Let It Be... Naked
|Let It Be... Naked|
|Remix album by The Beatles|
|Released||17 November 2003|
|Recorded||4 February 1968, 2–31 January 1969, 3–4 January 1970 at
EMI and Apple studios, and Twickenham Film Studios, London
|Producer||Paul Hicks, Guy Massey, Allan Rouse|
|The Beatles chronology|
Let It Be... Naked is a 2003 album by the English rock group the Beatles. It is a remixed and remastered version of their 1970 album Let It Be. The project was initiated by Paul McCartney, who had always felt aggrieved 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 replaces "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae" 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 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 remixes, 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 had decided to go back into the studio to rehearse and record new songs and have the project filmed for a documentary. 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 harassed by Paul McCartney about his playing style on a take of "Two of Us". By the time the Beatles had decided the project was completed, all parties involved were so aggrieved that all of the resultant recordings and film 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 nearly a year, with some parties at EMI wanting more of a return on the early 1969 sessions besides just the "Get Back" / "Don't Let Me Down" single (released in April 1969), Phil Spector was brought in by John Lennon and George Harrison and given the task of going through the hundreds of hours of audio tape and film and 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.)
One of the biggest complaints about the Let It Be album 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. Critics of the album (including McCartney) have said the original intent in the early 1969 sessions had been to keep the music simple, both to remain true to their rock and roll roots and to enable them to easily replicate the songs in possible future live performances. 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.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2012)|
Most of the songs on Let It Be... Naked, differ significantly from the original versions on Let It Be. First, they are in a different running order than the original LP. Second, all of Phil Spector's orchestral and choral overdubs were removed, and his Wall of Sound mixing technique was 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 per 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 backwards Sitar piece as used on the original mix. This marks the first appearance of the track in its correct key as recorded, 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 orchestral and choral overdubs were removed, and Lennon's original bass track reinstated. 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 has been replaced with another showing him in performance, like that of the other Beatles. On the right of Harrison's new picture, the original Let It Be picture can briefly be seen.
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- Track-by-track details
|"Get Back"||The single version recorded on 27 January 1969, without the coda recorded on 28 January, and without the framing dialogue from the studio and rooftop concert|
|"Dig a Pony"||A remix of the original album version from the rooftop concert on 30 January 1969, without the false start and the closing dialogue|
|"For You Blue"||A remix of the original album version recorded on 25 January 1969, featuring acoustic guitar that was not on the original album version|
|"The Long and Winding Road"||The final take, recorded on 31 January 1969, featuring electric piano and guitar that was not on the original album version and missing orchestral and choral overdubs|
|"Two of Us"||A remix of the original album version recorded on 31 January 1969|
|"I've Got a Feeling"||A composite of both versions from the rooftop concert|
|"One After 909"||A remix of the original album version from the rooftop concert, without the impromptu rendition of "Danny Boy"|
|"Don't Let Me Down"||A composite of both versions from the rooftop concert|
|"I Me Mine"||A remixed, slightly different recreation of Phil Spector's edit to lengthen the track recorded on 3 January 1970, but without Spector's orchestral and choral overdubs|
|"Across the Universe"||A remixed version of the original February 1968 track, playing at the correct speed with keyboards and maracas mixed out, and without orchestral and choral overdubs and backing vocals|
|"Let It Be"||A remix of the original album/single version (take 27a) recorded on 31 January 1969, with edit pieces flown in from take 27b and without orchestral overdubs|
|Pitchfork Media||7.0/10 |
The album received mixed reviews:
- "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 songs written and composed by Lennon–McCartney except where noted.
|2.||"Dig a Pony"||3:38|
|3.||"For You Blue" (George Harrison)||2:27|
|4.||"The Long and Winding Road"||3:34|
|5.||"Two of Us"||3:21|
|6.||"I've Got a Feeling"||3:30|
|7.||"One After 909"||2:44|
|8.||"Don't Let Me Down"||3:18|
|9.||"I Me Mine" (Harrison)||2:21|
|10.||"Across the Universe"||3:38|
|11.||"Let It Be"||3:55|
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
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2012)|
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|
|Country||Peak position||Weeks on chart||Certification||Sales||Ref(s)|
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