The Records, Day Four: 1968-1969

The Beatles | The Beatles 2 | Yellow Submarine | Let It Be | Let It Be… Naked

The Beatles (1968)

Once upon a time, there were two sides to every album. For “The White Album”, there were actually two albums.

The Beatles — which was the original name of the album — is a big record that has a lot on it. It was as a result of the public that it adopted its more blank-canvas name. And, the blank-canvas name seems to be appropriate. Because of its white color and seemingly eclectic collection of songs, it feels sometimes as if it’s a catalogue of what the Beatles happened to produce during a several-month period in a studio. But when contemplated, when listened to, looked at, and thought about a bit more, there does seem to be an essence to the album; a concept that can tie it all together. If “The White Album” can be reduced to one concept, it would have to be the idea of duality.

For the band, the premise when entering the studio was to move beyond the boundaries of the Sgt. Pepper album; as John Lennon himself put it in the mini-documentary that comes on the new re-mastered version of the album, “What I was going for was to forget about Sgt. Pepper… and get back to basic music.” But they did more than that. They pushed the limits of what a song ought to sound like, of what a song’s content ought to be about. And with that, they pushed the limits of what an album’s collective effect on a listener should be.

The Beatles pushed the limits on the “White Album” by employing a great range of sound and lyrical subject matter. Additionally, they juxtaposed binary oppositions. From a musical standpoint, there is the opposition of songs having clear tunes, like “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, to songs that sound like they are just drifting by, or as in the case of, “Honey Pie”, like they are some strange chant of traveling musicians. A more obvious contrast of tune versus drifting by would be “Revolution 1” to “Revolution 9″. The former has a clear tune, complete with verse and chorus; “Revolution 9” drifts the listener through fragments of voices and studio effects.

The binaries that the album offers in terms of lyrical content serve to challenge the form of the song and the album rather than balance it; additionally, the binaries serve to challenge the listener. Juxtaposing songs to one another can offer up some interesting dualities. Songs like “Blackbird” and “Mother Nature’s Son” contain innocently worded messages delivered with gentle acoustic backdrops. In contrast, “Glass Onion” has rugged sound and deep, subconscious insights. But even analyzing an individual song proves to offer interesting opposing concepts. In “Blackbird”, the bird is “singing” — an active, lively verb — “in the dead of night”, connoting living action within the existence of deadness. The blackbird is to fly “Into the light of the dark black night.” Once again, oppositional elements are brought together with contradictory images.

The effect? A challenge to the listener’s sense of imagination. The listener perceives that there are hints at the make-believe and the fantastical in the songs. The album also challenges the sense of imagination with stories from other worlds. “Rocky Raccoon” and “Cry Baby Cry” are based on make-believe realms. “Rocky Raccoon”, is anthropomorphic in its narration of the raccoon. The mild treatment of the story, as evidenced by the song’s hokey tone, contrasts with the song’s violence. The contrast in tone to content in “Rocky Raccoon” gives the listener a strange sense of ambiguity. The song ends with Rocky in stable condition. But, considering his prior luck, what is one to expect of Rocky’s future?

The Beatles make the listener think in the episodic, or of the notion of In medias res. “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”, is ongoing, though the name hints at Buffalo Bill, the icon from the wild west. The song is a mockery of American gun culture. The chorus includes what sounds like the accompaniment of children. This duality of innocence and insight serve the purpose of social criticism.

The social criticism of the album has its own duality as well. The criticism that the songs employ is not distinctly liberal; critical yes, but originally so. For example, “Revolution 1” is about the unoriginality of cultural revolutionaries (“we all want to change the world”). But, while the messages of social criticism on the album cannot be missed, they do not dominate the collective effect of the work, which is about the double-sidedness of things; from the basic fact that there are actually two records (or, nowadays two CDs), to the multitude of binaries and contrasts that the actual content of the album offers. But more simply, the collective effect of the album is about its sound. Listening to “The White Album”, is an experience of crisp drums, rugged guitar, and passionate vocals. While Lennon’s intent of getting back to “basic music” is understandable, I think they missed the mark, and arrived at “extraordinary” instead.

Adam Tramantano

The Beatles take two

The Beatles (1968)

When I was a kid, my mother told me that with “The White Album” the Beatles stopped being the Beatles that everyone liked. I asked her what she meant and she said that they had changed with the album and “went off the deep end”. Sometime later I dug my father’s copy of “The White Album” out and put it on. I listened for a few minutes, skipped through a few songs, and put the record away. I realized that my mother was right and that this wasn’t the Beatles I liked. I didn’t know what to do with the album or how to listen to it.

