UK, 1967, psychedelic pop / pop rock
The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour: Before the Beatles, critical analysis of music was mainly confined to the genres of jazz and modern classical, but with the evolution of pop music in the late 60s, critics started taking a serious look at what “the kids” were listening to. Critics especially loved to dig into Lennon’s lyrics, looking for deep meaning, looking for clues to his childhood, looking for his personal philosophy. Beatles’ lyrics were even being analyzed in schools, a fact that surprised and disgusted Lennon. So in typical Lennon fashion, he wrote a nonsense song, hoping that the “idiot” public would attempt to analyze it and fail.
Enter “I Am the Walrus”, a psychedelic classic if there ever was one. This hodgepodge of surreal images and literary references was Lennon’s deliberate attempt to confuse pop music analysts. He wrote it while under the influence of LSD, and he wanted critics to interpret his gibberish and wisdom. Martin’s influence is at work here, too, what with the classical accompaniment of eight violins, four cellos, three horns, and a clarinet. The critics took the bait: everyone tried to analyze it, sparking debate about the inherent meaninglessness of words as it was heralded as a trailblazing, psychedelic masterpiece.
This album, the soundtrack to a bad movie, was the first dip in the Beatles’ career. See, Brian Epstein had just died, and McCartney took control of the band without anyone asking him to do so. The movie is basically a rip-off of what Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters did, when the hippie acid-gurus from California went on their “bus to nowhere” adventures. What happened, however, was a movie without a script or a coherent vision. They couldn’t agree on where to film, and there was no proper casting for the actors.
The original UK release was just an EP with six tracks, but the US release added five more tracks from uncollected singles.