Review Summary: “Love” takes a fresh look back at the brilliance that was the Beatle’s, and will delight old fans and inspire younger generations to pick up the original records. This is a new Beatles album for the ages.
All You Need Is “Love”
When Michelangelo’s frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were being renovated, it created an outrage among art lovers and critics the world over. They cried that it was blasphemous to tamper with such a well loved masterpiece, but when the dust and imperfections of the ages were cleared away, new layers of depth and color were revealed in the frescoes that no one could have noticed before.
Critics and fans alike cried foul when it was announced that original Beatles recordings would be used as a soundtrack to Cirque de Soleil’s new show on the Vegas Strip. Classic songs from the band’s catalogue were remixed and remastered for the compilation, an action tantamount to treason in the eyes of Beatles fans. However, despite the criticism, Sir George Martin, the original producer for the Fab Four, was determined to create a reimagining of the Beatle’s repertoire that remained true to the spirit of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. “Love” is George Martin’s magnum opus, and also a stunning tribute to the departed John Lennon and George Harrison.
Bits and pieces of over 130 Beatle’s recordings were used to lovingly create a beautiful collage of sound that flows from opening to closing. Whole songs are melded together, vocal lines and symphonic arrangements make cameo appearances, and distinct pieces segue into one another. The effect is that of one continuous soundscape, spanning from the early mop top days to the peak of the Summer of Love.
The album opens with birds softly twittering, and then the ethereal vocal harmonies of “Because” softly set the scene with magical clarity. “Get Back” bounds with a new exuberance not entirely present on the original. With some subtle tweaking here and there, “I am the Walrus” shines as a masterpiece of avant-garde obscurity. Overall, the album tends to favor the later period of the Beatles’ career, but early smash hits such as “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Help” appear. The combination of “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Within You/ Without You” showcases the influence of Eastern Mysticism, with droning sitar and lyrics inspired from the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
It seems that George Harrison and Ringo Starr finally get their due on this record after all the years of being overshadowed by John and Paul. Harrison’s contributions reveal a spiritual wonder and longing in his songwriting, and the stripped down acoustic version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” simply shines. The new opening to Ringo’s “Octopus’ Garden” tugs at the heartstrings with sweeping violins, and his drumwork is finally brought to the forefront.
The standout track is without a doubt John Lennon’s classic “Strawberry Fields Forever.” While the original was at times weighted down by its psychedelic cacophony, this version opens with simply Lennon and his guitar. A touch of optimism can be heard in his wistful voice, and the naked arrangement underscores his lyrical genius. “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.”
The triumphant “All You Need is Love” perfectly concludes the album. “Love” takes a fresh look back at the brilliance that was the Beatle’s, and will delight old fans and inspire younger generations to pick up the original records. This is a new Beatles album for the ages.