I didn’t give it another thought until early ’92, when I first listened to U2’s Achtung Baby. About two minutes into the first track, “Zoo Station”, my mother asked “what the hell is this?” I had read a number of reviews of the album and knew that it was “postmodern”, which was how I described it to my mother. Moving quickly from track to track with her face twisted, she said “what does ‘postmodern’ mean?” I took a guess and said “it means new and strange.” She said “this is what happens to these bands. They get too wrapped up in themselves and start making weird music for themselves instead of their listeners. This is like ‘The White Album’ and I don’t like it.”

The thing was that I liked the album and was impressed by the drastic shift in sound U2 had undergone. If that was postmodernism, then I knew I liked how it sounded. After a full listen to Achtung Baby, I decided that when it came to music that my mother didn’t know what the hell she was talking about. Curious as to what else I was missing by taking her music opinions at face value, I decided to take another listen to “The White Album” and realized that I liked that too. However, it has taken me almost 20 years to reconcile myself to the album and really appreciate what it’s about and its musical and cultural importance.

My initial mistake with “The White Album” was looking for a firm narrative within it. If one can say the album is about anything, then it’s about fragmentation and disintegration. What strikes me about this album is its utter lack of sonic and thematic unity and commensurability. Virtually every song seems to belong on a different album and little seems to connect them aside from the fact that they were recorded — for the most part — by the Beatles. This musical incommensurability was what I couldn’t wrap my head around for so long. It was only after years of listening to the album that the point, such as it is, of the album came to me.

Over the years, I began to realize that it is a postmodern pop album in the truest sense of the term, however problematic such a term might be. In this case, I’m using the term “postmodern” in the most basic sense — which itself might seem to be a contradiction — as a movement in the Western arts in which a piece of art demonstrates an awareness of and overt interest in it itself as a work of art. Furthermore, postmodern art tends to reject grand narratives and meanings in favor of a plurality of fragmented, irresolvable and contradictory narratives and meanings. Postmodern art is also marked by intertextuality, imitation, mockery, demythologization, collage, engagement with counter-culture, an interest in higher and lower forms of consciousness, and abrupt returns to earlier artistic forms in the midst of a work that what would seem to be a rejection of such.

Virtually every track on “The White Album” seems to exemplify some element of postmodernism. “Back in the USSR”, is probably the most overtly ironic of the Beatles’ popular releases. The song serves as a biting parody and, at the same time, a radical deconstruction of the Beach Boys’s “Surfin’ USA”, and “California Girls”. The next song up is “Dear Prudence”, a desperate, heartfelt plea for young Prudence Farrow to relax and step away from her long, seemingly endless periods of meditation. There’s nothing thematic and sonically that connects these songs to each other, nor are these songs connected to the next two songs “Glass Onion”, a purposeful nonsense song that offers an overt rejection of meaning, and “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da”, an upbeat tale of domestic happiness that some consider as one of the earliest attempts at white ska. “Wild Honey Pie”, the next song, is a mere fragment of a full song, and one which was left on the album only at the request of Patti Harrison. “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” attacks the sort of conservative, mainstream cultural norms that Lennon despised and which would seem out of place on any Beatles record save for this one.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is one of the finest songs the Beatles recorded and features Eric Clapton on lead guitar. The song, much like “Long Long Long”, is grounded in Harrison’s reading of the I Ching and represents his attempt to apply the principles of Eastern philosophy to song. “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” was the product of Lennon assembling three unfinished song fragments into something of a cohesive whole. “Martha My Dear” is a relative simple love song, a call back to the Beatles’ earlier sound, a plea to the songwriter’s muse to remember him despite their separation. “I’m So Tired” is about loss, whether the loss of chemical substances (the song was written during a time of forced sobriety during a long period of meditation) or the loss of love.

The origins of “Blackbird” are shrouded in mystery and contradiction. McCartney has offered numerous different origins and interpretations of the song, all of which are radically different and incommensurable. Harrison’s “Piggies” is a scathing attack on the middle class and “Rocky Raccoon” is a twisted adaptation of Robert Service’s poem “The Shooting of Dan McGrew”. “Don’t Pass Me By” is Starr’s first recorded Beatles song and serves as an ironic plea for itself to actually be recorded. “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” is decidedly Lennonesque McCartney song and “I Will” represents McCartney’s first musical commentary on his well-publicized relationship with the future Linda McCartney.

