Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Am I a big fan of the Beatles? You betcha! Am I a fan of so-called “mash-ups”? Not so much. Those two things together let me to believe that I might not like Love…Beatle classics re-worked, remixed, and re-imagined by producer George Martin (arguably the best candidate for the title of the “fifth Beatle”) and his son Giles Martin for the Vegas Cirque de Soleil Beatles show of the same name…but I was wrong.

Once the gorgeous a cappella vocals (aided and abetted with the singing birds from “Across the Universe”) of “Because” led into snippets of “A Hard’s Day Night” and “The End” just before the always-rocking “Get Back”, I knew that this disc…which took over two years to complete…was indeed a labor of love and not the abomination that it could have become in lesser hands.

The sound on this disc is utterly glorious (“Revolution” and “Back in the USSR”, for example, both explode out of the speakers with fierce fire and bite.) The only new music here comes from strings (beautifully arranged but a tad ovewhelming) added to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”…everything else is taken from the original recordings (which George Martin, as the original producer, knew quite intimately, of course.)

The vocals and backing tracks are sometimes chopped up and put back together in intriguing, entertaining ways (the rhythm track of “Drive My Car”, for example, becomes the seamless foundation for a rocking medley featuring that song along with “The Word” and “What You’re Doing”…while “Sun King” is run backwards for the oddly compelling “Gnik Nus”.)

The medley of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy”), and “Helter Skelter” is dense and psychedelic while the guitar from “Blackbird” flows sweetly into and through “Yesterday”.

Not everything works. There’s a hodge-podge of snippets in “Strawberry Fields Forever” (including the trumpet from “Penny Lane”) and it is, admittedly, a bit of a misfire. Sometimes I got the feeling that some of the tracks would make more sense if I had seen the Vegas show (this is basically a soundtrack album after all) but those feeling were fleeting (probably because the music is so familiar and cherished already.)

Some purists are already crying “heresy!” (some of the comments about this disc on Amazon, for example, are downright vitriolic and totally unforgiving) and that’s their right, of course, but I think it’s a bit of an overreaction. Love is an interesting, and often successful, experiment…it doesn’t supplant or blaspheme the original classics (which are still out there to be enjoyed in all of their undeniable original glory)…it’s just a bit of heartfelt fun that is at once wonderfully familiar and, at the same time, a fine new experience with the Fab Four.

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