I must be living in a cave or something. Up until now I'd only heard a few rumblings about The Beatles: LOVE project.
This project somehow involves legendary Beatles producer George Martin, his son, Cirque du Soleil, and the original recordings made at Abbey Road Studios during the 8 year period the Beatles were active.
I had heard a small rumbling about somehow mish-mashing songs together and making a new album, and I really didn't think much of it. They're always trying to grab more money from Beatles fans around the holidays, so I pretty much dismissed it as another throw away.
But today I heard it.
And all I can really say is...
HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
For real. I put the disc in the car while I was driving earlier today but I had someone else in the car, so I turned it down to just barely audible and didn't really note much detail on the first half of the thing.
But on my way home from work today, I was alone. I let it play from where it was and turned it up so I could really hear it. And at some point I looked at the CD player and noticed it was on track 11. It started playing John Lennon's demo recording of Strawberry Fields. At least I'm pretty sure it was the demo version featured on Anthology.
And the first thing I noticed was the fidelity. It was unreal, like I was totally immersed in the sound of this man and his guitar -- a sound which was recorded seven years before I was even born. This sound, as old as I know it is, sounded like it was recorded five minutes ago, it was so alive and real... but before I could marvel any more about the overall sonic quality of the thing, I realized the studio recording of Strawberry Fields was now playing. But it still had the vocals from the demo. Music from the studio version. Vocals from the demo - which was cut with one mic in a Spanish bedroom recording a voice and guitar. Over the studio music. And it fucking works. It's like magic. And it just keeps going, on and on. Songs seque into songs and parts from the wrong songs flow in and out of the thing and it's all in key and sounding... I dunno... RIGHT. It sounds right.
It sounds like what would have happened if these songs had been recorded now and The Beatles not only had full access, but the whole bag of skills, to twist and edit their music in a modern digital workstation.
BUT IT DOESN'T SOUND FUCKING DIGITAL. The sound of it utterly crushes me.
The songs here are presented in a more modern light. The odd stereo panning of the old songs -- which was never an artistic decision in the first place, it was purely commercial so that consumers with a mono record player could still listen to the Stereo version of the LP -- is tossed away. The songs are mixed with a modern stereo image in mind. Drums and vocals are firmly in the center of the image. Guitars, bass, pianos, and all kinds of shit flitters around on the outer edges of the speakers.
These songs done this way are powerful. They certainly don't sound 40 years old. The edits and layering are astounding. Not only is there more going on than you could ever absorb in a single listen, but it's also presenting things in a new light so you're hearing things which were buried way down in the original mixes shining through loud and clear.
Do yourself a favor (and contribute to Mr. McCartney's next tropical island) and go get a copy.