In a remarkable blend of artistry and technology, The Beatles have made a triumphant return with their final track, “Now and Then.” Created using artificial intelligence to recompose John Lennon’s voice from old tapes, this song marks a bittersweet but brilliant conclusion to the Fab Four’s illustrious career. As the hauntingly familiar voices of Lennon, McCartney, and Starr blend together with an eerie vitality, “Now and Then” invites listeners on a captivating journey through time.
One of the most striking aspects of “Now and Then” is the resurrection of John Lennon’s voice. His vocals, extracted from vintage tapes, do indeed bear the marks of age, lending a sense of vulnerability to the song. In the context of the Beatles’ legacy, it’s a reminder of the inexorable passage of time and the ephemeral nature of human existence. This aspect, while initially disconcerting to some, eventually becomes a poignant reminder of the band’s enduring appeal.
Paul McCartney’s harmonies, although not perfectly aligned with Lennon’s reimagined vocals, serve as a bridge between the past and present. McCartney’s voice, like a reassuring hand on the shoulder, bolsters the AI-generated Lennon, allowing the song to flourish. It’s a testament to the enduring chemistry between the two legendary musicians and the power of their musical partnership.
The production of “Now and Then” is top-notch, maintaining the high standards expected from any Beatles release. Giles Martin, the son of the late Beatles producer George Martin, played a crucial role in this process. The inclusion of sounds by George Harrison, created using segments from one of his studio recordings, adds an extra layer of authenticity and nostalgia.
However, it’s noteworthy that a staggering twenty-seven artists, producers, engineers, and composers are credited for their contributions to this track. While their expertise is undeniable, it’s also a testament to the lengths taken to preserve the Beatles’ sound and spirit. From a listener’s perspective, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish their individual contributions, leading to the question of whether such a vast ensemble was truly necessary.
The release of “Now and Then” raises broader questions about the industry and the place of iconic bands like The Beatles in today’s music landscape. Can these enduring legends continue to dominate the charts while newer artists strive to make their mark and can hardly afford to pay for a meal? Also, is it fair to give such an advantage to non-active bands just through technology and endless supplies of money to make such tracks? It’s a dilemma that highlights the ever-evolving “pay to play” nature of the music business.
In the end, “Now and Then” is a solid addition to The Beatles’ extensive catalog. With its seamless blend of past and present, it pays a fitting tribute to the band’s legacy. While it may not be without its minor imperfections for those trained in music production, it ultimately resonates with the timeless essence of the Fab Four. As a finale, and a gorgeous curtain call to the band’s remarkable journey, it leaves a lasting impression and stirs the eternal debate of art versus commerce in the music industry.
An 8 out of 10 rating seems more than fair for this AI-infused, evocative masterpiece.