“Julia” is a decidedly sentimental and old-fashioned Beatles song about Lennon’s mother who had died ten years before and features guitar work heavily influenced by Donovan as well as Lennon’s own new found emotional realizations about his mother’s death. McCartney’s later track “Honey Pie” serves as a reversal of “Julia”, with Paul offering a simple, happy and bubbly song as a tribute to his father. “Yer Blues” is one of the starkest songs Lennon ever wrote and “Mother Nature’s Son” was influenced by a lecture McCartney heard on the unity of nature and man and in turn shows a decidedly Romantic influence. “Birthday” is an unabashed throwback to the band’s early rock roots and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” is about Lennon’s relationship with Ono and is sonically influenced by “Virgin Forest” by the underground American group The Fugs. “Sexy Sadie” is about Lennon’s disillusionment with Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and attempts to deconstruct and demythologize a man The Beatles and so many others had come to admire.

“Helter Skelter” is McCartney’s attempt to “freak people out” by turning away from his sugary pop impulses and compose a Lennonesque rock song. With the later track “Good Night”, Lennon attempts to compose a McCartneyesque sugary pop song. “Revolution” serves as a strong reflection on Lennon’s politics and questioning of his political and social positions. Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle” is a perfectly ironic and sugary song about, of all things, Eric Clapton’s love of chocolate. Lennon’s “Cry Baby Cry” was influenced by the nursery rhyme “Sing a Song of Sixpence” and the playground taunt “cry, baby, cry”. “Revolution 9” is probably the strangest and most avant garde track the band ever recorded and consists of over eight minutes of Ono and Lennon screaming against a range of discordant sounds.

Ultimately, it seems that my mother was right. This was the album on which the Beatles stopped really being the Beatles. And that’s what makes this album so remarkable. It is a record of fragmentation, disintegration, irony, self-awareness, and humor. One on hand, it shows us just how capable the Beatles were as musicians, how truly lyrically and sonically gifted they were, not to mention how original. At the same time, the album shows us that the Beatles that had come before were beginning to disappear. They were being influenced by a variety of cultural and musical forces, both high and low, as well as from sources ranging from popular myths, to personal confessions, long jams, counter-cultural thought, political manifestos and nonsense rhymes.

A great deal of experimentation and mixing of styles is also featured on the album, with influences ranging from dance-hall, to hard rock and even chamber music. Yet at the same time, we find Starr stepping out on his own finally, Harrison becoming all the more spiritual and experimental, McCartney torn between crafting rock songs and pop songs, and Lennon becoming even more self-conscious and ironic. The band was slipping apart during the recording of the album, with Starr quitting the band for two weeks in the midst of recording and Lennon and Harrison taking leave of the band shortly after the album was finished. The album became a far more collaborative effort than any previous Beatles work, with Jack Fallon and Eric Clapton, among others, contributing to the album. “The White Album”, then, is the Beatles’ grandest musical gesture and perhaps the first truly postmodern pop album.

James Flemming

Yellow Submarine

Yellow Submarine (1969)

Yellow Submarine is a rare and unusual record — a Beatles album where the Beatles didn’t particularly care. Back in the mop-top days, the band had signed a contract guaranteeing three soundtrack albums to their American record company. The Beatles’ involvement in the Yellow Submarine movie was negligible, but they were expected to deliver new material to help promote it. John and Paul, however, weren’t about to use their A+ material on a throwaway project. Hence this album.

Half of the album isn’t even Beatles material. Side two consists of orchestral music from the Yellow Submarine movie, written by George Martin. It’s all perfectly pleasant, and there are even a couple of cool parts, most notably the Indian-inspired string glissandos in “Sea of Holes” and the backwards snippets in “Sea of Time”. For the most part, however, it’s kind of twee and inconsequential, as you might expect: it’s the incidental music from a silly animated movie, released at a time when even the cognoscenti could muster a degree of patience for psychedelic whimsy. If you got really stoned while watching the movie back in the day, this might give you some amusing flashbacks (or alarming flashbacks — I can imagine the Blue Meanies being awfully hard to deal with). Otherwise, it’s of little value.

