2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
greatest album that never was,
This review is from: Magical Mystery Tour (Audio CD)
This was originally released as an EP, comprising only the first six tracks of this album version. A pity, because, had it been released as it is now, it would surely be rated alongside 'Rubber Soul', 'Revolver' and 'Sgt.Pepper' as one the Beatles' great albums. It captures the Beatles at a time when they had become bored of being the best pop group ever and the best rock group ever, and wanted to be the best psychedlic group ever too.
The title track, 'Hello Goodbye', McCartney's 'The Fool on the Hill' and Harrison's 'Blue Jay Way' are all typically excellent compositions, but even if they weren't, this album would still be an essential purchase for two reasons: 'Penny Lane' and 'Strawberry Fields Forever'. The two songs were released as a double A side in 1967, which is widely regarded as the greatest single ever.
McCartney's 'Penny Lane' is one of the all-time classic pop songs, a euphoric day-dream which returns the artist to his childhood locality in Liverpool.
It is Lennon's 'Strawberry Fields Forever', though, that represents the pinnacle of the album and of the pop music in general. Although my review of 'Revolver' elsewhere on this site says that 'Eleanor Rigby' is my favourite Beatles song, I have since realised my misjudgement - 'Strawberry Fields Forever' is, unquestionably, the greatest song ever written and performed.
Like 'Penny Lane', it is a nostalgic reference to a place of childhood significance for the artist but, unlike 'Penny Lane', it is introspective and almost sorrowful. Lennon wanted to express his view that he was alone in his outlook on life and that nobody understood him but, in order to avoid sounding pretentious or soppy, he distorted the lyrics into formless psychedlic-speak to produce lines like 'no one I think is in my tree/I mean it must be high or low' (which roughly translates as 'nobody understands me/they are either too serious or frivolous').
Lennon and George Martin painstakingly developed the track from a basic acoustic tune to one of the richest and most forward-looking songs ever released by a major artist. Interesting features include the double fade-out, the famous 'cranberry sauce/I buried Paul' background voice, and the fact that the song actually consists of two versions of the song linked together. The first, slower version occupies the opening sixty seconds of the track and then gives way to the second, quicker version which continues for the duration. But gimmicks aside, 'Strawberry Fields Forever' is a masterpiece - one of pop's enduring moments.