Let It Be... Naked
|Let It Be... Naked|
|Alternate album mix by the Beatles|
|Released||17 November 2003|
|Recorded||4 February 1968, 2–31 January 1969, 3 January 1970|
|The Beatles chronology|
Let It Be... Naked is a 2003 album by the English rock group the Beatles. It is the version of their 1970 album Let It Be, how they originally recorded it (without the overdubbing and mixing done before its initial release). The project was initiated by Paul McCartney, who had always felt that Phil Spector's production did not represent the group's stripped-down, back to their roots intentions for the album.
Let It Be... Naked presents the songs "naked" – without Spector's overdubs and without the incidental studio chatter featured between most cuts of the original album. Let It Be... Naked also omits two minor tracks, "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae", replacing them with "Don't Let Me Down", originally featured only as the B-side of the "Get Back" single.
The album is presented in a form which Paul McCartney considered closer to its original artistic vision: to "get back" to the rock and roll sound of their early years rather than the orchestral overdubs and embellishments which were added by Phil Spector to three of the songs in the production of the final Let It Be album. McCartney in particular was always dissatisfied with the "Wall of Sound" production style of the Phil Spector mixes of these three tracks, especially for his song "The Long and Winding Road", which he believed was ruined by the process. George Harrison gave his approval for the Naked project before he died. McCartney's attitude contrasted with Lennon's from over two decades earlier. In his 1971 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Lennon had defended Spector's work, saying, "He was given the shittiest load of badly recorded shit with a lousy feeling to it ever, and he made something of it... When I heard it, I didn't puke."
In January 1969, the Beatles began rehearsals for what was planned to be their first concert in several years. The concert was to be recorded for a television special and album, and the rehearsals were filmed for accompanying documentary footage. The project's original working title was Get Back, and an album and film were to be the end products of these sessions. Being older and more independent, the individual Beatles' tolerances for each other's quirks had decreased: for instance, on 10 January, George Harrison walked out of the sessions after the latest in a series of arguments with John Lennon over his music and after being criticized by Paul McCartney about his playing style on the song "Two of Us". By the time the sessions ended, all parties involved were so aggrieved that all of the resultant recordings were left on the shelf for over a month, with no one wanting to face the grueling editing process. In the meantime, later that year, they recorded and released Abbey Road – with sessions running smoothly and tensions largely abated. Also issued was the single "The Ballad of John and Yoko"/"Old Brown Shoe", recorded in April and released on 30 May.
After more than a year, and after two versions of the album had already been compiled by engineer Glyn Johns, Phil Spector was brought in by Allen Klein and given the task of coming up with a marketable product to tie in with the impending film release. The end result was the album Let It Be, released 8 May 1970. (The movie of the same name was released later that month.)
A criticism levied against Let It Be has centred on Spector's "Wall of Sound" technique, with some critics claiming the quality of the music was diminished by his orchestration and use of choirs on three of the album's tracks. The three songs that Spector had embellished with orchestras and choirs were McCartney's "The Long and Winding Road," Lennon's "Across the Universe" and Harrison's "I Me Mine." McCartney and George Martin had already added a horn section, cellos and backing vocals by McCartney and Harrison to the single version of "Let It Be" before Spector remixed it for the final Let It Be album.
The origin of the Let It Be... Naked project arose during a chance reunion of McCartney and Let It Be film director Michael Lindsay-Hogg on a plane in the early 2000s. McCartney and Lindsay-Hogg discussed the unavailability of the film on both VHS and DVD, which led to discussion of a possible remixed "soundtrack" to accompany a proposed future DVD release. In early 2002, McCartney recruited Abbey Road in-house engineers Paul Hicks, Guy Massey and Allan Rouse to go back into the vaults and assemble a brand new studio album from the 30 reels of tape recorded during the January 1969 sessions. Since much of the Let It Be material had been recorded live, many sound anomalies existed on the tapes. Hicks, Massey and Rouse did extensive work, digitally cleaning up each individual track of every song before remixing them. Some takes were edited together to create the best possible final version. For "Dig a Pony", an errant note sung by Lennon was digitally pitch-corrected.
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Most of the songs on Let It Be... Naked differ significantly from the original versions on Let It Be. Firstly, they are in a different running order than the original LP. Secondly, none of Phil Spector's orchestral and choral overdubs were included, and his mixes were not used. Additionally, all lead vocals and drums are now placed in the middle of the stereo picture, giving the album a more modernised sound and feel. Finally, all studio and rooftop dialogue from the original album was removed, resulting in a number of sharp fade-outs where dialogue had been previously audible.
