CD Review of Love by The Beatles

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Released: 2006
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We’re willing to wager that when it was announced that Cirque du Soleil would be staging a new show around the music of the Beatles, churches of all denominations saw a sharp increase in attendance. Then word leaked that the score would be supervised by Sir George Martin and his son Giles, and the music community breathed a small sigh of relief. So it’s not the Apocalypse; it’s merely the Hundred Years War.

Unless, of course, you’re anything like me, in which case this release is the kind of thing that had previously knocked around in your wildest dreams.

In truth, Love, the monster mash-up that plays at the Mirage hotel on the Vegas strip, has some deliriously entertaining moments that will make Beatles scholars and DJ’s alike green with envy at the thought of what they would do if they had access to the Beatles’ master tapes. The problem with it, ironically, is in the amount of time when those mash-ups aren’t happening. The mashed-to-non-mashed ratio is about 2:1, which means the majority of Love is just a Beatles mix disc. And a lovely Beatles mix though it may be, we already have a million of those from which to choose. If you were expecting someone to go all Danger Mouse on these songs, well, be patient. It happens: it just doesn’t happen often enough.

In the hiding-in-plain-sight mash-up section, nothing makes more sense than taking Ringo’s hypnotic drum beat from “Tomorrow Never Knows” and throwing it underneath George’s Buddhist mantra “Within You Without You.” It’s perfect, though it’s a tad too short. Come on, how do you not work George’s guitar solo on “Tomorrow” into the vocal for “Within You”? The tabla from “Within You,” meanwhile, is thrown into “Here Comes the Sun,” though that’s pretty much all they do to that one. “Lady Madonna” gets a bit of “Hey Bulldog” thrown into the break, but man, check out the outro to “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Using both the final version and the band-only version that was issued on Anthology 2, the finale contains “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “In My Life,” “Penny Lane” and “Hello Goodbye,” among others. It’s freakin’ sweet.

The most ambitious reworking, however, has to be “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” flowing into “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” which has an echo laden “Helter Skelter" vocal thrown on top of that (or perhaps underneath that would be a better way of putting it). The later material isn’t the only stuff that gets a proper mashing, either. The solo to “Drive My Car” is seamlessly replaced by the solo to “Taxman,” with a couple licks from “What You’re Doing” and “The Word” thrown in for good measure. “Blackbird” also serves as the intro to “Yesterday.”

If the entire record had been assembled this way, you’d be talking about something on an Avalanches-type level of sophistication and technique. Alas, only about a third of Love is like this. The rest is just the music, though that music has been given a major remix overhaul. Sir John Gielgud’s bits in “I Am the Walrus” are toned down, and the keyboard riffs in the break of “Here Comes the Sun” are slightly less fuzzy. Sure, they sound cleaner, but they don’t necessarily sound better.

This is all academic, of course. If you have a Beatles fan in your life – and it’s tragic that fewer and fewer people can make such a claim – then Love is a must-buy. It may not be a Revolver-type masterpiece, but it sure beats the hell out of Let It Be…Naked.

~David Medsker