Friday, April 12, 2013

Look at him working (The Beatles)

Being old skool means watching DVDs rather than downloads. I bought a BBC documentary on George Martin a few months ago and finally gave it a spin a few nights ago.

It was great. The inevitable Beatles sections were skillfully integrated with the bio details, having his wife present and being interviewed by Giles, his son, were excellent decisions. The judicious Beatle stories avoided all the well known stories and instead centred on a few tracks like Eleanor Rigby. As time goes by nothing in the Beatles canon is really obscure but it was nice to hear him credit the violin sweeps in ER to both McCartney and the Psycho composer Bernard Herrmann (yes composer of Psycho would have been better, I agree) and GM nil.

It helps, of course, that the man’s a gentleman from a bygone era (a father figure to us all definitely), but the documentary is not a hagiography. Old George is definitely human! He can be curmudgeonly and resentful at times – the pay rate he received while he and the Beatles were making musical and social history was derisive, and he is presented smilingly by Giles as a highly competitive individual. His well practised comment that Let It Be should be listed as ‘produced by George Martin, over produced by Phil Spector’ is said with a wry smile still.

The surprises for me were the early years of abject poverty when his parents lived in London (George the cockney deliberately changed his accent to sound like the posh BBC one) and the extent of his pre and post Beatles work. I knew about the comedy records with the Goons but not that Macca knew them so well. I also knew about producing America and UFO but not Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow. The clip of Cilla belting out Alfie with Burt Bacharach was fantastic too. The girl has serious pipes!

The documentary made me wonder what else I’ve missed by him actually.

Minor moan - I did find myself wishing there was more footage of GM with the 2012 model Ringo and the 2012 model Macca. The obvious affection between them is special and we won’t have the great man around forever so we kinda need to gorge on the relationship while we can.

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