Let It Be...Naked
Let It Be has often been classified as anticlimactic in the wake of the Beatles' messy break-up. For years since, it has been a bone of contention for Paul McCartney, who was less than pleased with the final mixes that were released. Over 30 years later, some may scorn McCartney and his team of mad Abbey Road scientists for going in and tampering with history. But any rush to judgment should be fully investigated. The new Let It Be...Naked is intended to be the Beatles as they really sounded during the cold and frosty sessions, without all the infighting and tension. Aside from "The Long And Winding Road," "I Me Mine," and "Across The Universe," the album's original tracks initially sound identical to the 1970 release. Digital audiophiles and Beatle completists will pick up on the subtle differences, removal of droll dialog, and overall sonic improvement. A few more play-throughs to the average ears divulge other nuances -- brighter sounding keys from Billy Preston on "Get Back," "I've Got A Feeling," "Let It Be" and "Don't Let Me Down"; a deeper, more pronounced resonance in the vocals; acoustic guitars where previously it seemed as if there were none. Once the sequencing sinks in, you're liable to forget about the other version entirely. As for Phil Spector's contributions, well...talk about kicking a man when he's already down. At this point, old Phil, with a murder rap looming in his future, undoubtedly has other things on his mind.
The Fly-On-The-Wall bonus disc comprises a mixture of studio banter, bickering, new riffs, old riffs, experiments, song fragments and whatnot. Bootleggers may not be so impressed as this and hours more of this kind of slop has been widely available for years. However, if you're normal with a real life and fancy a daring trip behind the music, snippets like these will satisfy your fix. For all of its hype, Let It Be...Naked is a novel token, worth owning if only because it's from the greatest rock and roll band of all time. You can even argue that the scarcity of new Beatle product has prompted the surviving band members and EMI brass to come up with creative and enterprising ways to market the legacy. Apparently, there are still a few unresolved issues from the final days of the group's existence. Once the Let It Be movie is legitimately released on DVD (and it should have a lot of bonus material), the furor is liable to kick in all over again. You know they're already revving up their engines for that campaign. After that, it's anyone's guess.
~ Shawn Perry