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Originally put together in 1969 and intended to be The Beatles' penultimate album, Let It Be wasn't actually released until 1970, when it reached no.1 in the UK charts in May of that year. The song Let It Be was released as a single, reaching no.2 in the UK charts in March 1970. There are two versions of the song Let It Be hovering around - one of them contains a more complex guitar break in the middle, and it was the version with the simpler guitar break which made the charts as a single - the other version appeared on the album.
When the Let It Be album was first recorded back in 1969, a studio version of the song Get Back was released and reached no.1 in the UK charts in April of that year. The version of Get Back which appears on the album, is that of the live performance The Beatles gave on the rooftop of the Apple Building in London in February of 1969.
Steaming with internal arguments which were largely about money and fuelled by John's apparent obsession with Yoko Ono whereby it appeared he was unable to do anything without her being by his side, The Beatles were almost at the end of their tether and their career as a band...strangely enough though, the album Abbey Road doesn't appear to lend forth the acrimonious atmosphere present as does the Let It Be album, despite it being recorded afterwards....that could be because Abbey Road was entirely a studio album, whereas bits of Let It Be are live.
Apparently The Beatles weren't happy with the 1969 production of the Let It Be album, and it was put on the back burner before being released in 1970, just after the band had parted company. Once the split had happened, it is rumoured that John sold the rights of the tracks which had been intended to use on the album to Phil Spector...how much truth there is in that I have no idea, but Phil definitely went on to produce the 1970 version, which is the one we all dashed out to buy.
Let It Be, as an album, contains a mish-mash of songs that largely for me isn't by any stretch of the imagination The Beatles' best work, although there are a couple of gems resting within. Each time I play the album, I can sense a definite disconnection between the band members, which no doubt mirrors what was happening with their relationship with one another in real life.
As is my preferred method of writing album reviews, I shall do a hopefully brief track-by-track rundown, as follows:-
1. TWO OF US
Penned by McCartney, Two Of Us has a pleasant tune and is very easy to listen to. It's a bit cutesy, and the words describe a couple who are obviously in love, making their way home and describing the little things they get up to on their journey. I have no idea if Paul intended the song to be about him and Linda - they'd not been married long at the time - and I don't suppose I shall ever know, but I guess it may have been. Though I do like this song, I'd call it 'nice' and my use of that word means it's one which you could happily have played to your parents at the time, as it's tuneful, has pretty words, and is 'safe'. The mums & dads back in 1970 would largely have approved of Two Of Us, as it probably would have come across to them as a welcome break from pretty much most of the other innovative music which was around at the time.
2. DIG A PONY
This one screams Lennon and he takes the main vocals, and precedes the track with the nonsensical spoken words....."Phase two in which Doris gets her oats, with Charles Hawtry on the deaf aids" I personally don't like the tune of Dig A Pony and find it quite uncomfortable to listen to. Some of the words are surreal and a bit nonsensical, and Lennon was expressing his feelings in the song about the movement which was in progress at the time - peace, love and quiet revolution, encouraging people (particularly the young) to be what they wanted and, with respect, to do what they wanted. Not one of my favourites on the album, largely because of the tune not appealing to me at all. In my opinion, this is one of Lennon's worst offerings through the whole of The Beatles' plus his ensuing solo career.
3. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
Another Lennon song, and contrary to Dig A Pony, I like very much. It's very hippie-ish, quite trippy and I believe is about meditation, not drugs as some thought at the time. The main problem with this track as it appears on the Let It Be album, is Phil Spector's arrangement which is way, way over the top, very heavy on the strings, and I feel the essence and gentleness of the song has been completely lost by tarting it up too much. There is a version of Across The Universe hovering around somewhere - I've got it on an .mp3 file but have no idea of its origin, which is the raw track how Lennon wrote it and how it was initially arranged before Spector got (with John's warm approval and permission) his hands on it. If the original arrangement had been included on this album instead of Spector's rather sad re-hash, I'd possibly go as far as to say it was the best track from this collection....but though I like the song a lot, its ruination has rendered it no more than mediocre.
4. I ME MINE
I stand corrected if I'm wrong, but I believe this was a joint Lennon/McCartney effort. This is an up-tempo song in which the words don't appear to mean all that much to me, and although it's OK, it sounds to me as if it was a filler track. There's very little I can say about it other than it isn't dissimilar to the material The Beatles were writing around the time of The White Album's release in 1968.
5. DIG IT
This Lennon song has a very repetitive tune that can hardly be called a tune at all...it's more of a chant, and is articulated a little aggressively. It's John, sarcastically I believe, listing various organisations (such as the CIA) and chanting "dig it" after he vocalises each one. Overall I would view this track as being not socially conscious, but a snipe on the more conservative areas of society in the Western world that John was so good at. The repetitive nature of Dig It though gets on my nerves sometimes, and I feel would have more impact had it been easier to listen to.
6. LET IT BE
For me, this, out of all McCartney's work both with The Beatles and beyond, is his finest hour. Let It Be is a song which contains a soft and gentle message of hope, homing in on 'Mother Mary' which could possibly indicate that Paul came from a catholic family...that needs confirmation though, so please don't take it as fact as it's just me surmising. Let It Be has a very pleasant and strong tune of mid-tempo, and can actually seep into your mind and offer you solace during the times when life isn't so easy - well, I've found it to be that way for me. As said above, there are two versions of the song - one with a more complex middle-eight guitar break than the other, and this album version is the one with the latter, whereas the single of Let It Be was the former. This by far is my favourite track on the Let It Be album, and receives full marks from me.
