If These Walls Could Sing

Abbey Road studios has seen its fair share of ups and downs over its 90+ years of existence and that journey is recounted by Mary McCartney over 90 minutes. Streamed exclusively on Disney+ Mary has gathered a significant cast of musicians and music luminaries to present their part in the story of the worlds most famous recording studios. The McCartney contact book was clearly utilised to gather the assembled interviewees and to good effect.

The story begins in 1931 with Sir Edward Elgar’s recording of Pomp And Circumstance and rushes headlong into the 1950’s music scene where Cliff Richard reminisces about his recording career at the EMI Studios. Cliff is complimented by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr , Giles Martin, Elton John, Rogers Waters, John Williams and Noel Gallagher amongst others. Each guest explains why the unique setting and people that comprise the Abbey Road studios make it such an important place in their own and music’s story. Each story is illuminating and compelling but somehow it seems impossible to definitively say what makes Abbey Road so special as a studio other than the people who have walked through those front doors. It is an ordinary building, not built necessarily for optimum sound reproduction and not always having the most cutting edge of equipment. It has been, however, the teams of engineers and producers as well as the amazing array of artists that have forged a musical legacy that will endure.

Directed by Mary too the story would have benefited from a longer running time to include other artists and periods that were hardly referenced in the film. John Williams talked of the Studio’s place in film sound recordings though quite honestly I believe this could have been a chapter all of its own with a running time of 90 minutes. Indeed, there could be a case for having a series of films each concentrating a single artist or musical genre many of which were given a cursory mention including the 1940’s, Punk, Comedy, Jazz …

The Beatles are clearly the act most synonymous with Abbey Road and have rightly a healthy portion of the allocated running time. Mary also tells of the significance in her own story of time spent by her and the wider McCartney family at Abbey Road. The McCartney connection would be another chapter that would be compelling.

If These Walls Could Sing provides a romping journey through the Abbey Road legacy and Mary McCartney’ has’s directorial debut is a solid effort, and while there may be a few shortcomings, these may have been at the instigation of Disney+. All in all, a nice watch which will leave you wanting more.

By Gwyn Jenkins.

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