Love Review


26 Nov 2006, 13:51

I've had a copy of Love for a little over a week, first as a bootleg advance copy then the real thing. I've held off on posting about it because I wanted to get to know the music before the post.

The first thing to say is that this is what Anthology 3 should have been. Like that album, this is almost all material from The White Album and later (presumably because that material was recorded in 8-track and so more remixable. And it's infinitely preferable to the travesty that is Let It Be... Naked. Rather than some anodyne, safened version of the material, this is really bold and imaginative.

I'm particularly pleased that it covers the late period. The conventional wisdom seems to go Moptops-psychedelic-bloated & dull, but while I think the music they did in 65 & 66 was their best, I think their late period contains some gorgeous material that deserves revisiting.

It's a The Beatles fan's dream, actually. My friend Tilt, who got me my copy, said he listened with a friend. Tilt kept hearing little bits from other songs in there, and the friend didn't. It's full of tiny little Easter eggs for the faithful.

But what it really does is make you listen to these songs again. Even though it largely stays away from the huge hits, every song on here has been deadened by familliarity. But the slight changes made in many of the songs are enough to make you pay attention to everything.

The other thing to remember is that this isn't really a Beatles remix project - it's a George Martin remix project. The songs themselves are almost all left intact, but the arrangements radically changed. My wife mentioned that the major change for her was seeing just how good a drummer Ringo Starr is, with his best fills given extra prominence. This is a celebration of the Beatles *as a band*.

I'm very dubious in general about the ongoing project to remix all the Beatles' stuff in slightly different forms in order to try to retain some copyright when they start slipping away in 2012, but this really works.

Because is the a cappella version from Anthology 3, but with the birds from Blackbird over the top. No major surprises here, though it sounds nice of course.

Get Back, on the other hand, is radically changed. It starts with the end chord from A Day in the Life played backwards, going into the opening chord from A Hard Day's Night, followed by the drum solo from The End. The song is considerably shortened, as well, just the first verse, choruses and solos. It goes into

Glass Onion, which is really just a few lines of Glass Onion with chunks of Hello Goodbye thrown in. Powerful stuff, with the string fade leading nicely into

Eleanor Rigby/Julia (Transition). This starts out as the pure instrumental track to Eleanor Rigby, and when ah, look at all the lonely people comes in, it's single-tracked Paul McCartney. They haven't changed this one too much, again - just enough that you listen to the song again, and remember what a powerful song it is. Julia is just used as a quick transition into

I Am the Walrus. Other than a couple of little bits (a count-in for the orchestra), this one is pretty much as it was all along - some slight changes in instrumental balance, but why mess with perfection? I wish I had a 5.1 system though - I want to hear how they coped with the radio at the end. That was recorded right onto the mono mix of the original track (which is why the stereo mix goes mono on the last verse). It *sounds* like it's now in stereo, but I wonder if they've been able to unpick it enough to do a proper 5.1 mix (difficult enough when you're working with four-track recordings, even allowing for the fact that they bounced down a lot).

I Want to Hold Your Hand is almost unchanged except for the addition of some screaming and Ed Sullivan introducing the band, taken from the Live at the Hollywood Bowl album. They also move the middle eight to after the first verse and cut out the repetitions, trimming it to a neat 1:22, but they couldn't really do much to this.

Drive My Car/The Word/What You're Doing is fantastic though, being in fact almost every soul-type track the band ever did mixed together (the solo from Taxman and the horns from Got to Get You Into My Life appear here too). It's also great to hear What You're Doing on here - it's one of the most underrated songs in the band's catalogue.

Gnik Nus is Sun King backwards and almost a capella. Oddly, it sounds almost exactly like Lennon & McCartney's vocals on We Love You.

Something/Blue Jay Way (Transition) is left almost entirely unchanged for the whole of Something. The Blue Jay Way transition has the first line of Nowhere Man where 'please don't be long' would go - it's surprisingly simillar.

Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite/I Want You (She's So Heavy)/Helter Skelter is Mr Kite with no major changes until the end when 'tonight Mr Kite is topping the bill' leads into the 3/4 section of I Want You played over the top of the fairground organ, with bits of McCartney vocals from Helter Skelter over the top in a frankly disturbing manner...

