The Beatles Love (2006) compilation album

The Beatles - Love

I recently got The Beatles’ latest compilation album, entitled Love. Released back in 2006, the music was originally compiled and produced for the Love Cirque du Soleil performance. For those of you not familiar with the Canadian act, Cirque du Soleil, it’s basically a lot of acrobats and dancers doing impossible and eye-catching things against the backdrop of extravagant and novel stage setups.

I’m a fan of The Beatles, so naturally I was excited to listen to this album. Since it’s a soundtrack to a theatrical production, all of the tracks blend into one another and it’s best to listen to it as a whole, at least once. I was pleasantly surprised with what George Martin (the producer of most of The Beatles original studio albums) and his son, Giles, were able to accomplish. Basically, they’ve taken the sounds from songs you know and love, and mixed them together to produce some nice results. The album flows very well, which is expected since it’s part of a bigger production.

At the most basic, songs from similar eras in The Beatles’ career have been blended together. For example, Drive My Car – The Word – What You’re Doing is a seamless blend of those three songs, but in addition to that, they’ve taken the guitar solo from Taxman and some of the background horns from Savoy Truffle and integrated them for a nice effect. Another good example is at the start of the second track on the album, Get Back. It starts off with the guitar chord from A Hard Day’s Night, then moves into the drum-solo beginning of The End. Then, something that sounds like the orchestral swell from A Day in the Life finally leads into the bass-heavy tune of Get Back. The song then blends into the next track, Glass Onion, very nicely. There are plenty of other examples – Strawberry Fields Forever is a good example where many bits of other songs have been blended together.

Some of the other mixups are less compelling. For example, Blackbird – Yesterday simply has the instrumental part of Blackbird tacked onto as a prelude to the beginning of Yesterday. It still sounds good, since they’re both acoustic guitar tunes.

I think the best part of the album, however, is reserved for big fans of The Beatles. As you listen to it, you get the treat of “discovering” all the different parts of certain songs that have been woven into the main melody. In particular, if you’ve listened to the Anthology albums released in the mid-90’s, you’ll notice that quite a bit of that content has been remixed into songs on this album. (While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Strawberry Fields Forever and A Day In The Life come to mind in this context.

As a side note, I read an article in Wired (which I can’t seem to find on their website) detailing the technical aspects of the sound system in use for the Cirque du Soleil act. As they wanted the best musical experience for everyone (since it’s The Beatles, after all), they couldn’t go with a conventional sound system. Instead, they installed hundreds of speakers in a circle above the stage, and installed two speakers and one center channel for every seat. There are over 2000 seats for the venue, and George and Giles Martin apparently went from seat-to-seat tweaking the sound levels until everything was perfect – a feat that took months.

Overall, Love is a great album to have, even if some of the tracks aren’t all that different from the original ones. It’s a definite buy for those who were even remotely obsessed with The Beatles at any point in their life.

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