“… one of the great burdens about working with the Beatles’ music is that it’s so well known it becomes elevator music. People don’t listen to it any more.” – Sir George Martin
Cirque du Soleil – the Beatles Love soundtrack
The LOVE project began six years ago when Cirque du Soleil’s founder, Guy Laliberte, met Harrison at the Montreal Grand Prix. Laliberte politely invited Harrison to a party, but didn’t really expect him to turn up.
Harrison did show up, the pair became friends and were soon discussing the possibility of creating a Cirque-Beatles project. “George told me that his dream, before all the Beatles go, was to make another creation.”
Apple Corps Ltd, the record company that represents the Beatles, is notoriously protective of the Beatles brand and has turned down countless collaborative offers since the company formed in 1968. This time, however, Harrison and his wife Olivia, McCartney, Starr and Ono were all on board.
The soundtrack, which features previously unheard music, snippets of conversation between the band members and mash-ups, was developed by Sir George Martin, who produced most of the band’s original albums. Working with his son, Giles, the 80-year-old English producer has used the group’s master tapes to create fresh Beatles songs for the circus performers to bend, stretch and juggle along to.
Sir George, 80, said: “The condition was that we could use any sound we liked that had been recorded by the Beatles. Giles Martin said, “We took all the Beatles catalogue from tape, the original four tracks, eight tracks and two tracks and used this palette of sounds and music to create a sound bed. What people will be hearing on this album is a new experience, a new way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period.”
“This gave us an enormous palette to work with while keeping us disciplined in not doing anything unsuitable to the rightly treasured Beatles songs” The result is a “soundscape” of familiar Beatles’ songs. Some, like Help!, are used in almost their original form, whereas others have been ambitiously remixed.
Only one track broke the rule on using no new music. An early recording of While My Guitar Gently Weeps was preferred but Olivia Harrison felt it was too “raw”, perhaps too intimate..
To bridge the impasse, Sir George scored a new orchestral backing.
“It was strange, writing this for an old friend who was no longer with us,” said Sir George. “Yesterday was first score I ever wrote for a Beatle song way back in 1965 and this, 41 years later, is the last. They bookend an extraordinary time.”
Most of all, Love is simply fun to hear. Let go all the preconceived notions, drop all the pretense associated with the Beatles after 40 years of deification, forget their status, and Love flows like a bunch of great music, nearly non-stop from beginning to end. It’s hard to imagine any 80 minute stream of music having no stumbles, but Love manages to work – that’s the magic of the Beatles at their best, I suppose, but there’s more at play here than simply the magic of those great tunes they wrote so long ago. What really sells this set is what some have such a hard time with: the constant segues between songs, as if the whole album were nearly one long song. But buried in that mix are neat little nuggets for the Beatles die-hards – parts of songs that had been previously buried or parts that had never seen the light of day before, brought out by the Martins especially for this set. Love should be a treasure trove for the fans looking for new details to dig into.
Tracklist and Notes
1. “Because” – Instrumental tracks taken out, acappella
2. “Get Back”
3. “Glass Onion”
4. “Eleanor Rigby”
5. “Julia” (Transition)
6. “I Am The Walrus” – I love this song, it’s such a groove. While the words themselves may be literal nonsense, my thoughts are that these were picked for the sounds and rhythms of the words and syllables of the words themselves.
7. “I Want To Hold Your Hand” – studio version overlaid with the Hollywood Bowl live version
8. “Drive My Car”/”The Word”/”What You’re Doing” – all with the drum track of the first.
9. “Gnik Nus” – “Sun King”, backwards
10. “Something” – even Frank Sinatra considered this one of the best love songs ever. Arguably written about Patty Boyd, who also had two other #1 songs written for her (“Layla” & “Wonderful Tonight”)
11. “Blue Jay Way” (Transition)
12. “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!”/”I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”/”Helter Skelter”
14. “Strawberry Fields Forever” – This starts out with an unadorned demo version by John, and progresses into the final version.
15. “Within You Without You”/”Tomorrow Never Knows”
16. “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”
17. “Octopus’s Garden”
18. “Lady Madonna”
19. “Here Comes The Sun”
20. “The Inner Light” (Transition)
21. “Come Together”/”Dear Prudence”
22. “Cry Baby Cry” (Transition)
24. “Back In The U.S.S.R.” – Beatles channel their inner Beach Boys
25. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – the original demo George cut, with strings added by George Martin, the only part of the soundtrack not from the Beatle’s archives. “It was strange, writing this for an old friend who was no longer with us,” said Sir George. “Yesterday was first score I ever wrote for a Beatle song way back in 1965 and this, 41 years later, is the last.
26. “A Day In The Life” – A personal favorite of mine, this to me (and many critics) rises above the level of pop song into art. Phil Collins is of the opinion that this is the best, most original work Ringo ever did on the drums. And the final chord has punctuates the song, and the album – played on multiple pianos, with the gain constantly being turned up. This song was banned from the radio.
27. “Hey Jude”
28. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)”
29. “All You Need Is Love”