7. MAGGIE MAE
Rumoured by some to have been a real person and rumoured by others to be a nonsense song penned by Lennon, Maggie Mae is a short song describing a Liverpool prostitute who after her death, could walk around Lime Street no more. I do sense Lennon here may have been harking back to his childhood somewhat (as he did from time to time in his music), and that maybe Maggie Mae was a familiar and well-known character whereby John felt he had to mark her passing on in some way. We had a similar lady in my home town who was nicknamed Lulu, and despite her being rather unhinged and at times aggressive, once she died she was sadly missed, as had been part of the character of the town. I wouldn't say that as a song, Maggie Mae is a deep and poetically proficient Beatles' offering, but it does have a cute and somewhat nostalgic sort of charm.
8. I'VE GOT A FEELING
This is my second favourite track on the album, and I believe it was an equal collaboration between Lennon & McCartney. The words of the song describe....well this is how I interpret it and I could be wrong....the 1960s as a whole, and seems feasible being as it was written and recorded just as the decade was coming to a close. The song for me speaks of a ten-year period whereby people opened up and had bushel-loads of harmless fun, and to use Lennon's actual words, "everybody saw the sun shine", "everybody got their rocks off" - they being just two examples. I also like the mid-tempo, slightly dreamy tune which in my mind befits a musical description of being at a live open air rock festival....but how they were in those days, not how they are now. For me, this is possibly Lennon's best penned work which emanated from the period as The Beatles' career as a band began to wind down and eventually come to a close.
9. ONE AFTER 909
This could be wild speculation or truth....I have no idea....but it has been rumoured One After 909 was written by Lennon/McCartney not long after they first met back in 1959, they only considering it for release on vinyl some ten years later. Another piece of speculation which could or couldn't be true is that it was the very first song George Harrison ever wrote, when he was aged 15. Whichever of these is true, and it is of course possible that neither of them may be, One After 909 is an up-tempo song that's borderline rock & roll, although I've never been able to work out what the words are supposed to signify. Though one of the better tracks on the Let It Be album, One After 909 compared to the whole catalogue of Beatles' work from their inception to their break-up, is mediocre and doesn't pull any punches for me.
10. THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
I have spoken about this track in another review, and my feelings about it are still the same. It's a song that a lot of people love to bits, but I actually loathe it. I hate Phil Spector's way over the top and unnecessarily dramatic orchestrated arrangement....he's made what for me is an undesirable song even worse. I can't stand the slow and plodding tune; I find the words not clumsy exactly, but as they don't hit any spots inside of me, they come across as rather meaningless. In my opinion, Paul McCartney is capable of and has delivered far, far better, and Phil Spector's arrangement only served to make what for me is a questionable song at the best of times, very much worse.
11. FOR YOU BLUE
This George Harrison penned song is one of the better tracks on the album. It's a slightly tongue-in-cheek, whimsical love song that is fairly up-tempo and has a strong bluesy influence running through it. I feel George was always overshadowed by Lennon & McCartney when it came to writing songs, and For You Blue - if you compare it to the small number of his other compositions which were allowed onto Beatles' albums - shows how varied and adept he was, yet gained little credit for his efforts until he pursued a solo career after The Beatles' breakup.
12. GET BACK
As touched on above in my preamble, this album version of Get Back is the one that was performed live on the roof of the Apple Building in London in 1969. Get Back is a brilliant piece of gentle 12-bar rock & roll which tells the story of JoJo, a cross-dresser, and is one of my very favourite Beatles' tracks. Having said that, I do prefer the studio version, as the polishing up of the song removed some of the slight little faults present on the live version, but the rendition which appears on this album contains that classic off-the-cuff quip at the end - delivered by Lennon - "I'd like to thank you all for coming, and I hope we pass the audition".
Despite containing one or two exceptionally good tracks, overall I feel the Let It Be album is a confused mish-mash of largely second-rate material from a band who was at the end of its musical and personal tether. As you've probably gathered from what I said in my track-by-track listing above, I feel the album would have sounded a lot better had it not been handed over to Phil Spector for him to run riot with his ghastly over-production which completely ruined the already not too perfect content. I feel that if Let It Be had been released as an album when it was originally intended, before Abbey Road, it could possibly have held a greater appeal for me as the production would be different. It has been said that The Beatles themselves were unhappy with the 1969 production, but after (and again this is speculation/rumour) John roped Phil Spector in to re-hash the whole thing, the remaining three Beatles were even more horrified with the results.
The making of Let It Be as an album was rescued from the cutting floor and turned into a movie, which is very interesting to watch. During the film, you can cut the tensions between The Beatles with a knife, and at one point George walked out on the recording session after having argued with John and Paul. Yoko Ono is present throughout, much to the dismay and irritation of George, Paul & Ringo, who don't hide their feelings about John's insistence that Yoko be at his side at all times. If you can find a DVD of the Let It Be movie and you are a Beatles' fan, you'll find it a bit sad and possibly a bit uncomfortable to watch, but from the historic point of view, it's interesting to see how the world's most successful pop group deteriorated from a jolly foursome who seemed comfortable at all times together, into a situation where they appeared to all but hate one another.
I really would feel better about the whole rise and fall of The Beatles had the Let It Be album been their penultimate, as originally planned, as it would then make complete sense of Abbey Road being their proper final offering, bearing in mind how it (Abbey Road) ends...Abbey Road is probably overall my favourite Beatles' album.
