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“Desert Island Album” Spotlight: The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour

From 1963 to 1970, The Beatles released over a dozen albums that forever changed the art of music.  Of these, 1967’s Magical Mystery Tour is probably my favorite.

Magical Mystery TourMagical Mystery Tour followed their landmark Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.  It was originally intended to be released as a six-song double EP soundtrack to the film of the same name – and this was how it was released in the UK.  However, due to lack of popularity for the EP format in the US, Capitol Records added other singles released previously that year to beef it up to a complete, 11-song LP in the US.

Due to the popularity of the American release – where it topped the charts for eight weeks and garnered a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year – when the Beatles re-issued all albums on CD in 1987, this became the standard edition of Magical Mystery Tour.

The music here is beautifully eclectic, demonstrating all the finer points of the Beatles in their prime.  Beyond the classic smash single, “All You Need is Love”, songs like “Hello Goodbye”, “Baby You’re a Rich Man”, and “Penny Lane” are as catchy as any pop tunes the band ever released.  Meanwhile, others, like “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I am the Walrus” see the Beatles at their most avant-garde.  While “Fool on the Hill” and the instrumental “Flying” both give tremendously musical lift, they pour out into George Harrison’s dark, droning “Blue Jay Way”, which, in turn, gives way to the old-fashioned smiler, “Your Mother Should Know”.

The Beatles - Your Mother Should KnowThe production throughout the album is as layered as any work the Beatles ever recorded.  Listen closely through good headphones, and you’ll hear any assortment bright, regal horn flourishes, dramatic readings of Shakespeare, and even teases of turntabling, decades before it became a mainstream practice.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of the Beatles’ run from 1963 to 1970.  Over these few years, they underwent a complete stylistic transformation as a band and also significantly revolutionized music industry and culture.  Weighing the fruits of such revolutionary and prolific artists, it’s probably futile to try pinpointing a single “best” or “most important” achievement, but of all The Beatles’ albums, Magical Mystery Tour is one that always manages to re-absorb me and make me say, “Wow!”

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Here’s an interesting clip of Dick Clark asking youths of the day about their impressions of the Beatles during this Magical Mystery Tour era.  Some of those poor kids just had no idea, ha!

So, do you have a favorite Beatles’ album or memory?  If so, share it below!

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This entry was posted on February 11, 2014 by in Music Notes, The Monday Jump and tagged , , , , , , .
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