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The Beatles - Let It Be............. Naked

Review: 194
Date: 17 Sep 04

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
John Lennon - Guitar and Vocals
Paul McCartney - Bass and Vocals
George Harrison - Lead Guitar and Vocals
Ringo Starr - Drums and Vocals
and
Billy Preston - Keyboards and Backing Vocals

Tracks Listing:
Get Back
Dig A Pony
For You Blue
The Long And Winding Road
Two Of Us
I've Got A Feeling
One After 909
Don't Let Me Down
I Me Mine
Across The Universe
Let It Be

 


None of "The Beatles" were ever happy with Phil Spectre's production of this collection of songs. However, finally Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr gave permission for the songs to be re-recorded, using the original tapes, but producing them without all the overdubs and orchestrations put on by Spectre. Obviously a lot of people thought this was sacrilege to mess with the Beatles history, but not this dog.

There were 18 months between the recording of these songs and their release, which was done to tie in with the release of the movie. In between times the Beatles had gone back into the studio and recorded and released Abbey Road. So it came as quite a nasty shock to the world's most famous band when they heard the songs again, but by then it was too late to do anything about it. To the despair of a generation "The Beatles" were no more and were in a bitter feud, which was never going to be properly patched up. So the album stood as it was for thirty years.

Except now it has been remixed and produced lovingly by Paul Hicks, Guy Massey, and Allan Rouse, who have done a magnificent job and got double thumbs up from Paul and Ringo.
‘Let It Be...... Naked’ is probably today the most gritty Rock 'n' Roll album that ever came out of the Beatles camp. The running order has been completely re-arranged which now gives it more of a live feel. Don't get me wrong, McCartney's soapy ballads are still there ('Across the Universe', 'The Long and Winding Road', and of course the title track 'Let It Be' – the not naked version), but stripped of their lush embellishments. They come off as giving the album some balance, rather than something off an easy listening album, and "The Beatles" sound like a proper band.

The songs are obviously all classics, but one other thing that comes through very clearly is how important a role Billy Preston played in the sessions. Billy Preston was called in to try and sooth the warring factions within the group, and inspire them into behaving themselves. He not only fulfilled that role, but his keyboard playing all through the album is nothing short of inspired. The keyboards have been pushed way up front in the mix while on the original release they had been suppressed way down.

It's the rockers that come out of the best. 'Get Back' is the perfect opener and, stripped down to basics, it fairly hurtles out of the speakers, setting the tone for what is to follow. John Lennon's 'I've Got A Feeling' is unrecognizable from the original, which came out as very subdued. Here it is in its full ragged glory and shines like an uncut diamond. It is hard to believe that the band had now split forever as there is a great feeling of comradeship with Paul and John dueling vocally to bring the song to a frantic climax.

The ‘Naked’ version of 'I've Got A Feeling' is a keyboard driven rocker, while it was a bit of a muddled guitar driven dirge originally. What a tragedy that the band never got to play any of the songs on this album to a live audience. (Mind you, the same can be said of any of the music that the Beatles made from Sergeant Peppers onwards.)

'For You' and 'I Me Mine' prove that there really was too much talent in the Beatles to be contained in one Rock 'n' Roll band. These two George Harrison compositions prove and show what was about to happen when he was released from the confines of the band. Left to his own devices, George came up with the treble album 'All Things Must Pass'. George’s guitar playing throughout this collection is nothing short of stunning, blending beautifully with Preston's keyboard playing, interplaying with John's guitar, while Paul's bass playing also got more room without all the unnecessary arrangements. Ringo, too, proves to be a very underrated time keeper.

Even if you have the original, it is still worth bending your ear around 'Naked'. You also get a bonus disc with this set which includes snippets of conversation and songs from the recording sessions. They give you a marvelous insight into what it was like in the studio with the Beatles, although it's really only worth one listen. (John Lennon obviously had 'Jealous Guy’ up his sleeve for a long time before releasing it on Imagine.) The C.D. booklet will keep you entertained while you listen to the music.

A job well done.

 

Pawed by Mott The Dog
Re-chewed by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


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