2020 Album Draft- Round 2- Pick 10- Aphoristical Selects- The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour.
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Most people my age probably grew up taking The Beatles for granted as a band for their parents, but my parents weren’t interested. When The Beatles drove past my dad’s cricket game in Christchurch at the peak of Beatlemania, it was only vaguely interesting. The first album I bought was The Beatles’ compilation Rock n Roll Music Volume 1, but a much better Beatles acquisition was when my sister found 50c LP copies of Sgt Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour at a Church fair and gave them to me as a birthday present.
Magical Mystery Tour was originally created for the American market – in the UK, the tracks from the movie Magical Mystery Tour were released as a double EP. In the US they were combined with the band’s 1967 singles onto an album, and it’s this compilation that’s become a canonical record in The Beatles discography.
While I was initially drawn to The Beatles’ early rock and roll numbers like ‘Twist and Shout’, I later gravitated to their work later in the 1960s as they became more sophisticated. Like Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, Magical Mystery Tour is a product of the studio; producer George Martin was known as the fifth Beatle, and it continued my fascination with sounds of the studio. Martin was a noted orchestral arranger, and songs like ‘I Am The Walrus’ and ‘Fool on the Hill’ are notable for their arrangements.
Magical Mystery Tour houses my three favourite Beatles songs. Paul McCartney’s ‘Penny Lane’ and John Lennon’s ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ were both from the Sgt. Peppers sessions, released as a double a-side single and collected here.Lennon’s ‘I Am The Walrus’ was a new song for the movie. Lennon’s songs are two of the best artifacts from the psychedelic era, while ‘Penny Lane’ is sophisticated and perky. ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ are both childhood reminiscences, while ‘I Am The Walrus’ is nonsense, taking inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’.
Magical Mystery Tour is less consistent than The Beatles best-loved records, but it contains some of their very best work, which means they’re some of the best songs of the rock era.