For those who haven't heard the Let It Be album and would like to, it can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: From £7.68 to £19.02
Used: From £8.67 to £19.99
Collectible: £17.00 (only one copy available)
A delivery charge of £1.24 should be added to the above figures.
For those who've not seen it and are interested, plus for those who remember it with fondness and would like to see it again, you can view The Beatles in February of 1969 performing the Let It Be album version of Get Back on the rooftop of the Apple building on YouTube. Note the expressions on their faces...you can definitely spot the tension which had by that time built up between the band members, yet despite that, each one for this rooftop performance gave their all, concentrating hard and enthusiastically on the music, not letting acrimony ruin what has gone down in history as being a classic little clip.....taken from the Let It Be movie. I enshrine that clip, as the remainder of the Let It Be movie shows The Beatles fervently at one another's throats, and that's not how I like to remember them.
I'm not sure how many stars to rate this album with, as some of its content is of dubious quality in my opinion, yet that which is good is exceptionally so. Simply for the couple of outstanding tracks which truly are outstanding, I shall push the boat out and award the album with four stars.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
The Let It Be album, released as the final Beatles album in 1970 has caused Beatles fans some confusion as time has passed. The Beatles first started recording the album under the name "Get Back" with cameras filming the process, before the concept of the Abbey Road album had even entered their minds. The collection of songs now known as "Let It Be" were recorded but then shelved due to the group's inner problems and disagreements on how the final product should be released. The group scrapped the project and released recorded the critically acclaimed and highly successful "Abbey Road", before coming back to the idea of the "Get Back" tapes ("Let It Be" album). So yes, this was the final original album released by The Beatles but it was not the final Beatles recording.
When the time finally came for this group of tracks to see the light of day, Phil Spector was asked to come in and clean up the tapes, remix the tracks and make a releasable album of the music available, and whilst everyone may not have been pleased with the outcome there is a strong track list here that any band would be proud to release.
With the idea to record a "back to basics" album, i.e. one that could be performed live if required, the album has a very stripped back feel to most of the songs. The album opener "Two of Us" features beautiful harmonies with the shared lead vocals of Lennon & McCartney with the assistance of acoustic guitars. The harmonies of two close friends (although even this was up for debate at the time) make the lyrics of long lasting friendship even better, although the song is apparently written about McCartney's wife to be, Linda Eastman.
Although still quite stripped back for the Beatles' standards, further songs on the album do have a fuller sound than "Two of Us", such as Harrison's "I, Me, Mine", written with his religion in mind in which "I", "Me" and "Mine" do not exist; and Lennon's "Dig A Pony", complete with bizarre lyrics stating his love for Yoko Ono. Another of Lennon's songs recorded about Yoko Ono at this time is "Don't Let Me Down" (which was also performed during the rooftop concert), released as the B side to the single "Get Back", but not included on the Let It Be album.
The exclusion of "Don't Let Me Down" from the album is even more disappointing than the non-inclusion of "Rain" on any Beatles album not only because of it being one of the Beatles greatest and most powerful love songs, but also because it is much better than most of the material included on Let It Be. That said, there are further great songs that did make the cut, none less so than another Lennon track, "Across the Universe". Containing what Lennon describes as his 'most poetic lyrics' (Rolling Stone interview 1970), Across the Universe is a beautifully mellow song, and in February 2008 became the first track to be intentionally sent out into deeper space. Lennon's chorus features a mantra for "Guru Deva" followed by "nothings going to change my world" repeated several times, and Phil Spector's inclusion of choral harmonies and further orchestration makes the track an undoubted classic and a standout track of the album.
McCartney has some excellent tracks on this album, including the title track (more on this later), "Get Back" (previously used as a single) and one of the more controversial tracks of the final release, "The Long and Winding Road". The story of "The Long and Winding Road" is a major factor in the Beatles break-up with McCartney cited the song as one of the six reasons for dissolving 'the Beatles' in court. The controversy that surrounds the song is in the added orchestration included by Phil Spector without the consultation of the song's principal composer, McCartney. Upon hearing the Phil Spector completed song McCartney was outraged and sent a 'strong worded letter' to his record company's executive Allen Klein, asking for the added instrumentation to be removed. Klein refused and the album included Phil Spector's version and the Beatles were dissolved as a legal entity.
You would think that with all this trouble that the song we hear on the album is a terrible failure; that Phil Spector ruined a song and that it failed to chart but the truth is far from that. The song became the Beatles' last release and their last number one and despite holding a sound different than any other Beatles recordings it is a very popular track amongst fans.
George Harrison sticks to the two songs per album rule (more cause for controversy within in the band, especially when considering the quality of George's tracks), the aforementioned "I, Me, Mine" and the brilliant "For You Blue" (which legend has it, should have been called "For You Blues"). This is one of the more fun songs of the album with George including spoken dialogue encouraging John Lennon as they're playing (Lennon playing slide guitar) whilst singing about a girl who he loves, wants and needs; an all time favourite track of mine.
The album has a few more tracks to offer, the fifty second jam with John Lennon's ramblings in "Dig It", the classic Liverpool pub song "Maggie Mae", a song written before the band had even recorded their first album in "The One After 909", McCartney's powerful "I've Got a Feeling" (comprised mostly of a McCartney song, but mixed with an unreleased Lennon song to excellent effect) and of course "Let It Be" itself.
