Skip to main content


50 years ago, in 1966, the most important person in the world of pop culture was 40-year-old, thin, patrician-looking smart-suited George Martin, the Abbey Road, then AIR, music producer who was the Beatles' main ally (the '5th Beatle' of lore) from 1962 to their end; and fifty years later, he still is.

For as The Guardian reports today, in interviews with various pop, alt, indie and rock producers, no one has ever come close to bettering what he first imagined, first achieved - not even the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson (who came close).  Nor were Martin's ideas lofty stale things - but the truly best of British - a working-class London East End* mesh and mash of comedy recordings, sentimental string arrangements, melody, harmony, and virtuosic (and stoic) professionalism - he was Sterling when it was Gold standard. As Stuart Price suggests, Martin took the idea of the studio as instrument and made perfection from it.

Martin's idea of perfection, and the studio as instrument, were in the air - pianist and eccentric genius Glenn Gould, for instance, conceived the same idea for radio and for Bach recordings; Sinatra's Tin Pan Alley arrangers like Nelson Riddle came close to the same notion; and Orson Welles actually did invent the idea of turning recording and radio broadcast and film studios into events - instruments of a group creative dynamic - mirrored in the mad zaniness of The Goons - which brings us full circle to Martin, who worked with them.


Other media heroes might include Delia Derbyshire - curiously advances in radio and sound recording of the past half century have mostly been Anglo-Saxon and Commonwealth touchstones, likely because of the BBC, CBC, and NFB antecedents. We digress.  Welles, for all his greatness, did not invent the producer role to craft rock albums as works of seamless art (Wagner maybe had a hand in that Gesamtkunstwerk approach); and the others were theorists or twiddled knobs in relative obscurity.

Martin had the fortune and nous to meet, transform, guide, and completely redefine, the sound of the four greatest pop songwriter/ stars of the modern era, until the bitter end. Along the way he produced the best Bond themes ever ('Goldfinger' and 'To Live and Let Die'), and Peter Sellers albums - a triumvirate of dapper oddness which sums up the best of the British 60s - still resonant today.

It is impossible to listen to a current R & B, Pop, Rap or Rock track on the hit parade or Spotify and not notice its crafted, creatively produced nature.  Overproduced, arguably - but Martin was there first, leaner, though, as others have said before me - was there ever a quirkier, funnier, more ludic mainstream artist? Hard to think of many.

We recently lost David Bowie - whose very albums were impossible without the Martin catalogue - and we also recently lost Sir Ken Adams, who gave us the look of the filmic 60s, from Kubrick to Bond - but these titans of modern pop culture are not gone; they are pillars of what we have and do now.  Gratefully, yours.

* Martin was born into a working-class East End family, not the aristocracy, as is often assumed, because he looked like a Lord and had bearing; instead his parents were a carpenter and cleaning lady - and he always sought to build carefully and achieve a clean sound.


Popular posts from this blog

Review of the new Simple Minds album - Walk Between Worlds

Taste is a matter of opinion - or so goes one opinion. Aesthetics, a branch of pistols at dawn, is unlikely to become unruffled and resolved any time soon, and meantime it is possible to argue, in this post-post-modern age, an age of voter rage, that political opinion trumps taste anyway. We like what we say is art. And what we say is art is what likes us.

Simple Minds - the Scottish band founded around 1977 with the pale faces and beautiful cheekbones, and perfect indie hair cuts - comes from a time before that - from a Glasgow of poverty and working-class socialism, and religiosity, in a pre-Internet time when the heights of modernity were signalled by Kraftwerk, large synthesisers, and dancing like Bowie at 3 am in a Berlin club.

To say that early Simple Minds was mannered is like accusing Joyce of being experimental. Doh. The band sought to merge the icy innovations of German music with British and American pioneers of glam and proto-punk, like Iggy Pop; their heroes were contrived,…


Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand


Dr Bruce Meyer, a significant Canadian poet and writer, will be the final judge for this year's Beverly Prize For International Writing - the impressive super shortlist of 18 international poets and writers is announced below.
Any original unpublished manuscript, in English, by anyone living anywhere in the world, writing in any genre or on any topic, prose, non-fiction or poetry (even drama) is eligible, making it arguably the world's most eclectic "broad church" literary scouting prize. Last year's debut winner was Sohini Basak (her book is being launched in Bloomsbury July 5th, 2018).

The rules of the prize stipulate that any author chosen for the shortlist agrees to accept publication with Eyewear if judged to be the final winner; and may not be entered into other competitions at this final stage of adjudication.
Bruce Meyer is author of more than 60 books of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, literary journalism, and portraiture. He was winner of the Gwendolyn…