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Beatles Interview

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While we would have loved to provide you with a review of the new Love album by The Beatles, the record company didn't send us a copy. However, they did send us a great Inside Track with George Martin and his son Giles where they discuss each and every track on the CD. 

BECAUSE

George: An inspired offering from John when we recorded it for the Abbey Road album. He had heard the opening of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" and then evolved a pattern of arpeggios on his guitar that laid the foundation for this song. Listening anew to this track, with the harmonies that only John, Paul and George could provide, one realises what great vocalists they were. 

Giles: Dominic Champagne, the LOVE show director, had been listening to the Anthology albums and loved the a cappella version of "Because" and asked whether it could be in the show. The vocals are recorded three times with John, Paul and George singing their respective parts at the same time. The sound of their voices around one microphone is magical." 

GET BACK

George: This track kicks off with a driving rock sound. Great drums, great guitars,…. a great band!

Giles: I can't listen to "Get Back" without mentally picturing the band performing the song on the roof of the Apple offices in London's Savile Row. It made sense to open the show with this song and the drum solo from "The End" works really well as an intro.

GLASS ONION

George: One of John's off-the-wall efforts, he even recorded a mixture of sounds like a window being smashed, a telephone bell and a BBC broadcast effect, all of which were left unused (at the time). Instead I wrote a string arrangement to give the song more colour. A song not often heard, but one of my favourite strange tracks.

Giles:"Glass Onion" has such a great groove. In the show we needed something to get across the chaos of wartime Liverpool so the idea was to combine snippets of instruments from other songs flying through the mix. On the left hand side listen out for the " Things We Said Today" guitar that sounds like it's always been part of the song!

ELEANOR RIGBY - JULIA TRANSITION

George: By the time we started to record this track, Paul had realised the potential for using orchestral sounds and for the first time he wrote a song that demanded nothing but strings. I booked a double string quartet - four violins, two violas and two cellos, a sparse combination which when recorded with close microphones gave us the stringent sound we needed. The similarity to Bernard Hermann's score for "Psycho" is apparent and quite intentional. 

Giles: Allan Rouse, who's looked after the Beatles archive for years, had developed a technique in which we could combine the first recording of each four track with the 'bounce-down'. This means that we could have more than the original tracks to mix from.

I AM THE WALRUS

George: When John played "I Am The Walrus" to me for the first time I thought it sounded weird, but we laid down a track with the band the way he wanted it, then he told me he wanted me to do a score for him without being too specific. I thought long and hard about this and took a leap of faith by booking an orchestra and sixteen voices to make swooping sounds, chants and noises of laughter. When John heard what this choir were doing he fell about laughing, it was so unexpected. It really is a quirky track, but absolutely brilliant.

Giles: The guitar from "Julia" in the transition into "I am the Walrus" is so beautiful and peaceful it seemed to act as a good counterpoint to the madness within the main track. The song is timeless, and it still sounds like nothing else out there today. There was certainly nothing we could add to make it any more psychedelic so we decided to bring the band out a bit more.

I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND

George: At the turn of 1963/4 I was in Paris with the Beatles when Brian Epstein rang me in my hotel at one in the morning, bursting with pride and jubilation as he told me that at last we had our first No. 1 single in the USA after "I Want To Hold Your Hand" had quickly reached the top of the charts. It was a wonderful and significant moment. The Beatles had arrived!

Giles: We were always under pressure to present the songs in a different way and with the early material this was always more difficult as there's no separation between tracks. My dad came with an idea of using the three track tapes from "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" and combining the performances with the original masters. Surprisingly, both versions were perfectly in tune with each other, so what you're listening to here is both the live and studio versions of the song edited together.

DRIVE MY CAR/THE WORD/WHAT YOU'RE DOING

George: "Drive My Car" was the opening track of a great album - Rubber Soul - and was recorded remarkably quickly - between 7 pm and midnight on an evening in October 1965. Great rhythm that was just right for a dance sequence in the show. "The Word", recorded a couple of weeks later, had an almost identical beat and was also completed in a few hours. "What You're Doing" was recorded a year earlier, with a similar driving rhythm. They certainly worked hard and did not waste any time in those halcyon days.

