This new album from The Beatles reworked by George Martin, aged 80, and his son Giles does not satisfy all Beatles fans. Even as a fan, you don’t need this album actually, because there’s nothing new or unreleased, if you know the “Anthology” and those many bootlegs. Except a new string arrangement got composed by George Martin for the Harrison song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.
In my opinion Giles Martin did a great job in remixing several songs together, and it wasn’t that easy, I think.
There are a few bad things on this album. But let’s begin first with THE GOOD:
The best example is track 14, a well done fusion of “Within And Without You” rythmized with “Tomorrow Never Knows”.
Also very interesting is the reverse track of “Sun King” (track 8), I’m sure John Lennon would have been pleased to listen it.
In “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!” (track 10) and “I Am The Walrus” (track 5) finally you can hear better those bizarre wurlitzer organ, circus and radio sound effects.
Track 7 comes in a well triopack of “Drive My Car”, “The Word” and “What You’re Doing”, while the beat and the harmonies of “Drive My Car” stay in the background. I think the sampled saxophone sections in the refrain were taken from Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle”.
In track 12, at the beginning, there’s a stunning but very logic combination of Paul’s rythm guitar beginning with “Black Bird” and then starts on the same chord with “Yesterday”. These two guitar recordings (“Blackbird” recorded in 1968 and “Yesterday” recorded in 1965 tune so similar, that you can’t hear the change from one to the other song, very fascinating.
“Here Comes The Sun” has a marvelous intro, again combined with the tabla, tampura and strings of “Within And Without You” and for the end they used a small part of “The Inner Light”, also well done.
Finally we got a full version of “Strawberry Fields Forever” (track 13). Many bootleg versions got glued together with the original parts, just pitty that it doesn’t start with the lovely Mellotron flutes.
“Something” (track 9) comes in a full string arrangement.
THE BAD: For my opinion “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” got very bad crippled already in the beginning. In the end of track 14 you can hear the Beethovenesque verse melody from “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, but chopped off very badly. Track 15 then starts normally in the correct speed. In the refrain of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” there’s a sample, maybe the clavoline part of “Baby You’re A Rich Man” which definitly doesn’t fit and doesn’t make sense. And the bad is, that it’s in every part of the refrain. The end of the song got looped, which sounds very boring to me.
Another very bad idea lies in “Lady Madonna” (track 17) using a smart part of “Hey Bulldog” in the middle end of the song. And the bad is, it’s sounds completely out of tune (ouch)! And after that, nearly to the end of that, there’s this terrible long out of tune lead guitar solo as well. Really terrible!
There are other good remixes on this album, and some tracks sound not really different to my ears, except the whole album is of course in 5.1 DTS and Dolby Surround. All in all it’s a great album. The Beatles sound now very newish and clean. Maybe too clean? It’s a question of taste. I like the idea of freshing up old records, but it’s always riskful not loosing the old spirit of the sound. I mean, not loosing the original volume and paning adjustment of each tracks in one song is already one big task. Giles Martin used a lot of timestretching and pitching tools, to adjust the samples into the correct bpm and tune. So sometimes you hear a little loss of audio quality.
The selection of the tracks is interesting, there’s many psychedelic stuff. I think it’s because these songs fit very well for making 5.1 surround effects with it. It’s quite logic that a 5.1 release would appear someday. Brian Wilson for example did his “Pet Sounds” in 5.1 surround long time before.
What’s next coming from Apple Corps Ltd.? The complete albums in 5.1? I hope Apple Corps Ltd. will release “The Beatles Christmas Records” for next year!