These are the four Beatles albums you need if you like psychedelic music. I won’t put them in order (other than alphabetical) because you really need all four of them and I don’t want you to think you can get away with leaving any of them off your list.
Magical and mysterious tour (1967)
This is probably The Beatles most deliberately trippy album. Almost every song on the album is filled with melted madness of some kind or another, be it an experimental production, unusual song arrangements, and / or unusual songwriting. “I am the walrus” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” are possibly John Lennon in his most “crazy” moment. These are the songs where he went bumpy with the “kitchen sink” production, the weird lyrics, the unexpected song arrangements. Everything is there. “Flying”, “Blue Jay Way” and the title track “Magical Mystery Tour” are songs designed to melt minds and that is precisely what they do.
What brilliant songs. And what an astonishing variety of music in such a compact album. There is more variety in this 35 minute album than in most of the band’s careers. And everything is unbelievably good. And then there’s “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which might as well be the craziest song the Beatles ever recorded.
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
This is a journey. Sure the “concept” isn’t that strict, but I think that’s why it works so well. It’s like you’re at a carnival listening to these different incarnations of the same band. Again, a wild selection of different styles of music, but unlike Revolver, each of the songs somehow also sounds connected to each other. It’s an amazing trick to make “Within You Without You” and “When I’m 64” make sense together on the same album.
This is an album that has become so legendary that sometimes I think people don’t properly appreciate how great it is. It is not overrated. It’s really that good. If you think otherwise, you may not have come out of that stage where you want to be different just for your own sake.
The white album(1968)
I talk a lot about variety in this article because that’s one of the things I love the most about The Beatles’ music and it’s one of the things that I think makes listening to their albums so mind-blowing. Well, this is the peak of that variety. There are 30 tracks here and the vast majority of them are completely different from the other 29 songs on the album. In many ways this is the best Beatles journey and I think it’s their best album (psychedelic or not).
And then there is “Revolution # 9”. It’s hard to get much more psychedelic than that. If you really listen to this track carefully on headphones, you are likely to be quite freaked out and I think that makes the song quite a successful piece of sound art.