Thursday, March 10, 2016

Classic Album Review: The Beatles - Love (2006)

Long-time BBC studio guru and renowned producer of The Beatles during their heyday, Sir George Martin, died yesterday, aged 90. I wanted to pay tribute to him in some form, so I’ve re-written an album review I originally wrote for another site a few years back. It relates to the 2006 Beatles compilation album Love, which was surely one of the more ambitious projects of Martin’s semi-retired later years:

It was once something of a default tradition at the everythingsgonegreen mansion. Each Christmas the notoriously “hard to buy for” old man (aka yours truly) got another Beatles CD from the kids.

I was belatedly (and rather forlornly) attempting to replace all of the old Beatles albums from my own childhood – on worn out old LPs/tapes, most of them awol – with a digitalised version, and the ankle-biters had taken it upon themselves to help me out. Bless.

It started with Sgt Pepper, next up came Revolver, then Let It Be (the “Naked” version), and in 2006, it was the (then) new release double CD of Love holding pride of place at the foot of my otherwise rather barren looking Christmas stocking.

It more or less became the “done thing”, but one of the problems with such an exercise was that the ever-expanding Beatles back catalogue just kept getting bigger and bigger with each passing year. One Beatles purchase per year just didn’t cut it, and birthdays had to be targeted lest I ran out of time in my quest to compile the complete collection.

And as my dear old Scottish granny used to say … “it could be later than you think, son” … what a pleasant thought!

As it turned out, a few years later, I wound up downloading the entire Beatles catalogue (every album) in a remastered digital format, which isn’t quite the same, but it ultimately served the same purpose.

Love (aka the Cirque du Soliel album) is a wide-ranging collection of Beatles standards done in an entirely refreshing and not so standard way, with lesser known cuts and old favourites given a fresh coat of gloss by the only master painter truly capable of doing them justice. Legendary producer George Martin and son Giles were able to embrace the then relatively new “mash-up” technology, where stems are separated and songs are blended together to produce a brand new remarkably fresh sounding track.

There is excellent track selection throughout – with especially compelling versions of ‘Strawberry Fields’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Yesterday’, and ‘A Day In The Life’; plus the four George Harrison classics (each one a gem), and the closer ‘All You Need Is Love’ (blatant advertising if ever there was!).

A couple of small complaints – how good would it have been if the bonus Audio DVD had actually been, you know, a video DVD with a compilation of Beatles footage and/or at least a series of classic photo stills to further emphasise the mood of the times? And there’s a transitional bit right at the end of ‘Help!’ … leading into ‘Blackbird/Yesterday’ … where ‘Help!’ is cut in such an abrupt fashion I almost thought the CD was faulty.

Overall though, Love was a more than worthy new/belated addition to the Beatles catalogue.

Sir George Martin R.I.P.

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