Magical Mystery Tour Memories

The Beatles

The Beach Boys And The Satan

The Beach Boys

The Beatles and the Beach Boys are arguably two of the most documented pop bands in history. While their careers paralleled each other at various stages, their actual backgrounds and associations were worlds apart. Just when you thought you knew everything about both bands, along come insightful, fringe-dwelling DVDs with fresh perspectives. Magical Mystery Tour Memories is a loopy overview of the conception and filming of the Beatles wacky 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour. The Beach Boys & The Satan is a dark examination of the Beach Boys’ humble beginnings that, over the years, mutated into a series of strange and woeful detours, notably Brian Wilson’s acid-fueled musical experimentations of the late 60s and the group’s affiliation with the notorious Charles Manson.

Magical Mystery Tour Memories, narrated by cast member Victor Spinetti (who also appeared in A Hard Day’s Night and Help!) extensively documents the origins and subsequent gorilla-style production of Magical Mystery Tour, described as Paul McCartney’s baby and made in the aftermath of manager Brian Epstein’s untimely death in 1967. Spinetti, who played the film’s nonsensical recruiting sergeant, is joined by one-time Beatles press officer Tony Barlow, Beatles roadie Tony Bramwell, McCartney’s brother Mike McGear, journalist Miranda Ward, Spencer Davis, Neil Innes (of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) and an assortment of fans, musicians, businessmen, their daughters, curious children, star-struck parents, shopkeepers, miscellaneous bus passengers, dancers and just about anyone else who came in contact with the Beatles during the film’s disorderly, spontaneous creation. Most of the stories and anecdotes told should hold great appeal to diehard Beatle fanatics and completists. And there is some incredible footage caught by various cameras, including Mal Evan, the late Beatles roadie and insider. If you have an evening to spare, watch the movie then throw this disc on to get the skinny on the back story.

The Beach Boys And The Satan, directed by German music documentary specialist Christoph Dreher, is a bit disjointed in its presentation, despite key interviews with Brian Wilson, Don Was and Kim Fowley. At first, the Southern California surf scene of the early 60s is cast in a bright light, but as the story continues, the viewer is introduced to a series of events that blighted the California sunshine with drugs, murder and mayhem. Dennis Wilson’s 1983 death and other sidebar occurrences, doesn’t really fit well in the context of the 60s, but provides additional fodder for the dark journey ahead, which culminated in the Tate-LaBianca murders. Had the film, originally released in 1997, explored the connection between the Beach Boys and Charles Manson earlier and more thoroughly without all the filler, this might have been a serious contender in the ever-expanding rockumetary field. However misleading the title and its content prove to be, Beach Boys fanatics may still want to add this one to their pile of Smile outtakes.

Shawn Perry

 

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