Tag Archives: George Martin

Book Review: “Watch It Come Down” by Gregory Paul Martin

I have so many thoughts about why I bought Watch It Come Down by Gregory Paul Martin, and about the book itself, that this post may be longer than the book itself which comes in at just 85 pages.

Many of my readers will know who Gregory Martin is just by the name. For those who don’t, Greg is the first born son of Sir George Martin, producer of most of the Beatles’ albums and without whom we might never have heard of the Fab Four.

I informally met Greg Martin via Skype when he read my astrology chart for me. You see, Greg is a very well accomplished astrologer. At that time in 2013, I paid $120 for (I believe) a 30 minute reading that was very on point and well done. Whenever I got the chance, I would recommend him to friends, until about 2 years ago when I was told he was putting an end to his readings… but! I could still get one more reading for $1000 before he took his leave. That was way outside my budget for such things so I took a pass. 

I’ve been wondering what was up with Greg, especially after reading about the passing of his father in 2016 and the media frenzy over the fact that Greg was left out of his will. Well, last week Gregory Paul Martin turned up on my Facebook timeline when someone posted that he will be publishing an autobiography called Isn’t It A Pity in Spring 2021. Turns out Gregory also now has a Facebook page of his own, so I wasted no time in following him to find out when I’ll be able to get a copy to review for this site. I was informed…next year!

Poking around his Facebook and website, I came across this book, Watch It All Come Down: Human Consciousness, Astrology, and the Death and Rebirth of America published February 2019. My knowing him as an astrologer and having dabbled in it myself (I read my horoscopes daily), I felt intrigued and bought myself a copy.

At just 85 pages, I thought this book would be a quick afternoon read. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way and I picked it up and put it down for three days. You see, according to Gregory, the United States is about to go through a huge upheaval according to it’s astrological chart when Pluto makes its return to its natal position in 2019/2020. (And yes, countries do have their own charts…America was obviously born on July 4, 1776.) At the same time, Donald Trump will also be going through a rough time astrologically and together, a lot of the wrongs that the U.S. has built up over its lifetime will come crashing down. Think of a phoenix rising from the ashes of destruction and you’ll get the picture.

So why did it take me 3 days to read a 85 page book? Because Mr. Martin is brutal about his opinion of the U.S. and its citizens! In the first 35 pages of this book, he goes over everything America has done wrong especially when it comes to wars, capitalism and being a world power. And even though he may be right, he just keeps hammering away long after making his point. As an American, it’s tough to read without getting pissed off. The only consolation is the fact that he says there will a rebirth after we crash down and the dawning of a new day.

After I finally spent two days reading about how awful we Americans have been (and trust me, he never has a kind word to say) Gregory spends two chapters on the chart of Donald Trump, explaining why he is the way he is and why it will be his demise in 2019/2020. For anyone who dislikes Trump, you’ll love these chapters, though you may need a basic course in astrology to understand the terminology. The rest of the book is about human consciousness, the universe and astrology. It’s quite interesting and he does recommend several books to back up his theories, but I wasn’t too keen on his taking a shot at one of the astrologers that I follow. There are thousands of well-known astrologers in the world, so I was truly surprised when her name (and only her name) popped up!

Needless to say, I’m glad I read this book. Will you enjoy it? Depends on your view of astrology, metaphysics and American politics. Of course, I believe Gregory Martin would say, “It doesn’t depend on your view of any of that because it is going to happen! It’s in the stars.” 

P.S. – If you’d like to have an astrological chart reading by Gregory Paul Martin (and it still recommend him), you can book an appointment HERE. (and no…this is not a paid endorsement!)

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Book Review: “Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926-1966” by Kenneth Womack

Maximum Volume George Martin Kenneth WomackI met Kenneth Womack, the author of Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926–1966in 2013 when he was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a professor at Penn State (Altoona). Ken has written three books about the Beatles: Long and Winding Roads: The Evolving Artistry of the Beatles; The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles; and The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. In February of 2014, Ken organized and hosted “It was 50 Years Ago Today – An International Beatles Celebration” – a 4 day Beatles conference at Penn State in Altoona, PA. He also holds a PhD. in 20th-Century British Literature and has written three novels. Pretty impressive, huh?

