The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour album is often somewhat forgotten compared to Sgt Pepper, Revolver, Rubber Soul, The White Album, Abbey Road, Let It Be, A Hard Day’s Night, & Help! but in some ways it’s among their greatest albums. Although it may be hard to argue it’s their best album, it is reasonable to argue that it is their most psychedelic album and if you are great fan of psychedelic music like I am, that means a lot. Part of the reason the album is somewhat ignored is that it wasn’t really originally intended as an album but instead as an EP.
The album version released in the United States originally included songs that had long before been released as singles such as Strawberry Fields Forever & Penny Lane. But those songs are not included on any other studio album so it does make sense to let them have a home on Magical Mystery Tour. And certainly Strawberry Fields Forever & Penny Lane are among The Beatles greatest songs. What I really like about the album is that every song is at least a little bit weird. I like weird music and The Beatles made some great weird music during this part of their career.
A good example is The Fool on the Hill. What kind of song is that anyway It’s a ballad I suppose but it’s not the usual I love you ballad, it’s about, well, a fool on a hill. And the instrumentation and flores cycling tour arrangement is quite strange indeed. Perhaps it’s actually the instrumental rd track Flying that most gives the album it’s special psychedelic flavor. This is clearly a song meant to be listened to by those in another place. It’s just bizarre really, and I love the ending.
It goes perfectly into George Harrison’s weirdest song, Blue Jay Way. Blue Jay Way was The Beatles at their most experimental in the studio. They seemed to throw almost every studio trick they had at their disposal into this song. Some would say that makes it a bit over the top with effects, and there may be some point to that. But it works for me. In fact it’s the production that really does it for me, it’s not a great song but the insanity of it makes it interesting for me.