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The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour CD (album) cover


The Beatles



4.17 | 782 ratings

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4 stars ROLL UP!!!

Here, the fab four takes things even further after the success of their psychedelic studio-trickery employed on Sgt Pepper. As with that album, Magical Mystery Tour is filled with horns, violins, flutes, et cetera, enhancing more wonderful compositions to result in an essential baroque pop album. Everybody seemed to hate the film but love the soundtrack; there it is.

The opening title track is a Paul extravaganza in the vein of Sgt Pepper (the song), with great chord sequences and melodies, accentuated by trumpets galore. Ringo's time changes are very cool. 'The Fool On The Hill' is the best song on the album, also Paul's, expressing sympathy for the quiet, lonely people with great ideas who just get ignored in life. It's a beautiful, sing-along tune with a quirky penny whistle solo; rather forgotten amongst all of Paul's other great ballads. Then we have 'Flying', a brief instrumental jam with a focus on the Mellotron. Not long enough to have an effect really, but a nice piece of music. Harrison's strange 'Blue Jay Way' is unlike his other compositions (no guitar on it, or even sitar), exploring tri-tones with the Hammond organ. With only one chord and minimalistic melodies, it's a little repetitive, and probably too long, but an interesting song. 'Your Mother Should Know' is quite a forgettable tune from McCartney, so you'd think it would be one of the ones they accentuate with orchestral instruments.... nope. Of course, the killer track that closes side one is John's 'I Am The Walrus'. Are the lyrics poetic or nonsense? Who cares, the music is great here, with a focus on electric piano and cello. Lennon would write fewer songs during the band's middle period, but they often stole the albums they were on, and 'Walrus' is no exception.

Three number one singles adorn the botched-together second side of Magical Mystery Tour, being the fabulously fun 'Hello Goodbye', the almost-as-good 'Penny Lane', and the hippy anthem 'All You Need Is Love', which needs no description. These pieces are deserving of their success, while 'Strawberry Fields Forever' perhaps represents the furthest these guys went with their studio antics and tape-fiddling. Also, the chords are very avant- garde. 'Baby, You're A Rich Man' is not quite up to the standards of the other songs, but well worth listening to, featuring more of the same timbres and effects.

This album is very colourful (but not in a garish way like it's awful cover), and certainly has a number of essential Beatle tracks. It's less cohesive than Pepper, and slightly more excessive with the session musicians and endless overdubs. I love it anyway though.

thehallway | 4/5 |


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