Martha My Dear - Reviews

Quoted from Recording Sessions: p.181-183

Friday 4 October 1968. Trident Studios, Trident House, St Anne's Court, Wardour Street, London WI: 4.00pm - 4.30am. Recording: Martha My Dear (take 1); Honey Pie; Martha My Dear (SI onto take 1).

It is difficult to say for sure, even by referring to the master eight-track recording, but 'Martha My Dear' - excepting the strings and horns overdub - may well have been another one-man Paul McCartney recording. Parts were recorded both before and after a six-hour brass, woodwind and string overdub for this and for 'Honey Pie', with a vocal line, piano, and drums being recorded first as the basic track for the recruited musicians to follow.

What is certain is that 'Martha My Dear' was a one-man composition, a typical McCartney ballad, melodious and sentimental. Contrary to popular opinion, it was not about Paul's sheepdog of the same name. He may have got the title from his canine friend, but that was where the association ended.

Between 6.00 and 9.00pm seven musicians recorded their parts for 'Honey Pie'; between 9.00pm and midnight 14 musicians did likewise for 'Martha My Dear'. (...) The 14 for Martha My Dear were: Bernard Miller, Dennis McConnell, Lou Sofier, Les Maddox (violins); Leo Birnbaum, Henry Myerscough (violas); Reginald Kilbey, Frederick Alexander (cellos); Leon Calvert, Stanley Reynolds, Ronnie Hughes (trumpets); Leon Calvert (flugelhorn); Tony Tunstall (French horn); Ted Barker (trombone); Alf Reece (tuba).

The period between midnight and the 4.30 end of the session saw Paul wipe the existing 'Martha My Dear' vocal track with a new one (later applied with ADT), adding handclaps at the same time. He then turned his attention to 'Honey Pie', recording a quaint touch: the vocal line "now she's hit the big time!" which was heavily limited, chopping off the signals at both ends of the frequency range, and superimposed with the sound of a scratchy old phonograph, to make the end product like a vocal from a very early and worn 78 rpm record.

Note: since George Martin had a score prepared - and musicians booked - for this recording session of 'Martha My Dear', one must deduce that he had been given a home-recorded McCartney demo-tape of the song in advance with which to devise his arrangement.

Saturday 5 October 1968. Trident Studios, Trident House, St Anne's Court, Wardour Street, London WI: 6.00pm - 1.00am. Recording: Savoy Truffle; Martha My Dear (SI onto take 1). Mono mixing: Honey Pie; Martha My Dear (remix 1, from take 1); Dear Prudence. Stereo mixing: Honey Pie; Martha My Dear.

Overdubbing of an ADT'd George Harrison lead vocal on 'Savoy Truffle' and bass and electric guitars - both played by Paul - onto 'Martha My Dear'.

The latter, along with 'Honey Pie' and 'Dear Prudence' - an earlier Trident recording - was then remixed for mono. Then 'Honey Pie' and 'Martha My Dear' were remixed for stereo, though these too would be changed back at Abbey Road and copied from the NAB equalisation system of recording preferred at Trident to the CCIR method favoured at EMI.

Posted: 4 aug 2012

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