I confess, I had a difficult time getting through this book, and it took me a long time to finish it. I began reading it before George Martin passed away. I had been meaning to read it for years, but I found I had trouble staying focussed on it. After Martin died this past spring, I picked it up again and finished it in one bittersweet marathon session.
I have always felt that one of the major differences between The Beatles and their contemporaries was the quality of production and the freedom in studio to explore their creativity and be collaborative made possible by George Martin and a young yet highly skilled staff of Abbey Road engineers including Ken Scott, Geoff Emerick, and Alan Parsons.
Let me be clear though, if you are looking for dish on The Beatles....look elsewhere. The first 6 chapters go into great detail of Martin's pre-Beatle life. It is interesting material, but a little dry.
There is also a fair amount of detail into the function and mechanics of music and sound. As I am neither a musician myself or a scientist, much of this went over my head and I found myself wandering to other parts of the book. I prefer the mystery of music, the way it makes me feel, the memories it induces, but I'm sure others would find Martin's great knowledge of sound and music very interesting. Martin himself admits that an understanding of these things does not a musician make.
Martin and co-author, Jeremy Hornsby, first published this account of the world's most famous producer in 1979. The book also includes many of Martin's heart-warming memories of working with Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, and Peter Ustinov. It is also a birdseye account of the inner workings of EMI at the time and what became the gold standard of popular music recording and production in Britain.
It is a well-written autobiography and Martin's wry sense of humour comes through in many passages. Although Martin speaks little of the boys' personal lives, nonetheless, the reader is left with a feeling that there was great affection and mutual respect in his relationship with the band and their entourage. In particular, Martin seems to have had great respect for Brian Epstein and there is a touching passage in which he describes how heartbroken the manager would have been had he lived, as he felt certain the boys would have shortly relieved him of his managerial duties.
He also recounts his experiences of being on tour in America with the band in 1964. Early on Martin realized the unparalleled power The Beatles weilded over their fans and most of the world at large. He found the time on the road with them exhilarating, but also a little frightening.
All in all this is an interesting account of a slice of history told by an extraordinary man who found himself at the centre of a storm he helped create. George Martin gave the world a magnificent gift and will forever hold a place in music and recording history.
Lovely Rita gives this book ;) ;) ;) ;) 4 winks.