There used to be a section in every record store labeled "Personalities." It was where often painful renderings of contemporary pop hits by the likes of Sebastian Cabot and Mae West could be found biding their time until Rhino Records' Golden Throats series could gleefully discover them. In My Life is a Personality Record with two crucial distinctions: a surprisingly low pain threshold and Sir George Martin. Deciding to make a farewell album on his own terms, the gentlemanly former Beatles producer gathered an eclectic crowd of "heroes and friends" (Jeff Beck, Jim Carrey, Phil Collins, Sean Connery, Billy Connolly, Celine Dion, Goldie Hawn, Vanessa Mae, Bobby McFerrin, Robin Williams, and John Williams) to cover a selection of Fab Four tunes.
There are surprising revelations throughout. Carrey displays a vocal prowess as elastic as his face--and a good deal more refined--on "I Am the Walrus". Instrumental showcases include Beck's subtle tonal explorations of "A Day in the Life," and Vanessa Mae and John Williams milking the latent classicism from "Because" and "Here Comes the Sun," respectively. And then there's the overly competent MOR ("Here, There and Everywhere" by Dion, Collins's "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight," and "The End"), and one big disappointment (McFerrin and Williams's "Come Together" succumbs to the latter's incessant vocal mugging). This recording recalls Martin's early larks with Peter Sellers and the Goons one moment (Hawn's breathy nightclub lark on "A Hard Day's Night," Connolly's ringmaster turn on "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite"), and reveals his own sentimental heart the next (Connery's restrained reading of "In My Life," Martin's own compositions, "Friends and Lovers" and "Pepperland Suite"). An odd, yet decidedly dignified final memento from the man who earned a Knighthood being the "Fifth Beatle." --Jerry McCulley