The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour on 180g LP
Sourced From the Original Master Tapes
Includes 24-Page Color Book
Cut at Abbey Road Studios by a First-Rate Team of Producers and Engineers: Stringent Procedures and Safeguards Ensure Optimum Sound
“The Beatles are turning awfully funny, aren’t they?” That was the reaction of the Queen Majesty herself upon hearing—or at least knowing of the existence—of Magical Mystery Tour, a wild romp through psychedelic pop that sprung from the same period as Sgt. Pepper’s. While some mistakenly view the album as a half-complete soundtrack, the record spills over with fantastic music—“I Am the Walrus,” “Hello Goodbye,” “Penny Lane,” and the unforgettable suite “Strawberry Fields Forever” leading the charge. Put on your rose-colored glasses.
Part of Capitol/Apple’s quintessential Beatles catalog masters series on LP, Magical Mystery Tour has been remastered by a dedicated team of engineers that includes Guy Massey, Steve Rooke, Sam Okell with Paul Hicks and Sean Magee. Proper care and a painstaking series of steps were taken to ensure that music lovers would hear the Fab Four in all their stereo glory with unprecedented clarity and transparency.
Listeners get a front-row seat for the pitch-shifted vocals and backwards percussion infusing John Lennon’s landmark “Strawberry Fields Forever.” A monumental composition, the song possesses a warmth, breadth, and spaciousness on this analog pressing that will knock back even the most schooled Beatles aficionados. And of course, who doesn’t want to get caught up in the feel-good chants of “All You Need Is Love,” the accenting horns and spiraling orchestrations popping with immense color and texture. There’s reason why.
With EMI’s legendary Abbey Road Studios providing the backdrop, the four-year restoration process combined veteran expertise, state-of-the-art equipment, vintage studio gear, and rigorous testing to net what is without doubt the highest fidelity possible and authentic, jaw-dropping sound guaranteed to rival the original LPs. There is no longer any need to pay hundreds of dollars for Japanese pressings.
At the start of the restoration process, engineers conducted extensive tests before copying the analog master tapes into the digital realm using 24-bit/192 kHz resolution and a Prism A-D converter. Dust build-ups were removed from tape machine heads after the completion of each title. Artifacts such as electrical clicks, microphone vocal pops, excessive sibilance, and poor edits were improved upon as long as it was determined that doing so didn’t at all damage the integrity of the songs. Similarly, de-noising technology was applied in only a few necessary spots and on a sum total of less than five of the entire 525 minutes of Beatles music.
In cutting the digital masters to vinyl, stringent safeguards and procedures were employed. After
cutting to lacquer, determined to be warmer and consistent than cutting
to DMM, the next step was to use the Neumann VMS80 cutting lathe at
Abbey Road. Following thorough mechanical and electrical tests to ensure
it was operating in peak condition, engineer Sean Magee cut the LPs in chronological release order. He used the original 24-bit remasters rather than the 16-bit versions that were required for CD production. It was also decided to use the remasters that had not undergone ‘limiting,' a procedure to increase the sound level.
Having made initial test cuts, Magee pinpointed any sound
problems that can occur during playback of vinyl records. To rectify
them, changes were made to the remasters with a Digital Audio
Workstation. For example, each vinyl album was listened to for any
‘sibilant episodes.' vocal distortion that can occur on consonant sounds
such as S and T. These were corrected by reducing the level in the very
small portion of sound causing the undesired effect.
Similarly, any likelihood of inner-groove distortion was addressed. As
the stylus approaches the center of the record, it is liable to track
the groove less accurately. This can affect the high-middle frequencies,
producing a ‘mushy’ sound particularly noticeable on vocals. Using what
Magee has described as ‘surgical EQ,’ problem frequencies were identified and reduced in level to compensate for this.
The last phase of the vinyl mastering process began with the arrival of
the first batches of test pressings made from master lacquers that had
been sent to the two pressing plant factories. Stringent quality tests
identified any noise or click appearing on more than one test pressing
in the same place. If this happened, it was clear that the undesired
sounds had been introduced either during the cutting or the pressing
stage and so the test records were rejected. In the quest to achieve the
highest quality possible, the Abbey Road team worked closely with the
pressing factories and the manufacturers of the lacquer and cutting
For this project, there was no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen. Yes, it took a village to get it right.
The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour Track Listing:
1. Magical Mystery Tour
2. The Fool On The Hill
4. Blue Jay Way
5. Your Mother Should Know
6. I Am the Walrus
7. Hello, Goodbye
8. Strawberry Fields Forever
9. Penny Lane
10. Baby You're A Rich Man
11. All You Need Is Love