This article is part of a series that we are doing on which Beatles album is the best. At the conclusion of the series, we will offer a poll on the main page asking you to vote on which one was your favorite.
I like to consider myself a decent Beatles fan. I have 111 of their songs in my iTunes Library and often think of more I am missing. I’ve seen the exhibits, read the articles, and watched the videos. I’ve developed my opinions on Across the Universe, Paul McCartney’s career, and all of that. At the same time, I know there are a lot of fans much, much bigger than myself. I’ve only seen one of their movies. I didn’t carry a Beatles coffee table book to calculus class in high school like that one kid. I appreciate the albums, but, to be quite honest, I often like my Beatles on shuffle.
This is odd for me, because I truly do appreciate the art of the album. I love the stories they tell and the moments in history they represent. Albums are meant to be listened to from start to finish, not picked apart and shuffled into a playlist among different artists and genres. And this is especially true for Beatles albums, around which there is quite a cultish obsession.
Perhaps I don’t listen to The Beatles album-by-album because it took me a while to appreciate each song. I started with “Here Comes the Sun” off The Parent Trap soundtrack and went from there, slowly building my library over the years—and this certainly wasn’t in any sort of order. There’s one disc, however, that I’ve never failed to listen to from start to finish, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Fans bigger than myself might disagree with this opinion, but I think the Cirque de Soleil Love soundtrack is the Beatles’ best.
So “Love” really isn’t a Beatles album at all. It’s a soundtrack, and a remix, and, although Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Linda Harrison all approved the work, it was George and Giles Martin who actually produced it. George is a legendary EMI producer who had worked with the Beatles during their heyday, and Giles is a mashup master.
Love isn’t just 26 songs—it’s actually composed of 130 different tracks, both commercial and demo. Many of the tracks are from mid-to-late Beatles era, most are very popular, and each individual track has its own story. For example, “I Want To Hold Your Hand” includes pieces from a performance at The Hollywood Bowl. “Strawberry Fields Forever” contains parts of “In My Life,” “Hello, Goodbye,” “Piggies,” “Penny Lane,” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” I pick up a new piece of this each time I listen and, as I write this piece, I find myself wanting to turn it on right now and discover more.
It isn’t only the songs themselves that are mashups—each song on the album transitions fluidly to the next. This may be for obvious reasons, because Cirque de Soleil needs a continuous score, but this also makes it so that the listener can’t stop listening until the voices fade out at the conclusion of “All You Need Is Love.”
The songs I’ve mentioned thus far are obviously some of the best-known. “Eleanor Rigby,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Help!” “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” “Blackbird,” “Yesterday,” and all the other tracks that everybody knows make up the bulk of the album. In this way, “Love” is perfect for the Beatles newbie. At the same time, the Martins’ brilliant placement of hidden tracks, chord progressions, and dialogue provides the album with just about 130 reasons why a serious Beatles buff should listen again and again. “Love”, above all, is the perfect solution for a Beatles-shuffler like myself. It puts my favorite songs (‘A Day In The Life,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” etc,) all in the same place, and where it lacks “In My Life,” at least its piano solo is buried in there somewhere. “Love” has the ability to bring all types of Beatles fans together under one roof, or sky with diamonds, or whatever, and this is appropriate, because the Beatles do, after all, encourage us to come together.