Let It Be is a phenomenal song written by McCartney and more than worthy of having a whole album named after it. The heavenly feel of this powerful ballad takes your breath away immediately, but McCartney's lyrics of hope in times of disarray make for one of the most touching songs written in rock history. Written after McCartney's deceased mother (Mary) appeared to him in a dream during a difficult time and spoke to him "Don't worry it will be ok, just let it be", this number one hit encapsulates exactly how that must have felt with McCartney's powerful vocals and the gospel feel of the track. It is one that you have to hear to understand.
Overall this is a great album, but at the same time one that you feel could have been better. There are songs on this album that whilst they're great by even the Beatles' standards, you still feel that they could have made a better album under different circumstances (possibly the reason that this album was shelved for so long). For me, Phil Spector's production actually adds to the quality of the album and I personally love the additional orchestration on "The Long and Winding Road", but whilst his inclusion of studio sound clips adds comedy to the album, it does take away from its cohesiveness. It may not be the best album to start with if you're new to the Beatles catalogue, but its certainly one to purchase at some point.
** Let It Be - The Beatles **
I've just bought the CD of Let It Be by The Beatles from Amazon to replace my now very very scratched and warped CD that has been in my car too long. It cost me £13.32 including super saver delivery which is quite expensive I think.
Let It Be is a great album though and one of the best later Beatles ones. It is more ragged and messily put together and there is a lot of taking on the album between songs that make it more interesting.
I have seen the film Let It Be a few times where the Beatles are in the first stages of their break up and are not getting on well. This album reflects that discords well I think while still being mostly a really good creative album.
George Martin the Beatle's usual producer did not produce this album. The job of producer was given too Phil Spectre. Phil is a great producer and does a good job on Let It Be but I think Phil and Paul McCartney didn't get on well.
What is important about Let It Be is not the bickering between band members or arguments with the producer it is the quality of the music. I think Let It Be by The Beatles gives the goods.
On the album are amazing songs like Across The Universe. Lennon is such a wordsmith on Across The Universe. The man is a genius.
Let It Be is a touching song. I believe it is McCartney singing about his mother but the words resonate on a less personal world wide level as well I think.
The Long And Winding Road is another strong song from Paul. Paul later released a version of the song without Spectre's mix and added orchestral parts. I think the mix is very good though.
For You Blue has George playing some mean slide guitar. I don't know what the song is about but I do really like it.
Those are my favourite songs but most of the songs on the album are brilliant. There are some short weird songs that are novelty value only but all the proper length songs are worth hearing time and time again.
** My conclusion **
Let It Be by The Beatles is not their most polished album or the best. The cracks in the band are very visible and some of the short interlude songs are mere novelty items. But there are enough rock solid songs on Let It Be to keep it high up in my top albums of all time list. I love the humour that precedes some of the songs as well.
Thanks for reading my review.
My review of the 'Let It Be' Album - by The Beatles.
Let It Be is like no other Beatles album, it represents to me the Beatles at their most raw - when their interpersonal inter-band relationship were often at their most strained.
This was the bands attempt to recapture the 'feel' of their early days (John especially always felt that The Beatles music lost something when they got signed - and that although they became very creative -they regressed as a cohesive 'live' entity)...
...but as anyone who's watched the (well worth a look for the roof top gig alone!!) film footage knows; the project failed.
Let It Be became the 'falling apart' soundtrack of the greatest band in history. Now I might have given you the impression that I don't like this album much; Nothing could be further from the truth!!
Let It Be is the end of the Beatles as a band (they couldn't even be bothered to compile the album form all the songs recorded, choosing to walk away and hand the job to Phil Spector), but it's also (perhaps because of the competing factions within the band) brilliantly raw, creative and interspersed with a healthy helping of humour (no really!! - ranging from the silly to the acidic and weird!).
I think this marks a brilliant end to the Beatles career, because it's so rough around the edges. I don't believe that a polished album wouldn't have been as impressive as the final release (ironically Abbey Road - which was highly polished and great - was recorded after the Let It Be session's - but since Let It Be was released last, it carved it's place in music history as the fab four's final fling!!)
There are no tracks on the Let It Be album that I don't enjoy on some level;
there are only a couple of weak tracks - the shambolic 'Maggie Mai' and 'Dig It' - (which aren't really songs, but are quite funny to listen to -lol!!), and there are some really interesting tracks like 'one after 909' and 'I've Got A Feeling'.
One after 909 is a must have track (for those who know their Beatles history) because it's the first (the VERY first) track that John and Paul wrote together (while they were still in their early teens). It's rack n roll of course lol! But listen out for George playing his trademark '7th augmented 9th chord' (I know it sounds complex, but when you hear it you'll know it -it's jazzy and angry all at the same time).
The brilliant Jimi Hendrix was often credited with the first use of this chord - and it features heavily (no pun intended :-) in Jimi's classic Purple Haze. But among most guitar players -the general consensus is that it was George who came up with the chord first, and Jimi who quickly adopted it.
THE BEST TRACKS IMHO;
Two Of Us - is a beautiful, unpolished Lennon happy go lucky tune (with whistling in places) with some great lyrics and a real 'feel good' factor. Paul's clever key changed middle-eight part is a welcome surprise too!!
I Me Mine - This George Harrison song is one of the two greatest melodies I've ever heard in my life (the other being Brett Huckfield's 'Here Again').. It sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it, and George does some kick ass guitar playing in the rocked up chorus too.
