For 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Rating (for book)
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.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.