The Beatles FAQ

Fun stuff about the Fab Four. Linked to The Beatles Teaching Pack

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Why was George Martin the 'fifth Beatle'?

Without George Martin The Beatles  could not have produced their greatest work.

Why did The Beatles need George Martin's? 
The group which signed with Parlophone Records in 1962 had energy, charisma and raw potential. They were a fine live act that had thrilled audiences in Liverpool, Hamburg and in dance halls across the UK.
Technically, however, they were very limited - none could read music, for example. Nor did they have any knowledge of how music was recorded. Without Martin's expertise they could not have followed the path of musical experimentation which defined their career.

Later Martin explained his role by applying Degas' dictum about drawing to recording music, 'The key to recording is not what you hear. It's what you want others to hear. '

Where can we hear George Martin's influence? 

Pretty much everywhere, other than on the shambles that was the original recording Let it Be. Paul McCartney wrote a simple, affecting tune called YESTERDAY but without George Martin's arrangement and orchestration would it have become the most recorded song of all time? And who other than Martin could have transformed PLEASE PLEASE ME from a dreary Roy Orbison inspired 'dirge' into The Beatles first number one record

And later, when they began to genuinely innovate with recorded sound, it was George Martin who made these innovations technically possible. On Sergeant Pepper, for example, he showed astonishing musical virtuosity to create a coherent soundscape incorporating half-remembered sounds of John Lennon's childhood. As Ian MacDonald puts it:
the challenge of catering to Lennon's intuitive approach generally spurred {Martin} to his more original arrangements ... Few producer have shown a tenth of the innovation shown here.   

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