The Beatles - LOVE
Beatle Brunch Preview

Magno Studios, New York City - November 1, 2006
Special report for Joe Johnson’s BeatleBrunch by Tom Frangione

Ever since The Beatles Cirque du Soleil production “LOVE” premiered in Las Vegas earlier this summer, fans and theatergoers have been clamoring for a commemorative soundtrack album from the show. At long last, that wait is coming to a close as Apple has announced that the CD will be released on November 21st (just in time for the holiday gift giving season!).

Beatle Brunch was invited to attend the world premiere listening party for LOVE, and as anticipated, were knocked out by what we heard. The disc is one that all fans will want, regardless of whether they have taken in the Vegas show or not.

Sampling, editing, mashing up and other digital trickery are things that have thus far evaded the Beatle catalog in any legitimate form. Not to worry - complementing the wildly imaginative team at Cirque du Soleil, the resulting soundtrack is a marvel of ideas more than one of simply technology alone.

Co-producer Giles (son of Sir George) Martin is quick to point out that the show was designed around the music, not the other way around. When creative clashes arose, he says, “we always won; we’re the ones who press ‘play’’. He emphasizes that the goal for the new CD was to make it a Beatles album, not a “show” album. As such, Beatles studio chatter and character dialog from the stage show are nowhere to be found on the new disc; in point of fact, the CD’s 26 basic tracks flow seamlessly into one another.

 

 

 

Bring a pad and pencil (with an eraser!) to this show, so you can try to take note of the hundreds of song bits that fly by. Sir George offered to the Beatle Brunch microphone, “50-thousand dollars to anyone who can tell us what all the song bits are”. He quickly retracted the offer when I told him there were Beatle fans were up to the challenge, especially considering that many of us will no doubt see the show several times.

1. BECAUSE: This is the isolated vocal track, which Giles explains is the three singers (John, Paul and George), done three times, accounting for the heavenly choir-like sound. Fans may be familiar with this from its previous inclusion on the CD Beatles Anthology Volume Three. Here, there are sound effects of flying birds, similar to those heard in the “Free As A Bird” video.

2. GET BACK: this one starts out with the final chord from “A Day In The Life” played backwards. As Giles explains: “that (chord) was a great closer; I figured playing it backwards would make a great opener”, going on to say that the goal here was to imagine a “gig that never happened”. As it builds up, we hear the crashing first chord from “A Hard Day’s Night” and the drum solo from “The End” (to evoke the band coming on stage) as the pulsating bass for the main theme “Get Back” builds up, the crashing cymbals signifying that the band has arrived.

3. GLASS ONION: follows a brief “Hello Goodbye” interlude. The strings in the fade out lead nicely into …

4. ELEANOR RIGBY / JULIA (transition): at first we hear isolated strings without vocals, then the solo (and later double-tracked) McCartney vocal leading us into the full blown song. Giles pointed out that certain songs originally done on 4-track (and “bounced down” as Paul recently demonstrated on his Abbey Road Studio TV special) had to basically be “de-mixed” by going back in reverse-history order to the individual tracks and manually synchronizing them; the resultant “Eleanor Rigby” was a 6-track recording.

Due to time constraints, certain tracks were not played at the session. We’ll list those here, but refrain from commenting as we didn’t hear the final CD versions, having only experienced them “live” at the show in Las Vegas (see our earlier reports for details).


5. I AM THE WALRUS:

6. I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND

7. DRIVE MY CAR / THE WORD / WHAT YOU’RE DOING: truly one of the highlights of the show and this CD, so much so, that there is triple billing in the title! In addition to those mentioned, the track also prominently includes the guitar lead from “Taxman”.

8. GNIK NUS: yes, that’s “Sun King” backwards. Giles tells how he stumbled into this one, saying that he just wanted that soft crash cymbal (backwards), but as the track played, the isolated vocal was just so fluid. One would think that the vocals of a full song, played in reverse would come across as gibberish; in point of fact, as the tempo is maintained, and it resembles almost a foreign language version of the song. Stunning.

9. SOMETHING / BLUE JAY WAY (transition): this one starts out a bit stripped down, with the vocal mixed way up front, but is fully textured by the time it is over, building slightly throughout the song. The “transition” segment features a couple of lines from “Nowhere Man”.

10. BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE / I WANT YOU (SHE’S SO HEAVY / HELTER SKELTER: due to its big-top imagery, “Kite” was one of the most obvious tracks for inclusion in the show. Here, the circus organ is mixed to the front, and the waltz segment at the end segues seamlessly (and ultimately sits atop) the instrumental closing of “I Want You”. Giles points out that the show’s producers wanted “Kite” to take on a dual-meaning, and reflect the “media” circus that surrounded the band, hence the inclusion of ‘Helter Skelter”. Quite clever, that.

11. HELP!

12. BLACKBIRD / YESTERDAY

13. STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER: another example of the collaborative creative process. Giles says this was one designed to show The Beatles being creative, so we get the solo acoustic take from John, blended with two studio versions to demonstrate the progression into the final product, eerily recalling his dad’s own experience with the song (keeping it all in the family, Giles revealed that it was his wife who initially suggested this one). Over the extended drumming in the fade out, we hear well-placed timed excerpts of “Sgt. Pepper”, “Penny Lane”, “Piggies”, “In My Life” and the coda from “Hello Goodbye”. Once George Martin vari-speeded all the various takes of the song into the key of B, Giles then took six weeks to create this one mix.

