Rhythm & Views

The Beatles

Remixing The Beatles--what fresh travesty is this? Yes, someone has fiddled with the hallowed pop canon recorded in the 1960s by the inventive and immortal Fab Four.

Fear not, though, ye purists. Behind this album is none other than Sir George Martin, the now-80-year-old mastermind who produced most of the band's material and frequently is referred to as the "fifth Beatle." Martin worked together with his son, Giles (also a music producer of note), to create this music for the Las Vegas debut earlier this year of the Cirque du Soleil show Love.

The CD reimagines dozens of Beatles tunes in fresh, new form: a 78-minute musical mosaic in which some tracks are almost intact (though digitally punchier than ever). Some have been infused with elements of others, with many pieced together in melodically seamless medley. To call the Martins' process a mash-up or cut-and-paste would do it disservice. This is musical alchemy at its highest form, aided by technological advances unimaginable 35 years ago.

For instance, the naked a cappella harmonies of "Because" give way to the ringing guitar chord that opens "A Hard Day's Night," which is followed by Ringo Starr's famous drum solo from "The End." That then moves into a souped-up version of "Get Back."

Many of us will have fun playing "spot the snippet" and probably will find ourselves digging out old dusty albums and CDs. But the real joy in this CD is that it takes songs that have become part our collective cultural consciousness and it asks us to listen closely again, with fresh ears, to the genius that was The Beatles.

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