LOVE, is a fascinating reworking of numerous classic Beatles recordings by the band’s original producer, Sir George Martin and his son Giles. LOVE, is also the title of the highly successful Cirque du Soleil show, a co-production with Apple Corps, featuring the music of The Beatles, currently wowing audiences in Las Vegas. In creating the music for the show and for the album, George and Giles have created a continuous “soundscape” – a series of well-known Beatles songs augmented by additional instrumentation and vocals taken from their vast bank of original multi-track tapes. If you can imagine “Strawberry Fields Forever” beginning with John’s original demo before going into an early take of the song and then climaxing in a musical collage including the piano solo from “in My Life” and the harpsichord pattern from “Piggies” and lots, lots more – or “Get Back”, prefaced by the “Hard Day’s Night” opening guitar chord, the guitar and drum solos from “The End” and segued into “Glass Onion”, you will begin to get the picture. But hearing is believing! The guys have pushed back the boundaries and come up with a brand new work that will add to the enduring legacy of the band. The result is an amazing album that not only reinforces the timeless quality of the group’s recordings – the fans will have fun enjoying the roller coaster experience of the album whilst trying to spot where all the pieces come from. It is also destined to open up a new legion of fans to The Beatles experience.
It begins with a twittering of birdsong lifted from “Across the Universe.” And once the triple-tracked a capella harmonies of “Because” enter, followed by snatches from “A Hard Day’s Night” and “The End,” leading into a fired-up “Get Back,” it becomes obvious that this is far more than just another Beatles compilation. This is Love, conceived by the Fabs’ former producer George Martin and son Giles as a stageshow soundtrack to Cirque de Soleil’s Las Vegas spectacular of the same name, but appears to have taken on a life of its own. Whereas the Beatles’ last release, 1, delivered the (over?) familiar hits in a nice, simple package, Love is a mélange of the familiar and obscure, all literally mixed together in one 78-minute audio collage which succeeds in reminding the listener just why the Beatles truly are, as Lennon put it, “toppermost of the poppermost.” There’s no new Beatles material per se, but the songs are all approached differently–some are cut together in a flawlessly mixed medley (check out “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!/I Want You/Helter Skelter”), some reassemble different backing tracks and vocal performances to create new spins on old classics; but all the songs are revitalized considerably. Even in its weakest moments (which probably work better in the context of the show itself), Love is still a formidable prospect, and one has to admire Martin’s willingness to go out on a limb with such a project. While purists may complain that the cut ‘n’ paste nature of the project is simply tampering with perfection, at the very least it’ll make them reach for the originals and enjoy them all over again. For newcomers and everyone else, it makes a fine listen, both in its sonic clarity (the actual tracks are the best they’ve sounded on CD) and audacious nature. –Thom Allott