Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Beatles' Let It Be (Spectorized version)

I hadn't played the official Phil Spector version of Let It Be for probably 30 years, since I have alternate versions that I prefer (the original Get Back as compiled by Glyn Johns, plus various compilations of outtakes and alternative versions). But needing something fresh to play in the health club, I decided to save it on Spotify and give it a shot.

The Spector version is better than I remembered or expected. Although all the extra orchestration is a bit questionable, only on The Long and Winding Road does it really go beyond the pale, and that song drags enough to need something (albeit, not what Spector gave it - one can appreciate how much lighter a touch George Martin had on orchestral backing for their songs).

Let It Be has a different George Harrison solo, which I hadn't heard for the 30 years. It's well-done, but less original (more standard issue late-60s Lead Guitar Part) than what George usually played.

You can see how they try to cover up the lack of Lennon songs by including Across the Universe (well worth it, but from 1968), his lead vocals on Dig It, Maggie Mae, and of course the delightful retread of One After 909. He hadn't written (or at least completed writing) anything suitable apart from I Dig a Pony and Don't Let Me Down - which Spector disliked, so relegated to Side B of a single.  There's an outtake where John slags himself for not having anything good on hand for them to play.

The album remains the Beatles' only failure to convert material on hand into an entirely suitable finished product. But over the 40+ years since, they've done their fans and themselves a disservice by not releasing (a) an expanded version of the movie that shows more of the tensions (c'mon, it's old news by now), plus (b) a box set of the sessions - say, one CD for Let It Be plus other official releases from the sessions, one for the Glyn Johns versions of Get Back, and two more for outtakes. There's enough good  (if often rough and unpolished) extra material from the sessions to support, say, two 50 or 60-minute extra disks, one from Twickenham and one from the Apple sessions.  McCartney's Let It Be Naked (with a ridiculously short, inadequate, and unlistenable "bonus" disk) was worse than nothing as it apparently supplanted doing the reissue properly.

Or they could just put everything from the sessions on iTunes and let people make their own compilations.

Okay, I guess that's enough Beatles nerding for now.

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