Beatles, The - Let It Be? Naked

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Apple
Catalog Number: 595 7132
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:59:00

Most of you probably know that Let It Be was never really intended to be a full-fledged Beatles album. The idea was that a documentary would be made that would give an insight as to how the Beatles worked, how they created new songs and how in the end they recorded it all for posterity. Recorded at Twickenham Film Studios in January 1969, the material was not issued until the next year, when the four Beatles had definitely decided that it was all over. 1969 saw the release of Abbey Road instead. However, when Let It Be was released, you could buy the "normal" release, or you could pay ?1 extra for probably one of the first limited editions ever released. That limited edition was packaged in a large box and contained a thick book containing loads of stills taken during the filming. At one point John Lennon was noted saying: "Let It Be was the worst piece of crap we ever recorded, so it's amazing to see what producer Phil Spector did with it to come up with the eventual album."

33 years after its actual release, Let It Be ? Naked is released, explained by a record company executive as being a token of "respect" for The Beatles, having been given the green light by Apple Corps. I'm afraid that we have to translate the word "respect" in big dollar signs because if they tackle this album they can take on every single official album the Beatles have ever released. Let It Be however seemed to be an easy target because it was the only one produced by an external producer, that being the rather extravagant Phil Spector. Getting rid of Spector's production and going back to the bare bones, so to speak, has some reviewers labelling the new Let It Be as being The Beatles' perfect garage album. For my taste, the songs on this album still remain a long way removed from authentic garage sounds, as they are still too sophisticated, even with practically no arrangement. The Beatles remain true genius even when they only tackle a handful of chords.

So what you get now are the original recording sessions as produced and supervised by The Beatles and George Martin. Remixed and produced again in the Abbey Road studios the warmth of the analogue recordings is more apparent, whilst tape hiss has disappeared completely. When you put your headphones on and you close your eyes you are there yourself, in Abbey Road studios during the recordings in January 1969. So this newly released album kind of acts as a time machine, because even although visuals are not contained within this package, you can clearly imagine what it was like so many years ago. For sure the people who worked in the studio in 1969 can be seen as true magicians, knowing the limitations of the recording techniques back then. Today of course you can go as mad as you like, as everything has drastically developed, yet the eleven songs contained on this disc remain timeless. They could have been written and recorded yesterday, although I'm convinced that no one on the whole planet has the slightest bit of creativity and genius that these four musicians had. I'm convinced a superior God was responsible for putting them together in the first place, resulting in the best band the world has ever witnessed.

The band then switched to further rehearse and record their new material at Savile Row, London where on 30th January '69 they played an unannounced lunchtime concert on the roof of the Apple Building. It turned out to be their last concert together ? ever! Four songs on this album were taken from that session. In the end, Glyn Johns compiled the album Get Back, which had to match the nature of the documentary, but in the end it was never released. That's when these shelved recordings came into the hands of Phil Spector who added two more tracks to the original list. These songs are now omitted from Let It Be ? Naked to really focus on what really happened in January 1969. The Abbey Road magicians have altered some mistakes, such as Lennon's vocal blunder during the second verse of "Don't Let Me Down" or his inaccurate bass playing on "The Long And Winding Road." The way the arrangements have been stripped down results in Let It Be being the logical album in between the White Album and Abbey Road. However, it doesn't come easy once you have known and loved certain songs and its arrangement for more than thrty years. We all know that Paul McCartney has never liked the choirs and strings that Spector added to "The Long And Winding Road." Getting rid of this "over-production" makes it difficult to enjoy the same song the way you have done for over three decades. A song like "Dig A Pony" then again proves the kind of direction Harrison was about to take for solo purposes, making the album a true hodgepodge of ideas. By getting rid of the Phil Spector production, Billy Preston's contributions also are more highlighted, delevering indeed a different end result at times.

With a total playing time of a mere 35 minutes, EMI has decided to include a bonus disc. Fly On The Wall is as its title implies - you feel as if you're a fly on the wall in the studio whilst The Beatles are recording their music. The 21-minute long track is compiled out of bits and pieces of recording and narration. No fewer than 21 musical snippets are used, accompanied by 14 bits of conversation. Personally I would have loved to have seen the Let It Be film added as a DVD. When Let It Be was issued on vinyl in May 1970, the limited run contained that lavish book. It would have been nice to repeat this offer these many years later, replacing the book and its stills with the actual moving pictures as recorded in January 1969 on DVD. A missed opportunity? However, although a lot of Beatles enthusiasts will probably be thrilled with this new release, finally being able to replace their dodgy bootlegs by the "real thing," I do hope that EMI/Apple will not treat every single Beatles output the same way, because if they do, they will damage the Beatles legacy forever. Maybe they should have left the original recordings alone and taken the title literally: Let It Be. Indeed!

Also released on LP in the UK by Apple (595 4380), on CD and LP in Japan by Toshiba-EMI (TOCP 67300-01/TOJP 60121-22), Australia by Parlophone (595-7142) and the US by Apple Records/Capitol Records (CDP 7243 5 95227 2 2)

Get Back (2:34) / Dig A Pony (3:38) / For You Blue (2:28) / The Long And Winding Road (3:34) / Two Of Us (3:21) / I:ve Got A Feeling (3:31) / One After 909 (2:44) / Don:t Let Me Down (3:19) / I Me Mine (2:21) / Across The Universe (3:38) / Let It Be (3:54)

Bonus Disc: Fly On The Wall (21:00)

John Lennon - guitars, vocals
George Harrison - guitars, vocals
Paul McCartney - bass, vocals
Ringo Starr - drums, vocals


Billy Preston ? keyboards

Please Please Me (1963) With The Beatles (1963)
A Hard Days Night (1964)
Beatles For Sale (1964)
Help! (1965)
Rubber Soul (1965)
Revolver (1965)
Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
White Album (1968)
Yellow Submarine (1969)
Abbey Road (1969)
In The Beginning: Early Tapes (Circa 1960) (1970)
Let It Be (1970)
1962-1966 (1973)
1967-1970 (1973)
Live At The Hollywood Bowl (1977)
Live! At The Star-Club In Hamburg, Germany (1977)
Beatles Rarities (1979 (UK)/80 (US))
The Beatles Conquer America (1985) [boot]
Past Masters Volume 1 (1988)
Past Masters Volume 2 (1988)
Unsurpassed Demos (1993) [boot]
Get Back Sessions (1993) [boot]
Shea!/Candlestick Park (1994)
Live At The BBC (1994)
Anthology 1 (1995)
Anthology 2 (1995)
Anthology 3 (1996)
Decca Tapes [boot]
Ultra Rare Trax/Back-Trak/Unsurpassed Demos [boot]
Live In Tokyo [boot]
1 (2000)
Let It Be ... Naked (2003)
The Capitol Albums Vol. 1 (box set) (2004)

Anthology (DVD) (2002)
The First US Visit (DVD) (2004)

Genre: Rock

Origin UK

Added: November 16th 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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Hits: 909
Language: english


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