Let It Be has been a source of frustration for legions of Beatles fans since its release back in 1970. Its critics, with Paul McCartney among them, blame Phil Spectors post-production tinkering. Its supporters, with John Lennon among them, commend Phil Spectors post-production. Should we consider Let It Be the last album by The Beatles because it was the last to see release, or is Abbey Road the true swan song of the lads from Liverpool?
“‘I Dig a Pygmy, by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf Aids! Phase one, in which Doris gets her oats! It is with this outtake that Let it Be begins, and you can actually see yourself sitting in Apple Studios, suppressing that grin on your face as the acoustic guitar lead-in to Two of Us begins. The acoustics throughout this remaster just sound roomier than they have before. Percussion doesnt seem to be fighting for space with the rhythm guitar on a song like Two of Us, allowing for all of the instruments to breathe.
As for the song itself, Two of Us is the last time McCartney and Lennon seemed truly together as partners. They would share harmonies on other songs recorded after this to be sure, but something separates this song from those others. Maybe its the lyrics, or heck, maybe its just nostalgia. We want to hold on to the hope that these talented juggernauts of the music industry could practice what they preached to everyone else and actually love each other for what they were worth. Or, maybe its just a fantastic song.
Dig a Pony sounds great as per usual. This is Lennon at his bluesy best, with McCartney aiding and abetting on harmonies. Dig a Pony, along with George Harrisons For You Blue and McCartneys Get Back, are three examples of what the band was trying to achieve with Let It Be: an album even more stripped down from their self-titled release (a.k.a. The White Album) than that album was from Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. It succeeds most of the time, but then Mr. Spector enters the fray.
The studio outtakes, Dig It and Maggie Mae, seem out of place. Yes, outtakes are supposed to feel as such, but serving as bookends to the albums title track, they simply break the momentum. Let It Be is one of the all-time greats, and McCartneys finest hour at the piano. Harrisons guitar solo takes it that much higher, and the lyrics marry the music perfectly (a shout-out to the late, great Billy Preston for providing the organ on this song as well as keyboards throughout the album). Ringo Starrs playing during the songs breakdown has never sounded as clear as it does on this remaster:
And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let It Be is still a good album at the end of the day, just not the album it was supposed to be. The albums remastering sounds great and does create a different experience for fans of the record, and maybe even some naysayers. Let It Be is a historical album anyway you look at it: because of its content or simply because its the last Beatles studio album to be released. It will still be discussed 40 years from now, just as it’s being discussed now, 40 years from its original release. And, of course, the worst album by The Fab Four is still much better than the best album by thousands of bands since. The Beatles remain the benchmark.
(There is still the heretofore unmentioned third option that is recommended above this and Let it Bes original pressing. Let It Be Naked features a more stripped-down production, rids itself of Dig It and Maggie Mae, adds the outstanding Dont Let Me Down, has better sequencing, and is Macca approved)