I’ve really been enjoying watching the newly-released BBC-Arena documentary “Produced by George Martin“. And it has been getting some very good reviews too. You might recall a little while ago we gave away a copy of the DVD to a lucky Beatlesblog reader, Eric Leon in France.
The DVD and BluRay contain the extensive documentary, plus over 50 minutes of extended interviews with Martin, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and many others. But it is not just Sir George’s work with the Beatles which is featured. “Produced by George Martin” is a history of Parlophone Records, which is a division of the huge recording conglomerate known as EMI. George Martin was the boss of Parlophone and so alongside the Beatles (by far his most famous signing) he was responsible for recording some of the top hit-makers in Britain (and the world) including Cilla Black, Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Rolf Harris, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer, Matt Monro, Shirley Bassey, and of course Wings. Many who see the doco will be wondering if there’s a way to get hold of some of the great music and comedy featured which Martin produced. There is – it’s a six CD box set of his work that came out way back in 2001. Interestingly, although it was released more than ten years before this latest documentary, it carries a very similar title to this year’s DVD and BluRay: “Produced by George Martin – 50 Years in Recording”:
Each CD set is individually numbered (mine is 08750) and comes in a fold-out, long-box length holdings which holds the six CD’s and a book. Here’s the rear cover and some of the inside fold-out panels:
The CD’s themselves contain tracks that date back to Sir George’s earliest work, beginning in 1955 and then traversing his entire career up to his post-Parlophone days recording acts like America, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Webb and John McLaughlin. Whoever designed the set decided to give each CD an authentic and historic Parlophone label. It’s a design idea that the Beatles themselves decided to copy in the their latest series of remastered re-issues of their own work, both for the 2009 CD remasters (mono and stereo), and for the LP box set which has only just been released:
Glued inside the fold-out package is a 35 page book, with liner notes by Mark Lewisohn (who will be well-known to Beatles fans as the band’s most knowledgable and respected biographer). In it Lewisohn details the background to Sir George’s life and the multitude of artists and styles he produced over a 45-year span in the business:
For those who were not able to fork out the considerable outlay for the full 6 CD box set, EMI/Parlophone also produced a “Highlights” single CD version containing 24 tracks:
And there was also a promo CD produced. It came in a simple cardboard slipcase with a further reduced selection of material (14 tracks). This would have been sent to radio stations, and reviewers at magazines and newspapers to promote the box set:
This 2001 box set from 2001 forms a great companion to the filmed “Produced by George Martin” DVD and BluRay documentary released in 2012.