The Beatles - Love
Passing judgment on repertoire regarded by many as the bible of popular culture. Risky? Perhaps. Stupid? Probably (looking forward to the comment box!)
It’s sometimes easy to get carried away when listening to classic best-ofs, in that you find yourself often saying, “this is brilliant”. Of course it is, surely? However, as most know by now, there is a certain twist on this collection giving a different angle to assess, and which challenges the usual huffing and puffing normally caused by the latest release of legendary artists, decades after their productive decline.
Re-worked by George Martin and son Giles, ‘Love’ goes about presenting “The Beatles as you’ve never heard them before…”. “What now?” you may think. Well as easily imaginable, a selection of Beatles songs have been cut, sliced, diced, pasted, and arranged into an order which almost flows non-stop, blending the likes of Hard Day’s Night with Get Back, Helter Skelter with Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, Come Together with Dear Prudence and many more (26+ tracks featured in total).
Firstly hats off for compiling. It’s about time the likes of Within You Without You and Blackbird were pushed towards the masses, and the absence of flagship-tracks such as She Loves You and Let it Be is hardly problematic, leading to the suggestion that labelling ‘Love’ as the latest Beatles ‘best-of’ would be wrong. Lets call it “digital variations on a pop career”.
What ‘Love’ does brilliantly is expose intimate touches of their compositions like raw flesh to piranhas, leaving the listener to feast as they wish. A real standout is the Within You Without You/Here Comes The Sun/The Inner Light cocktail; a sublime tribute to George Harrison’s ingenious contribution to the latter years of their reign, and equalled by the rare acoustic version of his While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Fitting, as this recording project was actually an idea of Harrison’s in the late 90s, sourced from Vegas’ Cirque du Soleil stageshow of the same name, and probably would have had him at the helm if he were still alive.
Elsewhere, the a capella strip-down of opener Because, gives testament to how Lennon and McCartney really were the daddies of pop harmony, and inspired intermissions or ‘skits’, such as the reverberated vocal stretches of Julia perfects various track-crossovers. Other pieces of studio trickery never cease to fascinate in terms of how well the Martins have mixed up the originals to such an extent, but still clearly referencing them in their initial forms.
Not all works. Glass Onion is cramped by a misuse of Strawberry Fields’ horn section and vocal snippets from McCartney’s forgettable Hello Goodbye, whereas there’s nothing particularly impressive about throwing Sun King into a reverse plug-in and renaming it Gnik Nus. It would also work better ending on A Day In The Life, and omitting Hey Jude, Sgt. Pepper (reprise) and All You Need Is Love, surely thrown in just to guarantee cash tills are kept busy.
Still, a much-needed different angle on the eternal catalogue industry, however greedy it still may seem. It should be recognised as a decent work-of-art in itself, although those same few pockets will inevitably be filled a little more. Hear that, Heather?