Friday, April 5, 2013

"Let It Be" vs. "Let It Be...Naked"

It was announced earlier in the week that Let It Be…Naked (2003), the remixed, Phil Spector-less version of The Beatles' final record, is at long last available on iTunes. The news inspired me to revisit the album and note what I like and don't like about the major differences. I didn't find many negatives.
- The best change by far was the addition of "Don't Let Me Down." What a song, what a vocal. It never should have been excluded from the 1970 release. That, combined with the removal of "Dig It" and "Maggie Mae" – two short and goofy superfluities best left as outtakes -, improved the flow of the songs and their overall quality.
- Generally speaking, the track order is much better. "Get Back" works more naturally as an opener than a closer, and "Let It Be" finishes the album on an appropriately elegiac note. I'm not a huge fan of "Let It Be," but I don't like that it was buried on Side 1 of the original. It deserved better.
- I stand with Paul on "The Long and Winding Road." He hated that Spector lavished the song with ornate instrumentation. He saw it as an insulting deviation from the "back-to-basics" sound that The Beatles had aimed for on the album. The gentler, more earth-bound version on Naked is an upgrade. The same goes for "Across the Universe," which sheds the gooey, underwater encasement that Spector had overdubbed onto an earlier recording of the song. In these instances anyway, less is more.
Don't like:
- Notwithstanding what I said about "Get Back" as a winning opener, I still prefer "Two of Us" in that spot. It's probably due to a combination of: 1) I treasure the song; 2) Hearing it at the outset, with its warm melancholy and autumnal ease, seems to improve everything that follows; and 3) I dig John's mock intro.
And that's basically it. Canon fealty be damned, I prefer the unified, precise polish of Naked to the incongruous clutter of the original.


Roger said...

Indeed! How ironic that the "naked" version with its produced polish in its own way perfectly embodies the "back to basics" while the original, intended to be loose and hairy just ends up like disorganized clutter.

Keep up the good work,


Barry Lenser said...

Thanks for your comment, Roger. You make a good observation. What recommends "Naked" is the unity of its vision, while the original is just too incongruous.