Both George Martin and the music biz have seen better days.
My standby local record store (yes, they have "records"), the Santa Monica branch of Second Spin, is closing by the end of the month, so I went trolling for an interesting bargain and came up with this, George Martin's 1998 self-proclaimed last album.
Poor George - hasn't worked on albums I'd listen to since Jeff Beck's "Blow by Blow" and "Wired" (1975 and '76). Since then, some really weak if not lame stuff: Jimmy Webb, forgettable Cheap Trick, UFO and Ultravox, three McCartney disasters, American Flyer (?), Andy Leek (??), Yoshiki (???), the no-name Broadway cast soundtrack of Tommy and, oh my lord, Little River Band, Celine Dion and even America - three albums by America!
Dear Sir George, no one's wasted such preeminent talent on such abysmal material since Elvis starting listening to the Colonel.
But if anyone gets a pass, it's the man considered by many the greatest music producer of all time. Knighted is not all he's been: honorary Doctor of Music from Oxford, Leeds and Berklee, Rock and Roll/Music Halls of Fame (US and UK), six Grammys, two BRITs, one Oscar nom, the James Joyce Award, various lifetime achievements, gold medals and man of the years, and his own coat of arms (featuring three beetles). (... three?)
Of course it was his work as producer/arranger/composer/genius ear/talent scout (he signed them to EMI without having heard them live) on almost all the work of the Beatles that alone earns him the right to rest for decades on those laurels.
So if Sir George (now 87) wants to make his last album one he'd enjoy making and remember with affection, who could deny him? He wrote that he wanted to work with friends and heroes he's never been able to fit in.
So on that level, good for him, for having Goldie Hawn sing and giggle "A Hard Day's Night," Sean Connery whisper-talk "In My Life" (trying unsuccessfully to give the sentimental lyrics Joycean import), and a trio of standup comics, the truly crazed Robin Williams and Jim Carrey plus Billy Connolly, spew out late-era Beatles nonsense, ear-catching but not memorable. Not too surprising that the two best are instrumentals, classical violinist Vanessa-Mae"s "Because" and Jeff Beck's "A Day in the Life," though the still-amazing Beck didn't seem to bring his A-game.
If you find it like I did for three bucks, you'll more than get your money's worth. But I will continue to consider Martin's supervision of the Beatles' cut-and-paste remix "Love" soundtrack for Cirque du Soleil his career coda. The 5.1 mix is truly mind-blowing. Son Giles Martin may have been the working producer, but we'd all like to think that it wouldn't have turned out so magnificently if the old man's ears hadn't been involved. It's doubtful the remaining Beatles and heirs would have trusted that impossible assignment to anyone else.
Charles Andrews lives with 2 women, has 2 kids, took 2 different year-long camping trips across Europe in years ending with 2, has endured/enjoyed 2,000 concerts, held onto 2,000 of his 7,000 LP collection and is 2 old for this stuff. Still opinionated, and loving music like nothing else.