Edward Greenfield looks at George Martin’s influence on the band’s creativity
How much does Beatle music - as heard on record - owe to the quartet of performers, how much to George Martin, their recording manager, their arranger, their technical expert, their musical mentor? Are they mere puppets for a “pop” Svengali? Are they really as imaginative musically as they often seem, or is this another instance of the medium being the message?
The Beatles' legacy is a monster of perfection and curiosity. Their records have become the go-to blueprint for commercial pop music—but there was also a slyly subversive, at times blatant, rejection of the mainstream in favor of something far more heady and difficult. Nevertheless, they became the saviors of pop music in the '60s, a band who could put out singles and stay in the upper reaches of the charts but who also weren't limited by any set musical guidelines. They could cover classic pop tunes from the '50s and then turn around and plaster their songs with gallons of psychedelic ephemera. They were The Beatles, and that was all people cared about.
The Beatles are considered by many to be the greatest band of all time. Therefore, it is not surprising that most of their songs are well known by the general public, even though some people around and in this day and age do not know who Paul McCartney is. As it happens with the great groups who produce music of the highest quality, some true gems slip through the cracks. Here are five of those.
5. "I Will"
In 1968, all four members of The Beatles traveled to India for a spiritual retreat. While there, the inspiration bug, leading them to write most of the White Album, hit them. "I Will" was one of the songs written there, and given the vastness and the wide popularity of many of the tunes on the album, it is not surprising that this one is often forgotten.
A week and a half ago, I published a blog post titled "5 Underrated Beatles Songs That You Should Get to Know". Originally, it was going to contain 10 songs in total, but it got too wordy towards the end. Therefore, in this second part, I would like to share five other songs that the casual fan may not know or remember, from the Beatles' vast and popular catalogue.
5. I've Just Seen a Face
Out of all the songs on this list, this is quite likely the one most likely to be recognized, as Paul McCartney, its main songwriter, has taken to performing it live throughout his career, bringing more recognition to the tune. It was also mentioned in the 2012 film Stuck in Love, starring Jennifer Connelly and Greg Kinnear.
Andrew Grant Jackson wasn’t even born in 1965, but in his new book, he does a credible impression of a baby-boomer author with firsthand experience of that year’s revolutionary music. Jackson, whose two previous books focused on the Beatles, considers 1965 to be “the most groundbreaking twelve months in music history”. “It was”, he writes, “the year rock and roll evolved into the premier art form of its time and accelerated the drive for personal liberty throughout the Western world.”
A new study is being carried out between Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Liverpool to find out definitively what the legacy of the Beatles is worth to Liverpool. There will be in-depth research into the current Beatles offer, its value in monetary terms to the city, any gaps in the tourism offer and what the potential value of the Beatles could be if these gaps were filled.
The report will also study the other benefits of being linked to the Beatles ‘brand’, and what impact this has on the global reputation of the city. The research will involve stakeholders including tourist attraction operators, music industry experts and members of the public.
Jim Irsay explains why he paid half a million dollars for the iconic instrument.
Last November, John Lennon's Gretsch guitar, the instrument the rock legend used to record the Beatles' 1966 classic "Paperback Writer," hit the auction block, with TracksAuction, the company selling the instrument, calling it "the most significant of John's guitars to come onto the market in the last 30 years." Lennon's cousin, David Birch, had owned the instrument since 1967, but pulled the iconic guitar from auction after it failed to reach its $600,000 reserve.
It isn’t Strawberry Fields.
But outside The Barrymore Hotel in downtown Tampa, John Lennon stands wearing a sport coat, long hair and his signature eyeglasses.
Steve and Cathy Ferguson walked around the corner at The Barrymore Hotel recently and spotted the life-size statue of Lennon. The couple and their friends couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take some selfies.
“We’ve been a lot of places and seen a lot of things, but I’ve never seen just a random Beatles’ statue or one of the Beatles standing in front of a hotel somewhere,” said Steve Ferguson, who was visiting from Virginia with his wife before getting on a cruise ship.
They are extraordinary pictures of the Beatles in their heyday, images never published before.
And, it is claimed, these photographs reveal for the first time a bombshell moment in the band’s history that has left Beatles experts baffled.
It is 1968 and John Lennon coolly stares into the camera. Alongside him, George Harrison has in his shirt pocket a resignation letter from Paul McCartney – apparently written a full two years before he would eventually quit.
That is the claim of Michael Herring, who took the pictures as a 19-year-old art student during a magical day other Beatles fans could only dream about.
Albert Maysles was the least judgmental of documentary filmmakers, which is one compelling reason that Gimme Shelter holds up as the greatest of rock docs, 45 years after its release. The objective eye that he and his collaborator brother brought to the filming of the Rolling Stones at a critical juncture in their history let viewers fill in their own blanks about whether the tragedy at Altamont represented “the end of the 1960s,” as often proposed, or just a gig gone wrong; about whether the Stones were satanic majesties destined to be the soundtrack to very bad deeds, or could be just as baffled in the face of larger forces as any of us. The Maysles brothers’ dispassion, in the face of rock ‘n’ roll legends who would intimidate just about any other filmmakers, was something you could get passionate about.