I remember attending a lecture on the Beatles a couple years ago and sitting down next to Ken in the auditorium as he was typing away at this book, the first book in a two volume set. I was really amazed at how he was doing it with no notes, just his fingers frantically beating away at the keyboard. After chatting with him briefly about what he was creating, I began really looking forward to reading it since everything else I’ve read about George Martin just seems to skim the surface of his life beyond the Beatles.

This book isn’t a simple read as it took me two weeks to take it all in even though it’s only 314 pages. The first half of the book is really intense, but unfortunately, the second half seemed to lose its gusto. No longer is the reader reading much about George’s personal life outside the studio (all the stuff I was looking forward to hearing about). Except for a couple paragraphs thrown in here and there about his divorce from his first wife was being final, and a spattering of paragraphs about the other artists he was working with, the second half of the book reads like a combination of George’s autobiography and Geoff Emerick’s book “Here, There and Everywhere”. The book seems to become just a daily log of recording the Beatles, what tracks were used for which instruments or vocals and techniques used for each song.

And then there is page 85! Whoa! *shakes head in utter disbelief*

The day before the meeting, which had been set for 11:30 AM on May 9 at Abbey Road, Brian asked Derek Taylor, a Liverpool journalist and his close friend and confidant, “What’s the point? Should I even bother going?” He then turned to Derek’s brother Alistair, his colleague at NEMS…”

WHAT?! Derek and Alistair were brothers? Why am I just hearing this now? How could I have read Derek’s book, Alistair’s book and Brian’s book…let alone all the other books I’ve read and never have heard that they were brothers? Did Kenneth Womack uncover some deep dark Beatles secret in his research? Ten pages later, I was still wondering about it, so I text a Beatles expert and friend and asked him about it. He said he’d get back to me and sure enough a couple hours later, after he consulted with a couple other Beatles experts and confirmed….it’s an error!

OMG…it’s a glaring error by the guy who wrote The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four.

I’m still looking forward to reading the second volume in this set when it’s released, but for all the above reasons…

I regretfully rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles!

UPDATE (Oct 2, 2017): After reading this review, Kenneth Womack contacted me via email to say: “Thanks for the review. The error has been corrected in the eBook and new edition, which is being published next week.” Thanks for the update, Ken!

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Book Review: “All You Need is Ears” by George Martin

There are a lot of authentic reasons why Sir George Martin is referred to as the 5th Beatle…and they’re all contained with the pages of his book, “All You Need Is Ears: The inside personal story of the genius who created The Beatles“. Published in 1979, this book is still a delight to read for any true fan of the Fab Four.

This isn’t a book that’s just about his time working with the Beatles and in the studio. It’s the story of George’s  life along with his thoughts on musical theory, recording and producing. He begins where we would expect George Martin to begin, with when he was born in 1926 and his early days growing up in war torn England and his time in the Fleet Air Army. He spends very little time talking about his private life except to make quick mentions of meeting and marrying his first wife Sheena, the birth of his kids Alexis and Gregory, he impending divorce, his marrying Judy and the birth of his third and fourth children – Lucy and Giles. He talks about his studio engineers more than his own family.

Where he gives an outstanding explanation of the mathematics behind chords (something I’ve heard of but never had it explained to me), at the other end of the spectrum, he gives a wordy and tedious chapter on the ins and outs of mono, stereo, four track, eight track, etc., recording. There is also a rather long and (and I think) unnecessary chapter on becoming a record producer in the 1970’s when the book was written. At times it almost felt like either he, his co-writer Jeremy Hornsby or his editor was attempting to add quantity between the cover pages only to sacrificed the quality. Though, I do know a few people who will find the technical mumbo jumbo very interesting.