The original material on side one, however, is fascinating. The material’s tossed-off origins give it a character unlike any other Beatles album. Since John and Paul couldn’t be bothered, half of the new songs are George tunes. “Only a Northern Song” is an example of his mordant humor — the entire song is a declaration of worthlessness on the part of the singer: “It doesn’t really matter what chords I play / Or what words I say”. Given that “Northern songs” was the name of the Lennon/McCartney publishing company, it may also be a dig at his more prolific bandmates. Musically, it’s reminiscent of “Baby, You’re a Rich Man”, dominated by organ and a splattering trumpet part. George’s other song is the extended “It’s All Too Much”, which establishes a beatific vibe through hymnal organ, overdriven guitars, and a hypnotic, keening melody. As it fades slowly over the course of six and a half minutes, the trumpets return and compressed drums in the style of “Tomorrow Never Knows” come crashing as the other Beatles provide harmonies on the “It’s too much” refrain. It rocks, and as long as songs like this were being relegated to throwaway projects, George could be excused for sniping at John and Paul in “Only a Northern Song”.

Paul delivers a children’s song called “All Together Now”, which practically defines lightweight. For a collection of silly nursery rhymes, it’s reasonable tuneful and energetic, and at barely two minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. John’s “Hey Bulldog” is one of the great lost Beatles tunes, dominated by a driving piano riff. Over the fade, the Beatles make silly dog noises, adding a sense of spontaneity and fun that was absent from some of the later studio experiment years.

Filling out side one are “Yellow Submarine” and “All You Need Is Love”, which are covered in greater detail elsewhere. Suffice it to say, they are no worse in this context. Vigilant record-buyers should also be aware that the four new songs also appear on the Yellow Submarine Songtrack album that came out about ten years ago, along with every other song that appeared in the movie, essentially making it a “best of” covering the psychedelic years. While not part of the current remaster series, the songs were remixed from the original master tapes, and sound awfully good. No matter how you get them, though, the otherwise unavailable songs on this album ought to be part of any thinking Beatles fan’s collection.

David Gassman

Let It Be

Let It Be (mostly recorded in 1969 and released in 1970)

It started with the best intentions: make a live recording of brand new, back-to-basics material, and film the rehearsals. By the time the Get Back project was renamed and released over a year later, what resulted was a film chronicling the downfall of the biggest band in the world, and an album often lost in its midst. Nowadays, Let It Be is infamous for its reputation as “the album that broke up the Beatles”. The documentary showcases the infighting and fast-waning camaraderie between them—these recording sessions led George Harrison to briefly leave the band, encouraging him to write his solo hit, “Wah Wah”, in a clear dig at Paul McCartney.

The film’s soundtrack continues to struggle for its status as a Fab Four classic despite the fact that behind all of the drama and Spector (over-) production lay 12 truly solid tracks that ultimately more than fulfill their purpose. The LP opens with a little dose of Lennon wit, a play-on-words intro that sets a tone of frivolity that thankfully broke through the Twickenham Film Studio’s bad vibes. Dueling acoustic guitars launch immediately into “Two of Us”, clamoring for attention and tidily offset by John and Paul’s tight yet gentle harmonizing. Simple and organic, it takes only a moment’s rest before it moves gracefully into the unrestrained “Dig It”.

Track two opens with a heavy blues riff and quickly descends into a deceptively complicated web of overlapping instrumental parts that weave around each other and meet at surprising intervals throughout. McCartney’s sandpaper backing vocals are a fine accent to Lennon’s undulating lead, with obvious Elvis undertones helping to push each verse to an impassioned climax. The pureness of these opening cuts firmly establishes the spirit of the album’s original conception in a brilliantly concise way.

Enter “Across the Universe”, and the first example of Spector’s heavy hand in the Beatles’ oeuvre. Though originally recorded during the White Album sessions, Lennon was left unsatisfied by its austerity and set it aside. With Spector’s later involvement thankfully came the missing pieces: bright, shimmering guitars complimenting Lennon’s innocent and hopeful vocals; a steady, deliberate rhythm providing a solid foundation beneath the fluidity of its surrounding parts; an angelic choir furthering the ethereal effect as much as the transcendental meditation mantra of the chorus. It’s a brilliant use of the famous “wall of sound” technique and effectively renewed Lennon’s faith in what he would later call one of his best efforts — and that’s without considering the profoundly poetic lyrics, surprisingly inspired by his first wife’s penchant for rambling speech.

