The Beatles' third movie, Magical Mystery Tour, was a self directed 50 minute film for television. Filmed between September 8 and November 3, 1967, the group and a cast of circus freaks take a "magical" coach trip through the English countryside.
The album that never really was, Magical Mystery Tour was conceived as a lavish EP soundtrack to the Beatles' Christmas TV movie. Musically it was far superior to the film it accompanied, with the songs continuing in the quintessentially English psychedelic music-hall style developed on Sgt. Pepper.
With an early December release, the EP was held off the U.K.'s No. 1 single slot only because that was already occupied by the Beatles' "Hello Goodbye." With the addition of an impressive clutch of recent singles, the EP was transformed into an album for U.S. release, where it earned over $8 million in its first three weeks.
Parlophone notified Capitol that it intended to release Magical Mystery Tour as an EP. Capitol refused to follow suit, already having produced two poor selling Beatle EPs. Instead, Capitol produced this LP, putting the EP tracks on side one and several single tracks to fill out side two. Included was a 24-page booklet glued to the inside of the gatefold sleeve.
The Magical Mystery Tour film debuted on British television on December 26, 1967, and was a critical failure, giving it limited exposure in the US. The music was much more successful; the LP went to No. 1, with eight million dollars in sales the first three weeks of its release. It was the last US Beatle album available in mono.
"Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" were recorded during the Sgt. Pepper sessions in late 1966.
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