Over the years the press as well as various music insiders have bandied about the phrase “The Fifth Beatle” in reference to any number of people associated with The Beatles legendary career.
It makes a nice lead for an article and while there is a case for people such as their manager Brian Epstein and actual ex-Beatle Pete Best to be fifth Beatles, I would make an argument that the only true “fifth” Beatle if there ever was one was their producer George Martin.
I say that because no other person had such a marked impact on The Beatles music than the four group members themselves and Martin.
Not only did George Martin produce and arrange most all of The Beatles recordings he also played piano on several Beatles records as well.
Since his death in March of 2016 Martin seems to be, well I wouldn’t say forgotten, relegated to the mists of time as most younger people who are now just getting into The Beatles’ music aren’t aware of his critical role in shaping those treasured recordings.
Today I thought it might be fun to take a look at a 6-CD box set that came out in 2001 that highlights not only some of Martin’s Beatles productions but also features a fine selection of his production work in all areas of music from comedy music, orchestration and his numerous other British Invasion/Mersey Beat productions from the 1960’s.
Compiled and annotated by noted Beatles historian Mark Lewishon, the 6-CD “Produced By George Martin” is a treasure trove of wonderful music and the most fitting tribute to one of the great record producers of all time.
Beatles fans of course will find plenty to love including four actual Beatles recordings (“Please Please Me”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “Yesterday” and “In My Life”) as well as Martin’s work on Paul McCartney’s first solo music from the film “The Family Way” in 1966 (“Love in the Open Air”) and some of Martin’s contributions to the soundtracks of The Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night” (“Ringo’s Theme (This Boy)”) and “Yellow Submarine” (“The Pepperland Suite”).
There’s also a nice smattering of his production work from Paul McCartney’s solo career (“Live and Let Die”, “Ebony and Ivory“, “Say Say Say” and “No More Lonely Nights”) as well as Martin’s work with noted hit makers like America, Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers and Celine Dion among others.
The booklet inside the set is also well-done with detailed liner notes and page after page of lovely black and white and color photos from the era these recordings were made.
It’s such a well done set beautifully put together with nice sound, great song selection and even the smallest detail such as the lovely reproductions on the actual CDs of various Parlophone labels throughout the years makes this set the perfect celebration of George Martin’s impact on some of the best recorded music of the Twentieth Century.
Disc Three is worth finding this set alone as it’s so nice to have hits by The Beatles, Cilla Black, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and Shirley Bassey all on one disc together. The Beatles songs are rarely on compilations so this set is notable just for that alone.
I’m not sure how easy this set is to find today as it was a pretty low key, limited edition release when it came out in 2001 but for any Beatles fans or fans of popular music this set is a must own item and one of the best looking box sets I’ve ever seen.
As usual you can see photos of the set above.
Until next time, be well and TTFN!