For a final recording with which to sail into retirement, producer George Martin turned to the songbook he is most commonly associated with — the Beatles’ — and took a lighthearted mystery tour with some celeb friends and, as he calls them, heroes. Hour-long spec covers concepts, conversations and a bit of carrying on; it’s a low-key Sir George shaping these performances, appearing carefree yet setting clear mandates for his chosen artists.
The lineup is nothing if not intriguing: Goldie Hawn wraps a kitten-lounge outfit around “A Hard Day’s Night” and it fits; Phil Collins plays every instrument in the house on “Golden Slumbers” and it ends up sterile. Robin Williams and Bobby McFerrin sound-effect their way through “Come Together,” and at least the listener realizes the recording — issued in October by MCA — wasn’t a thought-free one-take outing. Jim Carrey steals the show with his unruly behavior and reeling version of “I Am the Walrus.” As a finished music product, nothing all that interesting is brought to the table.
Docu’s artistic triumph, by far, are segs in which classical guitarist John Williams works, and struggles, with an orchestral arrangement of “Here Comes the Sun.” Martin’s command of musical language, which is indeed deep and varied, is, for once, displayed to prime effect.