Magical Mystery Tour is often not considered one of The Beatles’ proper albums because, in the UK, it was released as a six-song EP. However, in the U.S. they tacked on the A-sides and B-sides of three non-album singles. (You get a total of 11 tracks, then, because “I Am The Walrus” was the B-side of “Hello, Goodbye” and a part of the soundtrack.) But, hey, we fought the Revolution for two reasons, right? To have as many and as many kinds of guns as we want and to be able to redefine the discographies of British musicians. So in my book this is The Beatles’ ninth album.
It plays like a really good album, too. Consider that up until now, there have only been two albums by the band that haven’t had a single broken heart: Please Please Me and A Hard Day’s Night. Here they pull it off again. With a fantastic six songs to make up the soundtrack, they fulfill their normal quota of great songs, and then add the vetted strength of five more tracks released individually. If you were putting these 11 tracks together intended as one LP, you wouldn’t order them such that there was so much strength on the back end, but the result is pretty sweet: 36.5 minutes of highly enjoyable music. In my opinion, it’s their best record to this point in their career.
So there are a ton of hits on here that you know and love. And a few that you’ve never heard of. “Flying” is an instrumental sounds-like-an-interlude. It obviously wasn’t meant to stand on its own, but it’s a beautiful little piece at a moderately slow pace most prominently featuring a mellotron and some “la la la la la”s. Then there’s “Blue Jay Way,” an experimental, trippy John piece that expertly weaves in and out of a few different themes, all of them fantastic. Would have been a full heart but for the too-long, repetitive end to the song. Finally, “Your Mother Should Know,” a bit of a throwback piece for Paul as the lyrics, composition, and instrumentation all meld contemporary pop with a stripped-down big band feel from a few decades prior.
If I have any complaint, it’s that the sound is a bit weak in places. But it was 45 years ago, so even though putting these up against loudness war combatants probably won’t happen on a mix, I can’t punish this record.
The Beatles didn’t want to package these songs this way in the U.S., but, even though the six tracks of the soundtrack alone would have done very well, I think we have to chalk this up as a win for the record company. A great collection of songs showing the band at the height of their powers.
– “Magical Mystery Tour,” “The Fool On The Hill,” “Hello, Goodbye,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Baby, You’re A Rich Man”
– “Flying,” “Blue Jay Way,” “Your Mother Should Know,” “I Am The Walrus,” “Penny Lane,” “All You Need Is Love”
Filed Between: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles
Song Notes: After the jump
- Magical Mystery Tour – Kinda sounds bad, but I had it as mix on the review of 1967-1970 and I don’t want to get into second-guessing myself. Maybe that version was remastered, but my review of that album says there’s a bunch of bad sound on it. Again, not going to second-guess myself here.
- The Fool On The Hill – Had as mix on 1967-1970.
- Flying – instrumental.
- Blue Jay Way – Not at all familiar with this. Or previous one. Sounds pretty cool. Experimental. Wow, why is this not one of their classics? I love it. Well, I guess for the last minute or so it kind of just trails off into background music. Still, very cool.
- Your Mother Should Know – Paul.
- I Am The Walrus – Had as keep on 1967-1970. Really? Not mix? Do you think “Sitting on a cornflake” was an inspiration for Tori Amos’ “Cornflake Girl”?
- Hello Goodbye – Had as keep on 1967-1970. Again, not mix? I will second-guess myself here, promoting this to a full heart. Maybe I just like it a lot more now that I have kids since it’s so much fun to sing for really young kids.
- Strawberry Fields Forever – Had as mix on 1967-1970.
- Penny Lane – Had as keep on 1967-1970. Trumpet part is so good.
- Baby, You’re A Rich Man – Is that a theremin? Wikipedia says it’s a clavioline.
- All You Need Is Love – Had as keep on 1967-1970.