Pop Music: The Messengers

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So tightly knit is the quartet that a leading idea for their next movie is to present them as separate manifestations of a single person. They constitute a four-way plug-in personality, each sparking the circuit in his own way. Paul, outgoing and talkative, spreads a sheen of charm; he is the smoother-over, the explainer, as pleasingly facile at life as he is at composing melodies. George, once the least visible of the group, now focuses his energies on Indian music and philosophy; an occasional contributor to the Beatle songbook, he is the most accomplished instrumentalist of the lot (he has always played lead guitar).

Ringo, a thoroughly unpretentious fellow, is also the most innately comic temperament; he is the catalyst, and also the deflator, of the crew. Most mysterious of all—and possibly most important—is John, the creative mainspring, who has lately grown strangely brooding and withdrawn; he is more thoughtful and tough-minded than the others, reads voraciously. His telephone is usually answered by a tape-recorded voice, asking the caller to leave a message. But Lennon rarely returns calls, instead, so the story goes, plays the tapes over and over with maniacal glee.

Recipe for Orchestra. Since the Beatles gave up touring a year ago, each has had more freedom to tackle in dividual pursuits. John has a major acting assignment in the forthcoming Richard Lester film called How I Won the War; Paul tried his hand at a movie sound track and wrote a fine score for the current release, The Family Way. But their most rewarding activity is still as a group—making records.

They have transformed themselves from a "live" performing team to an experimental laboratory group, and they have staked out the recording studio as their own electronic rumpus room. To achieve the weird effects on Sgt. Pepper, they spent as much as 20 hours on a song, often working through the night. The startling crescendo in A Day in the Life illustrates their bold, erratic, but strikingly successful method. Says Paul: "Once we'd written the main bit of the music, we thought, now look, there's a little gap there; and we said oh, how about an orchestra? Yes, that'll be nice. And if we do have an orchestra, are we going to write them a pseudoclassical thing, which has been done better by people who know how to make it sound like that—or are we going to do it like we write songs? Take a guess and use instinct. So we said, right, what we'll do to save all the arranging, we'll take the whole orchestra as one instrument. And we just wrote it down like a cooking recipe: 24 bars; on the ninth bar, the orchestra will take off, and it will go from its lowest note to its highest note."

The 41-piece orchestra, as it turned out, consisted mostly of members of the New Philharmonia, who had trouble following the recipe. Unaccustomed to ad-libbing, they had to be cajoled by John and Paul, who threaded among the musicians, urging them to play at different tempos and to please try not to stay together. Partly as a result of filling that "gap," the Sgt. Pepper album cost three months of work and $56,000 —which is about as much as it costs to record five albums for London's New Philharmonia Orchestra.

Sound Pictures. Such recording practices are early steps in a brand-new field. George Martin, the producer whose

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