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The Beatles - Let It Be CD (album) cover

LET IT BE

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

3.31 | 586 ratings

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mr.cub
3 stars Get Back to Where You Once Belong

After the turbulent recording of their self titled album, McCartney proposed that the group return to ensemble playing and 'get back' to their roots- making an album with none of the studio trickery found on their releases since Revolver. The idea was appealing to both Lennon and Harrison, and thus the band agreed to convene in January of 1969 to begin the new project. McCartney envisioned a documentary film of the recording in addition to a live performance and the record itself. He also brought in producer Glyn Johns, a questionable decision considering their possession of the crème de la crème of producers in George Martin. The Beatles were not recording such material for release, but preparing and rehearsing for the unknown concert.

The Beatles certainly were not the band they once were; McCartney's attempts to give the band some direction were frowned upon by Lennon and Harrison. Harrison equally disliked Lennon's seemingly segregated position in the band, the latter not really communicating and helping the creative process as desired. Eventually, Harrison got into heated exchanges with both McCartney and Lennon, quitting the band- only to return a few weeks later with keyboardist Billy Preston in tow. Thus the stage was set for The Beatles' last public concert, on the rooftops of the Abbey Road Studios.

Glyn Johns would mix two different versions of this album (both were rejected by the band) before Phil 'Wall of Sound' Spector was called upon to produced the album. What resulted is an album that is debated and argued to this day: some consider it to be a very good album, others consider it a black eye in The Beatles catalogue, and I am sure there are those who worship to album. Personally, I fall in between the former and the latter, this being one of my favorite Beatles records for the strength of the songwriting. However, if this album was truly meant to be a back to basics, Phil Spector truly ruined it.

The album features three glaring examples of Spector's over-production: 'Across the Universe', 'Let it Be' and 'The Long and Winding Road'. All three songs are very good, but one has to ask why the presence of elaborate and unnecessary horns, choir and strings on an album of this purpose? And it would be one thing if the production was world class, like George Martin's; however, Spector's production does nothing to enhance the music as his contemporary's does. 'Let it Be' is one of my favorites from The Beatles but it would be much more appropriate in its simplified form.

With that in mind, the songwriting on this album is immaculate. However, these songs are not progressive at all and simply great rock and roll numbers. 'Two of Us' is a beautiful acoustic piece with John and Paul harmonizing on lead vocals like they used to in bygone days. 'Dig a Pony' features loud crunching guitars, a solid riff with great melody (also features Paul and John harmonizing). 'I Me Mine' is a fine Harrison number, great energy from the band during the chorus and Billy Preston shines.

And then there is 'I've Got a Feeling.' One of the greatest pieces The Beatles wrote. Listen to when John and Paul are singing together towards the end; Paul on the main 'I've Got a Feeling' theme and John on the 'Everybody had a hard year'. This is truly one of the magical moments in rock music, two of the greatest vocalists of their generation providing point and counterpoint in a tour de force.

All in all, this album is not essential, however it is good and one of my favorites since it really got me started on the group that is The Beatles. Released after Abbey Road, but recording before, upon its release this album seemed to leave a bad taste in the mouths of Beatles fans. Personally I love it, despite its obvious flaws. Not bad at all. When I get Let It Be.Naked I will certainly provide my thoughts on that work. If you ever want some enjoyable and entertaining rock and roll, give this baby a spin and enjoy!

mr.cub | 3/5 |

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