Beatles project a labour of Love
Famed Beatle producer’s son had no idea where remixing Fab Four songs would take him, or whether anyone would approve of the result
You might expect the son of legendary Beatles producer George Martin to treat the Fab Four’s master recordings with kid gloves.
But not Giles Martin, who worked with his 80-year-old father on experimental remixes of existing recordings made by the Liverpool foursome at Abbey Road for the ‘new’ Beatles record, LOVE, which hits stores today.
“It’s funny. The Beatles didn’t really mean much to me as a kid — at all — because I was born in the wrong era,” said Martin, 37, while in Toronto recently for an invitation-only playback of the 26-track LOVE.
“I didn’t really hear the White Album until I was 22. When you’re a teenager you kind of rebel against your parents anyway. And my dad, at the time, wasn’t against the Beatles, but wanted to move on from that. It’s only now, it’s only recently, for him — and I think for the Beatles as well — that they can look back on this era and say, ‘That’s when they were at their peak.’ It’s a remarkable seven years of imagination and collaboration and inspiration. It really was.”
The genesis of LOVE was to provide the soundtrack for Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas show of the same name at The Mirage, which opened earlier this year.
Although some Beatles fans might consider it sacriligious to fiddle with Fab Four songs, Martin said his job was to “change things.”
“They wanted to do something that was different, which is very Beatles in a way, so that’s what I was employed to do,” said Martin, whose early production credits include albums for Kulashaker, Monorail and Hayley Westenra. “I just thought I was going to get fired while I was doing it. I’m surprised it got as far as it did.”
Martin said it was quite nerve-wracking when he first played a 25-minute demo of Beatles remixes for Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono.
“I probably knew Paul best, but I was most wary of Paul just playing things to him, ’cause he’s a great musician — and not that Ringo isn’t, or Yoko or Olivia don’t care.
“They heard the first demo we did, and they really liked it. And I don’t think they really believed that it was ever going to fully reach its full course. But they loved the idea of it. And my risk involved was upsetting them. And upsetting my dad. So the nervous thing wasn’t actually doing it. The nervous thing was letting it go. I thought I was going to be absolutely (criticized) for it. And I probably still will be.”
Strangely enough, Martin was born in 1969, the same year The Beatles were breaking up, and he shares Lennon’s birthday — Oct. 9.
“(Lennon) turned around to my dad and said, ‘Now you know what kind of a–hole he’s going to turn out to be!'” Martin said with a smile. “I found it really interesting to talk to Yoko, actually. I didn’t know Yoko very well before this project. I now know her quite well. And she’s a fascinating woman, she really is. But you know she’s very, very, very intelligent and she knows her stuff. And the same with Paul. You can’t get anything by them.”
In the end, Martin is most proud of the musicianship that LOVE evokes. Some songs are drastically remixed, with snippets of other Beatles tunes inserted in a collage effect, while others sound largely unchanged.
“You hear the complexity of what they’re doing, linked at the same time, with the fact that they were the world’s greatest pop band,” Martin said. “And I don’t like all the history side of it because, I suppose, of my dad being who he is. I find it a bit boring, I suppose, in a way. And what really interests me was the fact that they were a good band.”
Beatles project a labour of Love