I really rather love this new (ha!) Beatles album, Love
(and if you don't know anything about it, check out Stephen Thomas Erlewine's useful summary here
). It sits so carefully in the middle of options that it's bound to unite several different groups of music lovers in fury. As Erlewine suggests, seekers of the mash-up will roll their eyes at the safeness of the reconstructions while Beatles lifers will go into convulsions as is customary in the face of all "impurities." Me, I find it indulges my inner Beatles obsessive with an industrious spirit that splits the difference between campy and dorky.
But something I heard about Love
on NPR's All Songs Considered recently indulged my inner Beatles hater (ok, inner Beatles FAN hater). On the 22 Dec 2006 show, host Bob Boilen interviewed Giles Martin, son of George and mixmaster wizard behind Love
. Boilen asked Martin about the extent of tinkering done with the original tapes. Here's the exchange:
Giles Martin: I suppose our rule was we didn't want to take any soul out of The Beatles. The first thing I did was the drum solo from the end going to "Get Back" and the easiest way to do this is to put this is in time...What I mean is the tempo doesn't vary - Ringo wouldn't slow down or speed up. Like you do this in modern tracks. Hip hop guys do this all the time...And I did that to Ringo and it sounded awful...
Bob Boilen: Can I just paraphrase real quick? I want to make sure I understood. What happens with modern techonology is you can make something that maybe drifts a little bit one way or another, the human factor of drumming, and you can make it lock like a clock, right? And you did that to Ringo and that sounded awful? Is that what you're saying?
Giles Martin: It sounded like Beatles in the eighties.
(Courteous laughter from Boilen.)
Oh like that's self-evident - the eighties = quantization
(which is the technical term for what they're talking about). Moreover, quantization = soullessness. And worst of all, the eighties = awful!
Ok look. I'm grateful for Martin's work on Love
. If tonight Mr. Kite is topping the bill by slamming into "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," I'll buy a ticket. But goddamned if I'm gunna sit still while the 1960s (here in the guise of rockist ideology) refuse to die AGAIN when they're being resuscitated via eighties hip-hop (and dance music) techniques. Yes, I know tape manipulation existed long before the days of yes, yes, y'all. But the spirit of Love
is more Sugarhill than Les Paul and Mary Ford. In fact, I'd say Love
is proof very positive that the musical world we inhabit today is largely a hip-hop/dance music one. So bow down to it, Giles Martin. And realize that we already have The Beatles quantized. See pic.
Straight outta 1988. Greatest Beatles cover ever?