Movie/Book Review: Melody Makers

Aaron ConnBooks, Music, TechLeave a Comment

Melody Makers book cover

Melody Makers book coverFor most of the 1960s and 1970s, the Melody Maker was one of the most popular music magazines. Based in the UK, the publication was known for its stunning photography and articles on music’s hottest artists. For many, the Melody Maker was the bible for music enthusiasts. Director Leslie Ann Coles’ latest film, Melody Makers, is a documentary about the iconic magazine. Filmed over the course of a few years, the movie features interviews with Ian Anderson, Chris Squire, Eric Burdon, Sonja Kristina- along with some of the magazine’s staff such as Chris Welch and Barrie Wentzell. Along with the release of the movie, there is an interactive book available on iTunes. While only 51 pages long, this interactive book still makes for a fun experience.

The movie
Prior to looking at the book, I decided to watch the movie first- renting it from Amazon. While most of the artists covered in the movie been talked about time and time again, Melody Makers is a solid documentary about the magazine. In presentation, the movie is pretty bare bones- with the movie not using any of the music by the artists covered. However, it doesn’t affect the movie considering the interviewees have great stories- with the magazine’s black-and-white pictures being shown throughout to tell their stories. The movie also gives insight to a time when musicians were easier to access as people. Compared to today, it’s nearly impossible for anyone to have any form of contact with their favorite artists. Speaking as an aspiring music journalist, I would’ve loved having this kind of access. I think anyone would’ve killed to have a one-on-one with any of the artists covered here. The movie is fairly short- clocking in a little under 80 minutes, which seems to be an appropriate run time for a movie like this.

The book

Melody Makers book page

An example of a page with a video attached to it.

When it comes to the book itself, it’s nicely designed and looks like it’s connected to the movie. Page by page, there are videos attached- which are clips taken from the movie itself. From memory, the book follows the outline of the movie- without showing all 78 minutes of it. There isn’t a whole lot of text in the book, given that the video clips do most of the talking. At the end of several chapters, there are mini games that users can play. This includes a matching game, slide puzzles and multiple-choice trivia. While this is a neat addition to the book, it feels a bit random. The matching game and slide puzzles take from the pictures taken by Melody Maker but the trivia game features some questions that have nothing to do with the movie and/or clips shown. For example, one of the questions in the trivia game ask for the original title of the Beatles’ self-titled album (aka The White Album). At no point in the movie or clips is The White Album ever brought up. Being a Beatles fan, I happen to know the answer to this question. Even then, it still feels random.

melody makers book matching game

Screen shot of the matching game- where readers must match a picture with the magazine cover

melody makers book slide puzzle

Screen shot of the slide puzzles- which increase in difficulty row by row.

If you’re not interested in the games, you don’t have to play them. Simply turn the page and proceed with the next video clips and/or pictures. Speaking of which, the magazine’s pictures are included in the book via picture galleries and film rolls. This is where the book shines: the pictures taken by Melody Maker are remarkable. The video clips, while short, are nice additions. Speaking as someone who watched the movie, I can’t say whether the book would be more or less interesting without seeing the movie. If anything, I felt like the most of book was repeating what the movie showed.

melody makers book picture gallery

Screen shot of a picture gallery. In this one- it’s a series of pictures that were taken of David Bowie in the early 1970s.

Overall thoughts 
The Melody Makers book is a decent interactive book. I enjoyed looking through it, hearing and reading all sorts of stories- along with looks at the great pictures taken by the magazine. The book is on iTunes currently at the price of $10.99- which I have to admit is a little expensive for a book this short. I think if there were more pictures, perhaps the book would be worth getting. Even then, I’m not sure how often I’ll come back to this. For what it is, the book is good. Personally, I would recommend seeing the movie first. If you really like the movie and want a little more, then go ahead and buy the book. No matter what you end up choosing, all music enthusiasts will get something out of Melody Makers.

Rating (for movie)

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Rating (for book)

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To learn more about Melody Makers, visit their official website by clicking here.
From there, it’ll lead you to iTunes- where you can purchase the book.

Melody Makers is available for rent and purchase on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video.


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Aaron ConnMovie/Book Review: Melody Makers