Music Review: Produced by George Martin (Eagle Rock Entertainment, Blu-ray)

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Produced by George Martin Blu-ray

If anyone truly deserves to be called the fifth Beatle, it’s the iconic band’s record producer, George Martin. He basically functioned as a fifth member in the studio, writing arrangements, playing keyboards, and channeling the fab four’s amazing creativity into the best rock records ever made. He played the sped-up keyboard solo on “In My Life,” orchestrated later-period tracks like “Penny Lane” and “All You Need is Love,” and damn, he created a fine, lush sound for The Beatles’ swan song Abbey Road.

But Martin had an extensive, varied career before and after The Beatles, and the full scope of that career is the focus of this excellent British TV documentary now out on this superbly produced Blu-ray. Produced by George Martin tells Martin’s life story, and details how he got his start producing comedy records with Peter Sellers based on the classic British comedy TV series “The Goon Show.” It was these comedy productions that won over The Beatles, who agreed to work with then-Capitol-Records-staff-producer Martin at the start of their recording career.

But as this film documents, Martin’s career extended far beyond the fab four. After their split, he became an in-demand producer, working with a number of name artists including America, Cheap Trick, Jeff Beck and Ultravox. Martin also gained further recognition as the owner of AIR Studio on the Caribbean island of Monserrat, and this time in his career is covered well.

Produced by George Martin also has some sweet moments showing Sir George in present day with his family. There are nice scenes of him driving around the English countryside with his wife, and touching exchanges with his son, Giles, who is now a successful record producer in his own right (Giles produced the remixed Beatles soundtrack to the “Love” Cirque du Soleil show).

Of course, Sir George Martin has some famous friends, and they get some camera time on this disc. Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have some nice memories and viewpoints to share, while Monty Python’s Michael Palin and Jeff Beck are among those who provide insight on Martin’s career. The Blu-ray also includes bonus interviews (not included in the main feature) with luminaries such as producers Rick Rubin and T-Bone Burnett.

Produced by George Martin is an interesting, entertaining look at the life of a man who’s been so instrumental in bringing a vast legacy of beautiful music to the world. Not only is this essential viewing for Beatles fans; it will also offer valuable insight into what a record producer actually does for any fan of recorded sound.

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