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The Beatles - Let It Be CD (album) cover

LET IT BE

The Beatles

 

Proto-Prog

3.30 | 585 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This jewel crushes Abbey Road

They should have stopped with the rooftop concert in London, which would have been the absolute perfect ending to this phenomenal band. Dramatic, heartfelt, and a great short set it was. Like their earlier masterpiece Rubber Soul, it's all about the songs. Most Beatles fans get so excited about the special effects of Revolver or the long suite on Abbey Road (as if stringing together those mediocre leftovers from previous sessions turns them into something profound) that they overlook the simplest, most important element which is the great song. Let It Be is filled beginning to end with the most beautiful, emotional tracks full of joy and tears, humor and anger. I will never understand how people get so excited about Abbey Road and in the next breath look down their noses at tracks like Let It Be/Across the Universe/I Got a Feeling/Long and Winding Road/Two of Us/Dig a Pony. I compare these two track listings and it leaves me utterly confounded by Beatle fans. Nothing on Abbey Road gets close to the quality of the best Let It Be tracks mentioned. And I have to say that as good as Rubber Soul and Magical Mystery Tour are, it is here on their final masterpiece that I am left the most moved by Beatles music. Whether listening to the member's emotions laid bare in the music, or watching them interact again in that rooftop concert, it leaves me simultaneously awed by how good they were and crushed by the fact they were finished as an entity.

Let It Be is where the reality of finality was setting in and this added substantial emotional weight to many of the songs. And yet this is not some joyless bummer by any means. There were light moments and happy reminiscence that come through as well. This album "feels" like a group of guys gathering one more time to reminisce and make a simple, profound statement. They wanted it to be simple musically which is why the heart is there in these songs. They were putting aside the bells and whistles and reaching for the raw talent that served them so well in the early days, and it succeeds spectacularly. "Two Of Us" is so beautiful, a snapshot, a song that feels like a photograph, a song that honors friendships past while looking ahead to new love. To folksy, nostalgic, wonderful music, it is Paul speaking both to John and Linda in my opinion, though I believe Paul credits only Linda as the inspiration. John whistles the melody at the end lending even more looseness to what feels like a campfire song. "Dig a Pony" shows the groove and passion they could still channel into their vocals and jamming when they wanted. The playing is tight and inspired, yet not killed by overproduction, except occasionally by Spector's late assault on the tapes. "Across the Universe" works splendidly as Lennon's farewell to this period of his life, a dreamy, floating song filled with irony about life change. The serenity in the voice and guitar strumming are not typical of John in his period of aggressiveness. "I Me Mine" was the last track recorded in early 1970 and stands as one of the best Harrison tracks, using a Lennon style directness in lamenting some of the selfishness going on around him and within him. It features some equally scathing guitar work. "I've Got a Feeling" is McCartney's best rough vocal, a song that vastly improves on the manufactured rage of "Helter Skelter" because here the emotions feel real. Using Lennon as the calming counter vocal to balance his own works perfectly and gives the song a complete emotional impact. Then there is Paul's huge home run here which again, just dwarfs anything on Abbey Road. You have two of his most lovely and iconic melodies on one album, the hopeful "Let It Be" and the wistful "Long and Winding Road." Based on his astute piano balladry talents, each track is a masterpiece in construction and emotional delivery. Phil Spector nearly wrecks the version on this album with his nonsense orchestration, but thankfully people can remedy this by getting the Naked version of Let it Be. With sort of an unplugged simplicity (yet still plugged status) the boys are playing their asses off here with loads of vocal and instrumental nuance on every track.

It is often true that from tensions come some of our best art and never more true than here. You will read about how disastrous this project was and how "oh dear, Paul and George are actually arguing in front of the camera!" as if any of that matters. The lads had been arguing for years and tension was there as early as '66. What matters is the strength of the material and how successful the members were in applying their talents to the songs at hand. Let It Be succeeds so beautifully on both counts and is the Beatles true, authentic swan song. The Abbey Road album they cobbled together later that year was a futile exercise from a band who had already said goodbye; its meager, overproduced fluff an unfortunate encore to one of rock music's most poignant classics. Such a solid 5 stars Let It Be is, yet I recommend the Naked version over this---you will get a slightly better track list and lose the Spector touch which degrades a few of the songs on this version. Sadly, the "Get Back" sessions and the magic that came from them can never recover from the false impression so many have of the album, partially the bands own fault for sitting on the project rather than finishing it. My only hope is that you ignore the din and look to the beauty of these bare songs. Those who do will discover much more substance than silver hammers and poly pams and octopi. I realize I'll never convert my Mr. Mustard loving friends to this viewpoint, but for the small subset of fans who feel Let It Be was the meaningful swan song, add another to your ranks.

Finnforest | 5/5 |

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