Beatles latest a labor of ‘Love’

By Gus Bode

The Beatles “Love”

Record label: Capitol Records

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Release date: Nov. 21

www.thebeatles.com

3 STARS

Assembled by famed Beatles producer George Martin and his son Giles, the Beatles’ “Love” is an odd and somewhat uneven mashup that presents a blissfully distorted kaleidoscopic image of the best of the band.

The idea of a “mashup,” – the concept of combining the music of multiple artists into one song or taking the vocals of one song and transposing them above the music of another tune – has been around for quite a while. The technique was used most famously on DJ Danger Mouse’s “Grey Album,” wherein the beatmaker snipped together Jay-Z and The Beatles to astonishing effect.

“Love” is a mashup of sorts, except all of the source material comes courtesy of The Beatles, without any real outside assistance. The album, which took nearly two years of studio time to produce, beautifully mixes segments of songs from across The Beatles catalog into exceptional, albeit often trippy, new-ish material.

Martin splices together “Get Back” with a bit of “A Hard Day’s Night” and then mashes the string section of “Good Night” with “Octopus’s Garden.” The producer then builds a fantastic rendition of “Strawberry Fields Forever” from various versions of the tune and plays “Sun King” backward as some discomforting homage to the idiocy of Thom Yorke.

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“Love” contains bits and pieces from more than 100 Beatles songs, and half the fun for obsessive fans is identifying each of these elements in all their minute, intricate detail. Some combinations are a bit spotty, and the concept of a backward track has been done to death, but “Love” is a playful, imaginative rendition of material that seems familiar to almost everyone.

The real genius of “Love,” however, is its ability to show Beatles fans just how amazing the band’s old albums will sound when the archaic material is fully digitized, remastered and rereleased to the salivating faithful. “Love” is easily the best-sounding Beatles album ever, and it’s almost a shame that such painstaking effort was put into the sound of a mere mashup/stage soundtrack rather than “Revolver” or “Rubber Soul.”

The one real problem with the album is it’s not nearly experimental enough. If a musician is going to bother with a remake, a mashup or a reimagining of familiar material, there’s not much of a point unless the artist is truly reworking the material from the ground up. While it’s interesting to see subtle new twists on “Love,” the album hardly pushes the limits of the format. Any real disappointment concerning “Love” comes not from the actual quality of the album, but from the fact the record could have been even better.

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