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The Making of Sgt. Pepper

by George Martin & William Pearson

Pub Date: May 10th, 1995
ISBN: 0-316-54783-2
Publisher: Little, Brown

 The Beatles' producer fondly recalls the recording sessions that resulted in one of the 1960s' cultural landmarks. Martin writes not as the group's pal but as their collaborator, integrating his personal impressions mainly to illuminate the songwriting and performances that became the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, although he does find occasion to drop in anecdotes from all stages of their career. Martin has unique authority: On staff at EMI, he signed the Beatles to their first recording contract after they had been turned down by everyone else, and he remained their producer until the band's demise. Martin concisely summarizes the dissatisfactions that led the Beatles to stop touring in 1966, a move that dovetailed with their ambitions to create more complex records; he then dives into the studio, detailing chronologically, from song to song, the specific complexities of the 196667 Sgt. Pepper sessions. Martin amiably reveals lots of arcana: not just the exact makeup of assorted string and horn sections, but how the mad calliope music that concludes ``Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite'' was assembled from random snippets of carnival-music recordings, the exact degrees by which vocal and keyboard parts were sped up or slowed down, and where the animal sounds came from at the end of ``Good Morning, Good Morning'' (``We used `Volume 35: Animals and Bees' from EMI's sound effects library''). He catalogs which instruments occupied which tracks on each song, and his cheerfully avuncular tone makes even passages describing successive generations of tape transfer relatively painless. Stepping a bit outside his bailiwick, Martin adds pleasant filler, like a chapter on the evolution of the cover art and a selection of contemporary press comments on the album. Not for every reader, but true Beatles fanatics should find it enormously winning. (16 pages color and b&w photos, not seen)