Giles: The Beatles came up with some of pop music's most iconic riffs, none more so than "'Drive My Car". This era of Beatles music symbolises London at the peak of the swinging sixties. "The Word" and "Taxman" have such great grooves, we tried to blend as much of the band at their vibrant best in this, the only medley on the album." 

GNIK NUS

George: In the show we needed a sound to set the scene, a prelude to establish a mood, and a never-heard-before chorale by the Beatles does just that. It is pretty obvious where "Gnik Nus" came from, but I make no apologies, because for me it is absolutely lovely and it works well in the performance.

Giles: I had turned the cymbal backwards on "Sun King" for an effect for "Within You Without You/Tomorrow Never Knows" and I realised I'd turned the vocals around as well. My dad heard what I'd done and loved it and said that it's exactly the sort of thing that John would have gone for.

SOMETHING - BLUE JAY WAY (TRANSITION)

George: A most beautiful song by George which made everyone realise that he could write just as great a song as John or Paul, and it gave him enormous confidence. The master track was completed in May with a keyboard line from Billy Preston, and finally I added a string orchestra in mid August. I was so pleased with the final result." 

Giles: "Something" is such a sensitive song that works really well as it is. We moved the strings around for effect, leaving George's great vocal performance more upfront. 

BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE!/I WANT YOU (SHE'S SO HEAVY)/HELTER SKELTER

George: This has to be one of John's most pictorial songs and we all had fun making our recording sound like a real circus in the studio. My problem was playing the ancient harmonium while John and Paul acted as producers. They delighted in seeing me pedal away at that damned instrument for what seemed like hours. The show demanded something a little different, with a much darker mood. So although all the original sounds are still there, it does become rather menacing towards the end.

Giles: The LOVE show director, had visions of a macabre Victorian circus for the show. This made us approach "Kite" in a completely different way. "Blue Jay Way" set the scene really well, and the sound effects from "Good Morning" add to the general circus vibe. To create the sound of a circus going wrong we edited in "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" at the end flying in the mad organs and Paul's vocal on "Helter Skelter" over the top.

HELP!

George: "Help!" was originally written for the second Beatles film, and many armchair psychiatrists have read into it a cry from John to get him out of his prison of fame and success. It was to me a straightforward and good composition, one that came together in the studio without too much fuss, and it became the successful title song of their film. 

Giles: This was recorded really quickly onto a four track, with the band playing live onto one track. This recording has such a great natural Beatles sound that it's wonderful to just hear the power of their playing.

BLACKBIRD/YESTERDAY

George: We agonised over the inclusion of "Yesterday" in the show. It is such a famous song, the icon of an era, had it been heard too much? The story of the addition of the original string quartet is well known, however few people know how limited the recording was technically, and so the case for not including it was strong, but how could anyone ignore such a marvelous work? We introduce it with some of Paul's guitar work from "Blackbird" and hearing it now, I know that it was right to include it. Its simplicity is so direct; it tugs at the heartstrings.

Giles: I wasn't sure how the more sensitive songs would sound in the theatre, I was scared that some intimacy would be lost. While I was in Montreal, Cirque let me go with sound designer Jonathan Deans to a new show they were about to tour so I could play around with their PA. As soon as I played "Yesterday" through the system all the workmen stopped and just listened to the song. I guessed then that we would probably be OK!

STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER

George: I will never forget the first time I heard "Strawberry Fields Forever". John began by giving me my usual private performance, standing in front of me, strumming his acoustic guitar and singing those incredible opening lines. I was absolutely captivated, such different material, almost too tender to be recorded. The song went through a few changes, and we recorded it more than once, eventually combining two completely different versions, in different keys and different tempos. I love the song to this day, but John told me many years later that he was never really satisfied with it and I felt that in its recording I had let him down. I hope he has forgiven me.

Giles: The LOVE show director, had wanted us to demonstrate the Beatles experimentation and creativity in the studio. Yoko had brought in some early demos of John singing "Strawberry Fields Forever" so in the spirit of the original we decided to combine the very early takes with the final version. I went on holiday and my poor father spent hours with a vari-speed tape machine putting all the takes in the key of B. I came back and spent about six weeks combing the various tracks to make one long new version of the song. And at the end, with those fantastic drums, we just decided to have a bit of fun…
 

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