I have read so many books about The Beatles that I have serious doubts that any new text can teach me more. But I had never delved thoroughly into the life of their producer George Martin.
5 of the Coolest Things I Learned:
- Martin felt pressured to sign The Beatles to appease his boss who didn’t approve of George’s extra marital affair with his secretary.
- Martin’s decision for The Beatles to record a full length album for their debut was seen as a BIG risk. In those days, LP’s were reserve for more “serious” music (opera, classical) and for older audiences.
- The middle 8 of “This Boy” was originally a guitar solo, it was Martin who suggested that it be replaced by a vocal line.
- The Beatles were originally supposed to record a live album at Carnegie Hall on their first American jaunt (the week after their famous Ed Sullivan appearance). Was not allowed because Martin wasn’t able to get clearance from the US musician’s union.
- George Martin on the studio: “Let’s paint instead of taking photographs.”
Womack outlines enough glaring omissions (mostly unflattering ones) from Martin’s own autobiographical works to make it clear that Maximum Volume offers something new to even the most ardent of Beatles fans. Martin’s journey from a humble childhood to the Royal Navy to a young record executive is almost as fortuitous as the path that led The Beatles to him. It makes for an enthralling read. My only complaint is that Womack, while highlighting which moments were most significant, often details to some extent each day Martin and The Beatles spent in the studio. I could’ve done without this as it felt like he was doing so only for completion sake and not to serve the story he was telling. Rating: 4/5