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
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.