Let It Be... Naked

The Beatles

Capitol Records, 2003


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


In a deleted scene for the movie Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman's character informs John Travolta that "… there's two kinds of people in this world, Elvis People and Beatles People." I happen to be in the latter camp, and that brings me to the album at hand, the infamous Let It Be…Naked.

The history of Let It Be is tumultuous, and very complicated. The concise version goes as follows; The Beatles recorded this album while being filmed for a movie of the same name. As a result, the group was under a great amount of stress, and it very nearly broke up the band. As it turns out, this record would technically be the last Beatles record in terms of release date, though Abbey Road was the last to be recorded. Phil "Wall of Sound" Spector was placed in charge of Let It Be's production, and the album that was released was his take on the best cuts.

Flash forward to 2003, and Let It Be…Naked, the supposedly definitive take on the sessions. The public was presented with a "stripped down" (hence the Naked bit) and cleaned up version of the album itself. The reaction amongst Beatles fans was mixed; some decried it as sacrilege, and an ego trip by Paul (McCartney actually had little to do with this release, it wasn't his idea). Others saw it as a chance to hear the music on this album in a new and improved way, as it originally had been recorded. So this begs the question, which side is right?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I had never heard the original album when …Naked was released, and still haven't. For all intents and purposes for many young fans, this is Let It Be. However, tracks like " Let It Be," and "The Long And Winding Road," have been radio staples for decades, so their changes on …Naked are noticeable, and for the better. Both of the aforementioned tracks have been stripped of the orchestral flushes that Spector loved to employ, leaving pretty much the bare song. George Harrison's solo on "Let It Be" is a completely different one, and melodically fits in with the track better. The harmonies are also much clearer, giving evidence the boys were very underrated harmonically. "The Long and Winding Road" in its original form was incredibly over the top, here the entire nature of the song changes, there's a hint of weary resignation in Macca's vocals. People like to rip on Lennon who did the bass work for this track, and while it doesn't blow you away, it most certainly is not the worst I've heard.

Everyone knows the singles from the record, but like most Beatles albums it is the "forgotten" songs that showcase the bands best. Lennon and McCartney are at the peak of their powers together during the breezy "Two Of Us," and on "I've Got A Feeling," their last true writing collaboration. "Don't Let Me Down" and "Across The Universe" are both Lennon's, and are brilliant. "Don't Let Me Down" takes a more pop-ish approach, as well as benefits from some excellent keyboard work from Billy Preston, who does an admirable job throughout the album. The lyrical abstractness of "Across the Universe" is fascinating, and perfectly complemented by the raw vocals from Lennon.

Unfortunately, as is the case with some of the latter day Beatles albums, there are tracks that just don't do it. Lennon's "Dig A Pony," and Harrison's "For You Blue" are throw-away numbers, none feature any particular performances of note; the band should have let George put "All Thing Must Pass" on this album. "I Me Mine" is better -- one gets the impression of the boys just cutting back and having some fun. There is even a throwback to the old days, with "One After 909," and while it is nice to hear The Beatles give some props to their roots, it is horrendously out of place on the album.

Let it Be...Naked provides the fans with another perspective on the sessions, so can it really be a bad idea? The sound is great, most of the performances are the boys at their best, in fact I'd easily take this album any day over the White Album, which is horrendously overrated. However, that is a review for another time. Let It Be…Naked proves that John, Paul, George and Ringo, on a bad day could churn out some of the greatest music of our time.

Rating: B+

User Rating: B



© 2005 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.