Get Back -This is the proper live version, from on top of the Apple Building (now a legendary bit of film footage). It kicks along better than the well known album version of Get Back, and John and Paul joking around at the start (and end) of the song, still makes me smile (and I've heard it a gazillion times lol!!).
Let It Be - Paul's beautiful hymn to his mother... Not to be confused with the 'other' tame version of this song on other albums. This one starts with the amusing (if slightly tasteless given the song's subject matter) Lennon comment 'Now we'd like to do; Hark The Angels Come!'. What sets this version of Let It Be apart is the raw, explosive and awesome guitar playing that appears in the last 3rd of the song; it's George at the top of his form... Trust me, you won't want to hear the tame version after this one!!
AND THE REST;
Although the 4 tracks above are my faves, the remaining songs are such a close second to them; you couldn't fit a hair from Ringo's moustache between them :-)
Songs like Across The Universe -with it's introspective poetic verses interspersed with an ancient Hindu chant for the chorus (inspired by John's visit to India during the Beatle's meditation/ mystic yogi phase;. Later John would lose faith in the Maharaji, after catching him indulging in err...ahem...'more than spiritual pleasures' with one of the young ladies present - but just like Ranger Smith said; you can't trust a Yogi, lol!)
...and The Long And Winding Road - which is such a beautiful (Grammy Award winning) 'Paul' ballad. Incidentally, Paul hated the strings and cellos that Phil Spector had added to his song - though personally I think the 'strings' are very tasteful addition to Paul's song, and lift the track brilliantly!).
ACTUAL TRACK LISTING;
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. Get Back
The whole album would be worth buying for anyone of the above tracks - let alone all of them. People have often said unkind things about this album -I'm not one of them, I love it and I heartily recommend it!!
Hope you found my review of some help, and good luck with your bargain hunting!!
While officially the Beatles' final release, this album is derived from the Twickenham Studios sessions of 1969. Originally intended for a fly on the wall film, it was McCartney's attempt to get the band back together as one, playing live like in the early days.
Probably the only Beatles album proper, to ever receive negative reviews - many took offense to the Lennon encouraged, Phil Spector production job. While he never actually worked with the band, a couple of the tracks (The Long & Winding Road, Across the Universe) get the minor Wall of Sound treatment.
McCartney chips in a couple of his best ballads - 'Let It Be' & 'The Long & Winding Road', while George remains solid & on the upward trajectory. Again, like it's successor 'Abbey Road', Lennon is barely seen nor heard. He contributes the gorgeous 'Across the Universe, but otherwise is largely conspicuous by his absence.
As we near the four decade mark since the release of the The Beatles' final release, Let It Be, it now seems an appropriate time to re-evaluate an album which has received much criticism as the years have gone by.
Initially intended for release a year prior to Abbey Road, but delayed by lengthy recording sessions, endless post-production, and internal conflicts within the band, Let It Be, sees The Beatles going down unfamilair territory,
in an album drenched by Phil Spector's famous "wall of sound" production.
So what about the songs?
First of all, Let It Be is not as consistent an album as say Revolver
or Sgt Pepper, containing, in places, some relatively weak material - well, by The Beatles' lofty standard anyway. Witness songs such as Harrison's "For You Blue" for the point in case.
That said, Let It Be is still contains some absolute highlights from the band - the title track, Lennon's superb "Across The Universe", "The Long and Winding Road", "Get Back" and not forgetting Paul and John's harmonising for the final time together on "Two Of Us" - and as such, cannot be so easily dismissed.
Few would argue that Let It Be is the finest album the band cut together, but equally, had anyone else recorded it, it most likely would have been regarded as a classic. And that shows, just how great they really were.
Let It Be signalled the beginning of the end for The Beatles, and as an epitaph, is an essential purchase - imperfections or not.
This album doesn't get the recognition it deserves. The final release in the legacy of the greatest ever music group was a fine tribute to what they achieved and the story of the band themselves. It is a different sound to the immediate preceeding albums (particularly the White album), more mature and a more heartfelt tone to it, as though they were looking back on their time and knowing it was coming to an end.
But when did a Beatles album ever sound like the ones before it anyway?
The album was made in the midst of group turmoil, relationships had soured and they were each moving their different ways. But they managed to pull this last one out the bag and create some of their best songs yet.
The first song 'Two of Us' sounds as though Lennon and McCartney are joining forces for one last hurah, covering the ups and downs of their friendship. Following this comes two of my personal favourit Beatles songs, both written by Lennon, in 'Dig a Pony' and 'Across the Universe'. Both quite different, but those songs alone set the mood of what is to come, including the famous 'Let it Be' single, which is McCartneys best effort at coming to terms with the end of an era. Also 'The Long and Winding Road' pulls a few heart strings and I feel it should be the closing track on the album, but that is left to 'Get Back', which almost seems out of place on this CD.
The album cover is individual pictures of the band members, a noticable change from their early days, and the looks which match the feeling of the music at the time. I may be reading too much into it, but from the pictures, Lennon, McCartney and Ringo Starr all look slightly unhappy and forced, with George Harrison the only smiling picture.
Overall, a great album with some brilliant songs which is a fitting end to the Beatles era.
Let It Be was released just before the Beatles broke up but there are certainly no audible signs of such fractures in the band as Let It Be shows more unique musicality from the Fab Four. There are a few things to notes of Let It Be. Phil Spector produced it and in typical Spector fashion he felt inclined to put strings on some of the tracks which is something I'm not a great fan of. Some of the tracks are taken from the rooftop concert and so explains the rawer sound of the album, Lennon refusing to use George Martin as they didn't want any of his 'production s@#&'.
