A Beatles expert recounts Sir George Martin’s (1926-2016) years producing the Fab Four’s final records, their breakup, and his career afterward.
In this final volume of the meticulous and lively biography of the famed Beatles music producer, Womack (English/Monmouth Univ.; Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, the Early Years, 1926-1966, 2017, etc.) resumes after the release of the groundbreaking album “Rubber Soul.” The author invites us into the Beatles’ world with assurance and aplomb as he guides us through the creation of some of the group’s greatest musical achievements. In 1966, Martin observed the band grumbling about live performances and complaining about deficiencies in Martin’s Abbey Road studio. Brian Epstein, the band’s manager, explored recording at Stax Records in Memphis, but Martin was never keen to move. Meanwhile, Paul McCartney had a song about a spinster, and John Lennon wrote one influenced by his first LSD experience. As Martin recalled, “their ideas were beginning to become much more potent in the studio.” While working on a new album, the band’s “Penny Lane” single kept them high on music charts. Womack is excellent at chronicling the group’s ever increasing creative relationship with Martin as he helped channel their energy and excitement into exploring new ways of producing records. He called McCartney’s idea about using “alter egos” to sing songs on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” a “revelation” and “She’s Leaving Home” one of the “best constructed songs they ever did.” Martin helped them score the end of “A Day in the Life” and drew upon his orchestral expertise to add strings and brass to their compositions. Womack also reveals how much influence Martin had on the placement of certain songs on the albums. After the Beatles, the wizard behind the curtain continued making his own records and producing for Jeff Beck, Cheap Trick, and Elton John.
This impressive, compendious biography is a must-read for fans of the Beatles and other seminal rock groups of the 1960s and '70s.