Here, the album treads close to losing its conceptual course, although the quality remains characteristically high. Harrison’s melancholic “I Me Mine” is a haunting waltz with an irefully bluesy contrasting chorus and surges of building intensity, helped by Spector’s added orchestra. Next is a snippet of the 15-minute “Dig It” jam, having devolved into a steadily repetitive breakdown and highlighting Billy Preston’s cheeky gospel organ against McCartney’s hulking piano. It ends with a falsetto Lennon serving as MC, aptly introducing the next ditty as “Hark, the Angels Come”.

This label proves fitting for the title track, McCartney’s ode to his deceased “mother Mary”. Part lullaby, part prayer, and performed like a hymn, “Let It Be” is the Western response to the Eastern mysticism of “Across the Universe”. The vocals are silken, glossy but tender; the biting guitar solo adds an earnest passion, punching in sudden intervals like a beacon in the piano’s night sky. Spector’s orchestration, less appreciated in this occurrence, is menacing yet joyful, like the power of the heavens come to carry the world’s troubles away. As usual, Preston’s organ is the icing on the cake, adding levity to McCartney’s demure piano and cementing the track’s standing as a masterpiece.

In typical Beatle fashion, the track that follows is the lighthearted “Maggie Mae”, an ol’ Liverpuddlian standard about a prostitute who robs a sailor. Lennon’s comic sensibilities are on full display as he confidently harmonizes in his best mock-Scouser intonations. The unfinished bit of silliness provides a fine launching point for the Southern rock “I’ve Got a Feeling”. Played dirty and heavy to harden the jaunty nature of the tune, every dissimilar element seems to compliment each other impeccably. McCartney makes good use of his wild, gravely warble from “Long Tall Sally”, notably in the howling bridge. Lennon’s antithetic cannon proves a perfect fit, sung in hippie response to the old bluesman of the verses and thus connecting two like-minded musical generations. The song demonstrates, once again, the truthfulness in McCartney’s long-held view of the group as “a great little band”, albeit one with an intrinsically big sound.

The playfulness continues into the Lennon-McCartney classic, “One After 909”, an oldie that had been a rehearsal staple for over a decade. A rollicking skiffle jam, it stands as one of the best demonstrations of McCartney’s intention for the Get Back experiment, jolly good fun though unfortunately lacking in substance. The track is arguably more memorable for Lennon’s farcical rendition of “Danny Boy” in the fade-out.

The lively tone is interrupted by “The Long and Winding Road”, a well-crafted and sophisticated pop ballad that unwittingly ushered in a good number of ’70s hits to follow. McCartney was never impressed by Spector’s tailoring of his stark madrigal, preferring the stripped-down piano version so much that it inspired him to create the infamous Let It Be… Naked some three decades down the line. But Spector’s version is not without its merits, to say the least: his lush orchestration paints a haunting image of heartache and longing, complimented by McCartney’s understated vocal and tender piano accompaniment. Amid the swelling strings and warm, inviting brass, a stray bit of tape leftover from a discarded overdub remains as the single identifying Beatle feature, tucked away just before the coda.

After this brief distraction, a quiet aside from Lennon (“The Queen says no to pot-smoking FBI members”) ushers in Harrison’s “For You Blue” and a return to the laid-back groove that has dictated much of the album. This easy rhythm-and-blues number is played ukulele-high, dripping with slide guitar and staccato accents as a borderline-falsetto vocal does a neat soft shoe around the melody. Harrison’s charming comments in the instrumental break enhance the song’s amenable nature; the “12-bar blues” rarely sound so blithe.

And it’s this chipper mood that builds into “Get Back”, the album’s exuberant finale. Lennon opens the song with a mocking recitation of the second verse (“Sweet Loretta Fart, she thought she was a cleaner/But she was a frying pan”), and signals the musical build-up to commence. McCartney sings the subtly subversive lyrics in pinched modulation, echoing the held-back instrumental work that, led by Ringo Starr’s galloping drums in one of his greatest contributions, play out a driving rhythm that explodes every few bars in rebelliously knowing bursts. The album version, taken straight from the rooftop concert, breaks from the single release immediately after the first chorus, stopping suddenly and casually with little sonic resolution (the single employed a false-ending followed by a pop-y fade-out). In place of a proper conclusion, it closes with John’s famous exit line, again from the impromptu performance: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”

So ends what would become the Beatles’ final album, as incendiary as it began. While Let It Be failed to live up to McCartney’s lofty intentions, it did not fully abandon them in the end. It easily stands apart from the documentary, countering the grim footage with a boisterous spirit and a number of sonic gems to match. And even if the warmth and congeniality is feigned, it takes an awful lot of talent to disguise it so well.

