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Mike Bennett writesFriday iPod/MP3 Shuffle—Happy Birthday George Martin Edition

Today, let’s celebrate one of the most important producers in pop music history, Sir George Martin. (NOTE: If you haven’t read the new Tune In book about The Beatles and want to do so, this post will reveal a key fact from the book. So Spoiler Alert!). Martin had musical inclinations, and after serving his country, became the top assistant to the head of Parlophone Records, learning how to produce records with a label that was an afterthought in the EMI Music empire. While working on a wide variety of genres (and excelling at comedy records with The Goon Show with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan), he developed an experimental bent. This served him well when, after originally turning The Beatles down, the head of EMI assigned the band to Martin and Parlophone as a form of punishment – the boss found out George was having an affair with his secretary. Martin quickly warmed to The Beatles on a personal level, but wasn’t sold on the material. But the success of the Fab Four’s first 45, “Love Me Do”, proved him wrong. But he soon found Lennon-McCartney material up to par and forged a new type of producer-artist relationship. Instead of finding material for the band, he helped them cultivate their own songs and sound. Basically, Martin and The Beatles were perfect for each other, because they both were innovators. He helped them accomplish any wild sounds they wanted depicted. Yet, one of the things I love about Martin is that in documentaries, as he sits at a mixing desk playing parts of Beatles tracks, he still is amazed that he was a part of it. And an essential part. So let’s pay tribute to Martin by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.

  1. Funkadelic – Hardcore Jollies (Hardcore Jollies): As the ‘70s marched on, the line between Parliament and Funkadelic didn’t blur, but the two bands sometimes sounded a bit similar. But that was not true on this smoking funk rock instrumental with plenty of great lead guitar work.
  2. Nat King Cole – Mr. Cole Won’t Rock ‘n’ Roll (Nat King Cole): This live performance was uncovered for the excellent four CD Nat King Cole box set on Capitol. This is Cole’s rant about how rock ‘n’ roll is ruining pop music. This could suck, but the song, which is about seven minutes long, really swings and includes a bit of Cole singing a bit of rock. Fun stuff.
  3. The Troggs – Feels Like a Woman (Archaeology (1966-1976)): A typically primitive mid-tempo rocker with lots of fuzztone from this underrated British Invasion band. A nice use of dynamics, with Reg Presley singing with little accompaniment, with bursts of guitar answering his vocals. The song really kicks in with its chorus. If you’re in a garage band, cover this.
  4. Paul Jones – And the Sun Will Shine (Maybe Someone Is Digging Underground): This is from a nifty collection of covers of Bee Gees songs. This is a big Bee Gees ballad with a fine performance by Jones, the original singer for Manfred Mann.
  5. Negativland – Michael Jackson (Escape From Noise): The breakthrough album from this activist audio collage band is perfect for shuffle. This mixes in some found sound from heaven knows what source with a narrator listing off unit shifting rock and soul stars. There is deeper meaning here, I guess.
  6. Tangiers – Bones to Match the Heart (Never Bring You Pleasure): Another appearance by this Canadian band that fit right in with acts like The Strokes and Spoon. They are a bit loosier and rockier than those two, but the compositions are angular and tight.
  7. Jason & The Scorchers – Mother of Greed (Halcyon Times): A slower number from the excellent comeback record from the best cowpunk band ever. This song goes back to Wales in 1910 and mixes an English folk sound with a bit of rock edge. Jason Ringenberg sounds terrific on this tune – he has one of the best hillbilly drawls in music.
  8. The Clean – Platypus (Anthology): A droney live track from this seminal Velvet Underground inspired Kiwi band. This song works its magic with beefy bass, scratchy guitar and simple repeated phrases.
  9. The Systematics – Mmmmm (Inner City Sound): A track from a CD compilation based on the classic book on the original Australian punk and post punk scene. This electronics based song is firmly in the latter camp. The low fi production makes the ebbing synths and other noises a bit tinnier and bassier than they’d usually be, which adds to the ambience.
  10. The Guess Who – It’s My Pride (Nuggets II): A garage rock burner pre-dating the band’s later late ‘60s and early ‘70s success. Randy Bachman plays some hot fuzz guitar and Burton Cummings kills with his vocal. This is a great track and The Guess Who had a bunch of other cool garage and psych-pop nuggets during this era.

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Categorized: Friday MP3 Shuffle

Topics: george martin, ipod, mp3

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