Loving “Love”

I stopped by Sam’s Club yesterday afternoon to stock up on bottled water and batteries, not wanting to be caught unprepared for the next great Nonexistent Blizzard of Ought Seven, and on a whim added The Beatles “Love” to my flatbed. I had read glowing recommendations in sundry newspaper columns and blogs, including those from the Brothers Jim, and while I don’t always agree with the latter’s musical tastes, I have to say that in this case they are, if anything, under-enthusiastic.

In case you have the same misconception I did about this album, it’s not simply a new compilation of old Beatles tunes. Sure, it’s a collection of Fab Four staples, because, after all, they’re not recording together anymore (in case you haven’t kept up). But through some technological magic — I don’t think this project could have been pulled off fifteen years ago — and the creative genius of Sir George Martin and his son Giles, original tracks laid down by the Beatles have been mashed up with a tasteful dollop of new and assorted loops and effects to produce a recording that’s a sonic delight that manages to capture the amazing diversity of the group’s original music while presenting it in a new light.

If you’re a traditionalist, this may not be your cup of tea, but I still urge you to give it a chance. The package I bought comes with two disks, both containing the same music. One’s a standard CD, the other’s a DVD which presents the music in 5.1 Dolby/DTS surround sound. My advice is buy the dual package and listen to the DVD on a good surround sound system, and prepare to be awed by both the clarity of the music and the skill of the producers.

I don’t necessarily agree with the all of the choices the producers made. For example, the intro to Lady Madonna is a bit too cute and frantic for my taste*, and some of the electronica seems to be an uneasy fit with the original arrangements, making them seem more like Broadway showtunes, ala the finale of All That Jazz. On the other hand, the arrangements as heard on the DVD should dispel any notion that Ringo Starr was a sub-par drummer.

Overall, this is a masterpiece that should serve to reinforce the sometimes under-appreciated musical talents of the Beatles.

Incidentally, this is the first music on disk I’ve purchased in more than a year. If and when the Beatles catalog becomes available on the iTunes Store, I hope the surround sound version of this collection will be one of the options; if not, it will be a good case for the argument that the plasticware version of music is not yet dead.

*Update (years later): Repeated listenings to this arrangement of Lady Madonna have affirmed my constant nagging suspicion that I really don’t know what I’m talking about.

Categorized as Music


  1. Stephen, Jim’s an actual musician, so his opinion should carry more weight than mine, since he knows what he’s talking about. OTOH, I’ve never been a rabid Beatles fan, just an appreciative listener. But “Love” is one of the most amazingly crafted compilations I’ve ever heard.

  2. Rob, let me know how you like it. If you think it sux, we can send a bill to The Jims.
    I hear you on the EOM thing, by the way. With this weird month plus how the holidays fall, it’ll be 19 days (including three sets of weekends) between checks by the time the 31st rolls around.

  3. After I received the CD for Christmas, I ordered the CD+DVD (I didn’t know there was one at first). The other night I finally had a chance to listen to the 5.1 mix. After that, I must admit that you are right, my original review (consisting of the words stunning, brilliant, genius, staggering, unbelievable) was woefully understated.
    And from a raving fan standpoint, I’m absolutely in love with the Lady Madonna track… because while listening, I enjoy figuring out what other parts of the song (and other songs) are creating what I’m hearing at the moment. In fact, the whole album is like that. Wow!
    Finally, yay for Ringo. Preach it, bro!

  4. After reading Jim’s and Jimmy’s “understated” reviews, I have picked up the Love collection a couple times, looked it over and put it back, being more of a traditionalist than I realized. I guess I need to listen to what you all are talking about.

  5. See, and I just can’t get past the whole “Beatles” thing. Maybe it’s a generational condition, dunno.
    I am curious though – is this music from the Circque du Soleil (it’s as close as I’m getting spelling wise, hopefully you know what I mean) Beatles-themed show, also titled “Love”?

  6. Beth, yes, it is. This compilation was actually commissioned by Cirque. It and the Beatles’ production company, Apple Corps Ltd., formed a partnership called the Cirque Apple Creation Partnership, and it holds joint copyright to “Love” along with Apple. (Assuming I’m correctly interpreting the legalese on the CD box.)

  7. Good catch, Beth! Now that I know Cirque is behind it, I’ll definitely give it a listen. Their work is incredible. I’m not a huge Beatles fan, but if it comes down to the Beatles or Stones, definitely Beatles.

Comments are closed.