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CD reviews

Mike Hart

The Beatles


On sale at All That Jazz for $17.98

“Come Together.” “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” “All You Need Is Love.” The list of Beatles songs that are ingrained in the lives of generations of people around the world could easily fill an entire newspaper column.

The songs have had such an immense cultural impact that when Disney began work on “Fantasia 2000” – a continuation of the classic animated musical “Fantasia” – there were mutterings that the producers were toying with the idea of including a Beatles song, which is noteworthy because the first film had set an unwritten rule to include only classical music because of its timelessness. Apparently the creators believed the Beatles, despite being a pop group, had created music that ascended beyond the confines of pop music.

Most would agree.

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As a result of the music being held in such high regard by so many listeners, it’s dangerous business to release alternative versions or remixes of the band’s songs. But “Love,” a compilation album that serves as a soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil show of the same name, does just that. And it does so under the guidance of the band’s producer, George Martin.

Although Beatles fans will approach the album with skepticism because of the fear that the remixes of such classic songs in the name of a commercial venture will tarnish the originals, the new versions don’t offend. This is because all of the music is from the band’s original recordings, and because Martin is a production genius. The remixes never best the originals, but they aren’t trying to. As Martin’s son Giles Martin, who co-produced the album, reportedly said, the album is “a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period.”

The most interesting part of the album is the ease in which many of the songs meld together. Not only do songs seamlessly transition, but throughout the album elements of songs are sped up (“Revolution”), slowed down, reversed (“Sun King”) or added to songs for which they weren’t originally intended – “Octopus’s Garden” is remixed so that the song begins with Ringo’s vocals dubbed over top of the music of “Good Night,” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” contains pieces of “Hello, Goodbye,” “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” “Penny Lane” and “Piggies.”

The inclusion of songs not known by the casual listener, such as “Hey Bulldog,” which finds its riff on “Lady Madonna,” will please the biggest fans, and the album’s blend of the biggest hits and well-known songs that weren’t No. 1 singles, such as “Here Comes the Sun,” “Drive My Car” or “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds,” makes it a more well-rounded introduction to the Beatles than the hit-single compilation, “1,” which was produced in a less interesting, chronological format.

Rating: 4 stars

Various artists

“Eminem Presents the Re-Up”

On sale at All That Jazz for $15.98

Eminem is back. Sort of.

“Eminem Presents the Re-Up” finds Eminem keeping his pledge to redirect his focus from rapping to producing.

Although he takes the mic on a third of the album’s songs, his vocal presence is often forgotten, especially when songs such as remixes of Obie Trice’s “Cry Now” and Akon’s “Smack That” take the spotlight.

But with credits on the majority of the album’s songs, it’s undoubtedly an Eminem production, and the results are mixed.

With a cast of characters that includes Obie Trice, 50 Cent, Cashis and Lloyd Banks, “Re-Up” has a crew reminiscent of that assembled for Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic 2001.”

But, unlike “2001,” “Re-Up” is a compilation album, and the result is a collection of songs that don’t feel any more connected than a mix tape. The album, and its expectedly strong beats, features a set of songs that will entertain any party or club, but won’t appeal to Eminem fans who jumped on the bandwagon after the radio success of his pop tunes – “My Name Is,” “Stan,” etc.

“You Don’t Know” (Eminem featuring 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Cashis), “Jimmy Crack Corn” (Eminem featuring 50 Cent) and “Get Low” (Stat Quo, produced by Dr. Dre) are among the album’s keynotes. The latter, with the sort of production only Dr. Dre can bless a track with, will be played to exhaustion in clubs.

The beats are addictive, though anything less from this team of producers would be a disappointment.

Rating: 2.5 stars

One Year Yesterday

“The Intention EP”

Los Angeles-based One Year Yesterday brings its self-described pop/rock/soul sound to Steamboat Mountain Theater at 8 p.m. today, and when the band takes the stage, it’s sure to offer a Steamboat debut of the songs from its three-song EP, “The Intention EP.”

“The Intention EP,” which offers an introductory frame of the band’s soul-pop style, begins with the Bruce Hornsby-esque “Fall On Me.”

The song’s lead riff, belted on the keys, hooks listeners with its simple, arpeggiated bounce, and pulls them toward its chorus, delivered with the smooth, bluesy vocal style that defines John Mayer.

“Emily,” the EP’s second track, is an upbeat love song that – with introspective lyrics – sounds perfect for a self-reflective montage scene in a romantic comedy or for a late-night drive after the type of discussion that leaves question marks hanging over the nature of a relationship.

When the first words of “T’s For Intention,” the EP’s final song, are softly delivered, it’s evident that lyricist Tyler Johnson’s mind often is on the dilemmas and delights of the opposite sex. Whereas the lyrics of “Fall On Me” offer emotional support, and the words of “Emily” are seeped in confusion over the direction of a relationship, “T’s For Intention” says, in more subtle words, to turn the lights down low.

The EP’s guitar work takes a mostly sidekick role to the keys and vocals, with the exception of its brief solos, but its supplemental fills are the lifeblood of the songs – offering unique voices to somewhat genre-formulaic, though catchy, pieces.

If the band’s live performance matches the musicianship of its recordings, its date at Steamboat Mountain Theater will be worth the visit.

Rating: 3 stars