Originally Posted by Bob McLaughlin
Are there any full reviews of this online? The link the the WSJ article was for subcribers only.
Try this link. And below that is the text of the WSJ review.http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/beatles/love
Beatles Music, Reimagined With 'LOVE'
By JIM FUSILLI
November 29, 2006; Page D10
What began as a soundtrack to an evening of acrobatics, theatrics and dance is now the album "LOVE" (Apple), which features almost 80 minutes of the Beatles' music reimagined by Giles Martin and his father, George Martin, the group's producer, for the Cirque du Soleil show of the same name now playing at the Mirage in Las Vegas. The package includes two discs -- one a standard CD, the other a DVD audio version with a bit more Beatles music.
With the support and approval of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison, Giles Martin took apart some of the group's recordings, then put them back together again in different ways. For example, one new track uses snippets from 13 songs as it builds from the string crescendo of "A Day in the Life" -- played backward -- to the opening chord of "A Hard Day's Night" to Mr. Starr's drum burst toward the end of the "Abbey Road" album to a full version of "Get Back," with pieces from "The End," "Hello, Goodbye," "Strawberry Fields Forever" and other Beatles classics leading into the next reimagined performance. Like the entire disc, the results are fresh, seamless and musically cohesive, and "LOVE" reminds us that however iconic their music may be, the Beatles were, as the 37-year-old Mr. Martin says, "a really good band recorded by a really good producer."
The Beatles' tapes, including those that feature the band members singing and playing the songs together before effects were added, provided what Mr. Martin needed to create the new tracks. "They don't sound sepia in any way at all," he says. The Beatles "did it without a lot of smoke and mirrors. It's just them digging in and playing." With the exception of a lovely new string chart written by George Martin to enrich George Harrison's solo reading of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," every bit of music on "LOVE" was performed in the 1960s by the Beatles and the musicians they employed.
Which is good news. One measure of how good "LOVE" turned out to be is to consider how bad it could've been had the principals not resisted the temptation to use technological wizardry to eliminate minor flubs in the Beatles' recordings or bring in musicians to record new parts. Though the fidelity is remarkable, it isn't sterile in the way modern digital recordings can be in their quest for sonic perfection. For example, the version of "Get Back" that Mr. Martin used drifts out of tempo, and the three-part harmony on "Because" wavers, but "LOVE" doesn't correct those imperfections. We know, if subconsciously, that the music is the result of human endeavor.
Giles Martin, who has produced works by Jeff Beck, Kate Bush, Elvis Costello and others, admits to experimenting with correcting tempo, "but it just sounded wrong. Didn't sound like the Beatles. We're talking about musicianship here, not something you do with a mouse. Musicians have their own heartbeat. Ringo is Ringo and you're going to get the same feel when he plays. On 'Lady Madonna,' the rhythm is Paul on the piano. You can't change that."
The sprightly pop of "Lady Madonna" provides an example of how Mr. Martin worked -- and the behind-the-scenes stories he inadvertently uncovered. The original track is relatively sparse -- built on Mr. McCartney's driving left hand, the rhythm is colored by Mr. Starr's subtle brush play -- so Mr. Martin grafted "Hey Bulldog," a much heftier, full-band performance, to the song's center to give it the blast the Cirque show required. Later, Mr. McCartney told him John Lennon had written "Hey Bulldog" as a musical rebuttal to his "Lady Madonna." For another new version of an old song, Mr. Martin isolated Mr. Starr's vocal at the beginning of "Octopus's Garden," clearing away the backing instrumental track. Mr. Starr confessed to the producer that he felt alienated from the other members of the group when he wrote it. Hearing his voice alone brought back the memory.
The guiding presence of his father gave Mr. Martin the confidence to be bold, telling him when things were or weren't quite right. When he tried to tag the fade of "The Word" with an excerpt from "The End," the younger Mr. Martin says, "it kind of worked, but my Dad said, 'No, it doesn't. Not really.' So we took it out."
Dominic Champagne, director of the Cirque production, asked for a version of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" that was darker than the calliope-like original, and Giles Martin borrowed ominous sounds from "Blue Jay Way," "Helter Skelter" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" to make it so. He says, "Now it was this monstrous thing, and my Dad was there going, 'John would've loved this, the whole idea of it.'"
Apparently, Ms. Lennon agreed. She contributed a recording of her husband singing "Strawberry Fields Forever" accompanied by only his acoustic guitar. Mr. Martin matched that with progressively more complex takes from the Beatles' recording sessions to form a haunting new version that grows more psychedelic as it flows into a wall-rattling medley of "Within You Without You" and "Tomorrow Never Knows."
What emerges on "LOVE" is the breadth and complexity of the Beatles' music. "They recorded quite a different variety of sounds, all these different textures," Mr. Martin says. Subtle deconstruction and rebuilding reveals their flights of imagination. According to Mr. Martin, "There's nothing you can do to their music to make it more avant garde."
But the Beatles' music is so familiar that it's easy to overlook it as more than a soundtrack to memory, a reminder of years past. "LOVE" encourages the listener to listen actively to the Beatles, to hear their music as fresh and innovative. Mr. Martin notes that when Mr. McCartney and Mr. Starr dropped by, they were less interested while he worked on an old section that would remain intact than when he played something he'd just cobbled together. "They wanted new things," he says.
"This isn't an anthology or a retrospective. Nor are we trying to say this is better than the original," Mr. Martin says. "The idea was to get as much of the Beatles into it as one can."
The album, he adds, "is a new, interesting way to listen to them."