on 4 December 2015
Over the years there have been that many books written on the subject of The Beatles I find it hard to quantify exactly how many. there are many that I have read and for me they fall into three types: good, bad and downright awful, however this book is good and up there with Robert Rodriguez and his brilliant account of 1966's Revolver album. This is the story of the making of the one album that has always had the accolade of being the masterpiece of The Fab Four's albums- Sgt Pepper. difference with this is the author is none other than the one man that was there from beginning to the bitter end of their recording career together, their producer George Martin, an eyewitness to the eye of the hurricane that was beatlemania.
What we have here is a fascinating account of the events that led up to the recording of this album, the summer of 66' which involved the backlash in the states over Lennon's comments on the son of god and the horror story that was their tour of the philippines and their run in with a certain Mr & Mrs Marcos, a summer that led to the band coming off the road for good and seeking sanctuary in the recording studio. Martin has, in essence written an autobiography of an album filled with anecdotes and memories that on reading put the reader in studio no2 at abbey road at 1.35 in the morning as a song such as lucy in the sky with diamonds is being put on tape. It's also his account of the battles with EMI over some of the most ludicrous regulations in regards recording, (you can't let the meters go into the red and mikes on the bass drum must be at a certain distance for recording) to some of the techniques employed that gave the album some of it's most stunning sounds. He also talks at length of the quality of the material the band were coming into the studio with and how not only the quality but how as musicians and writers they had evolved in five years from the cheeky young lads who came into abbey road to record their first single love me do to now coming up with lyrics such as tangerine trees and marmalade skies. His personal observations, opinions and memories run through this book and are written in such a way it's hard not to imagine George Martin not sitting opposite you telling you this story. Some are quite touching, such as when he heard the news of Brian Epstiens death and his view on the occasion they brought in Mike Leander to arrange the strings on "She's Leaving Home" when he wasn't available. John Lennon once said of George Martin: "He had a fantastic musical background and knowledge and we learned a lot from him and he in turn learned a lot from us about Rock n Roll, so we grew together". What we have here is an essential read for every Beatles fan, in fact I'd go so far as to say this book should be on every school syllabus for history and music lessons, it is that good.