Let It Be

The Beatles

Apple Records, 1970


REVIEW BY: Curtis Jones


Let It Be is a well known and well understood as the sonic documentation of the breakup of the greatest rock band ever.  By 1969, when the album was recorded, the ship was coming apart.  The business of The Beatles was causing tension.  Artistic and personal divergences from the various member’s individual interests, as well as aborted and half-hearted attempts to complete a live show, album, and movie, all conspired to bring down the whole enterprise.

Given all of the problems facing the group at this time, it is actually pretty amazing that Let It Be is as good as it is.  Admittedly, the album is a bit schizophrenic, with the sound and pace jolting from one number to the next and throwaways like “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae” added for unknown reasons.  “Across The Universe” also hangs out there oddly, a sad and nearly forgotten leftover from the pre-India excursion and White Album days.  The album was intended to follow the Beatles’ live rehearsals that were filmed in the my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Let It Be documentary.  But Phil Spector’s treatment of the songs – splicing, dicing, adding strings, and vocals, etc. – adds to this lurching, inconsistent feel.  Even so, the quality of the some of the songs is able to shine through overmuch production or their placement on the album.

For example, “Two Of Us” is a quiet, reflective acoustic track that sounds like as much of a swan song to the Beatles and the Lennon/McCartney partnership as critics say that “Let It Be” is.  And despite Spector’s addition of strings and harp on “The Long And Winding Road” that McCartney despised so much, it really is a beautiful ballad.   “Get Back” is just about the best tune on the disc, and its live band sound stays true to the format that was intended for the Let It Be/Get Back sessions.  Billy Preston’s organ adds an element of depth that was needed at this point in the Beatles arc as well.  “I've Got A Feeling” is a grinding blues song that combines McCartney’s song along with Lennon’s unfinished “Everybody Had A Hard Year.”  And, while “Feeling” shows that the Lennon/McCartney duo could still make good songs out of scraps, “The One After 909” recalls the early years of the pair’s ability to churn out rockers.

This album is regarded more lowly mostly because it is compared to the Beatles’ other releases.  By this measure it falls short.  It could be argued that the album could have been better, but then again, it could have been worse.  The alternate versions of this album included the Lennon B-side “Don’t Let Me Down,” which would have been an excellent inclusion on the album (and was included on the stripped down 2003 version, Let It Be...Naked).  But thankfully, we are not subjected to a five-minute version of “Dig It,” which was also an option.  “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number),” another oldie like “Across The Universe” and the B-side to “Let It Be” could have been added, too, but thankfully wasn’t.  In all, you have to hand it to Spector, who did what he could with what he had to work with and the skills he possessed.  Likewise, the ability for the group to land several solid punches before checking out is also something to be admired.

Rating: B-

User Rating: B



© 2012 Curtis Jones 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 Apple Records, and is used for informational purposes only.