It all began four weeks ago with an impulse buy at Costco. I was approaching the checkout line when I breezed past a big stack of that new Beatles CD, Love, which is the soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil production of the same name that’s been playing at the Mirage in Vegas since last June. I realized then and there this thing just might be, somehow, pretty good. Better check it out
The disc is good. In fact, it’s terrific. Put together by Beatles producer George Martin and his son Giles, the music is all from the original Beatles master tapes. Yes, they’ve monkeyed around with some of the songs a bit, but it’s done respectfully and ingeniously. In fact, the various re-arrangements or “mash-ups” seem to be the main point of the project. One example: The Martins took the drum beat from “Tomorrow Never Knows” and put it underneath George’s vocal from “Within You, Without You.” The resulting hybrid worked very well, and they were off and running, bringing forth this new “flower” that sprung from the seed of conversations held years ago by George Harrison and Cirque founder Guy Laliberte while they watched their race cars zoom around the tracks of Europe.
Here are some of the high points that stuck in my head upon first listen:
(1) The opening three songs are perfection. They begin with a soaring a cappella version of “Because,” out of which comes the thundering piano chord that closes “Sgt. Pepper,” which is played backwards so that it ascends to a major climax capped with the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night,” which roars directly into “Get Back,” which then jumps into John’s raging vocal at the end of “Glass Onion.” It’s great stuff.
(2) The segue from “I Am the Walrus” into “I Want to Hold Your Hand” kicks complete ass. I know it looks weird on paper. The Martins pull it off with gusto, with a little help from Ed Sullivan.
(3) They take a section of the vocal from “Sun King” and play it backwards, so it sounds like the Beatles are singing some ethereal language from the planet Zog, which leads into George’s sublime masterpiece, “Something.” Only one-third of the way through the disc, the Martins are taking these wondrous old songs and somehow rejuvenating them for modern times. I found myself quite moved.
(4) All four Fabs were brilliant in their own way. Yes, even Ringo. The guy could be rock solid or highly creative, depending on the situation. And John’s “psychedelic psix-pack” (Tomorrow, Strawberry, Lucy, Day in the Life, Walrus, and All You Need) are still as startling and mind-breaking as they were 40 years ago. Awesome.
A trip to Vegas may be in order.