March 6, 2016 · 3:27 pm
The Great British Recording Studios by Howard Massey (Hal-Leonard, $34.99, 357 pages)
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the audiophile in your life who loves British rock music of the 60s and 70s, this is it. Howard Massey’s coffee table-sized book examines 46 major recording studios of the period (permanent and mobile), looking at their personnel, their equipment, the individual recording rooms, and the original recording techniques. It’s all here, as verified by Sir George Martin in the Foreward.
Massey supplies the answers to some great trivia questions, including “Where did the Beatles record, other than at Abbey Road?” and “Which great, highly successful record producer began his studio work as a ‘tea boy’ (a lowly paid, quasi-intern who brewed tea for anyone who wanted it)?” He also explains how the brilliant Glyn (Glynis) Johns recorded drums using just three microphones, and looks at the bizarre career of the paranoid recording producer Joe Meek. Meek was to record “Telstar” by the Tornadoes and “Have I the Right?” by The Honeycombs in his rented flat in London before he killed himself and his ever complaining landlady.
Massey supplies the background story on several prominent recordings – such as those by The Who, The Kinks, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Queen, Procol Harum and Blind Faith. As per the latter, he provides an explanation of a how an extremely unique sound was produced that enlivened Blind Faith’s somewhat dull track, “Had to Cry Today.” And, Massey details how reverb, echo, and phasing (“Pictures of Matchstick Men”,”Itchycoo Park”) tricks were used. A fascinating ultra-morsel for music lovers!
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Filed under Uncategorized
Tagged as 1960's, 1968, 1970s, a book review by Joseph Arellano: The Great British Recording Studios, A book review site, Abbey Road, Blind Faith, book review, book review site wordpress, book reviews, British rock music, British rock press, coffee table book, David Bowie, Decca Recording Studios, drum recording set-up, English rock music, Foreward, George Martin, Glyn Johns, Gus Dudgeon, Had to Cry Today, Hal-Leonard publishing, hardbound book release, Have I The Right?, Howard Massey, Irish rock music, Joe Meek, Joseph Arellano, Joseph's Reviews, Led Zeppelin, major recording studios, mobile recording studios, music appreciation, music history, music recording techniques, music trivia, nonfiction, Olympic Studios, Philips Recording Studios, Procol Harum, Pye Recording Studios, Pye Records, Queen, recording studios, rock and roll history, Sir George Martin, Small Faces, Status Quo, Steve Winwood, tea boy, Telstar, The Beatles, The British Invasion, The Great British Recording Studios, The Honeycombs, The Kinks, The Rollling Stones, The Small Faces, The Tornadoes, The Who, trivia questions, Wordpress book review site
February 1, 2012 · 11:50 am
The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz, read by Alfred Molina (Simon & Schuster Audio, $39.95, 9 CDs – running time: 10 hours and 13 minutes)
Be careful what you wish for… Or, in this case, the fellows who would eventually become the iconic rock group, The Beatles, were in for a shock when they got what they worked so hard to achieve – being the Toppermost of the Poppermost. According to Bob Spitz, the author of this band biography, attempting to perform before an audience of hysterically screaming teenage girls is very tiring and puts one’s best musical efforts aside for the mere fact of being there in person on stage.
The usual biographical story line follows the lads from their early efforts at becoming popular and famous. It’s well known that diligent practice, some songwriting and struggles to get gigs led them from Liverpool, England to Hamburg, Germany and back to Liverpool. Eventually, they played to the USA audience via television on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Well, as an ancient radio show host would say, “Now, you’re gonna hear the rest of the story.” Spitz invested countless hours of research and sleuthing to come up with a more in-depth and, in some situations, gut-wrenching back story of The Beatles life cycle, from unknowns to way-too-famous performers. This reviewer listened to the audio version of the book narrated by Alfred Molina, who is himself a well-known actor in films and on stage. Molina’s confident depiction of the various voices and accents is a real listening pleasure. It also helps to have a well-written narrative which Spitz delivers chapter after chapter.
The saga comes to life with frequent quotes from the people who populated The Beatles’ world (e.g., Brian Epstein, Sir George Martin, Stuart Sutcliffe and his wife, etc.). To his credit, Spitz did not include any of the band’s music in the audio book. Whether this was due to the cost of the needle-drop or a conscious choice, it kept this listener focused on the interactions and emotions felt by all involved.
Honestly, it’s easy to jump on one’s laptop, go to You Tube and enjoy their music. It’s more of a challenge to stay with the biography and learn that these adorable fellows had plenty of emotional baggage and personal interactions that did not always bode well for the group. Also, the rock scene in England and the USA was fueled by a wide array of illegal drug use. The Beatles enjoyed their share of drugs, girls and fame. Donovan was a pal as were other famous British rockers. In the end it all fell apart and they were a group – a band – for less than a decade.
As the final track of the CD closed out, this reviewer felt the enormous loss of something magical, something heard for the first time over a Ford Falcon station wagon radio as Martha drove the carpool group to our northern California high school. It was love at first listen and it still is…
This audiobook was purchased by the reviewer’s husband. It is available via Audible.com .
Filed under Uncategorized
Tagged as 1960's, 1970s, Alfred Molina, Audible Audio Edition, Audible.com, audio book, audiobook, band biography, biography, Bob Spitz, book review, Brian Epstein, Donovan, drug use, England, fame, George Harrison, George Martin, Germany, Hamburg, iconic rock group, John Lennon, Joseph's Reviews, Liverpool, Meet the Beatles, music, musicians, Paul McCartney, popular music, recommended books, Ringo Starr, rock music, Ruta Arellano, Simon & Schuster Audio, Sir George Martin, Strawberry Fields Forevery, Stuart Sutcliffe, television, The Beatles, The Biography, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Fab Four, United States, Wordpress book review site, You Tube