Let It Be Like It Was Before
20th November 2003 · Last updated: 5th October 2016
I just heard an interesting interview on radio with a man involved in the Beatles Let It Be - Naked project. I thought they had gone back to the original album and decided to remix it without real reason. But the truth is that The Beatles had split up by the time the original was released, so Phil Spector was given the job of finishing it off. Apparently the Fab Four weren't too happy about the final version, as they hadn't been consulted.
So now someone (Paul?) had the idea of restoring the album to its original format - that of a bare-bones live performance record. (I think of it as The Beatles Unplugged!)
So what's to make of it? British music weekly the NME, DJs I've heard, and fans appear to be over the moon, saying it's how it should have been, how much better it sounds. But I'm not convinced. Am I the only one who thought that Spector did an amazing job? That the songs are less good without the strings and overdubs?
Take The Long And Winding Road for instance. There is a classic that sticks in your mind because of the great strings. I dread to think how it sounds without them. (Apparently it's the same version as in the film.)
Likewise Across The Universe, which I heard today on the radio for the first time in its new format. The DJ thought it was the best track on the album for the new sound they'd given it. But I recall the way the backing built up, really making it stand out. Without it you get a great sounding acoustic number, almost like a demo. But surely not as good as before?
My main problem is that, like many older fans, I grew up listening to the original versions. The backings they used became part of my musical history. To suddenly have them stripped away sounds very strange. I'm not sure I like what they've done.
Over time I guess I will grow to love the new versions just as much, but not right now. It's like taking the Mona Lisa and removing the background so she's on a blank canvas. And brightening her up so there's no veneer from the ageing of the paint.
What do you think?