The Beatles, Love (Apple, 2006)

George Harrison and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté were close friends, stemming from their mutual interest in motor racing. At some point they discussed the possibility of putting on a Cirque du Soleil production choreographed to the music of The Beatles, beginning the process that eventually led to the premiere of the show Love in June 2006 at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Dominic Champagne was brought in to direct the show, and naturally, Beatles' producer George Martin was asked to oversee the music. Told to assemble an hour and a half of sounds from whatever Beatles recordings he felt were appropriate, and encouraged to be as experimental as he could, Martin recruited his son Giles to help him dive through the most legendary, important, and valuable master recordings on the planet and create the right combination of songs -- or the right combination of combinations of songs -- to fit the stage show. As Giles Martin describes in the liner notes to the soundtrack CD of Love, it felt at times like he was "painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa."

Love consists of 26 tracks, all altered in some way from the original recordings. Some songs are simply remixed, some have either the vocal or the instrumental tracks isolated, and some are sped up or slowed down to tie in with other recordings. The only new recording is an orchestral arrangement scored by George Martin to accompany the acoustic demo version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" that was first released on The Beatles Anthology Vol. 3. A few of the alterations are particularly inspired, most notably the combination of George's vocal on "Within You Without You" with Ringo's drum track on "Tomorrow Never Knows," and the guitar track on "Blackbird" slowed down to lead perfectly into "Yesterday." Unfortunately, no video footage of the actual show is included, making it difficult to place the songs in any sort of context.

Is Love an essential addition to the Beatles' canon? No, not really. Like the Anthology sets, it provides some insights into how The Beatles worked in the studio. The different takes on the originally released material will generate considerable interest among the band's fans, especially the many completists who have to have everything, and should meet with the general approval of most of them. But like the Anthology sets, the novelty and curiosity will wear off after a few listens. Love has some fun moments, but I'm still going to go back to the original albums when I need a Beatles fix.

Overall grade: B

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1 comment:

Digital Doc said...

As a completist, in my view, the Beatles works have been complete for some time now. Maybe they should just "Let It Be."