Carole Ann Wright

Let It Be… Naked

Let It Be… Naked (1969-1970/2003)

The Beatles’ 1970 release Let It Be has always been more of a back story than an album. But, if Let It Be has long functioned as a collection of myths and “might have beens” for rabid Beatles fans to argue about, then 2003’s Let It Be… Naked is the last word.

Most Beatles fans are aware of the legends surrounding the recording of what was originally called Get Back. In the midst of the band’s infighting, Paul McCartney felt that the group should write and record a simple rock album devoid of all the studio tricks that had seemed to become as much a hallmark of the Beatles’ sound as their great songwriting. The Beatles recorded the album’s tracks and left them with engineer Glyn Johns to mix, master and assemble into an album. But John Lennon hated the result and brought in Phil Spector to “reproduce” (according to the liner notes) what would ultimately become the Let It Be album. Here is where the myths begin. The 2003 release of Let It Be… Naked was supposed to be put such myths to rest. Instead, it gave birth to myths of its own.

Myth 1: Get Back is a great lost Beatles album.

Myth 2: Phil Spector ruined some of the Beatles’ best songs.

Myth 3: Paul McCartney used Let It Be… Naked to get back at John Lennon now that he was unable to voice his opinion.

Myth 4: Let It Be… Naked was what Get Back was supposed to be.

Myth 4: Let It Be… Naked is not the album that Get Back was originally conceived to be. It’s shorter than the proposed version of Get Back by several tracks. Three songs that were on the finished version of Get Back, “Teddy Boy”, “Rocker” and “Save the Last Dance For Me”, never made it onto Let It Be at all and the version of “Dig It” that does appear is shorter by roughly three minutes. It’s worth noting that none of these songs were included in Let It Be… Naked either.

Myth 3: The exclusion of “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae” from Let It Be… Naked has fueled the argument that McCartney used the project to get back at John Lennon for bringing in Phil Spector by cutting two of his songs. The argument is logical so long as you ignore the songs involved. “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae” (both credited to the entire group, not just Lennon) are arguably two of the worst tracks the Beatles ever put on an album. It’s also important to note that while Let It Be… Naked excluded two songs that were largely unmissed upon its release, it included the amazing “Don’t Let Me Down”, Lennon’s anguished song of love and longing, which had been relegated to a b-side after Spector left it off the original Let It Be album. Leaving off two trifles for one of Lennon’s best songs is addition by subtraction.

Myth 2 : Another thing that Let It Be… Naked makes clear upon first listen is that Phil Spector has been woefully miscast in the role of villain as far as Let It Be is concerned. Spector was not an invader, he was hired by John Lennon and he did not ruin any of the album’s songs. True, the added orchestral and choral flourishes to “Across the Universe” seem to weaken the simple beauty of the sung poetry found on Let It Be… Naked, and it’s also true that the “Wall of Sound” treatment applied to “The Long and Winding Road” created a bombastic behemoth out of what was conceived as a beautiful, but modest, ballad about the search for a love that might be lost. However, all Spector did was add elements to songs; he didn’t change the structure of any of the tunes at all, and the songs that bear his mark were considered classics for over three decades before Let It Be… Naked stripped these elements away.

Myth 1: Stripped of the original’s bombast, Let It Be… Naked makes another thing clear, Get Backis not a great lost Beatles album. It contained too many songs that weren’t great and over time, fans seemed to make the same mistake that Phil Spector did. They took a nice, little album and made it sound much bigger than it was ever supposed to be. Let It Be… Naked houses some classic music. “Get Back”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “Two of Us”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, “Across the Universe” and “Let It Be” are as good as anything the Beatles ever recorded. However, nearly half of Let It Be… Naked consists of tracks that sound like b-sides (George Harrison’s contributions pale in comparison to the other music he recorded in 1969). The same is true of Get Back, which was far from “lost” to fans that wanted it, and the released version of Let It Be.

Ultimately Let It Be… Naked is an average Beatles album that houses within it one of the greatest EPs in rock history.

Gregg Lipkin

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