Let It Be... Naked

The Beatles

Capitol Records, 2003


REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk


Back at the turn of the 70's, The Beatles recorded what would be their final album, Let It Be. There is a lot of history, and a long story behind the original 1970 release. I will not recount that now, but you can get the lowdown by reading Danny Smith's review on this site.

The funny thing about remastered albums is that often, we tend to think the original was fine to begin with. Unless you're an extreme audiophile, with a fortune invested in audio equipment, many of these re-releases offer nothing to a typically listener's ears. In this case, the effort had a deeper mission, to bring to light a more definitive vision of what the Beatles had originally planned. All four members have commented that they were not pleased with the end result of the original.

The natural inclination is to compare a reissue with the original. I don't think I can avoid that, but I wanted to avoid looking at this as a replacement, or being "better" than the original. It's not necessarily better, but it's just as good, and different enough to make it worth owning.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The end result of Let It Be… Naked is a very nice option to the original. For the most part, it's the same album with the studio chatter removed, the songs rearranged, and two throwaway tracks "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae" removed. The biggest change comes it two places. First, the remastering gives the songs a much warmer and more intimate sound. Secondly, the three songs originally produced by Phil Spector have had the strings removed, and the end result is definitely worth hearing. Are the remixed songs better than the originals? I think so, because technically, they ARE the originals. The songs are presented here the way the artists originally envisioned them to be.

The remastered "Across the Universe" is a perfect example of what makes this album worth the price of admission. This was always a favorite song of mine. I think it shows Lennon at his best. His reflection on infinity, and the nature of the song, illustrate the post summer-of-love zeitgeist that was permeating John and many of his musical peers at the time. It shows the way John's thoughts were turning outward, towards an openness that complemented his "All You Need Is Love" philosophy of life. With the orchestration removed, the song takes on a far softer and more pastoral quality. Rather than tone the song down however, this subtle arrangement gives the simple phrases, and John's voice, even more impact. The simple acoustic guitars complement John's singing beautifully; on what is one of his most touching vocal performance.

"The Long and Winding Road" is another example of the worthiness of this record. Like "Across the Universe," the removal of the strings gives this song even more impact. The Spector version almost completely obliterated Paul's piano, and George's understated guitar work. This new version is the better of the two, in my opinion. I've always felt that "less is more" is a good philosophy when it comes to a ballad like this. The minimalist arrangement on this disc serves the song very well.

The original album is well-known and well-loved, so I'll just briefly say what many of you already know -- the songwriting is great, and the performances are excellent as well. It doesn't overshadow the original by any means, nor should it replace it. What it does is offer a new perspective. This new vision is welcome addition to the Beatles' body of work.

Rating: A

User Rating: B



© 2004 Bruce Rusk 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.