Two Of Us
Two of us is a galloping acoustic number featuring stomping bass drum, acoustic guitars and sliding bass. The harmonious vocals of John and Paul create the message of the song beautifully. I still think these songs would be vastly better with the input of George Martin but sadly no...
Dig A Pony
Charging guitar riffs and flam filled drums rule this fantastic Lennon composition which is uo there with his best. Harrison provides beautiful lead guitar as a scape for Lennon's non-sensical lyrical themes.
I Me Mine
The Harrison composition was completed without any input from Lennon but it doesn't show. Its a really great song and I love the disparity between the waltzy verses and the rocking choruses. The light strings are a bad touch and make me despise Spector and the Beatles ill choice in hiring him.
The finale to the Beatles final release taken straight from the rooftop concert performance. It features Paul on lead vocals and Billy Preston on the organ. Lyrics were typically nonsense at this stage of the Beatles careers but it hardly mattered when the music was good. Its a good song but the production makes me feel cheated, I'm surprise Spector didn't smother it in strings.
Let It Be is a good Beatles album. It has some fantastic songs and some pretty terrible ones. You may notice I've decided to leave out the ones I dislike as I'm afraid I might tarnish my reviewing reputation. Spector's production was an ill choice and came under fire from reviewers. Quite harshly in some cases (NME: 'If the new Beatles soundtrack is to be their last then it will stand as a cheapskate epitaph, a cardboard tombstone, a sad and tatty end to a musical fusion which wiped clean and drew again the face of pop') Ouch...
Its good but bad production and lack lustre songs make The Beatles sound tired.
This is the most slandered Beatles album of the lot and before i begin, i would like to say that i may anger some people and say that i love this record. It is a different style of Beatles, free and rocking, trying their hardest to create a more natural sound that they had left off from many of the previous albums and this is the result. And as to the producing by Phil Spector, have you listened to Let It Be...Naked, as this sounds just as good, although i will admit that i do prefer some of the tracks on the latter made album due to the sparser feel of some of the tracks, expecially Long And Winding Road
1. Two Of Us - A very nice starting track, that shows the beatles on their acoustic guitars just strumming along and making a nice simple track that sets this album up perfectly.
2. Dig A Pony - Probably my favourite Lennon track of the album, although there aren't many on here due to his drifting apart from the group. But this slightly lyrically surreal song shows off the more rocking side of the group without the studio wizardry of their last few albums.
3. Across The Universe - Probably one of the most beautiful Harisson song ever, although teh anthology version is even better. But this vocal and guitar piece is nice and shows the lyrical abilities of Harisson well.
4. I Me Mine - Again this shows off some nice guitar as the vocals seem to float around this rather strange some that appears to be about the wrongs of greed in society.
5. Dig It - A little ditty of a track that is mainly about setting up the next track, but an nice way to flow between tracks.
6. Let It Be - The title track and what a fabulous track that McCartney apparently wrote about the troubles the group were having in terms of togetherness and their individual commitments becoming more important than that of the group.
7. Maggie May - Anotehr little traditional trakc that sandwiches Let It Be, but this is a bit more of a substantial track and is a nice break between tracks.
8. I've Got A Feeling - A song that feels like it could have been a huge soncert song to start shows, with the backign vocals and instruments driving the vocals along well, but check out the anthology version for a slightly more powerful take.
9. One After 909 - A track that was one of the first tracks McCartney wrote, with an early version of this found from the groups roots on the Anthology set. Another good rocker of a track that shows the development of the group.
10. The Long And Winding Road - One of the more famous tracks of this album that is both poetic and haughtingly beautiful, although i do prefer it without the orchestral pieces as it makes this track more personal and painful.
11. For You Blue - A track that i love, with the great guitar work andgreat vocals from Harisson, and the Anthology version is just as good, although very similar.
12. Get Back - The original centre piece of these sessions and the track that gives them their name. One of the best pieces they ever did with the great guitar work that defines this album and the rock group style that does also.
Some may complain that the production ruined this album, and i would agree that the Naked versions and the Anthology too, do offer some takes that are better than sokme of those presented here, but i love this style of the group as it is a bout getting back to their roots and this is done so well that it is one of my favourite albums.
And so- the most feted band of the sixties ends with a whimper, rather than a bang.
This album was largely recorded BEFORE Abbey Road, but kept in the can as it wasn't felt strong enough to release- and frankly, it still sounds patchy.
That's not to say ALL the songs are bad- Two of Us is a charming remniscence of a misspent youth, and 'long and winding road' is a lounge classic worthy of Sinatra.
However, too much of the rest of the record suffers from what is my main problem with most later period Beatles music- a shocking lack of sincerity, and the belief, still held by McCartney, that worthwhile music can be spontaneously knocked off in ten minutes. Well, sometimes it can, and sometimes it can't- songs like 'dig it', 'maggie mae', 'dig a pony' 'one after 909', may have been fun to play, but they have no place on a good record!
Something that is often criticised about this record, is the post production work added by Phil Spector- strings, choirs etcetera. Frankly, I think that largely holds the album together, and makes it sound much better than it actually is- however, nothing can compensate for quality songwriting, and this album only just about half provides that.
