of my system. We can continue now. (Like we ever really started this show to begin with...)

I was astonished at how much dust has been brushed from these remasters (speaking strictly in stereo, since, with the Bose, anyway, mono sounds like it's being played in a Victorian armoire, two rooms away, at low volume)!
As I go over my notes (yes, I'm a total nerd and take notes... how do you think I remember all this stuff so I can tell you?) I notice a lot of talk about orchestration being brought forward... why, that's simply because it has been.
During the final track, "All You Need Is Love", there's quite a lot of unexpected orchestration brought into the foreground. It's a real scream to hear it, too... you think you know a song, and then they tell you differently!
Also brought forward in stereo are the backing tracks, be they vocals, or just general kerfuffle.
It seems most obvious in my favorite track from the newly remastered LP (Magical Mystery Tour was not actually an album, technically, but an LP), "Blue Jay Way".
In mono, you get the general feeling for the number, but something is just... missing.
Exhibit A :


Then, you listen to the stereo track, and know EXACTLY what you knew needed to be there to begin with.
Exhibit B :


See what I mean?
In the mono, you can hardly hear the cello during the chorus, but in the stereo, you can tell George is using the same technique as on Pepper's "Within You Without You", as illustrated in the following video (4:30 time stamp)...


One of my favorite things about the remasters has to be how studio chatter has been uncovered after all these years to finally be heard!
For example, All You Need Is Love... at the 0:25 time stamp, you can clearly hear someone (sounds a bit like George to me, but I'm not certain) talking. It sounds to me like "...change it", but I'm not too sure.
Exhibit C (and listen for the orchestration!) :


My absolute favorite Magical Mystery Tour moment had to be during Strawberry Fields Forever, at the 2:03 time stamp... John counts in the next verse after the chorus...


Overall, I have to say the stereo wins hands-down for Magical Mystery Tour. For all the psychedelia contained in it's ten tracks, you almost need the stereo just to hear everything... they were still using the Pepper-style layering effects (since Magical Mystery Tour was pretty much just the Pepper reject pile), and the stereo just brings seemingly every effect right up front, sticking you in the half-nelson you expect to hear.

As a bonus for putting up with my silliness, here's a picture of my Magical Mystery Tour notes... fifty billion bonus points to the time-wasting sap that can decipher my chicken scratches.
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Next up on the remasters chopping block, one of my absolute wonderful-marvelous favorites, and I hope one of yours... Revolver!
I'm warning you now, there will be fangirling. Don't say I didn't tell you.
And now, for something completely different...

Sorry, it must be something in the tea tonight...

Ricky The K's Solid Gold Time Machine

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