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The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour CD (album) cover


The Beatles



4.14 | 711 ratings

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3 stars A rare example of the US version of a Beatles record being embraced over the UK version this time - but that's because the UK version was an EP which didn't include the last five songs!

Side 1 (the original EP) is a soundtrack to the film of the same name. The film was something of a self-indulgent disasterpiece, and the music more than anything seemed to presage the differing interests which would lead to the incoherent mess of the White Album and ultimately the solo careers of the Beatles in question. The title track starts as an exuberant announcement of the mystery tour, almost slips into trippier territory, and then regains control of itself to proclaim the tour once more, extending the grating music hall affectations of Sgt. Pepper. The group gets into full psychedelia on the collective composition Flying or on Harrison's trippy Blue Jay Way - and of course I Am the Walrus, which always comes off to me as though it's trying too hard.

Meanwhile two more traditional compositions round out the selection - the old timey and rather corny Your Mother Should Know and the beautiful but syrupy Fool On the Hill. This is all grand, but I can see why they were used for a soundtrack rather than being put on a regular album. I Am The Walrus is just kind of overblown, and not in a good way, Blue Jay Way and Flying lack focus, and Your Mother Should Know is just kind of tacky. They're all good songs, mind, but I don't think they are top-tier Beatles songs - I wouldn't swap out any of the songs on Sgt. Pepper for them, though I might consider swapping out Fixing a Hole or the title track for that album for the sake of Magical Mystery Tour or (especially) Fool On the Hill.

Side 2 is where we find the Beatles' five classic non-album singles from 1967, more fruit of the burst of creativity that spawned Sgt. Pepper, and of the two album sides it is by far the stronger, though the material here has become so overplayed that in retrospect it feels a bit trite and hollow.

The album as a whole makes something of a nice companion piece to Sgt. Pepper, since it represents most of the Beatles' 1967 releases that didn't appear on that album. And there isn't a song from Ringo either! Nonetheless, I can't say it ranks as an essential Beatles release.

Warthur | 3/5 |


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