Monday, 5 December 2011

The Best Of Let It Be (pt.4) - Let It Be

Just like I Me Mine, Let It Be contains extensive overdubbing done by George Martin rather than Phil Spector.

Past Masters

This is the single version recorded and mixed by George Martin. The master take (take 27-A) was recorded on 31 January 1969 at Apple Studios. McCartney played grand piano, Billy Preston played organ (switching between organ and electric piano sound – compare 1:45 with 1:52), Lennon on six-string electric bass, and Harrison on electric guitar. On 30 April, Harrison overdubbed a new guitar solo using a leslie effect. On 4 January 1970 He overdubbed another more distorted solo and Martin added brass and nearly inaudible cellos (last verse, panned right). Ringo and Paul added extra drums and maracas to verse 3 and Harrison, Paul AND Linda McCartney added BVs. This version uses the first solo (panned right) though the second faintly audible (centre). There is almost no trace of the original guitar track. Just after Paul sings Though they may be parted (1:06) you can hear someone (George Martin?) saying “stop it!” in the right speaker.

This was the version used on the 1967–1970 'Blue' album, 20 Greatest Hits and the 1 album.

Let It Be

Phil Spector's remix. He used the second more distorted and aggressive solo (with the first overdubbed solo still faintly audible – both are panned centre), cut the BVs except for the first verse, added delay to the hi-hat in the second verse and brought the bass and brass up in the mix. Just as in I Me Mine Spector 'copied and pasted' to increase length, this time extending the final chorus from twice to three times.

Let It Be Naked

Spector's reverb and extra chorus, and Martin's overdubs are all removed (except the backing vocals?). This is the same basic track as LIB/PM but with numerous edits flown in from other takes, most obviously notably the guitar solo, and there is even evidence of auto tune (listen to the first WORDS of wisdom – 0:21). The solo (from take 27-B) appears to have been lifted with the entire section not just the lead guitar track (compare the piano and drums). The guitar tone is similar to the PM version but the track is much cleaner as there is no 'shadowing' from other takes. Because much of the 'original' guitar tracks are removed there is no real 'build' in the last verse or penultimate chorus.

The whole track is much clearer sonically and seems tighter rhythmically (listen to the cool way Ringo swings the rhythm in the second chorus).

Anthology 3

A completely different version. Take 1 of the song (recorded 25 Jan) is bookended by studio chatter from Jan 31st (take 23) -

John: Are we supposed to giggle in the solo?
Paul: Yeah.
John: OK.
Paul: This'll...this is gonna knock you out, boy.

followed by more chatter from take 25 -

John: I think that was rather grand. I'd take one home with me. OK let's track it. (Gasps) You bounder, you cheat! (a reference to abandoning the no-overdubs/double tracking position that Lennon himself had advocated for Let It Be).

This is simpler and rougher version. No organ at all, and a repeat of verse one replaces the (as yet unwritten) final verse. Harrison is strumming chords on the last verse with a fairly clean leslie'd guitar tone and the drums drop out completely in the last verse. Lennon/Harrison contribute BVs.

The opening is hesitant, the tempo wobbles and there are mic pops throughout. Lennon phones it in on an out of tune bass, playing his trademark bored staccato bass parts. John may have joked about Ringo not being the best drummer in the Beatles, but Lennon's performances on Let It Be and Long & Winding Road definitely earn him 'worst bass player in the Beatles' award.

Film Version

Take 27-B, like 27-A, was recorded at Apple Studios the day after the roof top concert, along with Two Of Us and The Long and Winding Road. Though the audio to this version has never been officially released (apart from the guitar solo), this is the version used in the Let It Be film. The chorus lyrics end “there will be no sorrow, let it be” instead of “there will be an answer, let it be”.

Though there's nothing wrong with the overdubs they're not up to Martin's usual standard and LIBN really benefits from their removal and all the other cleaning up. LIB's solo gives the latter half of the track energy that the LIBN lacks, the brass sounds like a collection of individual instruments rather than single entity and the organ and BVs blend angelically (all of which I like). Anthology is yet another horrible rehearsal tape of historic, rather than artistic, value. And every version has that horrible bass slide at the end!


There's really not much to chose between PM, LIB and LIBN but because of the sonic fixing I'd go for LIBN.


LIB - Let It Be
LIBN - Let It Be Naked
A3 - Anthology 3
PM - Past Masters

You have no idea how long this post took to research. I think I would have gone mad without What Goes On - The Beatles Anomalies List and Mix Online. I also would have gone mad without Wikipedia, but Wikipedia was also part of the reason I was going mad in the first place!

Still not got your head around the many solos? There's a special treat for you tomorrow - for a limited time only!!!!!



  1. LIBN/A3: no piano 'mistake' during the last 'Mother Mary'.
    LIBN/PM: I like the effective to the point drumming by Ringo (the best drummer in The Beatles IMO).
    Still I prefer LIB due to the superior electric guitar during the solo and in the last chorus.

  2. I know what you mean Rob - if I could pick any SOLO I'd use that one (if I could get rid of the shadowing that makes it sound like a Black Sabbath solo (Iommi always used to do bad double tracking)