Friday, November 24, 2006

Looking Through A Glass Onion

I haven't seen Cirque Du Soleil's Beatles extravaganza 'Love' at The Mirage, Las Vegas because Hey! I don't get to Vegas too much anymore, pally! but judging from George (& son Giles) Martin's extraordinary mash-up/pop art collage/extended suite of the Beatles' greatest hits created to soundtrack the performance, it must be quite a show.

Listening to the CD itself is a startling experience.

Firstly, this is the first time anyone's been permitted officially to mess with The Beatles music. The Martins have cut, segued and overlain riffs, drumbeats, instrumental sections, vocal snippets and miscellaneous sounds from a number of Beatles recordings over others.

Sometimes this makes for a bit of a dog's breakfast - I'm not sure that 'Strawberry Fields Forever' (which is a pretty much perfect cut-up of several Lennon interpretations and 'takes' in its original form in any case) benefits tremendously from more chaotic overdubs in its crescendo section - but occasionally it is dazzling.

Running the hypnotic drum loop of 'Tomorrow Never Knows' over the intro of George's 'Within You, Without You' is a case in point; extending 'Eleanor Rigby' with sections of George Martin's original vocal-free string arrangement (released for the first time on the Anthology collection) is another.

And the only track to feature newly recorded music - an early solo version of Harrison's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' which George Martin has orchestrated with characteristic beauty and restraint - is easily the most moving piece here, its abandoned-on-the-final recording lyric - 'I look from the wings at the play you are staging.....As I'm sitting here doing nothing but aging' - both perfect for a theatrical work and eloquently touching given Martin's age (80) and Harrison's all too recent death.

Sometimes listening to this CD is a kind of hallucinatory experience. Like looking through a glass onion, in fact - at songs so familiar they are part of our very consciousness, and watching them twist, stretch, spin, shatter, merge, wink and frequently shimmer in unexpected light.

That light is mostly cast by the restored sound. Because incredibly, cruelly, criminally (GUILTY Apple/EMI!) this is the first time that most of these songs have been remastered.

TGOE joins all those other thousands of voices on the web (and off it) in begging and pleading with The Powers That Be in The Beatles camp to finally give us the original albums - and not just this interesting one-off - in remastered forms.
For a limited period you can listen to a stream of the whole of Love at

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