Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Beatles - Let It Be (album and film)

If you're wondering why I'm doing this one now and not Abbey Road, it's because I'm covering them in the order they were recorded, not when they were released.

This is another album that I waited a long time before I ever purchased.  It's not necessarily bad, it's just that none of these songs are really among my favorites so I never felt compelled to purchase it.  It also doesn't help that this was a very bad time for the Beatles, and their inability to get along means that some of these are not much more than jams that were spiced up a little to try to make more complete recordings out of them.

  1. "Two of Us" - A good start to the album, simple and sweet, but something about John and Paul singing it together really adds to the song.
  2. "Dig a Pony" - There's a lot of nonsense words here, but musically it's a pretty basic blues number.  It's not something I listen to a lot, but when I do I enjoy it.
  3. "Across the Universe" - It's pretty strongly different from the other stuff John was doing at the time, and it's also very slow.  But I think it works well for what it is. It also seems to be a song that it's easy to cover and not screw up, as I like both Fiona Apple's version and Rufus Wainwright's.
  4. "I Me Mine" - George is being thoroughly passive aggressive here, but he writes a good song out of it..  This one gets stuck in my head a lot, probably because it does have a bit of a repetitive nature, but it's an excellent song and shows just how much he's grown as a song writer.
  5. "Dig It" - This is definitely one of the songs I'm talking about that is not much more than an extended jam.  I'm just not a fan of this kind of unpolished recording.
  6. "Let It Be" - A nice ballad from Paul.  Growing up I always assumed "mother Mary" was a Christian reference, but his own mother's name was in fact Mary so you could take it either way, I suppose.  This is probably the second strongest song on the album, it's simplicity is what makes it so strong.
  7. "Maggie Mae" - An old folk song they recorded.  I'm not a huge fan of folk so I don't care for this one very much.  But it's also less than a minute long.
  8. "I've Got a Feeling" - A good song, and similar to "Two of Us" I like it because it feels like a true collaborative effort between John and Paul, which was becoming so rare at this point.
  9. "One After 909" - As I mentioned on the Anthology review, this is an old song that it took them a lot time to finally record.  I'm a little more partial to the original version, but this one is good too.
  10. "The Long and Winding Road" - Another ballad from Paul.  I'm not sure we needed two of them on the album, as listening to them one after the other makes this song feel as long and winding as the road.
  11. "For You Blue" - Another George song.  I don't like this one as much as the other, but I do like that slide guitar sound he's using here.  It's a fairly simple song, but it's nice.
  12. "Get Back" - This one is the strongest on the album, in my opinion.  A great upbeat tempo and some fun lyrics to go along with it. 

United Artists didn't feel as though Yellow Submarine qualified as a film starring the Beatles, and I can't say I disagree with them.  So they still had one more film to go to satisfy their contract.  A documentary style was chosen, filming the Beatles as they worked on their next album, which would eventually become Let It Be.  They also unintentionally caught what was essentially the beginning of the Beatles break up on film.  This film is largely unavailable today, though it did have a brief VHS release.  A DVD release was planned but never finished, and the rumors are that Paul and Ringo found the extra footage (which I guess was going to be part of the bonus features) to be too upsetting to be released to the public.  I suppose if you imagine someone had filmed a particularly nasty breakup between you and your ex, you probably wouldn't want the whole world to see it either.  While I would definitely purchase and watch it, I have to admit it would probably be a one time only viewing, because if it's as ugly as they suggest, it might be a bit upsetting for me to watch.  Hell, the ending of The Beatles Anthology bums me out, and that's much more lovingly handled.

I watched the full version of Let It Be on Youtube a few years back, but it seems to be taken down.  Most of the notable clips are available within The Beatles Anthology documentary.  The film is fairly dry, and only one disagreement between Paul and George is included.  We simply follow the Beatles as they work on some recordings, bring Billy Preston in to join them for a few songs, and the film ends with the now famous performance on the rooftop.  It's a good end for the film and a good end for the Beatles film career.  I recommend checking out that footage of the concert if you can, and don't feel too bad about missing the rest.


  1. +JMJ+

    I'm listening to this album for the first time, and it sounds much better than I thought it would be. In this setting, the overplayed Let It Be sounds fresh again--and I really wish this is how I first heard it.

    Maggie May is a weird follow-up to the title track, though. It was supposed to be on "the other side," wasn't it? =P (I find tracks 7-12 to be weird fits for each other, although they have their merits separately.) There are some things I wish they had left it out--and I hear what you mean about a bunch of these just being spiced up jams that they didn't turn into proper songs. But sometimes the "roughness" of the album works--like the talking tracks which bracket Get Back, which I used to be annoyed by but now kind of love. =P

    By the way, Angie, your close look at all the albums has made me wonder about whoever produced a cassette tape I had as a kid called The Beatles' Greatest Hits (or something like that). There were only twenty songs on it--and most of the later ones Paul songs! I don't know whether that compilation is the reason I often prefer Paul's songs to John's--or whether I came to love the Beatles because I naturally preferred Paul's style.

    1. I do not envy the person/people responsible for trying to compile a "greatest hits" CD for the Beatles. How do you possibly choose? Back in the 90s they managed to pull together a CD that was only their number 1 songs, and while a good collection it doesn't really give you a solid picture of their career as a whole.

      I feel like I was exposed to Paul more as a child myself. Around 1988 or so, I would have called him my favorite. But as I learned more about them as a band in my teenage years, I switched sides to John. So while growing up with him probably helped, it sounds to me like it is your personal preference that draws you towards his songs. :)


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