January 09, 2007


Love is the newest release by "The Beatles," rather, the newest officially sanctioned release of Beatles material. In case you haven't already heard what it's about, it's a set of Beatles-on-Beatles mash-up action performed by George Martin & Son. The album got a good consideration in strictly musical terms by AllMusic, so I'll direct you there if you want the standard review.

As their reviewer says, the juxtapositions are pretty tame. The main interest in Love isn't the new relationships, but the restored quality of the source material. Us younguns know the Beatles primarily through the shoddy remaster jobs of their albums which date to the early years of the CD. A good song's a good song no matter how rough the recording is. However, a band that spent so much time in the studio is going to get shortchanged by technology that takes a giant step backwards from their original working conditions.

Something about hearing the masters handled with such care makes the songs sound fresh again. The vocals in general were the main event for me. The expressive nuances can be heard more clearly, the madrigal-y quality of the backing vocals get a lot more attention. "Help" becomes intense, "I Am the Walrus" is shocking and weird instead of well-worn.

This album prompts a tricky question: what does it take for a piece of music to be "new?" What kind of status do recordings have as musical artifacts? I can't say I've gotten a lot of listens out of this one (the songs are ultimately well-worn with me), but the initial impact was significant. The quality of sound made its own statement. There was something new-enough in that experience for me.

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