I am a self-admitted liner note nerd. At its peak, my vinyl collection topped out at around 10,000 pieces; sadly career changes and multiple moves foced me to come to grips with the reality that holding onto the shear massiveness of the collection was becoming more and more impossible, so I started the sad and often painful process of selling off my collection.
The thing I miss the most is not the music, my CD and digital collection is ridiculously large; no what I truly miss is the tidbits of information on the jackets and sleeves of albums. The liner notes served as a roadmap of sorts to the producers and players that gave us so many musical memories. Often music from a given scene of geographic locale would see familiar names popping up over and over on session after session.
It is those studio stories that are the focus of a pair of new books:
Goodnight, L.A.: The Rise and Fall of Classic Rock – The Untold Story from Inside the Legendary Recording Studios – Kent Hartman (DaCapo)
Kent Hartman does for the studios, producers, and players of the classic rock era of the late sixties and into the 1970s what he did for the cadre of musical geniuses who cranked out hit after hit in the early to late sixties known as part of the studio musician collective dubbed the Wrecking Crew; with his new book Goodnight, L.A.: The Rise and Fall of Classic Rock – The Untold Story from Inside the Legendary Recording Studios.
Hartman has a loose and laidback writing style that is perfect for detailing the L.A. music scene in that era; the criss-crossing of paths, personalities and players that were responsible for some of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest hits. He also offers up insights into insider stories about the personalities that contributed to huge successes of the era.
Hartman really highlights the heavy duty desire bordering on desperation that folks like producer Keith Olsen, Richard Dashut, and guitarist Waddy Wachtel put into their pursuit of musical success. These guys truly lived for the music and it often shows in the results they enjoyed.
The parade of folks making appearances reads like a who’s who of classic rock including Fleetwood Mac, Loggins and Messina, Chicago, Carole King, The Doobie Brothers, REO Speedwagon, Journey, Heart, The Eagles and more. This one is perfect if you’re a liner note nerd or not.
Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926 – 1966 – Kenneth Womack (Chicago Review Press)
Over the course of time the appellation of “the fifth Beatle” has been applied to an array of folks from disc jockeys, to side men who played with the band at various times, managers and sundry hangers on. The one person that can truly lay claim to that title in my opinion is the band’s producer George Martin.
Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926 – 1966, the first of two installments covering the impresario’s incredible career as a knob twiddler, covers Martin’s earliest interactions with the Fab Four.
Author Kenneth Womack conducts a deep dive that results in an almost encyclopedic accounting of the bands ventures into the recording studio.
Whether you are a Beatlemaniac, a casual fan or newcomer to the bands music, Womack offers some amazing insider tales about how the band’s earliest tracks were captured on two track audio tape and how Martin worked his magic within the confines of those limitations, to spectacular result.
For a guy who came to the world of production by recording comedy programs, Martin proved to be a legitimate genius in a world where that term is thrown around much too freely. Womack slips in great stories about Martin adding little bits of instrumentation to even those early, simple tracks, that will have you pulling out the album or CD to pick up on these aural flavorings to see how they impacted the final results. This one perfectly sets up the next installment of a set that should be on the bookshelf of any Beatles fan.