If there is one Beatle album that you could say has been very, very over analyzed, it is Let It Be. Born from the idea of the group getting back to recording the way that they did in the beginning, this album became more of a statement of the trials and tribulations that the band was going through then the return to rock and roll that they were trying to achieve.
With all that was going on, it is amazing that this much material ever got put to tape. George Martin, in the original recordings of this album, said he thought the band acted as if they were working on solo projects. There was so much fighting and bickering during the sessions that George Harrison actually walked out on the band for a few days! Then Martin himself left the Beatles to finish it themselves.
It was evident that the end was near. So much so, that they gave up on the project completely. So enters Phil Spector. At this point, the band had already broken up. He was called in to take the tapes that were left and see what he could salvage. Given what he had to work with, you have to give him credit for pulling this off! Other than a few exceptions, he pulls together some very raw music and delivers a quite polished album.
The final step in transforming this collection of songs came with the changing of the title. Originally it was to be called, "Get Back," as a reminder that they were getting back to the roots of rock and roll. The name of the album became "Let it Be," which if you think about it, is much more fitting seeing the circumstances that surrounded it!
The first song on the album, "Two of Us" would lead you to believe that the band had patched up things and all was well with the world! It had John and Paul singing one of their best duets in years! The sad fact is that this is the last time you will ever get to hear this magical pair together! Even with all the tension that is apparent, you can still hear that there is still a very deep bond between the two lead singers! I also can not remember another time when they both pick up acoustic guitars and performed like on this song. A very special song all things considered. I would like to think that this is a sentimental song that John and Paul are actually singing about themselves, but the truth is that Paul wrote this about himself and Linda. They would like to take trips out into the country and just get "lost." Still, this one song says more to me about the Beatles than any other. It is almost like they put all the best aspects of the group into this one piece. When I hear it, I can picture a montage of the Beatles from the early days to where they are at the point this was recorded!
One of the songs that was recorded on the rooftop of the studio in the now famous last Beatles concert, is the song "Dig A Pony." I have always thought that this song was not one of their best. That is until I pulled it out in the last couple days and started to listen one more time. This is John doing what John does best. He delivers some very powerful vocals, that you would think are directed at Paul. Maybe, maybe not who is to say. But his voice gives this bluesy shuffle a tough gritty feel that no one else could provide. John also shows that he is one fine guitarist too! His solo is beautifully subtle and sparse at the same time. Just the quality that this song calls for. Harrison keeps the melody flowing with the perfect rhythm backing John's lead. For those who doubt Ringo as a drummer, just listen to this one! He does a superb job that deserves special merit! One note...you can hear John hit a bum note during his solo. At the end of the song he can be heard telling all that it is so cold he cannot play the chords!
"Across The Universe" is one spot that Spector may have gone overboard! I have heard the original version and the later version that appeared on Past Masters. Each one is different than the one released on this album. Spector took the original and slowed it down. Also added were some string arrangements and a choir was brought in for backing vocals. Then Phil also "enhances" Lennon's vocals! Yes, he overdid it here. This is a very beautiful song that seems to lose something after hearing what it was originally. But by the same token, if you never heard the original, then you won't know the difference! I also would bet that the original would have never been as commercially successful as the Spector treatment of this song! This is a gorgeous tune that Lennon sings almost like a lullaby. It is said that he wrote it in a melancholy mood right after a fight with his then lady, Cynthia. As a side note.....There is one line in the song that has been speculated on, it seems that Lennon was a magnet for controversy, it is the line.."Jai guru deva om." I tend to believe the popular translation of this line: "Live forever teacher heavenly one the vibration of the universe." That sounds like a Lennon lyric!!
George Harrison takes credit for the next tune, "I Me Mine." This song is a very strong, guitar oriented tune that George really gets into! Starting out with him on an acoustic six string, this song soon escalates into a shrieking rocker at the chorus....only to return to the see saw melody again. This is also the first time I ever remember seeing George at the keyboards! He, Paul and Ringo recorded this song without John and on a later version of the song you can hear George say something about John not being there. This song is a very good one that was inspired by an Australian marching band. George was watching one play a waltz and from that he came up with the melody! The lyrics are said to be about the bickering between the band at the time. I like this song even though many think it is one of the weaker songs on here. The stark contrast between the chorus and each verse is like a slap in the face when George and Paul unleash the guitars!
"Dig It" is a 50 second excerpt from a 12 minute jam session that the band was doing in the studio., This is the tail end of that jam where John is just spouting off whatever came to mind. Even mentioning a player from the Manchester soccer team. Kind of a waste of time other than the ending where John says "That was can you dig it by Georgie Wood and now we'd like to do Ark the Angels Come," which acts as the intro into the next song.........
"Let It Be." The title track from the album has become one of the most recognized Beatles songs. It also is the perfect message for the band to go out on! The song was written during this dark period of the band, when Paul was trying to find some kind of answer to all their problems. He had a dream of his mother, Mary, one night and from that the song was born. There are a few different versions of this song floating around, such as the one that appears on the Past Masters disc and the one that was released as a single. Each one has some stark differences. But for an overall finished product, I will take the song as on this album! A masterpiece anyway you look at it. Starting out with Paul at the piano, this song has an almost holy feel right from the beginning. Then the chorus of John and George in the background comes in to provide a very dramatic effect behind the vocals of Paul. Soon John on bass guitar and Ringo come in and the song takes off! There is so many good things that I can say about this tune, that make it one of the most listenable songs by the Beatles.....Like George's magnificent guitar work! What a forceful and dynamic contribution he makes. Then if you still doubt the ability of Ringo, just listen here! He delivers a masterful job with some very interesting effects and unique stylings on this tune. The addition Billy Preston's organ playing was a stroke of genius. Just a short blast but what a statement it makes! All in all this is one of the songs that we will never forget. It is a true Beatles masterpiece and a personal favorite of mine. (One of them anyway!)