Help! is unchanged. At this point the Beatles were still recording on four tracks with minimal overdubbing - there's not much that can be done to change these songs.

Blackbird/Yesterday is just Yesterday as recorded but with a brief snippet of guitar from Blackbird as an intro. Apparently they hesitated over including this one, and they really shouldn't have - the song is not actually all that good, it's been played to death, and there was nothing they could do to make it sound new and different. Its inclusion is pointless, and one suspects it was more to do with McCartney's ego.

Strawberry Fields Forever on the other hand is superb. Almost a history of the song, it starts with John Lennon's acoustic demo, then progresses through the various takes of the song, mostly changing on the 'let me take you down' lines. There were so many different attempts at this song, in so many different styles, and all so good, that the amount of raw material the Martins had was huge. What's really amazing is that they managed to string it together into something sounding like a full performance - if you didn't know where the joins were, you wouldn't know. The song ends on an extended fade of all the different baroque sounding bits from Beatles records - the solo from In My Life, the harpsichord from Piggies, the piccolo trumpet from Penny Lane and more - before dropping down to the drums and guitar ending we know, but with the 'hey la hello's from Hello Goodbye. Possibly the best track on the album.

Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows is Within You Without You over the rhythm track from Tomorrow Never Knows. Elements from the two tracks come in and out under George Harrison's vocal. What's amazing is how modern this sounds - this could have been recorded yesterday. It fades to the 'seagull' sounds, and then slowly in comes the intro to

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The intro to this is radically changed - it's re-edited into someone haltingly, stumblingly picking out the melody, then getting more confident, with a heartbeat drum underneath. The track is more or less the same as it always has been for the verses, but the instrumental track on the choruses has been beefed up with the Indian wind instrument whose name I forget from The Inner Light and some additional horns from Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Octopus' Garden is the first misstep - the orchestra from Goodbye is under the first verse, and while it works remarkably well on the first line, the rest of the verse just doesn't fit. Once it goes into the normal track (with elements of Yellow Submarine, presumably they wanted to get all the Ringo out of the way at once) it works better, but the orchestration is just wrong. It then goes into the start of
Sun King.

Lady Madonna starts out with the mouth-sax part over drumming from Why Don't We Do It in the Road? before Ronnie Scott's sax solo comes in and the track itself starts. The song has few changes until the solo, which is the riff from Hey Bulldog with some hammond playing I can't quite identify (I'm Down perhaps?)

Here Comes the Sun/The Inner Light (Transition) starts off with the 'sun sun sun' vocals over the tabla part from "Within You Without You", which continues under the intro to Here Comes the Sun. The interesting thing about those 'sun sun' vocals in this context is how much they sound like I Live For The Sun. Other than this, there's no major change in the song until the fade, when it fades into The Inner Light.

Come Together/Dear Prudence/Cry Baby Cry (Transition) starts out as Come Together with no real differences - maybe the double-tracking on John's vocal is slightly altered or something, but no major changes. Bringing in the strings from Dear Prudence at the end gives the song a major lift, and then we hear 'can you take me back', sounding if anything even more eerie.

Revolution is the single version pretty much unchanged, although sounding much stronger for the remastering. This is the only real missed opportunity here - I would have loved for the version from the David Frost show to get a release.

Back in the U.S.S.R. is pretty much identical to the original, just with a little talking in the background at the beginning.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps is the one song with new material recorded. This is George's demo as released on Anthology 3, without Paul's harmonium and with a new George Martin string arrangement. The arrangement is slightly out of character for the Beatles - Martin's style has got steadily closer to the style he parodied on Goodnight as he's got older - but it works very well even so, sounding gentle and reflective.

A Day in the Life starts out much as the Anthology 2 version does, with Lennon's instructions on how to mic the piano and 'sugar plum fairy' count-in. This is, like the Anthology version, a composite of different takes, and is more like the Anthology version than the one on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but with the strings and no fluff by McCartney. The album should really end here, to be honest.

Hey Jude is unchanged, except that mercifully four minutes of 'na na na' have been cut, and in the last minute the orchestra drops out for a few seconds to just vocals and tambourine before everything comes back slowly.

