”I thought perhaps we should have a contest to see who could spot everything we used,” says George Martin. ”No one would ever get them all.” Martin is talking about the soundtrack — made up entirely of music by the Beatles — for the new Cirque du Soleil show, Love, opening at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas on June 30th.
The show marks the first time that the Beatles have authorized their recordings for a theatrical production. When given the assignment, Martin, with help from his son Giles, set out to assemble the ultimate Beates mixtape, using ”a tremendous number of snippets, from hundreds of songs” to create 27 new pieces of music, all mixed for a supercharged surround sound.
”It’s going to be great,” said Ringo Starr in an interview last year. ”He’s George, and he knows us, he knows where the music is, he knows where the bodies are on the tapes.”
In early May, eight weeks before the show’s opening, Giles Martin gave Rolling Stone an exclusive listen to the complete score of Love. Here are his comments on each of the tracks:
Overture: ”BECAUSE” — just the vocal track, with bird effects.
”This plays with the lights still up, to get the audience into the mood.”
Then the lights come down to the sound of the ”endless piano chord” from ”A Day in Life” played backwards, the opening chord from ”A Hard Day’s Night,” the Abbey Road drum solo, all over audience screams recorded at Shea Stadium, leading into
Track 1: ”GET BACK” — ending with strings from ”Glass Onion,” with ”Hello Goodbye” mixed in
”We wanted to start with the Abbey Road drum solo because it’s bombastic and the Beatles are so often not thought of as a rock band. So we went and did a big rock opening — it was great to create a sort of live Beatles experience.”
Track 2: ”ELEANOR RIGBY” — with a newly structured string intro
”All the songs are the same, not changed. You don’t think about anything but what will be right for the Beatles — my dad has the ability to say, ‘if we were doing this then, this is how we would do it.’
Fades into the guitar from ”Julia,” a piece of ”Strawberry Fields Forever,” the strings from ”A Day in the Life”
Track 3: ”I AM THE WALRUS”
”People ask about unreleased material — the fact is, pretty much all of it has been released, and what hasn’t, you go, ‘ooh, do we really want to put that out?’ ”
Track 4: ”I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND”
Track 5: ”CAN’T BUY ME LOVE”
Track 6: ”A HARD DAY’S NIGHT”
”The challenge of the early stuff is that it was all 2 track or 4 — and on the 4-track recordings, they wouldn’t always even use all 4. So we took the Hollywood Bowl recordings and decided to experiment with those. We matched the studio versions to the live recordings and they were actually all in the same key.
”The production on stage is like ‘West Side Story’ on speed. We used shorter versions here, but it’ll be the full songs on the album.”
The introduction from ”Sun King,” played backwards, leads into
Track 7: ”SOMETHING”
”Some of them really needed to be left alone. The idea was to get that experience that I got when I heard the tapes, to just hear them playing.”
Track 8: ”BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE” with laughter and screaming from various sessions, accordion from ”Cry Baby Cry,” lots of “pissing around” that was on the masters
Also ”Good Morning Good Morning” sound effects, laughter from ”Piggies,” noises from ”I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” and ”Helter Skelter”
”We wanted a dark circus, something that would evoke the troubles they had in the Deep South, and in the Philippines, on tour. The stopping of the Beatles as the Fab Four, touring band. We did it not for indulgence’s sake, but because it suits the show — ‘Kite’ should be darker. It’s quite heavy for Vegas, and we had to fight for that. The Beatles weren’t soft, and the last thing we wanted was ‘The Beatles-play-Vegas,’ something that was just not cool at all.”
Track 9: ”HELP”
”We found out they rushed the mix, did it somewhere that wasn’t Abbey Road. We needed to get out of mono, since we’re all out of a mono world.”
Track 10: ”YESTERDAY” ends with ”Blackbird” intro into
Track 11: ”GIRL” with a drone from ”Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” a drum roll from ”Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” under the chorus, and a guitar figure from ”And I Love Her”
Track 12: ”SHE’S LEAVING HOME”
”These all kind of go together. Paul was kind of ambivalent about using ‘Yesterday,’ but Dad wanted it in the show, he thought people would be disappointed if it wasn’t there.”
”The starting point was to not do the ‘1’ record. We’re not doing badly getting obscure songs in. We wanted more a portrayal of their innovation than of their success.”