This CD takes the already wonderful Let It Be and strips away some of the orchestration and leaves a very raw, beautiful, I think the way the Beatles would like it album.
Great marketing campaign, disappointing album
David Goodwin | Westchester, NY United States | 11/18/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"With the release of "Let It Be...Naked," I think it's finally clear that Apple has lost it. They have no idea what Beatles fans--let alone the general public--might want. To Apple, all Beatles releases are events, and all must therefore be marketed to the be-all and end-all.Let's look at what "Let It Be...Naked" purports to be. The old "Let It Be" album is certainly one of the most controversial entities in the Beatles' catalogue. Recorded largely before "Abbey Road" but released afterwards, the sessions for what would become Let It Be were extraordinarily contentious, plagued by conflicting egos, drug use, apathy, and all sorts of negativity. The original plan--which was to film rehearsals for an eventual live concert--was largely scrapped; the live concert idea, originally posited as taking place before a huge audience in a famous location, ended up being given on the roof of Apple studios. Yet music for the project *was* recorded, after all, so the band set out trying to make an album out of the mess. A few sample compilations of the album were created (and, indeed, were played on radio stations at the time), but barring the Get Back/Don't Let Me Down and Let It Be singles, nothing was used at that time. Eventually, however, the project was passed off to Phil Spector, who set about creating an album from the mess, but who also overdubbed something approximating his legendary "wall of sound" onto a few cuts. It is for this reason, ostensibly, that "Let It Be...Naked" exists."Let It Be...Naked" purports to be the Let It Be album as the Beatles originally intended, stripped of its Phil Spector excess...and...uh, well, reordered, I suppose. Paul McCartney has been complaining for *years* about Spector's treatment of his "The Long and Winding Road" (and indeed cited that as "sabotague" in some of his earlier breaking-up-the-band lawsuits).So is "Let It Be...Naked" the album that was originally intended? Probably not. The Beatles didn't *know* what they wanted, which is precisely why they kept farming the material out. "Let It Be...Naked" is revisionism, which is hardly a bad thing, but it'd be nice to be up front about it.But that's the thing: "Let It Be...Naked" is barely revisionism at all, because it simply *isn't very different* from Let It Be. Spector's overindulgence was limited to exactly three tracks: I Me Mine, The Long and Winding Road, and Across the Universe. Sparse versions of the first two were made available on Anthology 3. Granted, the versions available here are different, but hardly to a revelatory extent. The album has been reordered, with two of the slighter tracks ("Maggie Mae" and "Dig It") being dumped in favor of "Don't Let Me Down." Additionally, the between-song chatter that marked the original has been eliminated as well. And despite the kicking-him-when-he's-down denigration of Spector's treatment of the album (does anybody else think the timing of this, what with Spector's legal problems, is particularly unpleasant?), his template of the album is clearly still fresh, as "I Me Mine" retains its edit-for-length and "Dig a Pony" removes the same music.What does this mean? Sure, it presents a few alternate takes, but "Let It Be...Naked" really doesn't sound all that different. It isn't revelatory in the slightest--thanks largely to Anthology 3--and its use of alternate takes for some tracks feels like a "why bother?" endeavor; they simply aren't changed enough to feel like anything new. Even worse, the "Naked" and "as nature intended" implications are flat out false, as many of the new takes are glorified "out-fakes" created by editing together and creatively remixing takes (the title track is an excellent example, with parts of several versions composited into a whole). The back of "Let It Be...Naked" mentions that the bonus CD (which, thankfully, doesn't seem to add to the cost) provides a "unique insight into the recording of the album." This is untrue to a hilarious extent, unless quickly-edited snippets of dialogue and music appeal to you. Folks, this stuff has been bootlegged for *thirty years* now, something that Apple seems to be in denial about. Disc 2 could've been a sparkling version of the rooftop concert, or some of the better performances from the rehearsals; instead, it's a focusless, single-track mess that I doubt anybody will listen to more than once. All of this could be forgiven, I guess, if "Let It Be...Naked" sounded stellar. It had the chance to, after all; it was remixed from the multitracks. Unfortunately, "Let It Be...Naked" just sounds *different*. The use of no-noise processing leaves several tracks feeling very artificial, with Ringo's drums sounding particularly anemic on several cuts. Not terrible, but certainly not what it could have been.My verdict: "Let It Be...Naked" is a cheap buy, but is hardly what could have been, and is almost definitely not "naked" or "the album the Beatles intended." It feels at its core like an inconsequential throwaway, a quick lark of revisionism being marketed as a major artistic reclamation of a lost work...a lost work which, it should be noted, rarely ranks as a fan favorite. To hear Apple's marketing campaign, "Let It Be...Naked" is unprecedented and revelatory, a great artistic statement worthy of a celebrity roundtable discussion (I mean...what's next? "Beatles for Sale...Naked?" With Leave My Kitten Alone instead of Mr. Moonlight and Honey Don't deleted because Ringo never liked it? With comments from Fiona Apple about how it's really her favorite album?). It isn't.Is it worth buying? I guess. It's cheap (currently), and it provides an interesting alternative to an album that most Beatles fans are undoubtedly fairly familiar with. Just set your expectations accordingly, and try to ignore the fact that Apple decided that *this* was more relevant than a well-transferred, mono/stereo hybrid reissue program to replace those mediocre 1987 Beatles discs we've been stuck with for so long."