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) is again near-identical to the original, and the penultimate track.

While I think the album should end with A Day In The Life, you can't argue too much with the decision to close with All You Need Is Love. I've seen many people criticise this song as insipid, but I've never understood that, except insofar as cynicism about everything is always a successful pose. This is also mostly unchanged, though they cover up George's guitar flub slightly better, and it reminds me just how good the song itself actually is. The song is nowhere near as naive as its detractors would have it, being more a restatement of the principles of the Stoics than the flower-child silliness people suggest, and while melodically it's not that interesting, who else got a song in 7/4 time to number one? Bits of many other songs thread through the fade, which closes on the strings from goodnight with "It's Johnny Rhythm saying goodnight to yez all".

The album is patchy, but it's at its least interesting when it takes the music as holy writ from which no deviation can be tolerated. At its best, it's far more successful than either Anthology 3 or Liverpool Sound Collage at rejuvenating these recordings. It hits a near-perfect balance between respect for the originals and invention, allowing those of us who know this material inside-out to hear the music with fresh ears. There have been far more subtle changes made thn I have noted - many songs have the drum parts beefed up with extra fills from other songs, instrumental tracks are made meatier. The album sounds like it could have been recorded yesterdy. Unlike many of these efforts, this really is a Beatles album, worthy of being considered alongside their 60s output.


  • Otacons_Nachos

    Excellent review!

    27 Nov 2006, 3:40
  • Mr_Sands

    I agree, great review. It helped me place the names to those snippets of songs than I recognised but could not name.

    27 Nov 2006, 23:40
  • turnthatshitup

    Great review!

    28 Nov 2006, 2:07
  • stealthmunchkin

    Aww... thanks ;)

    28 Nov 2006, 6:46
  • SunsetSailing

    This was very helpful. Thanks

    28 Nov 2006, 23:28
  • kingofgrief

    I thought the Sullivan intro was from the Shea Stadium gig, but that was just a guess. The 5.1 mix is a blast, but the ultimate listening experience for this album might be the good old quality-headphone trip. I picked up a few things on phones that had eluded me before (e.g. the Ticket to Ride guitar lick at the end of All You Need Is Love).

    29 Nov 2006, 6:39
  • stealthmunchkin

    Gah, you're right - it *is* from Shea Stadium. They edited it into the Hollywood Bowl album, hence my confusion...

    29 Nov 2006, 6:44
  • Tobymono

    y'knows I really like what they've done with yesturday

    13 Dic 2006, 21:42
  • rand0mnez

    Revolution unchanged? It's the most changed one on the album...

    5 Ene 2007, 23:52
  • stealthmunchkin

    Eh? I've just listened to the version on Love back-to-back with the original version, and the *only* differences I could hear were that the bass seems a little lower on Love and I think there's more piano on the single version - and even those differences could be accounted for by the fact that I'm listening to the earlier version on vinyl and the new one on CD. If you edited off the crossfade into Back In The USSR I don't think I could say with any confidence which was which - and I *know* these records. I don't mean to sound patronising, but are you sure you've *heard* Revolution before? The version on the Hey Jude B-side, available on Past Masters 2 and the 'blue album', not Revolution 1, the version on the White Album, I mean...

    6 Ene 2007, 19:48
  • IdleThoughts

    No difference! You are kidding me? How about the minute 10 seconds that is missing from the Love version. 3m24 on Past Masters Volume 2; 2m14 on Love...

    16 Ago 2007, 10:29
  • jamie-o

    A great, knowledgable analysis of the album. Nonetheless, I don't necessarily agree with some of your criticisms: I personally think 'Octopus' Garden' works wonderfully with 'Good Night', and I wouldn't say it's a case of the Martins getting all of Ringo's contributions out of the way - more giving him a well-deserved corner of the album for his own recognition. Likewise, I whole-heartedly agree with the inclusions of 'Yesterday' and 'All You Need is Love'; as you correctly say, the album strikes the perfect balance between innovation and faithfulness. And the more times I listen to 'Love', the more additional song snippets I notice. I'm off to listen to it again! Superb release...

    23 Ago 2007, 19:14
  • jerkfacelisa


    20 Oct 2007, 0:40
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