Let It Be…Naked





L

et
It Be


has been
documented on film and record. The recording sessions that resulted
in the album have been written about in countless articles and books.
So why

Naked

? The obvious answer is that there’s no
time like the present to continue mining Beatles gold. When Capitol
Records released the



Beatles
No.1



just
prior to the holidays in 2000, the disc went to number 1 on the
charts and sat there. Nothing says Hanukah or Christmas for a record
executive like having a top-selling album that only required cleaning
up some old tapes and slapping a new jacket on the package. 


Boomers
are still a viable force in the marketplace, especially when is
comes to the dwindling sales of record companies. After all it isn’t
17-year-olds who are buying all those re-mastered versions of Dylan,
Joplin, and the Airplane. It is actually amazing how little of the
vast collection of alternate takes and other material recorded by
the Beatles hasn’t been released. While every record company
is tripping over themselves to re-master and re-release material
under banners such as Essential and The Very Best Of, Capitol Records
has yet to re-master one of the Beatles’ original albums.  



Let
It Be

grew out of the Fab Four’s desire to get back to
basics. The attempt was to be entitled

Get Back

and was meant
to be spontaneous and under-produced. It was only two years previous
that the group had set the rock world on its ear with the multi-layered

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

. The Fab Four, fragmenting
since manager Brian Epstein’s death in August 1967, felt that
the

Get Back

sessions would be a constructive way of mending
the band. The idea of doing a documentary of the recording sessions
was also planned. Unfortunately, the plan misfired. The resulting
film, which hasn’t been available for over a decade, showed
the group more fragmented than fans ever thought possible. The Beatles
eventually decided to shelve the sessions and moved on to recording
new material that eventually became

Abbey Road

, the group’s
final studio album. Interestingly, 12 of the songs that eventually
made their way on to

Abbey Road

were first introduced and
worked on during the

Get Back

sessions. 


In
January 1970, the year after the

Get Back

sessions were recorded,
the tapes were given to Phil Spector to sort through and assemble.
The result was

Let It Be

, an album that wasn’t the home
run most had come to expect of the Beatles, but a mighty fine album
nonetheless. The album does contain the title track, “Get Back”
and “Across The Universe.” That alone puts it head and
shoulders over anything currently on the charts. It was specifically
Spector’s sweet strings and hymnal vocal touches that McCartney
objected to, which created a cloud that hung over the album for
years. 


Thirty-three
years after its initial release,

Let It Be

finally got the
reworking Paul wanted. The result is a mixed bag for Beatle aficionados.

Let It Be…Naked

not only removes all of Spector’s
production, but also the songs sequence has been changed as well.
The re-worked album does make interesting listening for fans, including
those not old enough to remember the many bootlegged versions of
the sessions that surfaced before

Let It Be

was officially
released in May 1970. The music is sparse and as pared down as one
could get. The title track still retains the power of redemption
and that all things are possible, even minus the Wagnerian Spector
flourishes. “The Long And Winding Road” is leaner and
not nearly as syrupy and sappy as its original mix. All of the material
benefits from 30 years of technology. The songs are cleaner and
have a punch and presence that just wasn’t sonically available
back in the days of eight-track analog recording. George’s
slide guitar work on “For You Blue” swings harder and
the chosen mix gives Ringo’s drums far more snap than the original.
The album’s standout piece is “One After 909.” While

Naked

uses original takes, the re-mastering benefits the
song by adding an extra kick to the proceedings. 


The
album’s downside is the total lack of documentation of which
takes were used on the revamped

Naked

. While this may seem
like nitpicking, Beatle musicologist, Mark Lewisohn put out a book
years ago detailing nearly every take of those sessions. It certainly
wouldn’t have been that difficult to include the date of the
recording and its take number in the multi-page booklet whose text
is primarily comprised of dialogue snippets of the Fab Four and
Michael Lindsey-Hogg, director of the film

Let It Be





Unfortunately
the decision was also made not to include “Maggie Mae”
and “Dig It.” While these were both brief and unfinished
songs their inclusion, as well as some also removed studio banter
on the original album, lent a free form feel to the proceedings
that the newer version lacks. Another personal gripe is the omission
of the “Bring It On Home To Me” jam that is evident in
the film and never released on record, tape, or CD. A bonus disc
is included that is about as entertaining as listening to “Revolution
No. 9” in its entirety without the proper mind altering substances
that made the cut seem so profound all those years ago. “Fly
On The Wall” is a 21-minute snore fest. One can only imagine
what prompted its inclusion in this day and age of “just say
no.” On the plus side “Don’t Let Me Down,” recorded
during the sessions but omitted from the original, has been restored.
 


Since
there are still a few more Christmases ahead before baby boomers
hit retirement age and a fixed income, we can only hope that the
film

Let It Be

will again see the light of day and that Capitol
Records will dig a little deeper into the vaults and try a little
harder to release recordings that shed more light on the greatest
rock ’n’ roll band to have passed this way.





John Zavesky
is a freelance writer who’s articles have appeared in the



Los
Angeles Times, the Press/Enterprise,



and the



San
Diego Union



, as well as other periodicals.