One more go at it
MurrayTheCat | upstate New York | 08/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Beatles rejected the GET BACK album upon its completion in 1969 and again in 1970. The project (renamed LET IT BE) then got the Phil Spector treatment, with Paul being kept completely in the dark about it. Many have called the Spector album shoddy, but most Beatles fans bought it and enjoyed it despite the consensus that it was not top-notch.
At one time The Beatles were capable of producing much magic "live" in the studio--and they had done it often. But after they quit touring, the lack of playing together eventually took its toll, John admitting that "The Beatles musically weren't as together in the last few years." John also said that these sessions had "lousy feeling." But within the album notes to this new release, marketing mentality strikes once again and, rather typically, attempts to put a spin on these "raw and unadorned" sessions, saying that this is what the group wanted. "Raw and unadorned" shouldn't be confused with "careless and crude." The latter two are not what the group was shooting for, but a fair amount of that made it onto the tapes because of their lack of desire to focus on making music. (Just a few months later they did focus on making music and produced ABBEY ROAD!)
I still look at LET IT BE as a compilation of rehearsals; little of it sounds finished. Though the songs themselves are great, the performances are not, for the most part, of the highest Beatles standard. Sure, there are many magical moments throughout; but the magic is fleeting, and we are continually reminded of a great producer's absence--George Martin! These recordings are culled from sessions that, had the proper commitment been there, should have produced a remarkable Beatles album along the lines of what we were accustomed to. Each attempt at presenting these sessions only leaves me wondering what could have been if George Martin had been allowed to fully produce them. That said, here's what we get this time around:
"Get Back" is noticeably cleaner than the previous releases. But this version fades out quickly before Paul's "ooo-oo," leaving it sounding truncated--annoyingly unresolved. Overall, I still prefer the 1969-single version with its very satisfying ending, the version we fans thrilled to for a full year before the Spector LP appeared.
The electric piano in "Dig A Pony" is more prominent here; otherwise, there is not much difference between this account and Spector's. "For You Blue" reveals little difference as well.
"The Long And Winding Road" is a different take from Spector's, and, as another reviewer astutely points out, we get lots of rehearsal-like "plinky dink" playing, unworthy of a finished Beatles song. It is typical for musicians to play with this type of uncertainty when the arrangement is still in the building stage, and here the uncertain piano fills don't carry the song's emotion between Paul's vocal lines. The tempo surges at times, and this whole take is pretty much a rough run-through. Though the combination of orchestra and choir on Spector's version periodically strikes me as being unnatural, I never thought that it transported the song to the world of Mantovani. In fact, I never realized just how much I love the Spector account until I sat and compared these two versions at length.
"Two Of Us" reveals no significant variation except that it fades out before the guitars stop and before John's whistling goes charmingly out of tune, present on the Spector version.
We are given a different rendition of "I've Got A Feeling." It is not quite as hot, matching neither the emotion in the vocals nor the intensity and drive of the performance Spector chose for his album. I also like Preston's piano line better on the Spector track.
Top honors go to NAKED for the better mix of "One After 909." The song really comes alive here. One very consequential difference is that Ringo's bass drum has punch on NAKED; on the Spector it's pure mud. The added punch gives the song an infectious--even delirious--drive that it never had before. Unfortunately, the fade at the end is quick so as not to catch the live atmosphere.
