Monday, September 14, 2009

LP Love: Let It Be

As I'm out of the country until September 15, my normal song-a-day listening schedule is being put on hold. Instead, rediscover your love for the LP format by enjoying a complete Beatles album per day. Try to keep your finger away from the "shuffle" or "skip" buttons for the ultimate retro experience! See you in September to wrap up the Beatles' catalog song by song, remastered-style.

Let It Be

Release Date: May 8, 1970

The story of Let It Be is convoluted and sad. Whereas fans would almost prefer to have Abbey Road end the whole Beatles career in a dignified and respectful way, the whole existence of Let It Be assures that the taint of scandal and discord hangs over the whole thing. So be it. Released after Abbey Road mainly to make the Beatles and Apple Corps some money, Let it Be consists of tracks recorded during the Get Back sessions in January of 1969, so almost a full year and a half prior to release. Let it Be, the film, was going to be released in order to get the Beatles out of their three-film contact with United Artists, so a soundtrack made sense. And someone had to go through all the hours and hours and hours of tape from the Get Back sessions to make that album. John (with the blessing of at least George, I believe) gave the project to Phil Spector to make something of. And boy, did he ever. The Phil Spector aesthetic turns out to not work for the Beatles' distinct sound at all.

So here's Let It Be, which captures the Beatles working on songs that aren't as good as either what came before on the White Album or what came after on Abbey Road. That not-awesome material then goes under the knife of a producer who doesn't get the feel of the Beatles' music at all. And all the while, the Beatles hate each other. Given all that, it's a miracle there's anything good here at all, but there is: the tracks from the movie's rooftop concert, like "Get Back" and "I've Got a Feeling," have a great live-band feel (obviously) and remain thankfully unSpectorized. And then there's Paul, who might be the exception to the not-great-material rule thanks to the awesome "Let It Be," "Get Back," and "Two of Us." "The Long and Winding Road" and "Across the Universe" both suffer from overproduction, but at least we get to hear them, for they otherwise might never have made it out there-- and they're both fan favorites. So we can give up some love for Let It Be, even if it caused a lawsuit that made the Beatles that much more tetchy with each other. It's a bittersweet love, but it's there.

High Points: "Across the Universe," "Let It Be," "I've Got a Feeling," "Get Back"

My Secret Favorite: "Two of Us"

The Song I'm Not Supposed to Love So Much But Totally Do Anyway: "Dig a Pony"

(The Song I'm Supposed to Love But Totally Don't: "The Long and Winding Road")

Track Listing:

"Two of Us"



  1. Since you said everything I would ever want to about this record, let me say only that these album entries were terrific, as we've come to expect from you, and that you are awesome for leaving these for us, when some of us have blogs and don't even post when we're in the country with no excuse. And that as great as these were, it's always better when you're around to keep the conversation going. So welcome back!

  2. I love, love, love Two of Us. And Across the Universe. And, of course, Let it Be.

    I'm with you on Long and Winding Road. Ian MacDonald in "Revolution in the Head" says this is Paul's most beautiful song (although MacDonald deplores Specter's orchestral arrangement). I like the song OK; it's just never been at the top of my list of Paul favorities. I've never heard the "naked" version, though; maybe I'd like that better.

  3. I think everything about the Naked album is better than this one. Still, Long and Winding Road doesn't really work for me. But love most of the rest.

    Ditto what Troy said about you, Meg, taking great pains to post while absent. Most folks just shut down when absent. Thanks to whomever is doing the actual updates for you, too.