For those looking for possibles hints as to why Sir George left his first two children out of his will when he passed away on March 8, 2016, you won’t find any answer in these pages. Even though the whole matter is really none of anyone’s business, the fact that it made headlines can’t help but make one wonder what went so terribly wrong that a man would exclude two of his flesh and blood from enjoying his wealth. I have personally talked with Greg Martin and he’s a lovely man. By day, he’s an actor, but in his spare time he’s a gifted astrologer. He did a live reading of my chart for me via Skype about 4 years ago and he was able to tell me things that did eventually come to be. (In fact, if anyone knows how to get a hold of him, please send him my way. I’d love to have him read for me again).

Anyway…I digress…

This book is a must read for any true Beatles fan, McCartney fan, Lennon fan, etc. He doesn’t pay a whole lot of mind to Ringo and George, but does spend a good deal of time telling of his interactions with Brian Epstein. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir”

I really should learn to be more disciplined in my reading. It really doesn’t set me up to write good reviews when I have to spend an entire Saturday reading the second half of a book. It’s usually not the author’s fault. Nothing wrong with the book itself. I just have a bad habit of procrastinating. But I digress…

I pre-ordered I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir months ago when I heard about it’s release. After all my other various reviews of Beach Boys books, movies, documentaries and concerts over the past year, this was a must read for me.

I must start out by saying that having seen the movie ‘Love and Mercy‘ really set this book  up for me. I think the movie and this book go hand in hand in explaining the life and mind of founding Beach Boys member, Brian Wilson. In fact, the book is going to fill in a lot of the blanks that the movie left out, including Brian’s first wife, Marilyn, and their two daughters Wendy and Carnie.

One interesting factor in the book is the infamous plane flight to Houston. The movie Love & Mercy opens with the scene of the Beach Boys getting on that flight and Brian having a full blown panic attack almost immediately after take off. This obviously painful memory is brought up over and over throughout the book. It was the turning point in Brian’s life that led to his depression, use of drugs and unfortunate ten years of being held mentally and physically hostage by Dr. Landry. The plane flight would shape Brian’s entire future.

Brian, in his child-like manner, does his best to explain his difficult and tumultuous relationship with his abusive father, but I’m not sure that he ever really gets to the bottom of it. He explains early on in his writing that to talk about his dad, he has to revisit a very painful time in his life. A situation that he really doesn’t want to think about or analyze anymore. He does his best when he does bring up his father, Murry Wilson, to be fair in his assessment.

And for the Beatles connection: Brian gives major props to George Martin and does hope to someday write a song with Paul McCartney.

To truly understand this book, be sure to see Love & Mercy. It’ll explain the child-like way that this book is written. It’s not deep…but one has to believe it was cathartic for Brian to write. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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Book review: “Best of the Beatles: The Sacking of Pete Best” by Spencer Leigh

Best of the Beatles: The Sacking of Pete Best by Spencer Leigh is the revised edition of Leigh’s 1998 book – Drummed Out: The Sacking of Pete Best.  Mr. Leigh is a well known BBC radio show host and the author and co-author of over 30 books about British pop music and culture.

I hadn’t read Spencer Leigh’s original book about Pete Best being fired from the Beatles, so this book was completely new to me.  And even though there were no new theories as to why the Fab Four tossed Pete for Ringo that I hadn’t already heard, I still found this book enjoyable.  Mr. Leigh did a great job of pulling quotes from his various BBC interviews over the decades, along with research from books and new interviews to bring all the theories together to shine light on the true reason for the firing.

Along with theories, this book also contains a Postscript with all the new information that was discovered after the writing of the first book.  There you’ll find, what I consider, the only new revelation and it concerns Raymond Jones, the young man that was the first person to walk into NEMS and request a copy of the Beatles singing ‘My Bonnie‘ with Tony Sheridan.  There is also a chapters for the discography of Pete playing with the Beatles and another for Ringo’s discography.

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Author and BBC radio show host – Spencer Leigh

The only problem I found with this well-written, quick and easy to read book was that I didn’t feel that the author ever really came to one absolutely conclusion as to why Ringo replaced Pete as the drummer for what was to become the greatest rock band the world has ever known. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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