This take of "Don't Let Me Down" is rehearsal quality all the way; it pales in every respect compared with the glorious single version released in 1969.
On Spector's "I Me Mine," the strings are heard where, on this new mix, the organ pops through more noticeably.
And here, "Across The Universe" is back to its original speed. Though the Spector treatment sounds neither preferable nor wrong (John certainly liked it), this NAKED one sounds, well, naked. I still prefer the original version found on PAST MASTERS VOLUME TWO. That one sounds closer to the John of early 1968 who made bizarre requests of George Martin, wanting a song "to sound like an orange" and such.
Finally, this remix of the title track brings the organ up front more, we miss the electric piano on the first walk-down before the guitar solo, and the brass is gone. The new version also omits the third-verse edit found in the Spector version. But this mix bewilders me: Is it substantive and worthwhile? Or is it a run-of-the-mill account, one more from a potentially endless parade of remixes? George's guitar solo is different yet again. So what? If you ask me, the single version (found on PAST MASTERS VOLUME TWO and the SINGLES boxed set) still says it best.
Though I still prefer Spector's LET IT BE, I cannot recommend it over this cleaned-up version to all listeners. Each has strengths; neither is perfect.
The album notes assert that this edition reveals how the album was meant to be. Didn't the Spector album make the same assertion? So much for promises. "
Want a REAL alternate version? (Instructions included)
MurrayTheCat | 11/25/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"By taking out the dialogue, this has been made into an antiseptic, somewhat ordinary work. The point was to strip away Spector's figerprints, but they removed the charm as well. Far from being "Naked," it actually sounds well-produced. These versions are for the most part ones we've heard before, so there's no great revelation. Many note that "Anthology Disc 3" provided better insights, and I agree; a good fifty percent of the "Let It Be" songs are on that disc! But the most egregious thing those in charge (and, contrary to many claims I've read in these reviews, I think Paul had less to do with this than many claim) did was to change the running order of the songs. Sorry -- once you're used to it, it doesn't pay to change the formula; you can't act as if the original never existed.
SO -- if you really want a cool, alternate "Let It Be," get the ORIGINAL "Let It Be," the ANTHOLOGY 3 disc, and "Let it Be NAKED," and then burn the following songs onto a CD in this order:1. Two Of Us (Anthology 3)
2. Dig A Pony (Anthology 3)
3. Across the Universe (Naked)
4. I Me Mine (Anthology 3)
5. Dig It (Original)
6. Let It Be (Anthology 3)
7. Maggie Mae (Original)
8. Medley: Rip It Up/Blue Suede Shoes (Anthology 3)
9. Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues (Anthology 3)
10. Old Brown Shoe (Anthology 3)
11. I've Got a Feeling (Anthology 3)
12. One After 909 (Naked or Original)
13. Long and Winding Road (Anthology 3)
14. For You Blue (Anthology 3)
15. Don't Let Me Down (Naked)
16. Get Back (Anthology 3)Try it... it's very cool, and you won't feel as disappointed!"
Please put some clothes on!