Two songs that had been included on the original album—the traditional Liverpool folk song "Maggie Mae" and the improvisational piece "Dig It"—were both excised, as they "didn't fit comfortably with the concept of a straight album." Lennon's "Don't Let Me Down" was added to the running order, although Naked features a composite edit of the two versions from the rooftop concert, rather than the B-side from the "Get Back" single. "I've Got a Feeling" was also presented in a new composite edit of its two rooftop concert takes.
"Dig a Pony" features two major fixes and edits. An off-pitch note sung by Lennon in his second "because" was digitally pitch-corrected. Also, whereas the original album track featured Lennon beginning to play the song's final guitar riff one beat too early, this version mixes the error out, leaving a clean outro. The opening guitar riff in the Naked version is the same as the final guitar riff in both versions.
The remixed "For You Blue" reinstates George Harrison's original acoustic guitar track.
For "The Long and Winding Road", the Naked producers used the final take, recorded five days after the rough run-through Phil Spector had selected for the original album. As with all songs on Let It Be... Naked, this version is devoid of any orchestral or choral overdubs. (The unadorned take from Let It Be is featured on Anthology 3.) Finally, there is a slight lyrical difference: whereas the original album version's lyric reads, "anyway, you'll never know the many ways I've tried," on this version it reads, "anyway, you've always known the many ways I've tried." Electric guitar and electric piano are also present in this version, played respectively by Harrison and Billy Preston.
"Across the Universe," which dates from nearly a year before the rest of the original album was recorded, was stripped of almost all of its instrumental and vocal overdubs, leaving Lennon's acoustic guitar and lead vocal as the song's centrepiece, yet still retained the tamboura used on the original mix. This marks the second appearance of the track in its correct key as recorded (the first appearing on Anthology 2), as the original "wildlife" version had been sped up and the Let It Be album version had been slowed down.
For the title track, the original take 27A was used for the bulk of the song, but two edit pieces were flown in from take 27B (the version seen and heard in the Let It Be film); namely, the guitar solo and a brief section near the end (the final "Mother Mary comes to me" bar) to fix an errant piano chord that was present on the album/single versions. Also, as per all other tracks, all instrumental overdubs were removed. With the versions featured on the single, the original album, and the compilation album Anthology 3, it features the fourth version of the song's guitar solo to be released thus far.
The cover image of the album features monochrome negatives of the original photos from the "Let It Be" cover. George Harrison's photograph, unlike that of the other Beatles, has been replaced with another showing him in performance, his teeth less prominent, as a monochrome negative version of the original would show them 'blackened'. On the right of Harrison's new picture, the original Let It Be picture can partially be seen.
|"Get Back"||A remix of the single version recorded on 27 January 1969; without the coda recorded on 28 January or framing dialogue from the studio and rooftop concert added to the album version.|
|"Dig a Pony"||A remix of the original album version from the rooftop concert on 30 January 1969; framing dialogue and false start removed; error in second verse (the "because" in Lennon's vocal track) digitally corrected.|
|"For You Blue"||A remix of the original album version recorded on 25 January 1969, featuring Harrison's original acoustic guitar performance and overdubbed vocals that were muted on Phil Spector's mix; framing dialogue removed.|
|"The Long and Winding Road"||The final take, recorded on 31 January 1969, featuring McCartney and Preston's piano and keyboard performances that had been muted on Spector's mix in favour of orchestral and choral overdubs; McCartney's vocalising over Preston's keyboard solo mixed out.|
|"Two of Us"||A remix of the original album version recorded on 31 January 1969; framing dialogue removed; minor error in Lennon's acoustic guitar performance digitally corrected.|
|"I've Got a Feeling"||A composite edit of both versions from the rooftop concert.|
|"One After 909"||A remix of the original album version from the rooftop concert; impromptu rendition of "Danny Boy" removed.|
|"Don't Let Me Down"||A composite edit of both versions from the rooftop concert.|
|"I Me Mine"||A remixed, slightly different recreation of Spector's edit (copying the chorus in the middle of the song and adding it to the end) to lengthen the track recorded on 3 January 1970; guitar overdubs and organ parts mixed in and out to make the repeated verse sound different; orchestral and choral overdubs removed.|
|"Across the Universe"||A remix of the original version recorded on 4 February 1968, played at the correct speed; sound effects, piano, maracas, svaramandal and backing vocals mixed out; orchestral and choral overdubs removed; tape echo added.|
|"Let It Be"||A composite edit of takes 27A (used for Spector's album version and George Martin's single version) and 27B (featuring Harrison's guitar solo as it appears in the film) recorded on 31 January 1969; orchestral overdubs from Martin's mix removed; tape echo from Spector's mix removed.|
Release and reception
On November 13, 2003, the completed Let It Be... Naked album saw its world premiere with a two-hour radio broadcast special from Infinity Broadcasting. The special included a 50-minute documentary of the original Get Back/Let It Be sessions—including interviews with all four Beatles—an uninterrupted broadcast of the new Let It Be... Naked album in its entirety and a 20-minute roundtable discussion hosted by Pat O'Brien. The roundtable discussion featured analysis from musicians Sheryl Crow, J.C. Chasez, Billy Joel and Fred Durst, Breakfast with the Beatles host Chris Carter, record producers Alan Parsons and Jimmy Iovine, Rolling Stone Senior Editor David Fricke and journalist Geraldo Rivera.