14. WITHIN YOU WITHOUT YOU / TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS: this one seems to be a favorite of anyone who has seen the show or heard the track. It starts out with the sitar drone from “Tomorrow Never Knows” and an isolated vocal of John (“turn of your mind relax and float down stream”). The backing track kicks in, and the vocal from “Within You Without You” sets in. That fades into a tabla and vocal passage, and leads to the return of the drums from “Tomorrow Never Knows”. Giles points out that the modular, basically mono-chordal structure of the two songs made this one of the easier “technical” exercises, and points out that indeed it was the very first one he did for the project.

15. LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS: as in the show, this one starts out really slow, and builds up to the standard tempo. In the choruses, we hear the guitars mixed to the fore, and are treated to horn passages from “Sgt. Pepper”.

16. OCTOPUS’ GARDEN: Now it’s time for Ringo’s turn in the spotlight. This song has always been aligned with “Yellow Submarine”. That’s one of the reasons that Ringo refused to perform both in concert. This version opens with the string section from “Goodnight”, with the sound effects, chatter and chains from “Yellow Submarine” sprinkled throughout. Ringo’s isolated vocals from “Octopus’ Garden” are audibly slower during the string passages but are returned to “normal” when the songs backing tracks kick in.

17. LADY MADONNA: this one opens with thunder and the footstomping from the Cirque show. We quickly hear The Beatles mock trumpet voices into the drum track from “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road”, organ and horn riffs from the main title, and a glorious isolated vocal passage (“see how they run”). The electric guitar riffs from “Hey Bulldog” are interspersed along with Clapton’s searing guitar solo from “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. .

18. HERE COMES THE SUN / THE INNER LIGHT (transition)

19. COME TOGETHER / DEAR PRUDENCE / CRY BABY CRY (transition)

20. REVOLUTION

21. BACK IN THE USSR

22. WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS: Giles pointed out that Olivia Harrison was originally not keen to use the acoustic version (as heard in the Beatles Anthology) as she felt it was unfinished and fragile. A new string arrangement was scored by George Martin (similar to the treatment he did for “Grow Old With Me” on the Lennon Anthology) at Giles’ recommendation, which draws liberally on the famous guitar leads played by Eric Clapton on the final White Album recording.

23. A DAY IN THE LIFE

24. HEY JUDE

25. SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND (reprise)

26. ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE: over the famous fade out, we hear not only “In The Mood” as on the original take, but also bits of “Baby You’re A Rich Man”, “Rain”, “Goodnight” and ultimately a snippet from the Beatles Christmas Album: “this is Johnny rhythm saying goodnight to ya’s all, and God bless ya’s”

Got all that?

 


Following the listening session, Giles discussed his dad’s role in supervising the production, noting it was his sensibilities (“here’s something they might have done”) that guided the process, and downplayed his own perceived role as the heir apparent on the Beatles technical front. He commented how while he is not a “beatle-ologist”, the music seemed to work as a salve for Paul & Yoko, in that it was a return to the better days, and went on to praise Yoko (and Olivia) for the “quality control” each exercises on their husbands’ musical interests.

Discussing the CD and DVD-audio editions to be released, Giles noted that the CD will run 78 minutes and the DVD will be 81 minutes, raising the not-so-insignificant issue of what the extra three minutes will bear. He (jokingly) commented “the CD is the fake here”, explaining that the show is exactly 90 minutes; by taking out spoken word and studio sessions/chatter (“they’re really only interesting to listen to once”), the audio ran 81 minutes, as will be included on the DVD edition. The CD had to be shaved down to just under 79 minutes, due to technical issues that plague discs running over that threshold, so certain passages from “Revolution” and “Back In The USSR” were edited. It should be pointed out that the show (and CD) will contain songs that are not full length (notably “Hey Jude”) but are fragmented as a result of the pastiche process in creating the show. That is, the final product drew on lots of bits and pieces, not necessarily full songs. As for the DVD, the screen images will basically be the LOVE logo, the title playing and a brief menu of options (prior track / next track / list all tracks). It ain’t much, and will no doubt raise the question of whether photos or other graphics should have been considered for inclusion.

When asked about the supposed 120 minutes of total audio prepared for the show, and whether that could result in production changes (and/or possibly a follow-up CD release), Giles quite rightly noted that in a process such as this, it is standard to prepare excess material and “pick & choose” from there. Indeed, as we’ve reported earlier, songs like “She’s Leaving Home” were included in the show program and ultimately dropped from the stage version; conversely, the excellent “Drive My Car” segment described above was apparently on the B-list, as it is not included in the show.

It will be interesting to see how this CD will sell and how it will fare in the long run as a catalogue item. Certainly it will appeal to anyone who has seen the show (I can tell you, having seen it three times, they could sell 1000 of these per night right at the venue). Hopefully, this venture into 21st century technology will be another step in introducing the Beatles to new fans, while maintaining the integrity of the core catalog presented in new, exciting ways.

As you’ve come to expect, you can win your copies of the CD and DVDs on Beatle Brunch when they are released on November 21, and listen to The Brunch for a special “preview” of four of the tracks, the weekend of November 18th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




If you would like to advertise on BrunchRadio.com, contact Donnie G.
©2004 BrunchRadio.com Incorporated. All rights reserved.