'Let It Be' was the last 'new' album the Beatles released, in May 1970, just as they were splitting up. The comparatively polished 'Abbey Road', issued the previous autumn, was the last they ever recorded. Significantly, 'LIB' had been started early in 1969, left in the can and tinkered with at intervals over the space of a year or so. It's also their reality album, their Big Brother even. (Some of you may take that as an insult, depending on your view of the TV programme. Personally, if I worked for the Apple Organisation, I think I'd sue for libel. Oops.) The main difference that none of them were voted out, though as originator of the whole idea, Paul McCartney would have been the last to walk out. A rather ramshackle affair recorded during acrimonious sessions for a fly-on-the-wall documentary film which showed them working in the studio, it was not even produced by the normally ever-supportive George Martin, who rightly thought it was well short of their normal standards. Basically they brought in an engineer and let the tapes roll, bringing veteran producer Phil Spector in to salvage an album's worth long after they had despaired of agreeing about anything. John Lennon, who can be heard ad-libbing and winding things up like a bored schoolboy at the back of class over the openings of some tracks, and George Harrison, who objected to turning up early in the morning and having to work with bright lights and cameras at hand, didn't even want it put out, while Paul was incensed at Spector's lavish overdubbing on at least one of his songs. As for Ringo - good ol' Ringo, who never rocked the boat - he wasn't too bothered. Ten songs, two pieces of studio banter and improvised tomfoolery lasting less than a minute each, and a total playing time of 35 minutes, do not a great album make. But it's a Beatles album, so...well, it's a Beatles album. It begins p
romisingly enough with Paul's folksy 'Two Of Us', with John adding attractive vocal harmonies, though a burst of 'Hello Goodbye' towards the fade suggests they were sending themselves up. 'Dig a Pony' is one of John's hardest ever rockers, the kind of direction he had been exploring on the 'White Album' with 'Yer Blues' and was about to on the stark Plastic Ono Band 'Cold Turkey' single. But it's a little on the lethargic side, and makes clear that his heart was no longer in his old group. Even so Mr Lennon was still a softie at heart, as he proved on track three, the whimsical 'Across the Universe'. A kind of more mild precursor to 'Imagine' with its dreamy utopian lyric, it was an older song which had been considered as a single two years earlier. A different mix had already been given away to a World Wildlife Fund charity album, 'No-One's Gonna Change Our World', also featuring contributions from such artists as the Bee Gees and Rolf Harris (separately). 'I Me Mine' is the first of two George Harrison songs. George was pretty economical with the lyrics (as he would be on subsequent occasions), and this is more or less two songs welded together - a gentle waltz that suddenly clicks into a hard driving blues rocker. Interestingly (unless you count the mid-90s 'Free As A Bird' and 'Real Love'), it's the last new recording they ever completed as a group, in January 1970, by which time John had left for good. Another 50 seconds or so of John messing around in the studio, 'Dig It', follows, ending off with him saying in a muppet-like voice, "And now we'd like to do Hark the Herald Angels Come". I don't think Paul would have been so pleased, as what comes next is one of the record's high points, the title track. It's a shade longer than the single, with a much less restrained guitar sol
o from George which - in my view - gives this version a toughness which the single lacked. 'Maggie Mae' is just filler, about a minutes' worth of old traditional Liverpudlian singalong and no relation to the Rod Stewart classic. It leads into the slow bluesy 'I've Got A Feeling', the last song Paul and John wrote jointly. After that they resurrected one of their earliest compositions, the rocker 'One After 909', which John wrote around 1959 and was first recorded in the early days - though the first version remained unissued until 'Anthology 1' in 1994. 'The Long and Winding Road' was the one which caused Paul the most grief. One of his more sentimental if not cloying tunes, it almost certainly sounded better before Spector added his treacly strings and celestial choirs without Macca's consent. (Ironically he said he didn't want female voices on a Beatles record - and then what did he do? Went and formed a new group in which his wife shared vocals much of the time!) A No. 1 single in the US, it was only ever an album track in the UK. However, two of the best tracks finish proceedings. George's 'For You Blue' is an unpretentious, breezy 12-bar blues with John practising his best Elmore James slide guitar. Not a world-beater, but fun. And so to the track which made its first appearance as a single the year before, 'Get Back'. Again, this is a slightly different recording. Instead of the single's false ending and new start before the fadeout, this time there's some mock applause while John thanks everyone while hoping they've passed the audition. An ironic sign-off note on what was to be their final release. A reissue of this album, minus the Spectorisms, is planned for release in the near future. Whether it will restore some of the original recordings which were left in the can (such as a rock'n'roll medley which can be found
on 'Anthology 3') remains to be seen. As it stands, this is probably the least essential Beatles set. Recommended with some reservations. If you find a copy at sale price, or secondhand, give it a go. But only if you have the better stuff already.
