Top 10 George Martin Non-Beatles Records
George Martin’s exalted stature as history’s best-known record producer may have chiefly been established by virtue of his association with the Beatles. But to dismiss, or even underestimate, his indispensable contributions to the band’s incomparable body of work would be a grave error. So we offer a list of the Top 10 George Martin Non-Beatles Records to remind music fans of the many other legendary artists and classic records Sir George had a hand in shaping over the years.
'Time Exposure' (1981)
This often neglected Australian band scored multiple mainstream radio hits in the late ‘70s, culminating in a Top 10 U.S. smash with 1981’s ‘The Night Owls.’ Recorded by Martin on the island of Montserrat, both the song and its parent album, ‘Time Exposure,’ delivered loads of lush harmonies that clearly benefited from Martin's past work with the Beatles.
'Sentimental Journey' (1970)
While John Lennon and George Harrison tapped Wall of Sound legend Phil Spector to produce their solo debuts (Paul McCartney did everything himself on his), Ringo Starr looked no further than trusted old pal Martin to shepherd his first solo effort, 1970's ‘Sentimental Journey.’ Even though the collection of big-band standards, expertly arranged and orchestrated by Martin, received a critical bashing upon its release, the ever-genial Starr was quick to clarify that he was aiming to please no one but himself and his parents with the record.
'All Shook Up' (1980)
The endlessly infectious yet multifaceted power pop featured on Cheap Trick’s first few albums always marked the Illinois rockers as eager and unashamedly earnest students of everything Beatles. So it was no surprise when they jumped at the chance to collaborate with Martin on their fifth studio LP, ‘All Shook Up.’ Not surprisingly, it proved to be one of their most distinctive and experimental efforts. What’s more, songs like ‘Stop This Game’ (with its droning piano intro) and ‘Baby Loves to Rock’ (jetliner sound effects behind a lyric about Russia) were filled with subtle acts of Fab reverence.
‘Pipes of Peace’ (1983)
You could almost say that it was Martin who belatedly put the “orchestra” in the jazz-fusion group Mahavishnu Orchestra -- by recording and arranging their only collaboration with the renowned London Symphony Orchestra. The album, the group's third overall, reportedly ranks among Martin’s all-time favorite projects -- which is good enough to land it a spot on our list of the Top 10 George Martin Non-Beatles Records.
Martin's contributions to Mahavishnu Orchestra's 'Apocalypse' may have paved the way to his partnership with guitar wizard Jeff Beck, who had himself decided to dip his toes (or magical fingertips) into the world of jazz-fusion in the mid-'70s. On ‘Wired,’ Beck and Martin corralled an unprecedented assortment of talent (including Mahavishnu alum Jan Hammer and Narada Michael Walden) to help craft a remarkably unique and accomplished LP that explores styles and sounds well beyond jazz, fusion, rock and pop.
'Ferry Cross the Mersey' (1965)
Once the Beatles had taken over the planet and then retired from touring in order to become inveterate studio alchemists, Martin rarely had the time to work with other artists. But one of the few and lucky exceptions were the Beatles’ friendly Liverpudlian competitors (and fellow Brian Epstein clients) Gerry & the Pacemakers, whose Martin-produced 1965 LP, ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey,’ doubled as soundtrack to a feature-length film exploiting the hype surrounding Beatlemania. Notably, the album also boasted extensive orchestrations, written, arranged and conducted by the classically trained Martin.
'Tug of War' (1982)
The commercially and critically approved ‘Tug of War’ was rife with nostalgia, both subliminal and overt, relating to Martin's and Paul McCartney's shared Beatles adventures, many of which were inspired by the recent and traumatizing murder of John Lennon. McCartney’s loving open letter to his late bandmate, ‘Here Today,’ was a highlight, thanks to McCartney’s nakedly vulnerable performance and Martin’s brilliant, impeccable orchestral charts.
'Blow by Blow' (1975)
'Blow by Blow' simultaneously showcases the incredible versatility of both artist and producer, which makes it an ideal choice to top our list of the Top 10 George Martin Non-Beatles Records. The 1975 LP is a mind-broadening assemblage of funk (‘You Know What I Mean’), fusion (‘Air Blower’), pseudo-reggae (‘She’s a Woman’) and sublime balladry (‘Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers’) -- with no attention-stealing vocalist in sight! Future guitar heroes like Joe Satriani owe their entire careers to the exquisite atmospheric guitar piece ‘Diamond Dust,’ which is expertly backed by Martin-arranged strings.