Contemporary review comments:
- "overall slightly stronger [than Let It Be] ... a sleeker, slicker album" (Allmusic)
- "not essential [...] though immaculately presented" (Pitchfork Media)
- "[while] the sonic improvements to the album as a whole are undeniable [...] novices should still get the original" (Rolling Stone)
- it "stripped the original album of both John's sense of humor and Phil Spector's wacky, and at least slightly tongue-in-cheek, grandiosity" (Salon)
|All tracks written by Lennon–McCartney except where noted.
Fly on the Wall bonus disc
The 22-minute bonus disc contains song excerpts and dialogue from the many hours of tape which accumulated during the Let It Be sessions. Some of the removed dialogue that had appeared on the original album appears on this disc. In total, the track is 21 minutes and 55 seconds long and brings the album's total length to 56:59.
Compiled and edited by Kevin Howlett. All songs credited to Lennon–McCartney except where noted.
- "Sun King" – 0:12–0:31
- "Don't Let Me Down" – 0:32–1:05
- "One After 909"– 1:30–1:38
- "Because I Know You Love Me So" – 2:42–4:15
- "Don't Pass Me By" (Richard Starkey) – 5:03–5:06
- "Taking a Trip to Carolina" (Starkey) – 5:32–5:52
- "John's Piano Piece" (Lennon) – 5:53–6:13
- "Child of Nature" (Lennon) – 6:29–6:53
- "Back in the U.S.S.R." – 6:54–7:06
- "Every Little Thing" – 7:20–7:30
- "Don't Let Me Down" – 7:31-7:51/8:00–8:31
- "All Things Must Pass" (Harrison) – 9:00–9:38
- "John's Jam" – 10:07–10:26
- "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" – 10:58–11:03
- "Paul's Bass Jam" – 11:16–11:30
- "Paul's Piano Piece" (McCartney) – 12:59–13:59
- "Get Back" – 16:01–16:15
- "Two of Us" – 17:03–17:24
- "Maggie Mae" (Traditional, arranged by Lennon–McCartney–Harrison–Starkey) – 17:25–17:47
- "Fancy My Chances with You" – 17:48–18:15
- "Can You Dig It?" (Lennon–McCartney–Harrison–Starkey) – 18:39–19:10
- "Get Back" – 19:35–20:08
- The Beatles
- John Lennon – vocals, guitars, bass guitar, lap steel guitar
- Paul McCartney – vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitars, piano, organ, electric piano
- George Harrison – guitars, vocals, sitar, tambura
- Ringo Starr – drums
- Additional musicians
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The album was released in various countries in November 2003.
|Japan||14 November 2003||Toshiba EMI||Copy Protected Compact Disc||TOCP 67300-01|
|United Kingdom||17 November 2003||Apple||CD||595 7132|
|Australia||17 November 2003||Parlophone||Copy Protected CD||595 7142|
|United States||18 November 2003||Apple, Capitol||CD||CDP 7243 5 95227 2 2|
|Indonesia||18 November 2003||Apple, EMI||Cassette Tape||7243 5 95227 4 6|
Charts and certifications
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