Aug 182007

A Wizard, A True Star

On Day 2 of Rock Town Hall’s groundbreaking series on a reappreciation of The Beatles’ long-dismissed Magical Mystery Tour album on the strength of the 1971 German true stereo release we ask you to open your minds and hearts to the pleasures of one of the most-despised Beatles songs, Paul McCartney’s cloying “The Fool on the Hill”.

The Beatles, “The Fool on the Hill” (German true stereo mix)

The space that the true stereo version grants to the arrangement of this song helps greatly. I’ve always thought of this album as the most psychedelic of Beatles albums (and please don’t Pince Nez me on the album’s history as a collected ep and singles), and the true stereo mix increases the “head” appeal, let’s the mood of each song better seep into one’s consciousness, man. Previously unaccessible nooks and crannies of “The Fool on the Hill” – the slightly out of tune mellotron parts, the woodwinds and whatnot, the gentle rhythm guitar and piano – open up. Suddenly, it’s like one of those weird, wonderful songs from Roy Wood’s Boulders that only I and another half dozen people on the planet seem to get. McCartney actually delivers a heartfelt vocal, although I can do without the second “Ohhhhh…round and round…” part on the fadeout. Even in true stereo the song has worn out its welcome by this point.

The true stereo mix does not help the lyrics. It’s too bad he couldn’t have written some gibberish; this would have topped most of the filler songs on Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Speaking of McCartney lyrics, I’m reminded of a morning last week, when I played my wife the recent McCartney album for the first time, and four songs in she said, “OK, enough of this! When’s he going to try to write lyrics that have something to do with an adult man’s life?” Then she quoted a particularly bad lyric that just pushed her past her limits. “Can’t he take lessons from Nick Lowe?” God, I love my wife – in true stereo, fake stereo, mono, you name it.


  3 Responses to ““The Fool on the Hill”…In True Stereo”

  1. BigSteve

    Mr Mod wrote:

    Previously unaccessible nooks and crannies of “The Fool on the Hill” – the slightly out of tune mellotron parts, the woodwinds and whatnot…

    From what I’m reading on the intrnets, there’s no mellotron on Fool on the Hill. The flutey chords that are used as accompaniment are three breathing flautists. Then the ‘flute’ solo is a recorder played by Paul. The reedy sound in a harmonica played by George.

    What I can’t figure out what makes the weird fluttery sound at around 2:40.

  2. Mr. Moderator

    Ciao, regazzi è reggazze!

    I know this track is going to be difficult to confront, so you will have an extra day to contemplate it before track 3 of this album hits. Please confront it.

    BigSteve, thanks for pointing out that what I thought was a mellotron (due to the wobbly tones among the multiple flutes) were in fact real woodwinds. I have been rightly Pince Nezed.

    Thanks as well to RTH Labs and Sally C. Nice timing, Sally!

    Be well, and keep this joint rocking. I will check in later.

  3. alexmagic

    Of all the alternate versions of their songs I’ve heard, the ones with pieces I’ve since wished ended up in the released versions are the “somehow someway”/“I need your love” parts on the Anthology “Got To Get You Into My Life” and the piano intros from the early versions of “Fool On the Hill” that were eventually dropped. I think it would have helped the chorus balance out against the “ohhhh…round and round” part a little more, setting the table the darker tone that wants to be in the song but loses the fight to the recorder. Anyway, harmonica as impromptu jug band, that has to earn some points.

    Is this least used Paul Voice from his bag o’voices? I kind of think this is the singing voice closest to his actual speaking voice at the time, maybe filtered through a cold. Probably missing something, but I can think of “Mother Nature’s Son,” the “Joe Prairies and the Prairie Wallflowers!” bit between “Step Inside Love” and “Los Paranoias” on Anthology 3 and on “Venus and Mars,” maybe.

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