Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Beatles: Love [Apple/Capitol, 2006]
George Martin was a great producer precisely insofar as he was the Beatles' producer. His other great discovery was America, and nobody compares him to Christopher Columbus, so why mention him alongside Jerry Wexler or Timbaland? Praise Lennon-McCartney, then, that this Martin-produced soundscape for a Cirque du Soleil extravaganza is so LOVEly--the suite side of Abbey Road extended to 78 minutes. Only six titles, including a fan-enhanced live snatch of "I Want to Hold Your Hand," are pre-1966, with Rubber Soul reduced to 30 seconds of "The Word," and even in the late catalogue, Martin highlights the sweet, cute, and orchestral--no "Yer Blues," "You Never Give Me Your Money," or "Why Don't We Do It in the Road." Trivialities like "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "Octopus's Garden" are on full display, while "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" briefly signifies a chaos that inspires cries of "Help" and is quickly righted by "Blackbird/Yesterday." Nevertheless, the trickery is great fun from the choral, tweet-tweaked "Because" to a "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" more forthright than the original. And always another great melody waits in the wings, ready to take you higher. These melodies weren't all or even most of what the Beatles gave the world. But only rockist sentimentalists dismiss the Apollonian detachment of the world's greatest rock and roll band's late period. Played too often, this version of the world's greatest rock and roll band could give a person a tummyache. But as desserts go, it's got some spice. [Rolling Stone: 3.5]