Stand Out Albums has been a showcase for my favorite albums across the vast performers that I love. Covering a little bit of everything from classic rock to country hits, much like Key Movies of My Life, it has been the albums that shaped me. This year, I am taking a slightly different approach by discussing the discographies of my favorite musicians, album by album, in release order.
The Beatles were my first love in music. Years before The Posies, before Nirvana, I had the fab four. When I was six years old my father opened his record collection to me to listen to on my small Fisher Price Phonograph turntable. Immediately I was enthralled by the songs of the four lads from Liverpool. For hours on end I would play and replay every record he had listening to each track, learning every word. My favorite at that time was I Want To Hold Your Hand, it’s simple melody and upbeat lyrics were literal music to my ears and I wanted to listen to everything this band had ever recorded.
Years later, while visiting a pawn shop, my dad stumbled across an 8 track tape that depicted the Beatles in crazy animal suits. Asking what it was, he explained that this was one of his favorites and, on a whim, he bought the cassette and brought it home. That evening I was introduced to what would be one of my all time favorite albums in my life, Magical Mystery Tour.
Why This Album?
I know I wasn’t quite in my teens when I first heard this album. In an instant I found it to be one of the most facinating and layered albums I had ever heard in my life. While I had gotten to know the earlier Beatles quite well by that point, much of their later work was still a mystery to me. I often wonder if that was not by design, if my parents were drip feeding me the music of the fab four over the years allowing the evolution to progress as I aged, but I imagine I give them too much credit. The reality of it is that we really didn’t have much in the way of money and we dealt with what we had at the time, which was mostly pre-Rubber Soul era tunes with a touch of The White Album for good measure. (Obla-di Obla-Da brother!).
It was not until The Magical Mystery Tour that I finally realized the scope of who and what the Beatles were. They were not simply a band who sang pop love songs in the 60’s, they were one of the pioneers in sound that led to much of what I loved to this very day. Every track on this album was like magic for me, taking me to visit fools on hills, discovering the juxtaposition of hello/goodbye and visiting Penny Lane by way of Strawberry Fields.
This is where I discovered I was a John Lennon fan, found an appreciation for the psychedelic themes of George Harrison and fell in love with the innocent simplicity of Pauls songs. (and Ringo too) This is was a turning point for me and moment that started me on the path to find my own music, something I would find in the early 90’s with a little help from my friends.
Geez, what to choose. Every song on this album is a masterpiece in and of itself. There literally is not a bad track on the entire 36 minutes that is Magical Mystery Tour. But if I had to choose…
Strawberry Fields Forever. I can not tell you how often I listened to this single track. It was a mantra, a trip and a personal journey for me. Lennon’s voice danced in my head inviting me to take a trip with him to a place where nothing is real and there was nothing to get hung about.
Your Mother Should Know. I dont know why but this is one that I found entrancing. I found the old-timey tune coupled with the slight teasing of Paul asking everyone to listen to an old song that was popular before your parents were born to be such a clever thing. To this day, this is one of my favorites.
Penny Lane: This song just conjured so many images in my head about a town that only existed in the song. I got to know every person on Penny Lane personally from the Banker to the Fireman with the Hourglass. To this day, I remember it like I was there.
Ok, Where do I get it?
This is one that has been released and re-released a dozen times over each time with a slight tweak to the master giving it a cleaner and more vibrant sound every time. You can get a great copy here for around $20 or just go to Spotify and dive in. If you dig it, I also recommend tracking down a copy of the TV special that this album came from. It’s crazy, wonderful and fun as hell. Trust me, it’s a blast.
Late to the Game 3/2/2021 (originally published 11/26/2019)
Thanks for reading, If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also check out some retro tv goodness with the ongoing series Retro TV Reviews here. You can also find a few of my other Music Reviews Here.
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