One can neither damage nor assist The Beatles’ career—bigger than Jesus, you know. You can, however, fuck around with the band’s tunes and produce some alternately sublime and dismal results, as heard in this 26-song set of remixes and mash-ups released in conjunction with the recent opening of Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, featuring Beatles music.
About a third of the new mixes, headed by Beatles producer George Martin and his son Giles, are fab. Straight clean- up jobs, like “Help,” “Hey Jude,” “Come Together” and “Revolution” are punchy and satisfying. George Harrison’s vocal from the always-dreary “Within You/Without You” is paired over the hypnotic backing track of “Tomorrow Never Knows” to stunning effect. The cellos and lead vocal of “I Am The Walrus” sparkle like a tab of acid here. The top of “Something,” stripped to George’s vocal and Paul’s bass, becomes the gentle, tender ballad it must have been before all the “Abbey Road” marmalade was spread over it. The solo vocals of “Gnik Nus,” (“Sun King,” backwards) sound like a holy chant from the mountaintop here, and surprisingly, Ringo singing “Octopus’ Garden” over the strings of the White Album’s “Goodnight” lends “Garden” a gentle, touching flavor.
The problems with the disc are twofold; first, the early material is underrepresented. The opening bang of “A Hard Day’s Night” is here, as is an abbreviated “I Want To Hold Your Hand” with annoying screaming fans piped in throughout, but missing are “Please Please Me,” “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “I Feel Fine” or even “I Saw Her Standing There.” The C-list song “What You’re Doing” is inexplicably dropped in the middle of “Drive My Car,” and some of the new mixes clutter up faves rather than improving them. Overall, though, the band has never sounded better, and despite the clunkers, it’s essential listening.
In A Word: Gear