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Fans "Love" Beatles' New Album

Fans have rushed to buy the first "new" Beatles album for a generation -- a radical remixing of some of the group's most famous songs -- more than 35 years after the break-up of the iconic band.

"Love", which has the backing of surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, comprises 26 of the Fab Four's hit songs, but many of them mixed together using previously unheard material from the studio.

"I hope this will help people to hear Beatles music again," said Giles Martin, son of the group's original producer Sir George Martin who is often referred to as the fifth Beatle.

Martin and his son worked for three years on the project, which forms the soundtrack to a Beatles stage show of the same name, put on since June in Las Vegas by Canadian entertainment company Cirque du Soleil.

Using archives and master tapes at the Abbey Road studios in London originally used by The Beatles, they put together songs by a complex mixture of overlaying, dubbing and synchronizing to produce sometimes startlingly new compositions.

For example, elements of "Penny Lane" are mixed with "Strawberry Fields Forever", while "Blackbird" is combined with "Yesterday" in a process called a "mash-up" by sound engineers.

Other track combinations on the new album include "Get Back" feeding into "Glass Onion", before weaving into the chords of "Eleanor Rigby", giving an appropriately psychedelic texture to the 1960s originals.

At each stage the surviving Beatles -- plus John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and George Harrison's widow Olivia -- were consulted on the developing work, and they were almost always approving.

On one occasion though, as a test, the Martins presented McCartney with a version of "Hey Jude" featuring a reggae intro.

"It was a Jamaican 'Hey Jude'. You had to see his face. He just said: 'I don't think that really goes'. It was wonderful," George Martin said, according to The Guardian newspaper.

In theory, the producers' golden rule was that only original Beatles music could be used. But there was one exception: an acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", for which George Martin wrote an original orchestral score.

"The project was a labour of love and rounds things off. In 1965 I did my first score for "Yesterday" and this is my final score ... it's a sort of top and tail of my life," said the 80-year-old producer on Monday.

The Las Vegas show, which features an international cast of 60 acrobats performing aerial gymnastics, extreme sports and urban, freestyle dance, has been a roaring success.

It has been staged for the last five months in a custom-built theatre at The Mirage hotel with 360-degree seating and high definition video projections of 100-feet (30-metre) high moving images.

The album's producers are reasonably confident the record will enjoy similar success, and that the late Beatles Lennon and Harrison would have approved of it.

"I think they would have liked it," said the elder Martin at the album launch. "To be honest, I believe they were there with us as we worked on it."

by Michael Thurston, LONDON (AFP)

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