George Martin: In My Life (Echo, CD). "There! I did it! I defiled a timeless piece of art!" hoots Jim Carrey (yep, that Jim Carrey) after mugging his way through "I Am the Walrus". And he has a point. The person to blame for this defilement is not Carrey himself, however, but the person who helped create that timeless piece of art in the first place: George Martin, the Fab Four's musical mentor, and the greatest producer in the history of the tape recorder. Rather like a man composing his poetic last words in advance so that he doesn't depart this life with a spluttered complaint about bedsores, Martin has made what he promises will be his final album. And recruiting a few of his favourite people to sing a few of his favourite Beatles songs would seem to be a fitting farewell. Unfortunately, his choice of vocalists has less to do with enhancing the material than with his desire to meet some movie stars (if you were a film director, would you fill your valedictory opus with musicians?), and In My Life ends up as a weird, Oscar-night karaoke party. How weird? Well, Robin Williams sings "Come Together". Sean Connery and Billy Connolly don't sing at all; they recite the lyrics of "In My Life" and "Being For the Benefit of Mr Kite" respectively. "A Hard Day's Night" is wittily recast as a nightclub cabaret number, but Goldie Hawn is giggly and girly when she should be sultry and slinky. As for Carrey, he's a commanding rock singer when he gets the chance, but after the first four lines Martin persuades him to use every one of his cartoon voices from The Mask instead. The best that can be said for the actors' efforts is that they are better than those of the "proper" musicians, including Phil Collins, Vanessa Mae and, worst, of all, Celine Dion, who simpers unbearably through "Here, There and Everywhere". Whether you consider In My Life a collector's item, a curiosity or an abomination, there's no doubt it was more fun to make than to hear. Nicholas Barber


Mike Carr and Cargo: Do It! (Birdland, CD). The chance to hear the late Ronnie Scott's tenor sax accompanying a funky rap should not be passed up lightly, and this retrospective collection of singles and album tracks by organist Mike Carr's early to mid-1980's fusion band more than delivers the goods. As well as Scott (who plays on one track only), there's appearances by Dick Morrissey, Guy Barker, Victor Feldman and Peter King, all aspiring to a bygone mode of jazz-funk grooves that now sound like a key signifier for an as-yet-unmade retro-movie set amongst the boogie nights of 1980s Soho. As gentle funk-fusion goes, this is excellent stuff, like an Anglo version of Roy Ayers, and full of slinky keyboard voicings, smooth backing vocals and turnaround melodic hooks. Largely aimed at the American dance market of the time these coals to Newcastle still stoke up the boilers most effectively. Phil Johnson