The Beatles – Let It Be (Apple/Universal)

The Beatles have just reissued Let It Be, an album that, when originally released 51 years ago got mixed reviews. Many years and many remixes later, it’s time to reconsider Let It Be, the album.

The album first hit the shops in May of 1970, just a month after the band had called it quits. By then, Paul McCartney had already released his first solo album, the rustic, and quite personal, McCartney, recorded at home, by himself with just a little help from Linda.

At best Let It Be was considered a patchwork of leftovers with a couple of big hits tacked on… at worst, it was an aural abomination perpetrated by Phil Spector.

I was 14 years old at the time, just beginning to buy albums and devastated that The Beatles had split just as I was able to start buying records with money earned from my paper route. As you can see from the photo of the first two pages of my albums notebook…The Beatles featured prominently with Let It Be becoming the 27 album I bought (McCartney was 26, Magical Mystery Tour was 25, Hey Jude 22, Abbey Road 22 and Sgt Pepper 19)…I was smitten.

Back to Let It Be…

The BeatlesWith Peter Jackson’s doco waiting in the wings, we are presented with yet another version of the Let It Be album. This one has the original tracks remixed by Giles Martin along with two discs (CDs) of outtakes, demos and studio chatter another version assembled by studio engineer Glyn Johns back in 1969, an EP with further mixes plus a Blu-Ray featuring a 5.1 Surround Sound Mix. Oh, and there is a vinyl record with the new mix as well.

It was only back in 2003 that the Paul McCartney-instigated Let It Be NAKED was released, stripping away Spector’s strings, horns and choir, giving fans a chance to hear the tracks the way Paul imagined them.

So, there are plenty of options out there…you should be able to find one that appeals.

Of course and the centre of it all is the songs themselves and any album that has tunes like Across The Universe, Get Back, I Me Mine, Two Of Us and Let It Be should not be dismissed.

Thanks to the release of the 1970 film, Let It Be (directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg) many fans were shocked and dismayed when they heard and saw George and Paul bickering and left the theatre feeling that there had been a bitter breakup and the sessions were miserable.

Now, it looks like Peter Jackson is determined to re-write that bit of Beatle history with his doco. The trailer says it all.

The truth is, no doubt, somewhere in between. And if you listen to the studio chatter included in this box set, it sounds very much like four guys who are very happy to be working together. I think my favourite moment is hearing John and Paul helping George with his lyrics to Something. John tells George to just keep singing and the right lyric will eventually bubble up.

Getting to the actual remix…it sounds very close to the original with just a few minor differences, mostly in the interstitial studio chatter and maybe a bit more bottom end. I played my 51 year old record after listening to the new one and I kinda prefer the one I’ve known all these years.  But that’s nostalgia for you.

What I really enjoyed was the 5.1 Surround Sound mix. There’s nothing like being surrounded by John, Paul, George, Ringo and Billy (Preston).

Also, the 100+ page hardcover book is beautiful, chock full of photos, drawings, lyrics and essays on all the songs.

So, with lockdown still keeping us in the house, what better time to immerse yourself in the music of The Beatles. Then you can decide which version of Let It Be is your favourite.

Marty Duda