The Hollyridge Strings

Beatles Songbook, Vol. 5

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Having successfully essayed some Beatles psychedelia on their Beatles Songbook, Vol. 4, the Hollyridge Strings took the plunge head-first into the trippiest side of the group's catalog with their follow-up. Not only is most of The Magical Mystery Tour soundtrack represented, but so are major chunks of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, including "A Day in the Life" (easily the best cut on this album). The effect is either maddening or delightfully goofy in its trippy way -- at its best, the album recalls the Jan & Dean Pop Symphony No. 1 album; at its worst, as on the pizzicato-laden "Your Mother Should Know", this is the kind of music that middle-brow, middle-class consumers shopped to in 1968 and beyond, and at better moments, there's some ambition shown in the reed playing on "Baby You're a Rich Man". And the good moments just about carry this album to respectability -- either Sundazed, Collectables, or even Collectors' Choice might give this one a listen for possible reissue, along with its predecessor. Alas, this would be the last Beatles-related venture of this type by the Hollyridge Strings until the dawn of the group's solo years.