Beyond the Beatles: 11 George Martin Productions Worth Checking Out

George Martin
Rex Features via AP Images

George Martin pictured in the studio in 1964.  

George Martin, who passed away March 8 at age 90, is best known for his production work on the majority of the Beatles' catalog -- and that's as it should be. You produce the greatest rock band ever, you're going to go down in history as "Beatles producer George Martin."

But Martin produced enduring and successful songs for plenty of artists other than the Fab Four. From his trend-setting work with the James Bond franchise to his '70s hits with America, Martin made gold for plenty of other artists.

10 Beatles Songs That Wouldn't Be the Same Without George Martin

Here are 11 of his best. For the sake of shining a light beyond the Beatles, we're not including any solo Paul McCartney songs Martin produced -- although "Live and Let Die" is undoubtedly one of his finest.

Shirley Bassey, "Goldfinger" (1964)

While Martin worked on the theme song for the second James Bond film From Russia With Love, he set the template for Bond songs to come by producing Bassey's Goldfinger theme. Decades later, Adele and Sam Smith imitated Martin's moody, theatrical production style for their Bond songs. From Martin's campy horn arrangement to the menacing strings, this one is still the best though.

Gerry & the Pacemakers, "Ferry Cross the Mersey" (1964)

Soon after finding major chart success with the Beatles, George Martin diversified his portfolio and started producing singles for another so-called "Merseybeat" band, Gerry & the Pacemakers. While their output isn't as enduring as the Beatles', it did include this pleasant slice of easy-going pop that hit big on both sides of the Atlantic.

Ray Cathode, "Time Beat" (1962) 

Pre-Beatles, Martin worked with electronic jingle creator Maddelena Fagandini to create "Time Beat," a charming rhythm-focused piece credited to Ray Cathode (a play on the cathode ray tube used in 20th century TVs). From the era when electronic music was mostly the realm of experimental composers or radio jingle makers, this was a rare piece of electronic music released as a single.

Dudley Moore, "Strictly for the Birds" (1961)

Before becoming an international comedy star with roles in films such as 10 and Arthur, Dudley Moore played legit jazz music in the Dudley Moore Trio. This single, "Strictly for the Birds," touches on the worlds of jazz and comedy, featuring a high-pitched, wordless vocal accompaniment. This is one of those often talked about, seldom listened to comedy recordings Martin worked on prior to his time with the Beatles.

America, "Tin Man" (1974)

Martin produced several albums from successful pop-rock band America, and "Tin Man" is one of his best songs with them. It's soft rock that still has some swing, buoyed by piano playing from Martin himself.

Ella Fitzgerald, "Can't Buy Me Love" (1964)

Even before the Beatles broke up, artists were knocking down George Martin's door to produce covers of Fab Four classics. One of the best is Ella Fitzgerald's 1964 version of "Can't Buy Me Love," which soars in no small part thanks to Martin's inventive, thoughtful big band re-arrangement of the song.

Matt Monro, "Portrait of My Love" (1960)

Although not credited to Martin as a producer, Martin oversaw this single from frequent collaborator Matt Monro. It's a lovely, restrained, reflective, Sinatra-esque ballad.

Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas, "From a Window" (1964)

Kramer was a lucky man: He was managed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein, produced by Beatles producer George Martin and received several Lennon-McCartney songs to record as his own hits. One Martin-produced Kramer song worth particular attention is "From a Window," which features McCartney singing with him just a bit at the end.

Cilla Black, "Love of the Loved" (1963)

Cilla Black, a friend of the Beatles, made her debut with this Lennon-McCartney composition produced by George Martin. She would go on to score bigger hits, but this swingin' '60s arrangement from Martin is a great time capsule.

Cheap Trick, "Stop This Game" (1980)

Cheap Trick, a group made up of admitted Beatlemaniacs, landed George Martin to produce their 1980 album All Shook Up. It wasn't one of their best, but the single "Stop This Game" is a worthy effort that starts with a piano chord meant to remind listeners of "A Day in the Life."

The Action, "In My Lonely Room" (1965) 

Soul-influenced British pop-rock group The Action never got as big as they deserved in the '60s, but they did record some wonderful material. This cover of Martha and the Vandellas' "In My Lonely Room," produced by George Martin, preceded the melding of rock and soul that took off on the charts in the late '60s.

THE BILLBOARD BIZ
SUBSCRIBER EXPERIENCE

The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.


To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.