Produced By George Martin
George Martin will forever by known as the man who produced the Beatles, but this DVD succeeds in enlarging Sir George's story, giving a sense of his wider accomplishments. Broadcast last year on the BBC, Produced By George Martin offers a few surprises, starting with Martin's humble Cockney beginnings as the Germans bombed London in WWII. An ambitious lad, Martin affected a posh BBC accent that he's carried throughout his life, just like the slender ties that hang around his neck. Impeccably polite yet professionally precise, Martin studied classical music and landed a job at Parlophone, the lowliest label at giant British label EMI. Out of desperation, Martin carved a niche by recording comedy records for the famed Goons, which included Peter Sellers. Michael Palin appears on camera chatting with Martin about those recordings, which he admits had a seminal influence on Monty Python. However, Martin makes a keen observation: recording comedy meant building soundscapes to replace the visuals seen in a live sketch. Comedy prepared him to record the Beatles' psychedelic masterpieces: Revolver and Sgt. Pepper. Martin gives another insight into his craft by paraphrasing the painter Degas, "The recording is not what one hears, but what one must make others hear." Martin (along with Phil Spector) is credited in moving away from "photographic" musical recording by capturing a live sound in studio and manipulating sound to create soundscapes like a painter. No, he didn't make the Beatles great, he says, but he merely helped shape their songs. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Jeff Beck and Cilla Black, sing Martin's praises, while an extra 50 minutes include interviews from producers such as Rick Rubin (Jay-Z) and T-Bone Burnett (Los Lobos), who attest to his influence. His son, Gilles, and his wife interview Martin throughout, so this film isn't exactly hard-hitting, but it does offer a portrait of an innovative producer and gentleman.
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