Before class tonight, I got to hear the world premiere broadcast of the new album from The Beatles, Love. It’s the soundtrack to their successful Cirque do Soleil show in Las Vegas, and features a lot of their tracks in mash-up form. Commissioned by Mssrs. McCartney, Starr and Harrison (before his death in 2001), as well as Yoko Ono, the music was arranged by Sir George Martin (the Beatles’ original producer) and his son, Giles, at Abbey Road Studios from the original multi-track masters.
The effect is most interesting, and usually works. While not as adventurous as the heralded Grey Album by DJ Danger Mouse, which mashed up tracks from The Beatles’ White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album, the Martins hold their own in the world of mash-ups. Some of the tracks hem close to the original mixes from the 1960s (“Something” and “Help”), while others interleave song elements from four, five or six different Beatle tunes. While the effect isn’t always a winner, it succeeds much more often than it stumbles.
One initial impression: the Beatles weren’t afraid to indirectly plagiarize themselves, as some of the songs mesh so nicely that you wonder whether John and Paul weren’t snickering in the background at the money they’d made while pawning the same song twice (or thrice) on their fans. Of course, there’s a certain genius in that (witness Robert Johnson on virtually any other blues or rockabilly artist), but it’s still kind of funny to picture.
Granted, I’ve only heard it via an online radio stream from Virgin Radio, which isn’t close to CD quality, so I’ll likely write a more detailed review next week once I have the CD and DVD-Audio in hand.