On my (stereo) copy of MMT, the horn-like sound effect so prevailent in the song is nearly inaudible, buried in the left channel, as is much of John's lead vocal. Has the (true) stereo mix of this song always been so bad? Just curious...
Yep, It's the same mix that was on the previous CD. If you have the original LP, it's in fake stereo which is just processed mono. The mono version does feature the clavioline (the horn-like instrument) more prominently. Or maybe you've heard the remix on Yellow Submarine Songtrack, which is much better. If not, you may want to check that one out, plus it has several other great remixes.
The LP and CD versions of MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, although they share the same track listing and cover, are mastered from different sources. The LP, originally released in 1967, was compiled by Capitol producer Voyle Gilmore, who personally travelled to England to get the master tapes. The CD release, issued 20 years later, was compiled by EMI's German subidiary Electrola and was originally released as an LP there in 1972.
Here's the sources used for both the LP and CD: "Magical Mystery Tour" (both LP and CD use the November 7, 1967 stereo mix) "The Fool on the Hill" (both LP and CD use the November 1, 1967 stereo mix) "Flying" (both LP and CD use the produced November 7, 1967 stereo mix) "Blue Jay Way" (both LP and CD use the November 7, 1967 stereo mix) "Your Mother Should Know" (both LP and CD use the November 6, 1967 stereo mix) "I Am the Walrus" (LP uses the November 6, 1967 stereo mix; CD uses the November 17, 1967 stereo mix) "Hello Goodbye" (both LP and CD use the November 6, 1967 stereo mix) "Strawberry Fields Forever" (LP uses the December 29, 1966 stereo mix; CD uses October 26, 1971 stereo mix) "Penny Lane" (LP uses the January 25, 1967 mono mix; CD uses the September 30, 1971 stereo mix) "Baby You're a Rich Man" (LP uses the May 11, 1967 mono mix; CD uses the October 22, 1971 stereo mix) "All You Need Is Love" (LP uses the June 26, 1967 mono mix; CD uses the October 29, 1968 stereo mix)
I had read that the German pressing was the only release that contained the true stereo mix of "I Am The Walrus". On the American and presumably the English release "I Am The Walrus" goes into "fake" stereo (essentially mono with lows on one channel and highs on the other) before the line "Sitting in an English garden...".
Thanks to the review above by Tom A. Roberts, I got out my vinyl pressings of MMT from 1967, 1983, and my Japanese stereo pressings from the 1979. Tom's accounting of the various master mixes used is correct...and very interesting when you take the time in a quiet room to compare the 1987 CD mix vs. old vinyl. The vinyl is so weak and thin sounding. But the early CD is a bit richer, however still not packing the fullness of the 09.09.09 CD remaster which is darker and stronger.
This is where I ran into an ear-opener. My Japanese vinyl pressing from the box set of all 13 albums blows the socks off of the old vinyl and new CD versions altogether! The best mixes are truly from the 1967 runs. And the 1967 mix in the form of the 1979 Japanese issue is where I hear the difference that has a phenomenal warmth and depth to the tracks. That is the result of the best pressing process in the world, coupled with the virgin vinyl used in Japan for these classics.
All you have to do is listen to how pronounced the right channel is on most of the songs of side one, and the first two songs of side two compared to the newer mixes on the CD's. Of course it is disappointing to only hear the last 3 songs in "Re-processed Stereo" and not the real split stereo mixes that exist on both of the CD versions.
Gosh, I wish I wasn't so critical of all these versions, but I have to tell you that once again Japan gets it right and EMI/Capitol....well, they got it closer, just not the best mixes. Shucks!