Let It Be…Naked by The Beatles

Released in 2003. Recorded in 1968-1970

In January 2019, Boris Johnson claimed he did not mention Turkey during the lead up to the 2016 Referendum. In fact, he co-signed a letter stating that “the only way to avoid having common borders with Turkey is to vote ‘Leave’ and take back control”. In 2017, Donald Trump claimed that during his inauguration speech, he looked at the crowd and saw that the “20-block area, all the way back to the Washington Monument was packed.” In fact, photos taken during the speech showed large areas of empty spaces. In 2012, Afghanistan’s education ministry updated its history curriculum. This led to the instant deletion of 40 years of the nation’s history, including life under the communist government of Afghanistan, several coups in the 1970s, and the 1979 Soviet invasion. In 1989, the Head of the school I was working at denied approving the staffing ratio for a trip I was organising.

Some of this re writing of history is more significant than others although, in every case, frustration and anger are the automatic responses. Discussion about these events tends to end up with “you said it”, “no I didn’t”, “yes you did”…….

I’ve recently written about “All Things Must Pass” and “A Christmas Gift For You”. Both of these were produced by Phil Spector. George Martin, the Beatles normal producer was once asked about how the credits for “Let It Be” should be written. He replied that the album sleeve should say “Produced by George Martin. Over produced by Phil Spector”. The financial disputes about management of The Beatles combined with the sometime testy atmosphere of the recording during the “Let It Be” album meant that the huge task of producing a workable album from hours of tapes was shelved for over a year. Glyn Johns, who was also involved in producing the sessions, handed three attempts to The Beatles but each was rejected. Glyn Johns can be briefly glimpsed in the trailer for “Let It Be…Naked” below. Finally, when Paul McCartney was barely speaking to the others, they decided to give the task to Phil Spector who quickly added orchestration to a number of songs, especially “The Long And Winding Road”. John Lennon was quoted as saying “He was given the shittiest load of badly recorded shit – and with a lousy feeling to it – ever. And he made something out of it.” Paul McCartney disagreed and spent over thirty years festering over what he regarded as the butchering of the album. He was largely responsible for the re writing of Beatles’ history that is represented by this 2003 release. His justification was that the original album was meant to be a live concert and the film was meant to show the preparations for this concert. As it was a live concert, there were to be no overdubs but the released version went against this. George Harrison also gave his approval of this release before he died. Ringo Starr admitted that he would now have to listen to Paul McCartney telling him “I told you so”. The impetus for this album came from Paul McCartney but the technical work was carried out by three producers Paul Hicks, Guy Massey, Allan Rouse. Paul Hicks is the son of the Hollies guitarist Tony Hicks and he is a member of Dhani Harrison’s band “thenewno2”. He has also worked closely with Giles Martin (George Martin’s son) on the remastering of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, “The Beatles” and “Abbey Road”.

This year saw the 50th anniversary of the release of “Let It Be” and there had been an intention to release a new version of the film and a soundtrack album. However, these plans were scuppered by the pandemic and the new release date is August 27th 2021.

The original album was released in this form:

Side One: a) “Two Of Us”, b) “Dig A Pony” c) “Across The Universe”, d) “I Me Mine”, e) “Dig It” f) “Let It Be” g) “Maggie Mae”.

Side Two: a) “I’ve Got A Feeling”, b) “One After 909”, c) “The Long And Winding Road, d) “For You Blue” e) “Get Back”.

“Let It Be…Naked” completely re orders the songs.

Side One: a) “Get Back”, b) “Dig A Pony” c) “For You Blue”, d) “The Long And Winding Road”, e) “Two Of Us”, f) “I’ve Got A Feeling”

Side Two: a) “One After 909”, b) “Don’t Let Me Down”, c) “I Me Mine”, d) “Across The Universe”, e) “Let It Be”

The “Naked” version has omitted “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae”, both of which were throwaway ad-libs lasting 50 and 40 seconds respectively.

“Don’t Let Me Down” was the B side of the “Get Back” single and was not on “Let It Be” but it is on “Let It Be…Naked”. There are now three versions of “Don’t Let Me Down” which have been released. The studio version recorded on January 28th 1969 was the B side to the single and is the version on all subsequent compilations. The Beatles sung the song twice in the rooftop concert on January 30th 1969 and the first version was shown on the original release of the “Let It Be” film. The version on “Let It Be…Naked” is a composite of the two rooftop versions.

There are three different versions of “Get Back” that have been released. The single version has a false ending before a coda containing the lyrics “Get back Loretta. Your momma’s waiting for you wearing her high-heel shoes and her low-neck sweater. Get back home, Loretta.” This version appears on all subsequent compilations. However, the version that appears on “Let It Be” omits the coda and starts with some studio chat. The version that appears on “Let It Be…Naked” is a remastered version from “Let It Be” but without the studio chat.

“One After 909”, “Two Of Us”, “For You Blue” and “Dig A Pony” are essentially the same on both “Let It Be” and “Let It Be…Naked”.

“The Long And Winding Road” was a sore point of contention for Paul McCartney and the version on “Let It be…Naked” is a completely different take and has no orchestral embellishments. To my mind, it’s a big improvement and Billy Preston’s organ playing is shown to be superior to all those silly Spector strings.

The version of “I’ve Got A Feeling” on “Let It Be” is from one of the two performances from the rooftop concert but the version on “Let It Be…Naked” is a composite of both recordings.

“I Me Mine” uses the same version on both albums but the mixing of the instruments has changed on “Let It Be…Naked” to make it sound quite different, especially in the last verse.

“Across The Universe” is the same version on both albums but on “Let It Be…Naked” Phil Spector’s orchestration has been removed. On “Let It Be”, Phil Spector slowed the track down but on “Let It Be…Naked”, the correct speed is used.

There are now five versions of the song “Let It Be” that have been issued. The single that was released uses overdubs and orchestration that Paul McCartney and George Martin supervised on January 4th 1970. A slightly different version was included in the film. The version on the album was produced by Phil Spector and features more prominent orchestration and the ending has been changed so that the final words heard are John Lennon saying “That was ‘Can You Dig It’ by Georgie Wood, and now we’d like to do ‘Hark, the Angels Come”. A much earlier version appears on “Anthology 3”. The version that appears on “Let It Be…Naked” is a composite of the single version and the film version; however the piano playing is from a previously unused version. In addition, the special effects that Phil Spector gave to Ringo Starr’s drumming have been removed and the volume of the choral backing singers has been reduced. It’s not clear to me whether or not the version on “Let It Be…Naked” meets the criteria of not having overdubs.

To be fair, Paul McCartney has not re written history with this album. If he had decreed that all subsequent sales or downloads of “Let It Be” should be the new versions then that would be history re written. The release of this album has given us the choice and I’m very grateful that he has.

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

9 thoughts on “Let It Be…Naked by The Beatles

  1. I’ve never really taken the time to listen to “Let It Be-Naked” because I’ve found that throughout my life that I’m a lot less bothered by the Phil Spector mixes than others are. I do agree, however: the different mixes of “The Long and Winding Road” and “Let It Be” are refreshingly new.

    Liked by 1 person

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