The Beatles’ Apple Records will release a stripped-down version of Let It Be, the group’s 1970 swan song, on November 18th. Dubbed Let It Be . . . Naked, the album does away with the orchestration added by legendary producer Phil Spector and restores Paul McCartney’s “back to basics” concept that originally underpinned the project. Two songs, “Maggie Mae” and “Dig It,” have been removed from the new set, while “Don’t Let Me Down” and background dialogue from the studio sessions have been added. The Let It Be . . . Naked package will also feature a twenty-minute bonus disc of material culled from rehearsal sessions.
“I was listening to it recently, and it was really great,” Beatles drummer Ringo Starr told Rolling Stone earlier this year. “I’ve been away from it a long time too. It fills my heart with joy to hear that band that I was a member of. They were just great. And also, the quietness of the tracks: It’s a beautiful CD.”
Most of the Let It Be material was recorded in early 1969 for an album and movie originally to be called Get Back. Though the project was intended to showcase the Beatles’ returning to their roots as a four-piece rock band, it instead captured the band in the throes of its breakup. The album was temporarily abandoned, and the film, retitled Let It Be, was released the following year.
Spector was later brought in at John Lennon’s insistence to compile an album from the hundreds of hours of tape. However, Spector’s work, undertaken after the group had effectively split, has always been a source of irritation to Paul McCartney, who took particular exception to the string arrangement on his composition “The Long and Winding Road.”
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“Paul was always totally opposed to Phil,” Starr said. “I told him on the phone, ‘You’re bloody right again: It sounds great without Phil.’ Which it does. Now we’ll have to put up with him telling us over and over again, ‘I told you.'”
Starr also said that George Harrison approved the release the stripped-down version of Let It Be before his death in 2001. The project has been underway for at least two years, and it instigated the recovery of the missing Let It Be audio reels by police in the Netherlands in January.
Along with Starr and McCartney, another figure who welcomes the Let It Be reissue is veteran British producer Glyn Johns, who engineered the original sessions. “My version of [the song] ‘Get Back’ actually was released fairly quickly as a single,” he told Rolling Stone. “And my version of [the song] ‘Let It Be’ was also released, before Phil Spector puked all over it. And I hope you quote me on that. If you hear ‘The Long and Winding Road’ without all that schlock on it, it’s fabulous just like it is.”
The Let It Be . . . Naked track listing:
Dig a Pony
For You Blue
The Long and Winding Road
Two of Us
I’ve Got a Feeling
One After 909
Don’t Let Me Down
I Me Mine
Across the Universe
Let It Be