In anticipation of the brand new version of The Beatles “Let it Be” film hopefully coming out in September (by famed director Peter Jackson called “Get Back”) today I thought it might be fun to take a look back at another earlier attempt at some reworking of some “Let it Be” material.
In 2003 a team at Abbey Road Studios (Paul Hicks, Guy Massey, Allan Rouse) took The Beatles “Let it Be” album and remixed it and in effect striped it naked of any overdubs like the orchestrations on “Let it Be”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “I Me Mine” and “Across the Universe” whilst also removing the dialogue snippets that appeared throughout the album.
Obviously sanctioned by the remaining Beatles and the wives of George Harrison and John Lennon, this new release was called “Let it Be … Naked” and it certainly had the effect of a sort of Beatles “back to nature” experience as was originally intended by the group when they were originally making the album in 1969.
Now how well they succeeded has been the focus of much fan discussion since this release came out with quite a few loyal Beatles maniacs feeling this was more of a Frankensteined and noise reduction mess that wasn’t actually that different from the version of the “Let it Be” albums that came out in 1970.
While it’s true that most of the same takes that Phil Spector used in 1970 when he was asked to produce the album were also used for this project, I personally have always enjoyed this “naked” take on the album and the versions of “Let it Be”, “The Long and Winding Road” and “Across the Universe” in particular are my personal favorite versions of these songs.
The song order was also changed from the original “Let it Be” LP but the team at Abbey Road also added of one of my all-time favorite Beatles songs “Don’t Let Me Down” to the running order which to me was a huge plus in favor of this new creation.
Granted I would have enjoyed one of the versions of the unreleased “Get Back” album that were put together by Glyn Johns in 1969/70 but I do find that “Let it Be … Naked” flaws and all is a fun listening experience nonetheless.
There is also a second 22 minute disc included in the package (entitled “Fly on the Wall”) that was a nifty little bonus that featured some highlights of the filming sessions from Twickenham studios which were not caught on multi-track tape but on nagra reels.
Glimpses of early versions of songs such as “All Things Must Pass” (soon to be the title track of George Harrison’s epic 1970 triple solo album), “Sun King” and “She Came into the Bathroom Window” plus a brief casual snippet of “Every Little Thing” and the humorous dialogue on this bonus disc are a fun listen but full versions of songs from the sessions might have been a better idea.
I do listen to the “Fly on the Wall” every now and again but it’s mainly the remixed album that I find myself going back to for repeat listening.
I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Beatles fans from the new soundtrack that will be put together by Giles Martin as an accompaniment for the new Disney release of Peter Jackson’s “Get Back”.
Martin’s remixes of Beatles material has been overall a worthwhile experience so his new take on this album plus his respectful treatment of out-take material will probably make “Let it Be … Naked” nothing more than a curio in the future but it’s still fun to have in the collection anyway.
Above I have posted a few photos of the 2 CD set plus the rarely seen longbox version of this set that I stumbled upon at a Sam’s Club I believe when the disc came out in 2003. Longboxes were long gone by 2003 except at places like Sam’s Club an I’m guessing Costco.
If you’ve never seen one it’s a fun reminder of the longbox early CD era of the 1980’s and I think the “Let it Be … Naked” cover looks great on the packaging above.
So feast your eyes above and again I hope this day finds you well and healthy and able to find a moment or two of distraction from the sadness in the world as we speak.
Until next time be well and see you soon!