The Beatles Let It Be...Naked Review

Remix. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

This new slant on the events is at least a small recompense for all that bad feeling.

Chris Jones 2003

If ever an album was born out of acrimony it was Let It Be. Patched together from desultory sessions for an aborted TV documentary (eventually released in cinemas) it was originally McCartney's baby. He'd urged the fraying foursome into action, reasoning that a return to their twelve bar roots might re-energise a unit who'd grown sick of each other. He was mistaken. The following experience saw Harrison feel sidelined to the point of leaving (albeit temporarily) and a marked increase in Lennon's snide side. With Macca washing his hands of the project it was left to Lennon (in league with cartoon villain, Allan Klein) to hand the tapes over to Phil Spector and produce the album we know and sort of love to this day. Thirty years later the bass player has his revenge; Spector (and engineer Glyn Johns)'s work is erased and these are the results...

To be fair to Spector, his additions (saccharine strings on ''The Long And Winding Road'', choir on ''Across The Universe'', redubbed drums from Ringo etc.) were never that appalling and served to cover some of the sloppiest playing the Merseygod's ever committed to tape. Yet this project does cast the album in a fresh and remarkably invigorating light. Gone are the snippets and knockabout stuff (''Maggie Mae'', ''Dig It'' etc) and finally the heartfelt ''Don't Let Me Down'' (from the rooftop session) gets a proper airing. But what really surprises is the way in which the boys at Abbey Road have used the digital fairy dust to beef up songs that have deteriorated into cliché by overfamiliarity. ''Two Of Us'' is affectingly jaunty, ''Get Back'' (the album's original working title) rocks once more and the stripped back ''Let It Be'' seems injected with soulful power, especially on the middle eight which bubbles with Georges leslied guitar solo. Billy Preston's hammond is also more to the fore, adding extra texture. Only ''The Long And Winding Road'' remains a dirge in any version.

Most importantly, for those who fear this is just a vanity project by Mr Heather Mills, this whole exercise was approved by all three remaining Fabs and the real highlight is Lennon's own ''Across The Universe''. Stripped of Spector's lavish treatments to Lennon alone with Harrison on tamboura, it rings out as one of John's finest works, mercifully missing the cynicism for which he was renowned and brimming with cosmic optimism.

Of course the real irony is that this work - the last album to be released under the band's name - actually prefigured their final masterpiece. It was Macca again who managed to coax the boys back to their spiritual home in St John's Wood to make Abbey Road - proof positive that they still had more to offer. Unfortunately it was Let It Be that soured things beyond repair. This new slant on the events is at least a small recompense for all that bad feeling.

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