.....beautiful flowing orchestral musings from the fifth Beatle, images of peace, love and serenity start off the last album by the fabbermost of the fab, maybe the most famous entertainers ever.
This is the final gift of love by them and it is an intense shaft of life in a dark world that has learned little of this peace, love and serenity. An album of tears and laughter, of beauty and passion and a final celebration of the most famous musical canon ever.
There are some new songs and some old friends revisited. This was the era of creative disharmony, maybe it is a collection of four solo artists but this is music like no other and could only exist in the creative cauldron of the final-day Beatles. And it is the unity which will be the final memory, the almost-spiritual harmonies of the a-capella Because, the casual interplay on I've Got A Feeling, the communal spirit of Two of Us.
It is the laughs that are, for this writer, the hallmark of the set, the ability not to take things too seriously. Rocky Raccoon should crack up the most dour with it's mock-serious intro and rewriting of the language, the self-mockery at the end of Let It Be, the silly but perfect intros to Hey Jude and Ob-la-di Ob-la-da, the ability in Los Paranoias to make a off-the-cuff parody sound like a great pop song, the attempt to turn Teddy Boy into a barn-dance.
There are the tears and poignancies too, which takes this set from the interesting to the memorable. All Things Must Pass is rightfully claimed as a song written for the Beatles, even if it is just George performing. In this context, the message of change, coping with loss and hope for tomorrow are poignant to the point of tears, backed as it is by the tranquil guitar, reassuring voice and wonderful melody.
Or take The Long And Winding Road, stripped bare of adornment and listen to Paul speak of all of our search for love. This is not a schmaltzy ballad but a cry from the wind-swept coast of Scotland for love, acceptance and companionship.
Or the gentle instrumental strummings of Julia as John reconciles the loss of his mother with the new love in his life and tries to make sense of it all. And Ringo has his heart-stopping moment as he sings Goodnight. mostly now to a simple accompaniment , with a final orchestral crescendo and this little tune becomes even more poignant and special.
We welcome some new friends to the list of Beatles songs, the bizarre What's The New Mary Jane may be the overindulgence of a mind testing the limits of creativity, yet even that sound s welcome here. Not Guilty is a performance of passion and power, showing that the George of this period was the creative equal of John and Paul, Junk sounds even more relevant to the throwaway 90s than it was back then and Come and Get It and Step Inside Love were given away by Paul but are reclaimed back here as celebrations of simply good pop music.
Romantic moments too, Something is simply one of the great love songs is given a new simplicity and soul here. I Will..so simple, so direct, so perfect, For You Blue never sounded better as a celebration of the joy of love , While My Guitar Gently Weeps gains in delicacy what it loses in passion and there is a new life in maybe the greatest single ever, Hey Jude, the re-affirmation of hope, the essence of the Beatles and life.
Not forgetting a bit of rock-and-roll to keep those feet tapping along, a nod to the roots on the rock-and -roll medley, a hard blues edge to Helter Skelter, a frantic Get Back played as the police came to stop the Beatles last show and a wonderfully powerful raw Lennon vocal on Come Together.
But all good things draw to an end and this is the finishing end here....the swansong single Let It Be, hope, fear, comfort, doubt in one, the confident George questioning the world in I Me Mine and then the real end, throbbing guitar solos celebrating the essence of rock and roll, a piano roll, the final orchestral touch and the final message of love, before that last final chord rises, crashes and fades to put the final maestro touch in.
Yes, they gave everything they had for a little peace of mind. They were humans with many frailties but they believed in love and peace and they set examples to us of these things. The world has learned little since they went, but they have put a lot into reminding us one more time what they were about and why they were the greatest. Now they need peace, because they have given us all and especially this one final special testament.
Will we understand it better this time? Will we learn to give before expecting to receive? Will we understand peace any better thirty years on?
At least we will always have this special album to remind us of these questions.