R. Miller | North Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 04/14/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"When I heard this was going to be released I was intrigued but wondered how it was going to offer anything new when Anthology 3 already had given us raw versions of "Long And Winding Road" (the best version/mix/sound quality available in my opinion), "I Me Mine" and "Across The Universe". Also, a seemingly endless supply of alternate takes of "Let It Be", "Get Back" and "Long And Winding Road" were available on numerous bootlegs from the Let It Be/Get Back sessions. What was left? Phil Spector had only really added orchestration and vocals to the first three songs I mentioned in this review and remixed and done some clever editing on other tracks. Thus, this new release ends up being irrelevant. I thought it might be nice to have a longer mix of "Dig It" - instead we don't get "Dig It" in any form, or "Maggie Mae" either. Again, Anthology 3 offered a live rooftop version of "Get Back" which rocked (and was the one where Mal Evans shut off the guitar amplifier mid-performance when the police showed up because of the 'noise' the Beatles were making that was disrupting rush hour traffic - you can even hear John shout at him off-mic). Here, like on the real "Let It Be" album we once again get the version of "Get Back" that was released as a single in January 1969 but without Spector's seamless edit that with Lennon's "sweet Loretta fart she thought she was a cleaner, but she was a fryin' pan" intro and "..I hope we passed the audition" outro made it sound like a live take. Instead the song fades before the ad-libbed "get back Loretta, your mommie's waitin' for you..." section that was on the single. "Dig A Pony" edits out the false start that made it clear it was a live recording."For You Blue" - I can't hear any difference in the instrumentation but the recording doesn't sound as good now, very thin in the bottom end - Ringo's drums are buried in the mix now compared to the original."Long and Winding Road" - what the heck? The Anthology 3 version was the version heard on the real "Let It Be" album, but without Spector's strings and choir drowning out Paul's voice. This version sounds raw all right...like an early rehearsal of the track before Paul felt comfortable singing it. Different lyrics too: "Anyway's you've always known the many ways I've tried" instead of "you've never known". Simplistic sounding solo. Very disappointing."Two Of Us" - no "I Dig A Pigmy by Charles Hawtry on the deaf-aids - Phase one in which Doris gets her Oats" intro. However, that wasn't actually part of this track anyhow, just another Spector edit that fit well. Inexplicably, it fades out prematurely."I've Got A Feeling" - missing the retro tape echo effect on Paul's voice that was in the real version. Sounds to me like it might be a composite of an alternate take and the one that was on the real version of the album - the first part of the song has some different bits than the original. Doesn't have as much 'ambience' or energy as the live original (too much compression and filtering) and doesn't have the nifty Paul in the left channel John in the right Channel effect (during the part where they sing two different melodies at the same time) that was in the real version. On the plus side, John's voice is louder in the mix on the first part of the song than it was on the real version."One After 909" - hmmm, no real difference here, other than more overuse of filtering and compression and this version has some different adlibs and is missing the fun "Danny Boy" adlib at end."Don't Let Me Down" - rawer version than the released version. Not on the real "Let It Be" album but featured on earlier versions of the album. This is more like it. This is what the album should have offered - Beatles 'live' (even if it is a composite of more than one take)."I Me Mine" - There already was a stripped-down version available on Anthology 3 (without the Spector edit that made the song nearly twice as long and was emulated here for "Naked")."Across The Universe" - nice to hear it at the recorded pitch (or very close to it) instead of the semitone slowed-down Spector version or the semitone sped-up version with the bird sounds. Sounds like a demo this way, but I guess it does offer a more 'live' sound, other than the Grand Canyon reverb effect at the end - what's up with that?"Let It Be" - fine version UNTIL THE GUITAR SOLO!!!!!! Why have such a meandering, weak solo?!? Possibly the worst solo I've heard in any of the dozens of takes I've heard. Why they chose to use that solo baffles me.Bonus cd is a bit of a joke. It would've probably been better to instead of bits of songs and bits of dialogue to have had full song outtakes from the Let It Be/Get Back sessions.I have to give this release only 1 star because it really isn't worth purchasing. It is lacking in too many areas and has too much filtering and compression, which takes the raw energy and ambience out of the recordings. The best version of "Let It Be" is definitely the Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs version. This one is a tiny curiosity but not really worth buying. Only a couple tracks offer anything new, none are actually superior to the real version of "Let It Be", they are just different."
We have only gained. We have not lost a thing. Be happy
Eric Buckley | Corona, CA United States | 12/05/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Everyone here is arguing petty points about the story of McCartney, Spector, and Lennon, but what they are ignoring is the music on this. This cd offers a different take on Let It Be. The old Let It Be is still in the stores everyone. It's not like this Let It Be is replacing the other one. We have gained another album. We are not losing an album. That said, This album is basically offering "The Long and Winding Road" as something new, and a faster version of "Don't Let Me Down". That is what's new. Both of them sound amazing. The Long and Winding Road sounds better without all the orchestration, in my opinion. Other songs, like stripped versions of "Let it Be" and "Across the Universe" can be heard on Past Masters II and the Anthology, but the quality of the songs on the album here is better. In fact, the quality in sound of all the songs on this Let It Be is better. The Bass is a little Deeper, and you can hear things a little more clearly. The levels of the vocals are a little higher. I, Me, Mine is stripped of orchestration too. All in all, there is enough here to justify it's existence. Don't make it into something it's not. This album does not replace your "Let It Be", it's merely a different take on the same thing. We have only gained."