Monday, November 27, 2006

Mash-Upical Mystery Tour

I have been listening to the "new" Beatles album LOVE for the past week. It is the soundscape/sound track for the newish Cirque du Soleil/Vegas monstrosity LOVE (housed in the former Sigfried and Roy space at the Mirage). I am absolutely torn by this project.
1) The Beatles are holy in my humble opinion but, a little mash up action is always interesting (Kudos to Dangermouse).
2) Cirque du Soleil are pretty cool but with 1,000 shows running simultaneously in Vegas their schtick is wearing a bit thin. To make things worse they have to tackle this well respected canon without offending a bevy of stakeholders including surviving widows, 2 band members, the real 5th Beatle Sir George and of course the legions of fans young and old.
3) so I am a fan of the band; the producer and actually his son too, and the troupe that has commissioned this work.
4) When it works Jesus its good, when it doesn't it isn't bad but it is certainly nothing new.
First impressions: The strings leap from being a mere backing track to a rich, soulful experience. For instance when listening to Elanor Rigby, it is as if you are sitting in a semicircle with the octet and Paul. You can hear the wood aching and creaking on the cellos. Just great.
I am the Walrus, again the poignant strings stand out but the new mix is a bit too crisp, the clarity is like lasix treatment for kaleidoscope eyes, too much clarity strips away some of the mystery and psychedelia. The mashups that work are Within You Without you superimposed over the monster drum beat/drone of Tomorrow Never Knows. The tabla beat sitting under Here Comes the Sun works not only sonically but also as a tribute to George.
The other thing I walked away with is how POWERFUL Ringo's playing is. He is maligned and underrated for sure but these remixes highlight just how remarkably powerful his playing is. From the Symphonic tom flourishes of A Day in the Life to the freight train chug of I am the Walrus (Sorry Bohnham fans, this is possibly the sludge rock freakin drum track of all time, it GROOVES like nothing I have ever heard.) (Ok, with several exceptions mostly from Ringo himself, Bill Ward and Bonham)(for those keeping track this si the 3rd paranthetical statement. I swear to God that Bonham's beat on "When the Levee Breaks" is a direct tribute to "I am the Walrus".)
I'd rather here the original mixes cleaned up and re-mastered or re-created from the original takes. Let it Be Naked showed how beautiful this could be. Stop screwing around with the limber limbed Canadians and get us the real stuff.

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