by Casey Rea
A very depressing day, weather-wise. And there are other reasons to feel a little down: family illness, wedding-planning stresses, and mean-spirited motherfuckers tryin' to bust on me an' mine.
But wait — what's this? Another batch of Beatles songs re-packaged for the holidays? The cynic in me wants to scream, "Enough!"
Somehow this release is different. You've likely already heard about Cirque Soleil's Beatles-themed Vegas show. Well, Love is the soundtrack to that. Flying Frenchfolk aside, what's really interesting is the music. The venerable George Martin — whose production genius helped introduce collage and musique concreté to the pop word — has created a mash-up record using Beatles recordings as the source material. Working alongside his engineer son Giles, they set about creating what will likely be the last original document to bear the Beatles imprint.
Love could've easily been a disaster, but it's not. Purists might have a problem with the idea of screwing with history, but let's face it — the Beatles practically invented mash-ups anyway.
It's all put together with the kind of grace and subtlety one would expect from the man who had to translate John Lennon's acid-scrambled requests into some kind of sonic conformity.
I expected an over-the-top mélange of modern production gimmicks and simplistic through lines. My assumptions were, thankfully, incorrect. Many of the songs are left more or less intact, with accents and punctuations borrowed from other compositions. In some cases, Martin used sections of music not featured on any album — demo recordings, outtakes etc. So it sounds pretty new, either way.
Modular arrangement is definitely a lot easier these days. Back in the '60s, Martin had to speed up tape cycles to match pitch, and used a razor to make edits. Now its done in near-real time with software plug-ins.
Example: The end of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" suddenly descends into the closing riff of "I Want You (She's so Heavy)." Every so often, slivers of "Helter Skelter" drift into the mix. It's truly spooky.
Hear for yourself, but please don't turn those mean Beatles lawyers on me!