Bob Stanley isn’t impressed by the ‘new’ Beatles album. Can’t say I am much either. I’m certainly not the world’s biggest Beatles fan, but hearing the Martins’ reworked ‘Strawberry Fields’ on the radio on Saturday I could only think – as I think Stanley does too – of corporatism and wasted opportunity. You see, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the Beatles’ back catalogue is soon to pass out of copyright (new laws to cope with this are likely being drafted as I write), so not only does an official reworking grant a Christmas windfall of sales, but also effectively extends the copyright on all your old favourites by changing them just enough, but not so much that you care about the difference. Frankly, after all the hoo-ha that there has been in the past when half-decent producers have actually attempted something creative with the Fab Four’s back catalogue, it’s hard to imagine Love as anything but a cynical director’s-cut, added-extras, box-set exploitation. Paul’s comparison of the new album to a glossy reprint of Churchill’s writings – greatly preferable to the original manuscripts, he says – exposes this hollowness: sheen over substance. I don’t think this is a question of authenticity (I mean, we all know that’s a crock, right; with Sergeant Pepper the Beatles did as much as anyone to kill this off), but rather the substitution of imagination and ambition for the comforting illusion of Dolby 5.1. (Weird isn’t it – supposedly ‘better’ sound quality, higher fidelity no less, actually draws accusations of inauthenticity…)
And anyway that version of ‘Strawberry Fields’ was pretty weak.