Magical Mystery Tour
Story Behind the Album
    Magical Mystery Tour was perceived as a decline from the huge successes the Beatles obtained in the past, and this may be in part due to the enormous acclaim Sgt. Pepper received.  It is almost true that no matter what the Beatles did after Sgt. Pepper, they may have been criticized for it, however, Magical Mystery Tour for some listeners, was the worst the Beatles have ever done. 
The album is actually a soundtrack to the Beatles third movie, although this one was an hour show.  The album may have received bad credit because of the harsh feeling towards the movie. This movie was the first to be both written and directed by the Beatles, namely Paul, and it shows their inexperience.   The movie revolves around a trip taken in a bus that the passengers have no idea where it is going and the Beatles sing songs in the places they go, and there are some strange things in this movie, to say the least. 
During this time the Beatles were under enormous pressure and going through great changes rapidly.  Probably the most influential change is the loss of their manager Brian Epstein, who died of a drug overdose.  This was a tremendous loss as he was the man who would be the messenger to the boards controlling the Beatles as well as was a sort of glue for the Beatles to hold around.  Another change was the Beatles attraction to a new way to get "high", transcendental meditation, with Maharashi Mahesh Yogi.  All of the Beatles were turned on to Indian culture, with  George leading them, and eventually they all travelled to India to meditate with the Maharashi.  While searching for new ways to get high, on this album they still used the old ways of acid and pot, which still influenced their music.
While the movie was a downright failure, the album actually sold fairly well, and the material really is interesting and good sounding.  On this album there are new instruments used, but the innovation is no where near that of the previous records.  Paul appears to become the leader as he has the most musical input, as well as wrote the story for the movie.  This is most likely due to the fact that John was in the midst of a crisis.  He had met the woman of his dreams, yet was married with one child.  During this time he decided to file for divorce against Cynthia and move in with his new woman, Yoko Ono, who was to play a huge role later on.  Although John does not play a great role on the album, his songs, appear to be the better ones to me, but Paul's did sell better. 
On this album there are a few McCartney classics like "The Fool On the Hill", "Hello Goodbye", and "Penny Lane" which was a single to Sgt. Pepper.  An indicator that Paul is taking over is the fact that he wrote the title song to the movie, different from the movies in the past when John wrote the title track.  However, the titles song was criticized as being a copy of the title track of Sgt. Pepper.  "The Fool On the Hill" would become one of Paul's classic songs and tells the story of a shunned man and relays a moral lesson.  Paul uses very simple sounding musics that is very melodic.  For "Penny Lane" Paul utilizes some surrealism in his lyrics as well as a very interesting trumpet solo.  The song conflicts with its companion "Strawberry Fields Forever" as both are about the childhood of each Beatle, and "Penny Lane" sounds much more cheery than "Strawberry Fields".  For "Hello Goodbye", released as a single like the others, Paul sings mediocre lyrics of opposing words, with a very upbeat rhythm and a upbeat finale.  Perhaps and underrated McCartney song is "Your Mother Should Know".  This song closes the movie, and was going to be used instead of "All You Need Is Love" in the "Our World" program.  The song is very old fashioned sounding and it attacks the issue of having pressure on mothers.  A very nice, underrated Paul song.
John contributes some of his best known songs as well like "I am the Walrus", "Strawberry Fields Forever", and "All You Need is Love".  All of which were singles in the past, which reinforces the lack of material by the Beatles (Paul's songs as well were released as singles prior to being on this album).  "I Am The Walrus" is a song that not surprisingly comes out of Lennon during this period.  I is a nonsense song, and uses very strange ideas such as the repetitive chorus as the end as well as the radio program of "King Lear" at the end of the song.  John wrote the song as a mockery to those reading into the Beatles lyrics, a habit of fans that was to foster later. "Strawberry Fields", released with "Penny Lane" as a double A side, was ironcally, the first single not to reach number one, yet it is regarded as their best single. The song shows about the disillusions John felt with life as he tells of a place in his childhood.  There are many profound statements made in the song, along with a very strange lead in, and a very strange closing, with John saying something that sounded like "I Buried Paul".
For the last of John's contributions the Beatles choose "All You Need Is Love", from the "Our World" broadcast in which they performed for millions of people around  the world.  This song is one of John's most well known ones and it is full of paradoxes and the ultimate message of only needing love.  John and Paul collarborate as they did on "A Day In the Life", with "Baby You're A Rich Man", but did not achieve the desired status they wanted.  I personally really like this song, particulary the way it changes into the chorus.
George contributes a song as well, in addition to the song "Flying" credited to all the Beatles (it does not have any lyrics).  George's song "Blue Jay Way" was criticised as being too long and repititive, but it has a very nice,  mellow feel to it that is  quite enjoyable.
Magical Mystery Tour the album received much backlash although it was a good album.  The songs are very varied in style and make for good listening. A noticable fault is that many of the songs were previously released as singles, showing a decline in the output of songs.  For more information on the movie, go to the "Movies" link on the homepage.
Track Listing
1. Magical Mystery Tour
2. The Fool On the Hill
3. Flying [Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey]
4. Blue Jay Way [Harrison]
5. Your Mother Should Know
6. I Am the Walrus
7. Hello Goodbye
8. Strawberry Fields Forever
9. Penny Lane
10. Baby You're A Rich Man
11. All You Need Is Love
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