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The Beatles - Let It Be - Naked CD (album) cover


The Beatles



3.47 | 234 ratings

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5 stars The Black Sheep of the Beatle family is near perfection.

I could never quite figure out why this album turned off so many Beatles fans. It can't be the songs because this is one of their finest collections of songs. I sometimes wonder if it's the fact that people were mourning the passing of a great band that was almost like a family being ripped apart by divorce, or just good friends parting ways because of differences they couldn't resolve. Perhaps disappointments on a number of fronts for band and audience alike created a dark cloud. Perhaps the production problems inherent to the attempts at a film and live performance clouded the band's intent. Perhaps being released after Abbey Road make it seem somewhat illegitimate to fans who knew the party was over. Whatever the reasons they don't change the fact that there are some truly memorable pieces of music here. The boys had left behind the frills of psychedelia to confront adult themes in a very direct, honest, and yes painful way. While not comparable stories in some ways, in other ways the Let it Be album is similar to what the Dead did with the classic American Beauty. After years of flying through the acid cosmos and needing to come back to Earth, they delivered their most enduring collection of songs with the touching rootsy music of Workingman's Dead and the superior American Beauty. The Beatles similarly began this process on the White Album and continued with Let it Be. Their friendships as band mates may have been coming apart but their songwriting and singing talents were certainly not. Let it Be is not only better than the White Album, it's also better than Abbey Road. Through the pain there were plenty of light moments and joyful ones, but people don't realize that because the film insisted on showing all the bickering and not much of the love. Take if from the lads themselves: "There was a lot of emotional turmoil going on amongst us, but the music always surpassed any bull[&*!#] we were going through. Once the song started we turned back into those brothers." [Ringo]. And "There was a lot of emotion and love going on between us all but in a new and intense way which wasn't the worst thing for the music. It's actually very good for art, it adds an edge you don't necessarily get when you're happy." [Paul].

"Two of Us" is such a beautiful ode to friendship and nostalgia that it nearly brings me to tears when I hear it. "You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.." My good God, listen to the vocal harmonies on this track dance with the bass lines and the wistful melody. I think I need a shower. I'm such a sucker for this kind of sentimentality. "Dig a Pony" is a classic John rocker with a great riff and harmonies that remind me why I love this band in the first place. "Across the Universe" is one of Lennon's very best songs, just haunting. Playing it this morming over coffee and looking out at the rain falling in the backyard this song goes right through me. Certainly more emotionally fluid than "Everybody's got something to hide cept for me and my monkey" and certainly more meaningful than "Mean Mr. Mustard." "I Me Mine" feels like George's understandable frustration bubbling to the surface and it's a great track. "Let it Be" is priceless, an absolute classic. I'm sounding like a broken record here but I have to because this is great stuff. "I've got a feeling" is Paul poring more of his heart out than ever and it's every bit as cool as "Helter Skelter." The alternating vocals of Lennon add a perfect balance to the song's emotions. It sounds like a band moving from anger to resigned acceptance over what was coming. "One after 909" is the lads having a bit of fun like the old days. "The Long and Winding Road" delivers just another songwriting masterpiece in the line of Yesterday, Rigby, She's Leaving Home, Fool, Blackbird. "For You Blue" is a pleasant George ditty and another example of fun where supposedly there was none. And then we end with "Get Back" which is a solid Beatle rocker and good pop song.

What am I missing here folks? It's raw, personal, emotional, rocking, beautiful, with painful intimacy and light hearted moments sprinkled throughout. Top if off with a rooftop concert to say a proper goodbye to us and what do you have? One of rock music's most poignant moments. I will take Let it Be over the polished musings of Abbey Road or the excessive filler of White Album any day of the week. Abbey Road has fine moments but it also has a lot of fluff and subpar material when weighed against the authentic emotions of Let it Be. Without Harrison's amazing songs and McCartney's classy ending, Abbey Road is really quite a disaster. Maxwell? Octopus? Poly Pam? Ouch! Remember that most of the tracks on Abbey Road are just unused ideas from the Let it Be sessions. So if you rave over Abbey Road you're really just appreciating the Let it Be leftovers with better production values. And White Album would be a classic were the best tracks condensed to one disc, but there is so much filler on the album. There is little if any filler on Let it Be.

So why Naked? I'm reviewing Naked instead of the old version because it's a rare case where I feel a re-worked album is vastly superior to the original and that newbies should buy this one instead. You'll get a vastly superior sound with the songs coming to life in a new way, minus the awful hiss and background noise of a film being made. The acoustic guitars now sound fresh as a spring day and the harder riffs have more bite. You'll get rid of Spector's nonsense and hear the stark plain paper emotion of the band's heart in that moment. You'll get a superior track list with "Don't Let Me Down" replacing the inferior "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae." You'll get a fine booklet and a bonus disc if you're into such goodies. While some of the critics howl about McCartney's revisionism, and while they may have a point, it again is a mute point because this is about music and not politics. Let it go people! Let go of all the many debates about this change or that decision, and just listen to the music. What you'll hear is exactly why Let it Be is near the top of the Beatles best album list, not at the bottom as its critics charge.

Not a prog masterpiece, but a rock masterpiece. Essential for every rock collection. Please, if you haven't heard these songs since you played your crusty vinyl version or the first cd version of the original back in the day, find the Naked version and hear why these songs are WAY better than you remember.

Finnforest | 5/5 |


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