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Beatles - Now and Then

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 5 / 12 / 2023

Beatles - Now and Then

Probably the year's most anticipated record has now arrived. With five mournful, powerful piano chords, the unmistakable and crystal clear voice of John Lennon plus the gentle strum of an acoustic guitar, 'Now And Then' is here! - The final record from The Beatles has appeared more than half a century after the “fab four” went their different ways. The song was written by John Lennon eight years after the band broke up and, despite John Lennon having been murdered 43 years ago and George Harrison dying in 2001, both feature on the record – thanks to the marvels of modern technology. Back in 1994, Lennon's widow Yoko Ono gave the demo of the song to Sir Paul McCartney on a cassette simply labeled, “For Paul”. Recordings of 'Real Love' and 'Free As A Bird' were also on the cassette and these numbers were of good enough quality to be remixed and released in the mid-1990s. But on the demo of 'Now And Then' it was simply not possible to separate Lennon's vocals and his piano accompaniment - until now. The development of sophisticated AI software - first used on Peter Jackson's innovative 2021 Beatles film 'Get Back' - has made it possible to isolate Lennon's vocals and remix them with instrumental additions from George Harrison's sound archives, from Ringo Starr on drums and input from Paul McCartney (on many instruments plus as co-producer of the record). McCartney's co-producer Giles Martin, son of Sir George, the Beatles's original long-term producer, helped put final touches to the song, too as did Peter Jackson who has also made a video for 'Now And Then'. Sir Paul McCartney has commented, “It was very emotional for Ringo and me. All those great memories came flooding back. My God, how lucky was I to have had those men in my life? And to still be working on Beatles music now in 2023.....Wow!” So, what is 'Now And Then' actually like? A reflective, romantic ballad, it opens in melancholy fashion, dominated by minor chords (a Beatles trademark) before the mood lifts with an upbeat chorus. John's voice is wonderful to hear again after more than four decades and there are many other familiar sounds on the record – like strings playing in the tradition of 1967's 'I Am The Walrus'. Then, after just sixty seconds or so, Ringo Starr ups the tempo to instantly transform 'Now And Then' into a fully-fledged Beatle number! True, against the greatest Beatles songs like 'Something', 'Yesterday', 'Hey Jude' or 'Strawberry Fields Forever', the new song might not win any prizes. But this is far more than a computer-generated Franken-song! And it is great that John Lennon and George Harrison are both fundamental to this emotional and very human new - and almost certainly last – record from one of the world's biggest bands – ever! ;Now And Then' is a final swansong that has been well worth the wait!

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Beatles - Now and Then

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Nick Dent-Robinson reflects upon the Beatles' much anticipated new single, 'Now and Then'.

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