Purchasing the new Let It Be...Naked might serve the purpose of making apparently badly needed donations to the Michael Jackson legal defense fund, but doesn't serve a lot of purpose as far as getting you new music. Short answer, this new version is a little bit interesting in places, but not that much different from the classic Beatles album- and ultimately a little inferior.
One other good purpose served: Paul can now end 30+ years of bitching about the strings Phil Spector put on "The Long and Winding Road." This stripped down version of the song was the main talking point for the whole album.
Now, this new version works fine. It's a great song, and almost any performance by any singer who could carry a tune in a bucket will come out good. Versus the Phil Spector version, you might take this as a bit more intimate.
However, George Martin would probably hear this naked version, and say that it's outstanding- for a DEMO. Now what are you going to do to make a worthy Beatles record out of it?
More than anything else, this makes me appreciate what a good job Spector did lo those many years ago. Those strings and horns were actually quite judicious, considerably more restrained than on some of his own classics.
The other song that came out most different- though still not much- was "Across the Universe." Spector added production wise a bit to the dreamy quality, particularly with effects on Lennon's vocal. Again, Spector's version is more of a record, but most of the cool dreamy quality is in the composition either way.
In any case, I'd probably pick the World Wildlife Fund version of the song [on Past Masters, Volume 2] as the definitive recording of the song. It's a slightly faster tempo, and a little more produced than this new naked version, but perhaps not quite as heavy handed as the classic Spector album version. You can't really go wrong with any of these versions, though. It's all great.
Comparing the two albums, I'm a bit surprised at the relatively minimal footprint that Spector left on the first album. The more basic rock and blues songs didn't really have that much done to them in the first place. I've had to listen real close to tell the differences to most of these songs, even despite what might be described as gross over familiarity with the classic album.
"Get Back" for example, doesn't sound much different at all. The main obvious thing they did do differently distinctly takes away from the effect: They edited out the little pre and post song vocal bits, including John's famous quip about hoping that they had "passed the audition." I hadn't realized the significance of that stuff until I heard it gone. It emphasizes the idea of the Beatles as a real, live rock band for the last time, and helps to communicate that simple joy of playing in a band together.
The naked album unfortunately completely cuts out "Maggie Mae." This was only 40 seconds long and something of a joke, so you might say it's no big loss. It was, however, a pretty good joke, and added a nice bit of rough texture to the whole album. Listening again, it actually is a complete catchy song, just very brief. It also added just a small reminder of John the street kid.
On the other hand, they added "Don't Let Me Down" which was not on the original album at all, though it should have been. Better yet, it's a whole different performance of one of their most underappreciated classics. It's a little bit faster tempo, maybe a few slightly different vocal inflections. I wouldn't say that it's better, but it's just different enough to sound fresh to someone who has heard the classic version several thousand times. You might say that the old version was a bit more soulful, but the new one came out a bit funkier. All in all, this new recording of "Don't Let Me Down" rates as the best reason to get this Let It Be... Naked album.
All in all, I can a little bit appreciate that some folks were not quite satisfied with the production sound of the classic album. It sounds fine, but not quite up with the production standards of Abbey Road. Damn, though, that's a tough one. The main thing, though, is that Let It Be has every bit as good a batch of actual SONGS underneath, and they're not gaining anything by un-producing the record.
The "Fly on the Wall" bonus disc is an annoying waste. It is an audio only DVD, about 20 minutes long, and constitutes but a little handful of nothing. It's just a few seconds of studio chatter and a bar or two of rehearsals. Nothing of much note going on here. A sixty one second bit of piano noodling entitled "Paul's Piano Piece" constitutes the highlight. It's not quite as good or as long as the piano theme "Lick My Love Pump" from Spinal Tap. There's also an alternate twenty something second version of "Maggie Mae."
They have hundreds of hours of video and audio from these sessions. They could have given us an hour of rehearsing a song, seeing how it went from original demo to recorded performance. They could have given us video of the group running through a couple of Little Richard or Buddy Holly songs. Instead they pretend like they're giving us a DVD, but really just gave us nothing.
Not to be a curmudgeon, but the packaging of Let It Be... Naked sucks. The photo negatives on the cover are just ugly, not artistically effective at all. The original album cover was nothing fancy, but it at least gave a good snap shot of each Beatle's look at the time. The naked album has pages and pages of transcriptions of mostly uninteresting random studio chatter, but no lyrics.
One good thing- the old and new versions together add up to about 70 minutes, which means you can burn them together on one cd for continuous listening. That works out pretty nice.
In the end, there's really not that much difference between the two versions. If you're less than a high level Beatle freak, you don't really need to worry about buying the album yet again.
If you don't have any version of the album, definitely get the classic version. More than anything, this just serves as a reminder of what a straight up indispensable classic album Let It Be was in the first place.
BEATLES PICTURE COLLECTION - 100 pages PAGE 1 PAGE 2 PAGE 3 PAGE 4 PAGE 5 PAGE 6 PAGE 7 PAGE 8 PAGE 9 PAGE 10 PAGE 11 PAGE 12 PAGE 13 PAGE 14 PAGE 15 PAGE 16 PAGE 17 PAGE 18 PAGE 19 PAGE 20 PAGE 21 PAGE 22 PAGE 23 PAGE 24 PAGE 25 PAGE 26 PAGE 27 PAGE 28 PAGE 29 PAGE 30 PAGE 31 PAGE 32 PAGE 33 PAGE 34 PAGE 35 PAGE 36 PAGE 37 PAGE 38 PAGE 39 PAGE 40 PAGE 41 PAGE 42 PAGE 43 PAGE 44 PAGE 45 PAGE 46 PAGE 47 PAGE 48 PAGE 49 PAGE 50 PAGE 51 PAGE 52 PAGE 53 PAGE 54 PAGE 55 PAGE 56 PAGE 57 PAGE 58 PAGE 59 PAGE 60 PAGE 61 PAGE 62 PAGE 63 PAGE 64 PAGE 65 PAGE 66 PAGE 67 PAGE 68 PAGE 69 PAGE 70 PAGE 71 PAGE 72 PAGE 73 PAGE 74 PAGE 75 PAGE 76 PAGE 77 PAGE 78 PAGE 79 PAGE 80 PAGE 81 PAGE 82 PAGE 83 PAGE 84 PAGE 85 PAGE 86 PAGE 87 PAGE 88 PAGE 89 PAGE 90 PAGE 91 PAGE 92 PAGE 93 PAGE 94 PAGE 95 PAGE 96 PAGE 97 PAGE 98 PAGE 99 PAGE 100
The Beatles Are Masters of the Universe
Music Sustains the Soul
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