Magical Mystery Tour
The first side of Magical Mystery Tour is the soundtrack for the group’s 1967 TV special, while the second side collects their 1967 singles. While the TV special is often dismissed as silly and self-indulgent, the songs are often spectacular. And although Magical Mystery Tour is effectively a compilation, and as a resulting is a little disjointed, it’s effectively the last Beatles’ album from their mid-1960’s creative peak, and features a bunch of their greatest songs.
Chief among the highlights is the double a-side single of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’, which capture Lennon and McCartney’s childhood reminiscences respectively. The former is wistful and psychedelic, while the latter showcases McCartney’s musicality with its melodic bass-line and piccolo trumpet part. Lennon’s ‘I Am The Walrus’ is also compelling, with its stream of consciousness lyrics (“semolina pilchard/climbing up the Eiffel Tower”). There’s plenty of other good material, particularly the straight up McCartney pop of ‘Hello Goodbye’ and McCartney’s ‘Fool on the Hill’, even if ‘All You Need Is Love’ feels more like an event than a song, and ‘Blue Jay Way’ and ‘Flying’ form an uninteresting patch in the middle of the first side.
Magical Mystery Tour is a little uneven and disjointed, and as an album it’s not quite in their top tier. But since it features my three favourite Beatles songs ever, and captures them still working together and at the peak of their powers, it deserves a very high rating.