Next up, the band does a little Liverpool folk song called "Maggie Mae." Just 40 seconds, this is a song that they just played to kill some time in the studio. Just happened that someone had the tape machine running at the time.
Another song that has a unique history is the next one "I've Got A Feeling." This song is one that really shows off what the collaboration effect can be when you put together two of the greatest songwriters of all time! Paul had a song called "I've Got A Feeling," and John had a song called, "Everybody Had A Hard Year." So lets just put them together!! Paul starts out with his brooding song. A bluesy piece that has some fantastic guitar work by John. This leads to John's song where he has basically the same melody but the vocals are more upbeat and do not have the rough edges that Paul's do. Quite a contrast. Then at the end of the song, both do their songs at the same time! What a great piece of work! It is one of those really cool musical moments. A great blending of two great talents in a very different way! This song is one that they recorded live on the rooftop also.
In their effort to "Get Back" to their roots, the band pulled out a song that Paul wrote back in the very early days of the Beatles. Maybe even before them! "One After 909" is a blast of early rock and roll! This one is a song that they had tried to record early in the session but George Martin did not like it at all. So it was canned until they got on the rooftop for their last concert! The band seems to have a good time with this one but it is a song that was never going anywhere at that time. It is a good dose of nostalgia but overall, not a great song, just a very good one!
Just when you think that things cannot get any better, the Beatles deliver another stunner!!! "The Long And Winding Road" is still one of the most beautiful pieces ever put to music. The song is so solid, it paints a very vivid picture every time I listen. The piano arrangement by Paul is by far the best he has ever done! His voice has a very hollow and distant sound to it. A very lonely sounding song that is enhanced by the Spector touch! I know that many will disagree with this but I have heard all the versions of this song and although I do love the simple demo version without any orchestration, the Spector version has such a haunting quality. The choral singers are a magnificent touch. The orchestration does not detract from Paul's vocals at all, they make you focus on them even more!! It is said that Paul was very upset with the finished product of this song. I would disagree. For proof, just listen to what he and George Martin do to this song on the later version that appeared on the album Give My Regards to Broadstreet. Although they do not use as many musicians, the structure of the backing orchestration is very similar and the effect is the same as what Spector achieved! Anyway you look at it, or hear it, this is a great song and one that should be enjoyed, not analyzed to death!!!!!
Harrison's second contribution to this album is a little blues jam session called, "For You Blue." After a strange intro by John,"Queen says no to pot smoking FBI members," this song, that is far from being up to the usual Beatles quality, is really only worth a listen because of the slide guitar work of Lennon! Something that he should have done a lot more of, if this is any indication! George once described this as a happy go lucky 12 bar blues song.
The last song on the album, is the hit and original title track, "Get Back. This song, although played on the rooftop concert, is a studio version where the noises from the rooftop were added later! This song does try to capture the Beatles in the days of old. A genuine throw back song that is nothing more than a good rock and roll stomp! Great vocals and harmonies, some super guitar work and even Billy Preston added to the mix, makes this song a good Beatles rocker. Not one of their best works but still better than most anything you will hear elsewhere. Ringo even gets into this one with his giddy-up drum beat and periodic cymbal crashes! Also, John gives an intro and an exit to this piece that seems very fitting. At the beginning he can be heard saying, "Sweet Rosetta Fart, thought she was a cleaner, but she was a frying pan." This is typical Lennon. Sarcastic till the end! Then as a final statement ...in fact the last thing released by the Beatles, he can be heard saying, "I like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, I hope we passed the audition!" As if to say, the Beatles were the audition for what is yet to come. A last statement that was nothing more than a joke but took on a deeper meaning because of the circumstances surrounding the recording and the eventual release!
So many will say that this album was really hurt by the hand of Phil Spector. I still say that he pulled off a miracle under some trying circumstances. Martin had given up on the group, the group itself was gone...all Phil was left with was the tapes! Some partially reworked by George Martin, some untouched. Alone, he was left to clean up the mess and I think that he did a very good job. At least he pulled together an album that will stand up along side the others in the Beatles catalog!!
'Let It Be' is easily the most disappointing Beatles album. It's not simply that it is uneven and less professional, it is also inevitable with the matchless achievements of all their previous work, comparisons would render this album a failure. Significantly, this album sadly was strategically put on the shelf for a year and became their last release once it had become acceptable enough for them. Also, it is no small matter that this is their only studio album to change hands from their able producer … more
LET IT BE...NAKED contains a FLY ON THE WALL bonus disc including song rehearsals and conversation snatches. The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr. Additional personnel: Billy Preston (keyboards). Includes liner notes by Kevin Howlett and interview excerpts with The Beatles from the original LET IT BE book. Original Soundtrack/The Beatles: Paul McCartney (vocals, guitar, piano, bass instrument); John Lennon, George Harrison (vocals, guitar); Ringo Starr (drums). Additional personnel: Billy Preston (keyboards). In its original form, LET IT BE signaled the end of an era, closing the book on the Beatles, as well as literally and figuratively marking the end of the '60s. The 1970 release evolved from friction-filled sessions the Beatles intended to be an organic, bare-bones return to their roots. Instead, the endless hours of tapes were eventually handed over to Phil Spector, since neither the quickly splintering Beatles nor their longtime producer George Martin wanted to sif... Song List: Disc 1 1. Two of Us 2. Dig a Pony 3. Across the Universe 4. I Me Mine 5. Dig It 6. Let It Be 7. Maggie Mae 8. I've Got a Feeling 9. One After 909 10. Long and Winding Road 11. For You Blue 12. Get Back