Fab Four - the end.... Whoever you are, you'll have a view about The Beatles, even if it's despising them as irrelevant old Scousers, but I can't believe that there's too many people who'll fall into that latter category and this album is a good entry point to the Beatles catalogue as it captures them warts and all in the last throes of a desperate life struggle. But while 'Let It Be' was the final Beatles album released before they split up, it was actually made before 1969's 'Abbey Road'. It was conceived as a documentary type exercise and a film of the making of this album was made. Now that is a fascinating piece of work capturing once firm friends bickering amongst themselves and their coterie of hangers on as they gradually imploded. Apparently, McCartney was well up for seeing this project as a return to the roots of the band, a relaunch and certainly some of the stuff here (like 'One After 909') are rawer in feel than anything the Fab Four had worked on for a LOOOONG time. As everyone knows, the live set the group played on the roof was the high point of the film and that probably goes likewise for the album, where they're comfortably rough on stuff like the killer song 'Get Back'. I always find 'Let It Be' very difficult to take as an album, and I prefer to think of it like the film as a document of a particularly difficult time for the band, showing them in petty arguments and bickering. It's somehow better to see it as a rounded whole in that way than to appreciate this album as just a collection of songs. If you do take it as just another album, it's a melancholic effort, some great songs, but ultimately it feels soulless and empty, despite Macca's attempts to get all spiritual on us. Lennon had clearly ceased considering himself as a Beatle and was merely functioning on autopilot, almost as a session muso,
removed from the centre stage and content to let Macca hold the reins. Harrison was starting to urge for a bigger part and Ringo was just Ringo. Macca tried very hard to keep things together but was soon off tending sheep with Linda and making some pretty naff albums in his early solo days. It's all very, very sad... Track listing Two Of Us Dig A Pony Across The Universe I Me Mine Dig It Let It Be Maggie Mae I've Got A Feeling One After 909 The Long and Winding Road For You Blue Get Back Billy Preston was featured on keyboards on this album, Phil Spector was brought in on production duties. As said, this was supposed to be the project that relaunched them as a band, and it captures them rehearsing and trying out new songs and the live show was meant to be the climax, but unfortunately the startling film captures them disintegrating. The website - http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~ms538596/lib.html - is a mine of useful info including the following quotes - Paul: "The original idea was, you'd see the Beatles rehearsing, jamming, making stuff up, gettin' their act together and then finally we'd perform somewhere as the big end of show concert kind of thing. And Michael Lindsay-Hogg was gonna direct it..." George: "I thought, 'Ok, you know, well, it's a new year, we've got a new approach,' but it soon became apparent that it wasn't anything new, it was just going to be painful again..." Ringo: "I mean, you know, the days were long and it could get boring, you know, and Twickenham just wasn't really conducive to any great atmosphere...you were just in a big barn..." George: "I'd just spent like the last six months producing an album of this fellow, Jackie Lomax, and hanging out with Bob Dylan and The Band at Woodstock and having a great time. And for me to
come back into the winter of discontent with the Beatles in Twickenham was very unhealthy and unhappy..." John: "It was just dreadful, dreadful feeling. And being filmed all the time, you know, like that. I just wanted them to go away. And we'd be there at 8 in the morning. You couldn't make music at 8 in the morning or 10 or whatever it was, in a strange place with people filming you, and coloured lights...." George: "As everybody knows, we never had much privacy, and, you know, this thing that was happening was they were filming us rehearsing. There was a bit of a row going on between Paul and I. You can see it, where he's saying, 'Well don't play this,' or something and I'm saying, 'Well you know I'll play what you want or I won't play if you don't want it, you know, just make up your mind.'" That kind of stuff was going on. And they were filming us, recording us having a row, you know, it was like, terrible really...I thought, 'I'm quite capable of being relatively happy on my own, and I'm not able to be happy in this situation, you know, I'm gettin' out of here...'" John: "The whole pressure of it finally got to us. So, instead of, like people do when they're together, they start picking on each other. You know, it was like, 'It's because of you, you got the tambourine wrong that my whole life is a misery.' You know, it became petty. But the manifestations were on each other 'cause we were the only ones we had..."
When loking at album, I aim to be objective, just because I do not like something, does not mean it is not any good, my opinion is afterall just that, an opinion. I also look at an album as a collective, some songs might not be so good on their own, but them with others in album form and they can make alot more sense. I would never say that this was the greatest Beatles album, its not, its not even album they had a lot to do with in terms of production and ideas, but it is good, there are still some really good tracks here, not least because the Beatles playing together produced a sound that was unique and so brilliant. Even weak songs could often be carried because of their style. 'Dig A Pony', not a great song, but somehow with the Beatles playing it and that fantastic voice that John had it works, the amazing 'I've Got a feeling'. Perhaps this should not be your first choice, but once you have explored Beatles music this becomes a fascinating glimpse of the time and does yield some very good tracks, but as album it never gets off the ground like other albums. A good buy but perhpas not your first.
Let It Be has often been considered the worst Beatles album, but it isn't. Most of the tracks were recorded without overdubs and some were even taken from the famous Rooftop Concert in Saville Row. There are better albums than this, and it does feel more like the Rolling Stones than the Beatles, but songs such as Dig A Pony, Let It Be, I've Got A Feeling and Get Back really makes the CD worth buying. It's a shame the B-Side to Get Back - Don't Let Me Down didn't make the album as it is the greatest Beatles tune of all time.
This messy album, a mixture of tracks recorded live and tracks lavishly over-produced, is often thought of to be one of the band's weakest. It certainly has its flaws; the material here is simply not as uniformly strong as on their best work, and the general bluesy feel to much of the album doesn't quite come off. But for the most part it is thoroughly enjoyable, with a refreshing sense of humour in evidence (all the more surprisingly given the bickering surrounding its recording). The rocking 'Get Back' and hymn-like 'Let It Be' are amongst the band's most famous work, but lesser known gems like 'Two of Us'(a jaunty folk song with John and Paul sharing vocals) and George Harrison's 'I Me Mine' can also be heard. Phil Spector's "wall of sound" production destroys 'The Long and Winding Road', but strengthens Lennon's stupendously beautiful 'Across The Universe'. LET IT BE is flawed, but far from fatally so.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
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 Get Back